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Borealis Cape Verde and Morocco


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I said I would do a review after the trip but I needed time to get it in perspective because I might have been unduly harsh if I had reported sooner.


There was a lot to like.  Our cabin, a premier suite, was spacious, comfortable with a fabulous balcony that we had a room service lunch on one day.  It was kept very clean.  The bathroom was small for a suite, bog standard in fact, inherited from Holland America so probably not much could be done with it.  The “joy of the journey” stuff suited me:  geography, geology, history and none of it dumbed down.  Delivered by experts in their field.  The destination talks were also very informative and interesting.  I enjoyed the cookery demonstrations and the movies that were shown.  I didn’t go to the music talks but my husband did and he and others were very enthusiastic about the presenter and his depth of knowledge.

Staff and service were good.The food was hit and miss.  Some things were delicious, others a disaster.  A filet mignon that I couldn’t cut, incinerated lamb chops and after two attempts at ice cream sundaes the waiter explained that they are assembled in advance and kept in the fridge so they would always be melted by the time I got them!  Breakfast and lunch in the MDR were always good when I went and without the disappointments of dinner time!  Colours and Tastes was very good and worth the extra.  I cancelled my booking at Vasco for reasons that will become apparent.  The buffet always had a wide selection but I just don’t like that style of eating although I did use it sometimes when I couldn’t be bothered waiting till 8.30 for dinner.  On formal nights everyone in the MDR had got dressed up which was lovely unlike on American ships where I’ve seen Hawaiian shirts and baseball caps.


We only got two out of three ports in Cabo Verde and, effectively one out of three in Morocco.  Arrecife (gambas pil pil) and a half day in Lisbon (pasteis de nata and lunch outdoors) were fine but not instead of what was missed.  Bad weather was the reason given and it was (partly?) true.  In Morocco the ship did dock at Agadir but the rain was torrential and returning early birds were advising those of us waiting to disembark not to bother. “Agadir is closed, not so much as a corner shop open”. We got on the shuttle anyway and …..stayed on it to come back.  Couldn’t even see through the bouncing rain.  The excursion to Rabat from Casablanca was good with an interesting guide and a generous lunch (that I didn’t eat, see below).  The traffic in Casablanca is horrible and the journey took much longer than the mileage would suggest.  There was no time for shopping that day but no problem, I could shop in Tangier after my walking tour couldn’t I? Except I couldn’t because we didn’t go there, apparently too rough to dock.  


Now to the grim bit.  After the first couple of days I developed an upset stomach and assumed I had been overeating.  We hadn’t reached our first port yet.  The captain then announced that there were “quite a few cases of gastroenteritis” and we should report symptoms.  I did so but since I hadn’t been sick (only the other) I was told to eat bread and potatoes and avoid fruit.  It did not improve, I ran out of Imodium (Arrecife to the rescue) but it kept coming back.  One formal evening the dining room was half empty so it must have been rife (I couldn’t starve for ever).  My day in Rabat was nearly an embarrassing horror.  Luckily sign language is international and a long queue of burkha-clad women stood aside.  I was still very unwell when I got home and by the time I saw a doctor I had been suffering for over three weeks.  Dysentery, caused by contaminated food or water, she guessed, didn’t wait for results but prescribed heavy-duty antibiotics which worked.  I have since discovered that this was the third Borealis cruise in a row with the same problem, not that we were told that at any point.  What had they done about it?  A quick clean and set sail again apparently.  Twice during the cruise the water supply was turned off overnight with no explanation.  A coincidence?  We’ll never know.  I am still angry at the lack of information and the lack of treatment.  “All I have is Imodium” said the medical person.  Really? No antibiotics?  The daily instructions to wash our hands was insulting when the problem was not the passengers’ fault.  

I may have been particularly unlucky as my husband recovered quite quickly but I suspect others were even sicker than me.  Staff in full PPE was a regular sight but then I think there was covid too.  Plague ship indeed.


Despite the positives I don’t think I will cruise with FOCL again.  Maybe all cruise lines are equally opaque and unhelpful but my abiding feeling is that I don’t trust them to look after their passengers and they certainly don’t tell the truth.   I know this review will annoy the “wed to Fred” folk but I have tried to be fair.




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Sorry to hear that.  Dysentery is nasty.  I've had it when I was aircrew.  We had a loo blocked off on the aircraft just for crew.  We all had it.  Ours was amoebic dysentery.  Might depend upon where they picked up the water.


Actually, although I can quite understand why you took the Immodium, it's the worst thing you can do, as the bugs need to get out, not be kept in.  I am really surprised they didn't have antibiotics on board.  They always have before.

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