The sea day, a time to relax and recharge, and find out what’s happening onboard! Earlier in the cruise, I’d spotted something in the Daily Times called Deck Tennis, and I was intrigued. There are no nets on Deck 9 to stop a ball going overboard, so what on earth is it? I had to go up and investigate. In short, it’s the same set up as tennis but you play with a rubber ring, as opposed to a bat and ball. I still can’t quite get my head around it and I would have joined in, but the people already playing were spending more time reaching to pick the ring off the floor than they were catching it and having a game. No offence, people! I won’t repeat what one gentleman said to his wife (under his breath so she didn’t actually hear him) but I got the vibe that he wasn’t impressed with her Deck Tennis skills…
There was always plenty to do on sea days, so you could either pack your day out, pick and choose, or simply sit back and relax. There were quizzes, kitchen creations, shuffleboard, Baggo, live music, table tennis, Pilates, you name it, it was happening. One thing I am really annoyed at myself about is not joining in on the flower arranging class. Now, this is not something I’ve ever done before nor have I ever wanted to do it, but I kept looking at it in The Daily Times. When I finally decided to go, it was the day of what would be a formal evening and they were making corsages. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to go full throttle and try arranging a nice bouquet, so I missed out on that, but I will do it on my next Fred. Olsen cruise if it’s offered. I think it was £30 per person, but you get to keep your creation and if possible, you can take it home with you at the end of your cruise.
Good morning, Gibraltar! Oh, how nice it felt to see that rock! We didn’t have long here, it was literally a disembark, grab what you wanted and run back kind of call. I made the poor choice (and I know better!) of doing the trek into town in my flip flops! And I don’t just do part of Main Street, I must go all the way to the top because that’s where my favourite shop is. By the time I got back to the ship, my little feet were on fire. I did enjoy being back in Gib, though. Not much had changed there. I think Gibraltar for many is one of those places that you either love or hate and for me, personally, I love it. There’s quite a bit to do if you’ve never been before and several years ago, I had a superb dolphin watching tour there.
I think I mentioned the buffet briefly in a previous post, so I’ll come back to that now and share a few pictures of what was available. I felt like it was never closed, it was a continuous operation from morning until night, and the selection was fabulous! I don’t really know where to start on telling you what there was, but to give you an idea, there was one station that was available every night and it included burgers, hot dogs and usually tacos. You could have stir-fry, curry, fresh meats and cheese’s, soup, lasagne – you name it and at one point or another, they had it. The seafood buffet also made an appearance and that was nice, but not as nice as the garlic prawns I had one day – they were heaven! In fact, I spotted them on my way to the Poolside and thought a few prawns won’t spoil my fish and chips, I just couldn’t walk past them and I’m glad I didn’t. I also really enjoyed the chicken quesadillas, and I had a chicken stir-fry at one point that was also delicious. The stir-fry is cooked to order and in front of you, so you can pick and choose what you want in it.
As the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations began before we disembarked, we had a little country fayre-type event on the Lido Deck. There were various stalls, including the human fruit machine, face painting, name the teddy and so on. All the money raised was to be donated to the RNLI and I think Bolette raised something in the region of £2000.
Not forgetting the cake decorating competition, which was hilarious! The sync between the crew was just brilliant. The competitors were the Captain, Ents Manager, Chief Engineer, and the Hotel Manager. I’ll put my hands up and say that I didn’t give the Captain my vote, it went to the Hotel Manager. Not sure he was too thrilled by second place because he threatened to take the stabilisers in! He had plenty of jokes, I liked him!
For the purpose of research, I also documented some fabulous cakes in the Bookmark Cafe…
Before reaching Southampton, there were 2 more things I had to do, and one was to go back to Colours & Tastes. I’d spotted the new menu by chance as I passed one morning on my way to Guest Services, and I had to try it. This time, it was coconut fried shrimp with green mango salsa to start, followed by Indonesian chicken satay with peanut sauce. I was so happy! I loved the fact the skewers for the chicken were lemongrass, so there was so much flavour in every bite. For dessert, this time, I tried the five-spice pear with chocolate sorbet and peanut brittle. I enjoyed every meal I ate on Bolette, but this one was my absolute favourite.
The dreaded ‘day before the day’ had arrived and once I’d finally sorted myself out with some packing, I took time to wind down with a Traditional Afternoon Tea in The Observatory. I’ve tried this several times when sailing with Fred., but this time it was a little different, and I liked it! I get the impression (but forgot to double check) that the menu for this must also change now and I don’t recall it ever changing previously. I only say this because the captain was on the next table and the tea he asked for, the waitress had to go and get from the Bookmark Café. The ladies he was having afternoon tea with said that’s not on the menu, to which he then realised it wasn’t and said they must have changed the menu. So don’t hold me to it, I was just eavesdropping on another conversation, as you do. Anyway, the set-up is the same as it has always been – white gloved service in a sectioned off area with soft live music. It was lovely. I had a lower level of four sandwiches, middle level of petite cakes and pastries and the top level was clotted cream, butter, and jam. It was all very nice; I particularly liked the chargrilled chicken sandwich and the egg sandwich. When I asked for a scone, a plate of 6 arrived! 2 plain, 2 fruit and 2 cheese – that was new to me. They were warm, light, and delicious!!! I think out of the 3, the cheese one was my favourite. I enjoyed all of this alongside some loose leaf wild Roobis tea.
And just like that, it was all over! If I could have stayed onboard, I would! My first impression of Bolette – I loved her! I felt comfortable and at home from the second I stepped onboard and in a strange sort of way, I felt like I knew the ship. I rarely took a wrong turn and within just days of being onboard, I felt like I’d been there forever. I’ll always miss ‘my girls’ but having so many aspects onboard Bolette that were familiar, seeing so many friendly faces and then clicking on to the fact that Jupiter was watching over us, it all just felt so right. I’m already looking forward to seeing her again and hopefully at some point cruising on Borealis, but my lovely Balmoral must have some love, too! Braemar’s still too busy relaxing her propellers in Rosyth, so she’ll have to wait until last! 😉
Until next time, Fred.! #TheOlsenWay
Press trip – I was a guest of Fred. Olsen on this sailing.
We are going on the Bolette soon and after all the comments I have just read, we just can’t wait. Having had 2 cruises cancelled this is just what we need. So pleased we have booked the other restaurants, so nice to be able to have different cuisines. As we probably won’t be able to go ashore, there is a lot to see and do on board. See you soon Bolette.