Me and my partner went on the Australasian leg of the Black Watch World cruise 2104. We boarded the ship in Sydney March 15, 2014. When we had boarded we learnt from some of the fellow passengers that there had been a newspaper article about the previous legs of the cruise.The ship had broken its propeller and had it be repaired. Also we were informed that a passenger had jumped off the ship and committed suicide.
Well onboard we found our cabin on deck 5, said to be a deluxe cabin. Couldn't find out where the luxury was. After a week we were informed that we had to move because of an emergent maintenance. This was informed to us through a letter under our cabin door at 10 pm! No personal information. No explanation. They wanted to move us to a cabin on deck 4 with portholes. And, as a gesture of good-will they offered us 320 British pounds in compensation! This was just what we had paid extra for not having portholes! Then they offered us a cabin on deck 8 and told us that we had to move the next day after we came back from a tour. Next day, when inspecting that cabin, we found out that they repaired the bathroom so we could not move in there. At this stage our patience with the ships staff was running out. But finally it ended with them offering us another cabin on deck 8 with a great balcony, some sort of suite. OK, it ended fine for us. But how do they treat their passengers that do not argue with them?
The food onboard is very British! No real highlights. I would say... just average. You do not travel with Black Watch for the food! I would say perhaps a 2,5-3 out of 5. Definitely not more. How can they serve canned litchies when you are in ports where they have so much fresh fruit? We got the answer the last day in Singapore. They captain then announced that the ship had to wait in port for at least one more day due to a late incoming container ship from England. This ship should deliver three containers of food from - England!!! All food onboard so far had been brought from the beginning of the journey, from England. Can't British people eat other food than British?
Fred Olsen do what they can do make money. So, for example you have to pay 5 pounds for the shuttle buses. 1 pound for 50 cl water on excursions which are heavily overpriced!
Fellow passengers? Mainly British lower middle class/working class people in their late 70s and up. Perhaps even older than that. Not all passengers were using wheelchairs or rollator walkers but many, many. I don't know how many who died during the cruise out of old age, but it has to be quite a few. The ship priest died in Cairns.
Even if not all passengers are British so do Fred Olsen treat all passengers as if they were. All entertainment on the ship catered to the British. On tv they just had British channels. If you were not British you were more or less out. We, not British, didn't really matter to them! The ship has some formal nights, but it looked more like a masquerade. Formal did not really mean formal to mane passengers. Also they had some theme nights. One of them is British! What on earth is that? How do you dress when you are not British?
The ship in itself? Well, from the outside she is a beauty. But on the inside she is an old wreck, like the passengers. The water in the taps was brown/yellow from rust (?). They had close the water system quite often for maintenance. The rust on the outside showed in so many places. I just wonder how she looks on the inside. Or perhaps I don't want to know.
In short: The crew saved the cruise! The captain Age Danielsen did a good job with telling us stories etc about the places we visited. The staff in the Garden Café did a very good job under the management of the Captain waiter.
Would I go again with Fred Olsen? Hard to think so.