The largest passenger vessel to drydock here in 63 years is on her way from Norway to the UK and A&P Falmouth is rapidly gearing up to receive her.

The Fred Olsen Cruises flagship Bolette is due here from Southampton on Thursday evening for drydocking.

Bolette, which arrives in Southampton early on Thursday morning after a cruise to Northern Norway, will disembark her passengers before steaming at speed to arrive here for an early evening docking. This of course is heavily dependent upon weather conditions and several other factors.

The 237 metre long cruiseship is 62,735 grt and will be the largest passenger ship in terms of tonnage ever to have docked here since the Oriana in 1960 - although Oriana at 245 metres and 42,000 grt is the longest liner to have docked at Falmouth.

To accommodate the testing and maintenance of her stabilisers two large holes have been excavated on both sides of the drydock wall to enable the stabilisers to be extended from the hull for routine inspection. The intricate layout of the keel blocks is already in place.

Tidal conditions are as good as you get with the ship arriving on the highest spring tides. Coming in at a relatively deep draft the ship will only have 2.0 metres under her keel in the channel leading into the docks.

The ship will come down the channel aided by three tugs at very slow speed to reduce the hydrodynamic effects of squat and sheer. Squat is when the ship enters shallow water too fast and its draft increases due to the volume of water being pushed. Ships can violently sheer in shallow water.

Two pilots will be onboard for the manoeuvre, which is the procedure when handling this length of ship drydocking.

The refit schedule is extremely tight as Bolette has to be in Newcastle for an afternoon departure on March 9 for her Northern Lights cruise to Norway.

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Last year saw the arrival of new customer Fred Olsen Cruise Lines across A&P Group’s facilities.

A&P Falmouth and A&P Tyne both welcomed cruise ship MV Balmoral for ship repair works.

The Balmoral initially visited A&P Falmouth for a programme of works which included steel inserts, ship side valves, tunnel thruster overhaul and underwater paint. The cruise ship subsequently visited A&P Tyne for works to a cracked propeller and other small work packages.

Fred Olsen’s MV Borealis also visited Cammell Laird for repairs.

At the time Peter Deer, managing director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said: “As a family-run cruise line, we know how important it is to support local communities. By docking in both A&P Falmouth and A&P Tyne, we are pleased to be supporting both the local communities and the wider supply chains. We look forward to an even stronger working relationship with A&P Group both now and in the future.”

Built by the Italian company Fincantieri, Bolette has 12 decks with accommodation for 1,380 passengers. Her top speed is 25 knots compared to the Oriana’s 30 knots on trials.

Bolette was acquired by Fred Olsen from Holland America in 2020 and named after his great grandmother. Launched as the Amsterdam in 2000 the ship was the fourth and last ship of the Rotterdam Class which included the Volendam, Rotterdam and Zaandam. The Rotterdam was purchased at the same time becoming the Borealis for Fred Olsen.

The company has been an important customer for Falmouth as a cruise destination for many years. This year the ships Braemar and Balmoral will make four calls between them.

A&P Group was asked for a comment on the forthcoming Bolette refit at Falmouth but did not respond.