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Cruising with Fred

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

Bolette in Amsterdam

FRED OLSEN has its following and it is very easy to see why when you step onboard a FRED ship as we did last week as we boarded the newest ship in the fleet “Bolette”. Fred caters very much for an older demographic of British guests. Disclaimer here – we are past retirement age but were among the youngest passengers on board. Over 90% of the passengers were British. Enquiring at Customer Services or as we used to know it “The Bureau or Pursers office” I was told that there were guests from Germany, Brazil, and America but during my time on board I did not bump into anyone other than Brits, so l guess the 90% Brit Occupancy was a little underestimated.

“Bolette” started life as “Amsterdam” for Carnival Corporations Holland America Line. She was sold to Fred Olsen in 2020 and named after Fred Olsen’s great-great grandmother, Bolette

Tonnage (GT)











1,338 (standard occupancy)



The Astrolabe in the main Atrium on Bolette

As the Amsterdam, she featured a multi-million-dollar art collection. This includes a three-story, fully functional astrolabe in the main atrium which took over 15 years to design. Although still a feature of the ship, it is no longer functioning. The art collection has been replaced and I found it hard to rock my boat.

Pre cruise Fred provided excellent printed literature with information for embarkation and onboard information about the “Beautiful Bolette”. Covid testing and embarkation were very smooth and 10/10 for starting embarkation early in the day allowing more time aboard on a short five-day cruise.

On joining FRED, Bolette underwent a major refit and has a very nice friendly feel about her. The new carpets are funky and fun especially the clock carpet in the atrium and the psychedelic swirls of the Colours and Tastes restaurant. Our cabin had been extensively refitted with a good bathroom and would have not been out of place in the luxury cruise ship category.

Cabin service was excellent, provided by Nanette our delightful & charming stewardess.

It was the small touches that made the difference.


For me, the bread baked on Bolette was among the best I have had on our last few cruises. This was also reflected in the Traditional Premium Afternoon Tea that was served on sea days in the observation lounge and attracted a reasonable surcharge.

Colours and Tastes Speciality Restaurant on Bolette.

The speciality restaurants Vasco serving Goan food and Colours and Tastes serving an Asian menu are well worth the additional cover charge. The service in these restaurants was exceptionally good and as with all service on FRED was very friendly.


The drinks package that is included in some fares and can be purchased separately seemed bonkers and l found it hard to get my head around at times. Several house wines are included and are acceptable and freely poured. But come to mixed drinks and you are limited to house brands. Should you wish to deviate to regular brands you pay extra if you have a drinks package you are charged 50%. Although drinks were very reasonably priced, the whole system seemed Bizarre. Sometimes you showed your ship card, and other drinks you had to sign. Cava was included in the package but Prosecco you paid full price. Crazy I would rather pay slightly more initially and cut out the hassle.

The Neptune Theatre on Bolette was fantastic. Spacious over two decks with a large stage. A bit different from the performances on the carousel lounge dance floor on The Love Boat (Pacific Princess) back in my time of treading the boards.

The shows by the Bolette Theatre group were excellent and certainly among the best I have seen recently. On a five-day cruise, we enjoyed three production shows. A big plus was the fact each evening two performances were performed, one advantage of set time dining. Normally on smaller ships, we have found it tight finishing dinner and getting to the show on time. The theatre group consisted of five girls and five guys with varying talents and skill sets that blended well together.

The musicians onboard provided great entertainment, a five-piece band “The Fifth” were excellent for dancing, but unfortunately gained an unfortunately nickname after a guest we were talking to had misread The Daily Times and called them “THE FILTH”.

The Bolette String Trio occasionally played around the pool but mostly strummed along for easy listening in the Ocean Ba. Because we attended the late show, we only caught the last half an hour or so before they packed in for the evening, l could have listened to them for much longer, but there is only so much you can back into the evening.

Our reason for taking this cruise was to visit the Keukenhof gardens between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. They certainly did not disappoint. The gardens are only open for eight weeks a year. Each autumn, 40 gardeners plant the 7 million bulbs, donated to the park by over 100 growers.

Planting starts in early October and is usually completed by 5 December, around Sinterklaas (St Nicholas day) The flowerbeds are synchronised to the different bulb flowerings to ensure blooms throughout the duration of the park's 8-week opening. To ensure continuous bloom, three bulbs are planted in each location. The shallowest bulb will bloom first for three weeks, followed by the subsequent layer, this is called Lasagne planting according to our Dutch guide. Sadly, on our visit, the Tulip fields around the gardens had already been beheaded to create healthy bulb growth so we missed out on the spectacular sight of the multi-coloured carpet.

The Beautiful Keukenhof Gardens

I was very surprised by the lack of officer presence onboard “Bolette”. I bumped into the Finnish captain one night on the stairways and was hardly acknowledged which I found a little strange. The hotel manager was a Brit, but he kept himself hidden until the very last moment as we were disembarking in Southampton.

One question on the post cruise comment form was

How Friendly was the captain?

Do you have any stories to tell about your time at sea?

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