It was by pure chance that we booked the cruise. I was scanning the advertisements for a cruise around the British Isles when I spotted the Fred Olsen advert for St Petersburg and the Baltic Capitals. It was on my 'must do' list for 2013. The price was right. The date and length of cruise just right, so why not. The Black Watch is a small ship with a big heart. Obviously, her age dictates that she looks a bit tired in places but she is obviously a battler and she is a pleasure to be a passenger on. You could always find a quiet area to read and reflect, or company in one of her many lounge areas. You were not aware of the Black Watch being small as there always seemed to be plenty of space and room. Her personnel are second to none. The service we had throughout the cruise from the dining room staff and room attendants was second to none. They always had a smile, were always cheerful and nothing was too much trouble for them. The food was an absolute delight with something for everyone. Just couldn't be faulted. The evening shows were a pleasure, and the Black Watch Company are to be congratulated. No bad language from the comedian just pure fun and laughter. The singers and dancers plus musician's throughout the ship were a delight. There are two shops on board. Small but full of goodies. In fact I bought a lot a goodies with no regrets. Ladies, do not bother to take clothes with you, they carry a beautiful range of clothes and swimwear. My husband also purchased some items of clothing. Very pleased at the fact he wouldn't find them on the High Street. You won't find a rock climbing wall or a water ski facility on board this ship, but who really needs it. Not I. If you are seeking warmth, comfort, good food and company, interesting speakers (we had several), the opportunity to go on excursions that give you a taste of the various countries
and lots of different activities during the day (including how to play bridge and learn to dance), then the Black Watch is for you. Try it and see.
Would prefer to sail from and to Southampton as it is much easier from the Midlands. Thought the booking in at Dover an absolute farce. Upon arrival we were allocated a number, told to sit and wait for it to be called out so that we could then book in. It was never called out. After an hour of waiting in vain, we made enquiries to find that the system had disintegrated and basically we were to queue alongside others who had just arrived. Totally inadequate number of seats available within the hall. Why allocate a time for people to book in, if that instruction is then totally disregarded. Surely it would be easier on every-one, if once booked in you could then proceed to the ship.
An absolute mess. Instead of arriving at Dover, whereupon a taxi would take us to the Ramada Hotel where we would collect the car and arrive home at a reasonable time, we docked at Southampton at approximately 9.30 with a three hour coach journey to Dover. Granted it wasn't the fault of the shipping line that the weather was horrendous, but why use Dover if it is renowned for problems when the weather is bad. When we arrived at Dover, it was noted that the P & O Ferries were still running backwards and forwards and that a large ship had docked that same morning. Mmm! There was no help at Dover from Porters as they were busy? with luggage for the return trip. In fact the physical help at Dover was absolutely non-existent. In the pouring rain, I had to gather up my luggage (4 x items), find a trolley (like gold) then stack it myself onto a heavy cumbersome trolley and push it to the reception area. There were no taxis to be seen anywhere, and we had to ask Dover Reception to help out with contacting a taxi company, which she did. All in all, a very wet, bedraggled and fed up person. Agreed it was not the fault of Fred Olsen that the weather was bad, but the extreme lack of help and attitude at Dover was naughty, and when I choose my next cruise I will steer clear of Dover.
Missing Port - Turku, Finland. Complimentary Port Shuttle Bus was available, however we went on a trip - Panoramic Turku. A pleasant trip out ending up in Naantall, a pretty town alongside the archipelago. A much appreciated comfort stop and a coffee and cake in a beautiful timber restaurant followed by 'free time' to explore the area. Ideal trip for those with a limited mobility problem.
Missing Port - Kristiansand, Norway. Arrived on a Sunday. Elected not to go on a trip. Big mistake. Used the 'Noddy Train' (10 Euros per person - big rip off) from the port to the centre of the town. The 'noddy train' would only stop at the one place) Everywhere closed up for the day except the Church and a few bars. Very disappointed. Would suggest 'find an alternative port of some interest or at least with some life'.