When we woke up this morning in our suite (!!) around eight o’clock it was with a smile on our faces as we anticipated the leisurely sea day ahead of us. Trevor went up to The View for his breakfast, but I decided to have a coffee and enjoy some of the fresh fruit in our cabin, as well as a bag of salted popcorn out of our Oceans Club goody bag. 🙂
Going out onto our balcony, I watched the Bolette glide along through the waves on her way to our next port of call of Helsinki. However, it was still just that bit too chilly to sit outside (it is still April, after all!) so I didn’t stay out long. I soon remembered that 14th April 1912 (111 years ago today) was the date on which Titanic struck the iceberg at 11.40pm; therefore 11 years ago today we were on Balmoral sailing in the wake of the Titanic on the Memorial Cruise. How the time flies.
When Trevor returned, we spent some time just pottering around our cabin, reading and relaxing. Looking at the activities programme we saw that, while there was lots going on around the ship, none of it took our fancy this morning. We therefore went outside for a stroll around the decks, taking pleasure in the sights, sounds and smells you can only experience when you’re at sea.
At 11.00am we returned to 7036 to start getting ready for the Oceans Club Cocktail party at 11.15 in the Neptune Lounge. We were delighted at the return of the Oceans Club parties; the last two FOCL cruises we were on (in 2022 and 2021) still had Covid restrictions on board, so there were no Oceans Club events then. Your Oceans grade is dependent on how many nights you have spent on board a Fred Olsen vessel; after this cruise we’ll have 210. We are in the Gold category, but once we’ve completed the further three Fred cruises we have booked, we’ll have 252 nights so we’ll move up to Platinum. 🙂
We each dressed up a little more smartly before we made our way to the Neptune Lounge. As we arrived, Captain Mikael and some of his officers, as well as cruise director Simon, greeted us with a smile, and we made our way to our ‘regular’ table and seats at the front, accepting a glass of sherry each as we sat down. A waiter then appeared with some of the delicious little canapés they serve on the ship. Eating and drinking again! 🙂
As we sat there, the resident string trio played relaxing classical tunes and we watched as the lounge filled up. Apparently, Fred Olsen has more repeating passengers than any other cruise lines, so there probably would have been fewer passengers on this cruise who weren’t Oceans members!
Presently, the captain stepped onto the stage and thanked everyone for coming back to Fred. Then he handed the mic over to the Future Cruises staff who showed us tempting photos and video footage of some of the cruises that were available to book, as we sat there and enjoyed more of the gratis drinks and nibbles. We already have six future cruises booked (three with FOCL) so we didn’t book any further ones! 🙂
The party continued until 12.00 noon, with the waiting staff replenishing our glasses right up until then (unlike some cruises where you only get a couple of free drinkies). Then we had to hot-foot it up to the Observatory where they were holding a ballroom dance class, concentrating on the waltz. When we got there, the dance floor was packed; there was hardly any room to do the side-together-close, side-together-close pattern of the waltz. So Trevor and I abandoned it and decided to go down to the Poolside Café for lunch instead.
The Poolside offers a nice little selection of light meals and sandwiches, so I enjoyed a Plougman’s Platter while Trevor opted for fish ‘n’ chips with tartare sauce. At some point we were joined by Peter and Marian from our table in the restaurant, and we had a pleasant conversation while we had dessert – a scrumptious passion fruit and kiwi Pavlova with chantilly cream, yum yum.
Then it was back up to the Observatory for the “Name that Tune” quiz. The dance class waltzers were gliding around the dance floor as the dance tutor kept up a “one two three, one two three” count. The place was pretty full so we just sat on bar stools after picking up our answer sheet and pencil.
“Name That Tune” just consists of 15 excerpts of music played; you had to name the tune as well as the artiste and you get a point for each; therefore the maximum score is 30 (we have scored the maximum a couple of times in the past). We thought we were doing well after we named the first three without hesitation; but then it went down hill rapidly, the end result being an appalling 22/30. So no prize for us again this time!
Afterwards, we remained in the Observatory a short while and watched, with fascination, as the Singing for Pleasure class started with lots of vocal exercises and singing up and down the scale. Then we went down and looked around the shops, where I bought a pair of glittery sliders for a tenner. They were comfortable just to wear around the ship.
At 3.30pm we went along to the Morning Light pub once again to bagsy our ‘regular’ stools at the bar in time for the Afternoon Trivia. Collecting our answer sheets and pencils, we returned to find that the bartender had already placed a pint of Newcastle Brown and a glass of chilled cava at our places. This guy reads minds! 🙂
Once again, we didn’t win the quiz, but enjoyed taking part anyway; it certainly keeps the grey matter ticking over. We then decided to remain in the Morning Light for a game of bingo. I remember when we were on the Boudicca in August 2016 we’d played bingo and ended up making a profit, because Trevor won several times. We hoped our luck would continue this time.
For £15.00 you could get six bingo books, each containing six games. Trevor and I shared, and had three books each. The two ladies sitting on adjacent barstools had never played before, and weren’t sure what to do. It wasn’t made any easier because, as well as the traditional line and full house, for some games you might have needed any seven numbers, or have a pyramid (that is, one number in the top line, two in the middle and three at the bottom). So there were several variations.
The game started, and soon the lady next to me shouted “Bingo!” when she was the first one to get seven numbers on one ticket. She won £68.00, which wasn’t bad at all for a 15 quid stake. Then, in the next game where you had to get two lines, the same lady shouted again – another £68.00! 🙂
The game continued until – yes – the same lady shouted for the third time! “Oh, this is embarrassing!” she said. We all told her she’d won fair and square, the but the lady asked the bingo caller to continue and let someone else win the money. That was very kind of her.
In the next game, it was the lady sitting adjacent to the previous winner who exclaimed “Oh my goodness – I think I’ve won!” before shouting “Here!”. Indeed she had, so she was the lucky recipient of another 68 quid. The first winner didn’t stay for the final game as she had an appointment at the spa and was too embarrassed in case she won again. After it had finished, we said to the remaining lady how they’d both done well considering they’d never played before. It transpired that they were sisters! So they’d won over 200 quid between them. Wow, talk about beginners’ luck! 🙂
It was after five o’clock when the bingo ended, so we finsihed off our drinks and returned to 7036 to start getting washed and changed and ready for dinner. When we got there, the man had been with the afternoon canapés, so we enjoyed another little amuse bouche each to get our digestive juices going (not that you ever need to do that on a cruise ship!) 🙂
This evening, I wore a pair of yellow trouser and a navy camisole, topped with a yellow and navy crocheted short cardigan. I teamed the ensemble with a gorgeous pair of yellow sequinned Irregular Choice shoes. As ever, as we walked to The Terrace restaurant, people kept coming up to me and commenting on my shoes and even photographing them. I really should be on commission for Irregular Choice, but it surprises me that the brand, which started in 1999, is not better-known.
Once again, it was far too easy, despite all my best intentions, to eat and drink far too much. The food is always so delicious on Bolette, and there are good choices and decent sized portions. Also, we were pleased to see that the waiters offered Silver Service in The Terrace, where they bring the vegetables to the table and serve them separately. It was all as excellent as we’d come to expect from FOCL – this is our 16th cruise with them and we were just so pleased that their high standards had remained. As I’ve already mentioned, we were somewhat disappointed with the last two cruises we’d had, on big names P&O and Cunard. All we could say was “Good old Fred!” 🙂
Dinner was accompanied by the excellent conversation and funny anecdotes that prevailed on table #46. Several times, in the middle of telling a tale, we’d be interrupted by the waiting staff dishing out the food or asking us for our choices, and we’d be waiting impatiently to hear what happened next. It seemed we were always the last ones out of the restaurant; nearly every night the staff gently had to remind us that they had to get ready for the next sitting. 🙂
Tonight’s entertainment in the Neptune Lounge featured a magician, or “deception artiste” as he was called, Davey McAuley. He was different from your run-of-the-mill magician, and each trick was accompanied by amusing patter. We enjoyed his performance a lot.
Then, as usual, it was off to the Morning Light to take part in the quiz. We still hadn’t formed a quiz team with anyone else (we missed John and Linda from our last cruise!!) so it was just the two of us. We’ve had 13/15 several times, but the questions are possibly too easy as it seems there are many teams who score full marks; this was the case again tonight.
Once the quiz was over, we went up to the Observatory where one of the singers from the theatre company, Dillon Third, was performing his solo show tonight. He did several numbers from Michael Bublé, Elton John and other popular singers. We enjoyed his performance, making the most of the all-inclusive drinks package as we did. 😉
Afterwards, we decided to take a glass of dry ginger ale back to our cabin (suite!!) to enjoy with some of the free bottle of Famous Grouse we’d received, which indeed we did. Then we propped open our balcony door to alleviate the effects of the air-con, settled down in our massive bed in our massive suite and slept very well. 🙂
1 thought on “Cruising the Baltic”
Loving reliving the cruise through this Debbie! Such a detailed blog. Thank you.