Fred Olsen Borealis Spanish Escape Dec 2nd 2022

Day 1
It's only a matter of weeks (four to be precise) since we disembarked the Borealis at Liverpool after a 15 night trip around the Canary Islands. Yet here we are again. I suspect this is the  shortest amount of time we have ever had between cruises but it is certainly the shortest we have had between getting back on the same ship. 

As usual the twitter photographers of #CruiseLiverpool managed to capture the Borealis as she slipped up the Mersey early this morning after her exploration above the Arctic circle in search of that atmospheric condition of which she is named. That freezing journey seems to have caused a little damage to the starboard paintwork which will be be repaired at the next port looking at the pallet of tins of "Fred Olsen Blue" that are being loaded.

This time we have an aft suite instead of the terrace. Again bought last minute at a price that was too good to refuse. It's a larger room and of course has the required bathtub - this time a whirlpool bath which when turned on  makes a noise like a liquidizer on full power, so would only be relaxing if your  wear workman ear protectors in the bath. We also get the dreams package which includes Robes, slippers, fresh flowers and fruit - canapes before dinner - a bottle of Cava - daily filled carafe of water. You can also use the Branded water flasks and Umbrellas ashore - just return them at the end of the cruise or be charged. An Atlas and Binoculars are provided for your use just in case the captain gets lost and calls for help. The room is a lot bigger than the terrace with a lot of drawer space though in all honesty  its wasted on us on this shorter cruise and whilst the balcony is absolutely huge I actually think I prefer the idea of having two exits to the room (one directly onto the promenade deck) that the terrace offers. There is another disadvantage to this room as well which we will come to later.

Fred's smaller ship philosophy and almost family atmosphere means we are quickly (almost instantly) recognised by a waitress as we settle in for lunch in the View (The Borealis Buffet). It would also appear we have the same waiter in the Main Dining Room as last time (Ricky) though this time we are upstairs in the Aurora section. Boarding seemed much smoother and quicker than last time - things seems more streamlined despite the fact that rules had just been changed and some paperwork was actually checked in more detail (we did not know at this point that the rules would change yet again whilst we traveled)
One thing that will be slightly different is the entertainment - we were aware the piano man (whose name escapes me) and the guitarist (who will forever be remembered as Freddie Mercury) had got off with us last time but I had everything crossed that "Funky Blue" would still be providing the late night live music in the Observatory. Sadly however they too have finished their contract and taken a break (It has to be said it's more than well earned as previous restrictions had meant they had hardly been allowed to set foot off the ship since Fred started re sailing) The replacement band is Inspiration so we will check them out and see how we enjoy them tonight. The dance company is identical, as are the two lead vocalists Hannah and Beth; in fact this will be this teams last trip before their break and for a week the Borealis will be carrying two theatre groups from Mirage so that the new troupe can begin fine tuning fresh shows on the Borealis stage in real (Bay of Biscay) conditions. It actually would have been nice to have seen the other team and compare their new shows. 

As we dress for dinner and the sun starts to set over the Mersey, canapes, fruit and  fresh flowers are brought to the room. We are on first sitting for dining and are delighted to have a table to ourselves (I think I mentioned last time that Fred do need to move with the times and scrap this idea of forced table sharing with strangers unless you choose to do so). Ricky seems very happy to see us again so we must have been no trouble at all last time :) 

The thick cut cured Salmon is still a favourite starter - juicy and sushi quality. It just melts in the mouth. Its washed down with a nice sharp Pinot Grigio - again we have not taken the drinks package as Freds drinks prices are so reasonable anyway and we prefer to buy by the bottle.

The main is interesting - its a butter chicken dish that to be quite honest is spicier and more spiced than any of the mains that were served in Vascos a few weeks ago so perhaps they have been listening to a few of the comments I have heard  from other guests - that the Asian dishes were a little bland.

The observatory has a new live band "Inspiration" which we get our first glimpse of  after watching the theatre show - an Irish comedy/magician who is a league above the magic act he replaced. (I didn't mention them in the last review as they were the only below par show but there was no throwing confetti in the air and standing waiting for applause here)

Inspiration are a four piece band who mix a little banter with a decent repertoire (perhaps too many 60's for my liking - though they did start to mix it more and more as the cruise progressed and they got to know the audience more). The main advantage that in my opinion gave Funky Blue such an edge and extra dynamic  was  having a live guitar player - here we have a bass player but any guitar fills and solos have to be replaced by a rather quirky bontempi sounding keyboard. However they do get people dancing which is the main thing.

The first morning sees us late rising and back on the promenade deck for a circuit or two after a late breakfast served poolside (Excellent Christmas Omelette straight from Breaking Bad (Red and Green Chilis)). The ship is carrying around 800 on this trip, slightly more than last time though still a good third below capacity. Were passing the Scilly Isles and its turning grey and windy. According to Captain Rommel Pinada we will have to pass through a little worse before we reach the Northern coast of Spain due to an approaching Storm. (This would turn out to be the Storm Arwen; which hit the UK whilst we were in Spain).  Despite this being a short cruise and having no official formal night - tonight is actually listed as "formal (optional)" so it will be interesting to see what happens. Its a funny old day because the Atlantic really does start to deteriorate and by lunch time there is a noticeable jerkiness to the stern as the ship constantly fights to correct its course against the swell. 

We have lunch in the MDR - one because its just far more civilised and two because of gravity (its lower and more stable down on deck four). All this walking around and eating though whilst your legs and brain constantly adjust to each rock and roll of the ship does make for a good work out though.

As this is a sea day the theatre entertainment this afternoon is a classical guitarist who is absolutely wonderful. He will be doing two sessions on this cruise to coincide with both sea days and plays a mix of Spanish Classical - Classical - and Film Scores. His skill is a joy to behold.

On the previous cruise the Captain had held the gala party before lunch but on this one its quite late at 4pm. I have a strange picture in my mind of Captain Pinada having to postpone it until later because he is stood drenched at the helm fighting the storm whilst the crew gather the sails in. Perhaps he is; because by the time it gets to 5pm and the String quartet have been playing for an hour he has still not appeared and we need to get ready for dinner.

On reflection it may not have been a good idea staying so long in the theatre with free Promesco and hor d'oeuvres. Theatres let us not forget are always at the front and this one was starting to feel like a rollercoaster ride as it rode the swell. The "optional" formal turns out to be about 90% formal so I'm glad I brought the DJ. The gala dinner I think is the same as last months however I opt for the Filet rather than the duck and all is beautiful but its all a bit lavish and rich for such a "bouncy" dining room.

We skip the show as it is a repeat of an excellent one we saw last time (to be honest I was half expecting it to be cancelled but - the show must go on) and have an early night. Tomorrow we arrive in A Coruna.

Click here for Day 3 COMING SOON

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