We embarked in Brisbane instead of Sydney as it was more convenient for us to do so. Embarking the ship was very straight forward, easy and professional and all our details and cards were waiting for us.
Yes this ship is an old girl, 42 years! we knew this when we booked so didn't expect a brand new sparkling ship, the price decided it for us. With this in mind it was still in good condition for the age, rust here and there but the crew were always trying to keep the paint up to it. This did not worry us though. The inside of the ship was kept spotless.
The Food in the main restaurant was great, the service was efficient, our two waiters could not do any more for us, don't think we had the same meal served twice in 18 days. We ordered wine and never had to ask for our glass to be filled. We were on the second sitting 8.30pm this was quite late and the show for us was at 10.30pm so it did make it a late night but on the plus side a lot of times when leaving ports we were able to see the sunset and enjoy the sail away party, if you were on the early sitting you missed out. Think it would be better if the meal times were changed, second sitting was say about 8pm and the show at 10pm this would make it a better time, think it would have suited a lot of the older generation to eat at 5.30pm and their show at 7.30pm.
We loved having breakfast in the garden cafe each morning as it was very relaxing, no queuing up for food, no crowds of people. One thing I did notice on this cruise was that for some reason there was an absence of coughing and people with colds. This would have been one of the first cruises I have been on that I did not catch some sort of cough or cold. They were very strict with the use of the hand wash and you were not allowed in the restaurant without using it. I did not see anybody refusing to use it as I have on other ships! So good on you Fred Olsen.
Our cabin was quite low in the ship, also a bit noisy! think we were near the engines!! It did have two portholes, having single beds did make the room seem larger, you could not join the beds together, not sure but think most cabins only had single beds. The room was cleaned twice a day and our cabin steward was very friendly. No complaints. I found the doona on the bed a bit too warm at night, I suppose I could have asked for a blanket but we just turned down the air conditioner to the lowest and then it was alright.
There were no children on board or even teenagers, probably as it was a world cruise. I did not see anywhere were they would have entertained children or teenagers even if they were on board. I don't think this cruise would have suited people in their 20's to 40's as it did cater for an older generation, we are both in our early 60's but didn't mind it a bit. We wanted a relaxing cruise and that is what we got. We still had fun, loved the shows at night especially the Fred Olsen Dancers, they were not only dancers but could sing really well too. Did not miss one show! not too keen on some of the other entertainers they had. There are no poker machines on board, not a poker machine player so didn't effect us. The stand out in the lectures was the man from Customs who gave us some great stories, enjoyed them all.
We had been on the Balmoral the year before and personally I prefer the Black Watch, it's a smaller ship than some of the other big cruise lines but because of that it had a really nice feel and atmosphere to it. The majority of the passengers on this cruise were English having embarked in Southampton or Sydney and we found them to be very friendly and interesting, made some great friends on our table. They were also very interested in finding out all about Australia.
All in all we enjoyed our cruise and would certainly do another Black Watch cruise if it came to Australia. We knew it was an old ship so yes a few things needs fixing up but it didn't deter from the overall look and feel of the ship. We got value for money and had a great time. Would love to try the other Fred Olsen ships as well.