When we woke up this morning, we were surprised to see that the Bolette was at anchor off land; a quick look at the MarineTraffic app showed that we were in Kristiansand. We couldn’t understand it – we were supposed to be at sea today. What was happening?
About an hour later, the Bolette weighed anchor and was soon underway again, but we wondered why we had stopped. Was it to refuel? Obtain extra supplies? Or had a medical emergency occurred and someone had to be taken off the ship? (This has happened before). No doubt we’d find out in due course.
Meanwhile, it was with the sad knowledge that this was our last day on the wonderful Bolette and tomorrow morning we’d be back home again. 🙁 A 10-night cruise simply isn’t long enough; it needs to be a fortnight minimum.
Going out onto our balcony, the North Sea was very calm and the weather was mild as we headed steadily south. Looking at the Daily Times, the events programme, we saw there was a packed itinerary and plenty of stuff going on to keep us entertained. 🙂
After eating a breakfast of fresh melon, ham, smoked salmon and salami washed down with orange juice and coffee, we wandered around on deck, seeing if we could spot any other ships or one of the many oil rigs you can see in the North Sea. We then returned to our cabin (suite!!) and pulled one of the suitcases out from under the bed to make a reluctant start with our packing.
We filled one of the cases with stuff we wouldn’t be using again this cruise, then I got my laptop and we went to the Neptune Lounge where I wrote up some of this blog while listening to a presentation by life-coach Sandra Crathern called “How To Live To 100 and Enjoy It”. It was interesting and thought-provoking.
Afterwards, we had about half an hour before the next event, called “An Audience with the Captain”. We certainly didn’t want to miss that! I therefore stayed in my front row seat at my front row table, and Trevor went and got us a cold ginger ale each while the theatre slowly filled up.
Cruise director Simon then came onto the stage and introduced Captain Mikael Degerlund, not that he needed any introduction! The idea was that it would be a Q and A session so it was up to members of the audience to ask the captain any questions and he would answer them. We wondered what sort of stupid questions would be asked; in the past there have been some ridiculous questions asked, such as “why can’t we turn down the air conditioning?”. We hoped the questions would be more appropriate, and indeed they were.
As expected, the captain was very amusing and personable. Someone in the audience, when they had the mic, expressed that the captain had been “an absolute delight” to which everyone nodded agreement before applauding. Simon then said that some passengers had asked if the captain was staying on Bolette or going to Borealis, and they wanted to choose their next cruise based on where the captain would be! 🙂
One passenger did indeed ask why we had stopped in Kristiansand, and the captain confirmed that it was a medical emergency and someone had to be taken off the ship, where an ambulance was waiting to take them to hospital. Apparently, cruise director Simon said that some passengers had gathered at the gangway with their cruise cards, wanting to know if they could go ashore! 🙂
It was a great session with interesting and relevant questions which the captain answered honestly, in some cases explaining how the CoVID-19 pandemic had affected the cruise line’s finances and led to their having to sell the beloved Braemar. It did sound, however, that cruising has really bounced back from the pandemic, with more people booking than ever. 🙂
The talk ended around 11.45 am which gave Captain Mikael time to return to the bridge ready for his noon-day annoucement, in which he spoke about the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne for a few minutes before reminding us to “take care of each other”. 🙂
We returned to our suite where I dumped my laptop and washed my hands etc. before going to lunch. This time, we decided to go to the Bloomsbury Restaurant in case they were holding one of their fantastic sea-food buffets, but it was not to be. Nonetheless, we partook of a delicious waiter-served two-course luncheon. I had ordered a sandwich of the day as I didn’t want to have a big meal, but when it came, it was huge! It was a triple-decker sandwich accompanied by crisps and salad; it was difficult for me to finish it all! It was delicious and was washed down with a glass of rosé wine.
Afterwards we went along to the Pool Bar where they were holding a “Battle of the Bartenders” display of cocktail making and flaring. We managed to get prime seats at the bar from which to observe the action, ordering ourselves a piña colada. The retractable roof of the pool was open and it was warm and pleasant.
First of all, each of four members of the bar team were introduced and clapped onto the ‘stage’ where there were four tables containing cocktail-making paraphernalia. They were asked to make three particular cocktails, including garnish, and the stop-watches started. Whoever made their cocktail (correctly!) the quickest, won!
The completed cocktails were then handed out, at random, to the nearby passengers. Can’t be bad! 🙂
After the cocktail making came a display of ‘flaring’ by a couple of the talented bar tenders. This was really entertaining; they must spend hours practising.
After this fun little interlude the bar staff returned to work, and Trevor and I remained at the bar in the sunshine, enjoying another drink. Shortly afterwards, for some illogical reason, they decided to close the retractable roof; this made the pool area too hot (unless you were wearing swimwear).
At that point, we decided to return to 7036 and relax and enjoy a drink on our gigantic balcony! Going to a cupboard in the corner, I removed the tie-on padded seats and backings for the sun loungers and attached them, then I put my coat over my lap (the sea breeze made it feel cooler than it was) and we spent some time doing one of the great pleasures of cruising – just sitting there, gazing out to sea, enjoying the sights and sounds and scents and thinking pleasant thoughts. 🙂
The sounds of the sea and the gentle motion of the Bolette I found to be very soporific, and eventually I went back inside for a power-nap, while Trevor remained on the balcony to read the Britain Today, the free news bulletin that is delivered to our cabin every day.
After our power nap, we did some more packing, leaving out only those clothes and toiletries we would need for tonight. I carefully wrapped and packed all of my Irregular Choice shoes in their case (!) leaving out the pièce de résistance for tonight; my “Rock It” boots which not only had a heel in the shape of a rocket blasting off, but had two series of lights on them powered by a two micro-USB ports in each boot that required charging! Complete show stoppers! 🙂
We then went along to the Morning Light for the last Afternoon Trivia which we didn’t win once again. Then I had to leave to go to the Atlantis Spa for a foot and leg massage, where my lower legs and feet were coated in a cooling mud mask, then massaged with scented oils – it was a lovely, relaxing experience.
While I was in there, another lady, who was having the same treatment, asked if I was the “shoe lady” and had I been on Borealis last year? When I confirmed that I had, she said she remembered the gorgeous Polar Bear boots I had been wearing to celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle! I am becoming pretty well-known on cruises now because of my shoes! Personally I don’t know why Irregular Choice are not better known; they’ve been going since 1999 and their shoes are very distinctive.
Then it was back to 7036 where I got washed and changed ready to go to dinner for the last time. 🙁
As we were making our way along to The Terrace restaurant, my boots predictably attracted lots of attention; I could barely walk more than a few yards before people were stopping me for photographs.
In the restaurant, we tried hard not to think about the fact that this was our last meal, and I ordered the works; a starter, salad, main course and cheese board, all washed down with chilled house rosé wine and finished off with amaretto. Jane, Roy, Peter and Marian had all expressed interest in looking at my web site and blog, so we handed our calling cards with the URL on and other contact details, such as my Twitter handle. Then we all said we’d see each other around and, if not, “safe journey” and “keep in touch” and all that before we all dispersed to other parts of the ship; Trevor and I to the Neptune Lounge for tonight’s show, called “The Olsen Awards”.
The Bolette Theatre Company were going to perform the best songs from the musicals as voted by Fred Olsen cruise passengers, so there followed an exuberant display of singing, dancing and colourful costumes and stage sets, all performed professionally and very well indeed. We had really enjoyed all of the entertainment this cruise; we’d never seen a duff show at all.
Afterwards we went along to the Morning Light; this was our last chance to win a quiz! But even though we scored 14/15, there were ten – yes ten – teams that scored full marks (the questions are obviously far too easy) so we didn’t even bother to stay for the tie-breaker as we knew we hadn’t won! Apart from our victory at “Majority Rules” then, in all the other quizzes we scored a big fat duck egg. 🙁
In the Observatory a “farewell party” was in full swing, starring the singers from the show company. Passengers had to pick a song title out of a hat and one of the singers had to perform it. There was a packed dance floor and everyone sang along and it was a happy, smiley atmosphere.
Some lucky people were staying on board Bolette for her next cruise to Norway, but our consolation was that, once we arrived back home tomorrow, we only had three weeks until our next cruise! 🙂
We stayed in the Observatory until around midnight, then reluctantly returned to our massive suite and finished off our packing, placing two of the suitcases outside the cabin door for collection; I’d carry my shoe case off myself. Then we settled down in 7036 for the final time and slept very well. We’d gain an extra hour in bed tonight, as we had to put our clocks back one hour to British Summer Time. 🙂
When the alarm blasted our ears at 6.45am we saw that we were docked on the River Tyne, right back where we’d started. We’d had an absolutely fantastic cruise, and now we could start counting the days until the next one. 🙂