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Fred Olsen’s Borealis – Cabin Reviews and Cabins To Avoid

If you are taking a cruise on Borealis you may be wondering which cabin would suit you best.

Borealis – A New Ship for Fred Olsen – But Not New

Borealis was brought by Fred Olsen from Holland America Line in 2020

Fred Olsen prides itself on being a small, “family-run” cruise line offering “Imaginative and Unusual Itineraries”

Borealis is thought to be named after a previous Fred Olsen-owned ship that sailed in the 1940s. The name of that ship was inspired by the Aurora Borealis

Borealis was one of Four R-Class ships (Or Rotterdam class ships) built between 1997 and 2000 specifically for the Holland America cruise line.

These ships all carry roughly 1,400 passengers.

Borealis was originally named “Rotterdam.” when she was owned by Holland America Line. Fred Olsen also bought her sister ship “Amsterdam” and renamed her the “Bolette” at the same time.

It is a little confusing that Holland America uses the same ship names over and over again – They now have a new ship called “Rotterdam” that was launched in October 2020.

In This Post We Explore:

  • Inside Cabins
  • Outside Cabins
  • Balcony Suite Cabins
  • Terrace Cabins
  • Facilities provided in each cabin
  • Other things to consider

We will also look at cabins to avoid.

Inside Cabins – Borealis Review

Inside Cabins normally sleep two people and are around 183 sq feet. Some rooms can accommodate 4 guests. These inside cabins are normally the cheapest cabins available.

There are 135 inside cabins onboard.

Cabins normally have twin beds, which can easily be converted into a double, depending on your needs. 

Just speak to your cabin steward if you want the bed configuration changed -they are always happy to help.

There are cabins available that accommodate four passengers

If you are planning to have more than two people in the cabin, there are cabins available that have Pullman beds that can be pulled down from the ceiling.

Others have a large sofa bed that can be made up in the evenings.

What I Like About The Inside Cabins:

  • They are a good size for an inside cabin
  • They have a good amount of storage space and drawers within the main cabin area
  • They have a good-sized, tiled bathroom
  • They are well maintained – even though the ship is over 30 years old.

What I Don’t like: 

  • The older style of traditional cruise ship décor.  Lots of wood and beige. Personal choice of course, but I prefer the décor of more modern ships like those of the MSC fleet or the newer Royal Caribbean ships. 

I am a big fan of inside cabins, as it saves money that can be spent on drinks, excursions, speciality dining – or another cruise!

One problem people mention is that it is easy to sleep – and sleep – and sleep in an inside cabin. There is no daylight to wake you up. 

I now pack my daylight alarm clock, which gently wakes me up in the morning. To learn more about daylight alarm clocks, check out my review here: emmacruises.com/lamp.

Outside Cabins – Borealis Review

The outside cabins on Borealis are almost identical to the inside cabins in style and design.

The average size is slightly bigger, at 215 sq ft. They can also sleep up to four people, with some cabins having pull-down “Pullman” beds or sofa beds.

There are 385 ocean-view cabins onboard.

They have either a porthole or a bigger, square window, depending on which deck you are on. 

Oceanview cabins are the next step up to an inside cabin. They are a good choice if you think you would miss having daylight in your room.

It is a cheaper option than a balcony suite cabin but still gives you views of the ocean – albeit with no actual outside space.

What I Like About The Oceanview Cabins:

  • The amount of storage space and drawers within the main cabin itself.
  • A good-sized, tiled bathroom with a bath and shower over.
  • Even though the ship is over 30 years old, it is very well maintained throughout.
  • Bright light and airy.

What I Don’t like: 

  • The older style of traditional cruise ship décor. Lots of wood and beige. Personal choice of course, but I prefer the décor of more modern ships like those of the MSC fleet or the newer Royal Caribbean ships. 

Balcony Suite Cabins – Bolette Review

Fred Olsen doesn’t offer standard “balcony” cabins as you would find on many other cruise ships.

“Balcony” cabins are known as “Balcony Suites”.

There are 120 of these balcony suites onboard.

I stayed in a balcony suite on Borealis’s sister ship Bolette, and it was very comfortable.

A standard balcony suite cabin is around 235 sq ft. Some balcony cabins can accommodate four guests with one bed coming down from the ceiling and a sofa bed.

There were two of us travelling and we had the room set up with just one double bed.

What I Like About Balcony Suite Cabins On Borealis

  • The storage space and drawers within the main cabin itself.
  • Good choice of TV and Movies to watch.
  • An actual bath, with a shower over it in the bathroom.

What I Don’t Love About Balcony Suite Cabins on Borealis

  • The older style of traditional cruise ship décor. Lots of wood and beige. Personal choice of course, but I prefer the décor of more modern ships like those of the MSC fleet or the newer Royal Caribbean ships. This ship is over 30 years old but is maintained very well.
  • No USB plugs or sockets by the beds. Again, this is down to the age of the ship, and there are plenty of plug sockets in the desk area.
  • Smoking on the balconies! I don’t smoke, but if you did you can here – and an ashtray is provided!

Only four cruise lines allow you to smoke on your cabin balcony, Fred Olsen is one of them!

Only four cruise lines allow you to smoke on your cabin balcony. To find out which ones, check out my fuller article on this below:

Cruise Line Balcony Smoking Policies – On These 4 Lines You Can

There are a number of “suite perks” you will get if you book a balcony suite.

To find out more details about these and the cabin itself, check out this article about my trip on Borealis’s sister ship, Bolette. The cabins are virtually identical:

Fred Olsen’s Bolette – Balcony Suite Real Review and Photo Guide (I Spent 9 Days Onboard)

Terrace Cabins – Borealis Review

Borealis has 7 “Terrace Cabins”, with a room size: of approximately 220 sq ft.

This is smaller than the balcony suite cabin I stayed in on Borealis’s sister ship, Bolette.

These unusual Terrace Cabins have sliding patio doors straight out onto the promenade deck.

They have a double bed which can be converted to singles and all the other cabin features you would expect.

The sliding patio doors in Terrace Cabins are like one-way mirrors – you can see everyone walking past on the promenade deck, but luckily they can’t see into your room!

I think it is nice that you can go straight out onto the promenade deck if you want to. You have plenty of daylight, but no private outside space.

I recently cruised on P&O’s Iona and had a Conservatory Mini Suite cabin. We had a balcony area that opened out onto the Promenade deck – but you couldn’t actually get out there because of the balcony railings.

To find out all about that cabin, see the article below.

I Booked the Most Controversial Cabin on a Cruise Ship – P&O’s Iona Conservatory Mini Suite

Borealis Suites

There is a range of different suites that you can book on Borealis

The size of these suites varies a great deal, with the largest, the Owner’s Suite, being a massive 940 Square feet!

A “Premier Suite” is smaller – but is still a very acceptable 575 Square feet!

I have never stayed in a large suite on a cruise ship, although I have been lucky enough to be invited to look at the suites of friends who have!

Do Fred Olsen Cruises Provide Bathrobes?

Fred Olsen provides bathrobes in suite cabins if you are sailing for three or more nights.

They say:

“Bathrobes are also available for use in other cabin grades, subject to availability. A refundable deposit is required and a charge is made to cover laundry costs.”

Fred Oslen Cruise lines

So if you want a bathrobe and it isn’t automatically provided, speak to your room steward.

Do The Cabins on Borealis have TVs?

All cabins on the Borealis come with TVs. There is a flat-screen TV that is wall mounted. It can be moved easily so that you always had a good view wherever you sit.

They have a good range of films and box sets and a selection of news channels.

Unlike many cruise lines, Fred Olsen doesn’t have lots of TV channels in many different languages, but there are still plenty of channel choices!

Do The Cabins on Borealis have Kettles?

All the cabins on Borealis came with a kettle and some tea/coffee-making facilities.

If there aren’t the tea bags that you’d like, feel free to take some from the buffet back to your room, I always do!

Do The Cabins on Borealis have Safes?

All cabins on Borealis have safes. They are quite small and can be found on one of the shelves in the wardrobe/closet area outside the bathroom.

Cabins to Avoid – Borealis

If you suffer from motion sickness, I would avoid a cabin right at the front or right at the back of the ship.

I do get seasick and unfortunately did feel a little unwell on my cruise on Borealis’s sister ship Bolette. This was probably due to a number of things:

  • The Itinerary – it was a winter cruise, we sailed in March 2023
  • The destination – going across the North Sea in the winter months can be rough.
  • The size of the ship – Borealis and Bolette are quite small. Although they do have stabilizers (retrofitted in 2022) Bolette seemed to move more than some other ships I have sailed on.

Deck 3 Terrace Cabins

I don’t think I would book a Terrace cabin, as I think I might find it distracting with people walking by outside whilst I am trying to relax – even if they can’t see into the cabin itself.

There are lots of people who love these cabins though.

Deck 3 and 5 Forward

If you are somebody who likes to go to sleep early and needs it to be quiet I would recommend avoiding the cabins at the front of decks 3 and 6. These are above and below the theatre.

The late theatre shows usually start at around 10:30 so the noise could be happening until around 11:30.

If you have mobility issues, I wouldn’t book a cabin on the ship’s lower decks. There are actually passenger cabins right down on deck 1 on Borealis! It’s a long walk to dinner or the theatre…

If you want to go up to the top deck (deck 9) it is a lot of stairs! The lifts/elevators may often be busy due to the older passenger demographic on Fred Olsen Cruises. Fewer guests may be able to walk up multiple sets of stairs.

Should You Book a Guaranteed Cabin?

I normally would choose a “guaranteed cabin” to save money and let the cruise line pick the cabin location. 

I didn’t pick my cabin location when I sailed on Borealis’s sister ship, Bolette. I think I was very fortunate to get a mid-ship cabin on that occasion. I am sure my seasickness would have been even worse if I was right at the front or the back of the ship!

Booking a “guaranteed” cabin is a good option for me. I am perfectly happy and able to walk great distances, and nothing much disturbs my sleep – so cabin location isn’t usually a high priority for me.

To learn more about guaranteed cabins and if it’s worth paying extra to pick your location, check out this post next: I Always Book Guaranteed Cabins on Cruise Ships – (Photo Examples, Regrets & More)

Would I Recommend These Cabins?

I would definitely recommend the cabins onboard Borealis. I have travelled on Borealis’s sister ship Bolette, which is nearly identical. The ship felt as though it had been well looked after and our cabin was spacious, always spotlessly clean and very comfortable.

We had a wonderful trip on Fred Olsen’s Bolette! I would like to book a trip on her sister ship Borealis if ever I get that opportunity!

It was lovely to get a taste of traditional, small-ship cruising. Fred Olsen has some wonderful itineraries and the staff were really friendly and helpful.

I often cruise on larger, less traditional ships so it made a nice change to try something different!

To find out all about my trip on Borealis’s sister ship Bolette, watch the video below:

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