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Cruise escorting with Connoisseur Travel

Aug 01, 2013

Whether it’s your first time or your 10th time stepping on board Boudicca is like arriving at your home from home.

A personal perspective from Michelle Welsh, staff member and one of our team of experienced Cruise Escorts onboard selected Fred Olsen cruise departures.

 

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With a warm welcome from the friendly crew and a good old fashioned pipe band send off from Greenock it’s the perfect start to your cruise holiday. I don’t know if it’s the size of the ship, only holding 800 passengers or the warmth and friendliness of the crew but Boudicca has a unique social, friendly atmosphere that puts you at ease straight away.


As part of my job role at Connoisseur Travel, I am lucky enough that once a year I get to work out of the office on board one of the Fred Olsen ships on a Scottish departure. This is my 3rd year on board Boudicca and this time I was fortunately allocated a 14 night cruise from Greenock to the Baltics and St Petersburg. Having never been before I was extremely excited about visiting such amazing places.


The cruise started with 2 days at sea where there are a number of activities throughout the day to keep everybody busy! I had the best seats in the house from my work desk I was entertained from 9-5 with dance classes, the Boudicca choir, quizzes, bingo and so much more! By the end of the 14 nights and 14 days’ worth of quiz questions I feel like a genius!


Our first port of call was the beautiful Copenhagen. I took part in a Fred Olsen excursion which included a city tour and a visit to the Amalienborg palace. Which I have to say was a spectacular sight. I was amazed how close you could walk around the palace grounds.


Our next port of call was the historical city of Tallin, Estonia. I took a Fred Olsen city tour excursion which included a panoramic tour of Tallin, a stop in a traditional Estonian restaurant and a trip to a convent ruin were we were met by a lady in traditional clothing playing traditional Estonian folk music.
The next day we arrived at the port everyone had been waiting for, St Petersburg, there was a real buzz about the ship the evening before. We had 2 full days here and I managed to squeeze in a couple of amazing tours. I spent my first day at the Peterhof Palace; I had read about it before the cruise and was very excited to be allocated that particular tour. I have to say it lived up to everything I thought it would and more. The palace itself was magnificent with historic rooms laced in gold and portraits of the Russian greats it really was breath-taking. Our Russian guide Vladimir then took us a walk around the parks within the Palace and made sure we had the best seats in the house for the amazing fountains show. It really is something extraordinary at 11am every morning there is a sudden loud burst of classical Russian music and the fountains laced all around the perfectly maintained gardens start to explode to the music, it really is a must see in St Petersburg.


My 2nd trip in St Petersburg was ‘Everyday St Petersburg’ This was an amazing tour which took us on a panoramic city tour of St Petersburg to all the main sights including the famous ‘Church of the Spilled Blood’. This tour really gives you an insight into Russian traditions and the way Russian people go about their everyday lives. Our guide Kate took us down into the Russian Metro which really is a sight to see, unlike the British underground systems in St Petersburg the underground stations are decorated in marble, lined with statues and chandeliers they really are a sight to see. After taking the metro a few stops we were then taken into a practicing local church where there was actually a wedding taking place! Kate then took us to a local fresh farmers market were we managed to sample a few local delicacies which then led on to us being taken to a local, traditional Russian restaurant where we ate traditional Borshch soup, followed by Stroganoff washed down with a shot of Russian Vodka! Throughout the trip we were plied with Russian Vodka.

It’s safe to say the bus journey back to the ship was amusing with our guide teaching us Russian songs and our customers singing along. It really was one of the best days/trips and I would highly recommend it. I think the biggest thing I learnt about Russia is the friendliness and niceness of the locals. During my time in St Petersburg I met some very friendly and helpful local people who all smiled and welcomed our party even during a busy day on the metro train.
Our next stops included Helsinki Finland, Stockholm, Sweden and the stunning Norway capital Oslo. Our trip to Olso included a visit to the fascinating Ski jump made famous in Britain by Eddie the Eagle. We also took a tour to the top of a local mountain where we had postcard views of the Oslofjord which truly is a beautiful sight.


My cruise with Fred Olsen to the truly beautiful Baltics is one of my favourite trips I have ever taken and I hope in the future I will be able to go back and spend more time in both Russia and Denmark. I was really taken with Russia and I would love in the future to go back and explore more.
I have a real soft spot for both Fred Olsen and Boudicca, perhaps because I have worked so closely with both for the last 5 years. But Fred Olsen has a very unique asset in their staff on board the ship.

Our customers continually comment on how well they are looked after and treated on the ship. I also had a number of single passengers on board with me who were nervous prior to the cruise that they would feel lonely during the 14 nights, however within a couple of days on board they were loving the experience. Fred Olsen really do cater to the single travellers having many events throughout the cruise to give you opportunities to mix with fellow single travellers and even hosting single traveller breakfast/dinner tables.

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The cruise itself was a roaring success, with fantastic weather, smooth seas a beautiful itinerary and happy customers! I can’t wait to get back on board to get back next year.

 For more information on cruises with Fred Olsen call us and speak to our team of experienced staff members or visit our dedicated pages so see availability, brochures, itineraries, deckplans and onboard videos.

 



Category: Ocean Cruises