It was with some misgiving that we booked our cruise on a smaller and older ship than we had previously sailed on but we needn't have had any doubts. From the moment we checked in to the moment we disembarked we were delighted with the friendly welcome and service we received and with the whole ambiance of the Black Watch.
Yes, it was an older ship and this couldn't be disguised but the interiors were very tasteful and fresh and there were so many delightful nooks and crannies both inside and out where you could watch the throng or be quiet and peaceful. The cabin (our first without a balcony) was amazingly light and bright and contained everything we required and the beds were supremely comfortable.
The food was very good throughout with the meat and fish being particularly outstanding. A full silver service wasn't offered in the dining room (presumably due to lack of space) but we didn't find it an issue. There was sometimes a small amount of confusion at breakfast when wanting to mix and match between waiter and self-service but it soon resolved itself because the staff were all so charming and so willing to please. This attitude was reflected throughout the ship. Nothing was too much trouble and I never saw a sulky face in the whole 8 days.
We had both a Welcome and a Farewell Captain's party, both extremely good with a wide range of drinks on offer plus delicious canapes and very funny speeches from the Captain. Also we got to sit down which was much more pleasant than standing. The entertainment from the resident troupe was terrific. A very skillful choreographer had chosen some wonderfully varied themes thus allowing varied forms of song and dance which really showed off the talents of the dancers and singers. The one area of disappointment for us was the poor quality of the ballroom dancing. The dance floor was very small and the music provided (both live and recorded) was played at a speed which made for totally uninspiring dancing - we gave up. We also very much enjoyed the entertainment by the ship's crew on one evening - much of it comprising charming and beautiful dances from the Philippines.
Of the other facilities, we very much enjoyed the observation lounge at the front of the ship where a pianist played beautifully in the evenings and I enjoyed the swimming pool although, due to the fact that there was no shallow end, my husband who is not a confident swimmer, did not join me.
We took two excursions, one on the spectacular Flam railway and onto Voss where we had a superb lunch before rejoining the ship at Gudvangen and the second from Olden over the Dalsnibba mountain to Geranger where we took a wonderful ferry trip along this most spectacular of fjords.
Port 2 not listed in drop-down list. Alesund. Truly unique architecture in Art Noveau style. Town rebuilt after fire in 1904. Do climb (418 steps) or drive up to the mountain lodge which sits on a bluff overlooking the town and local area. Descriptive boards up there explain that Alesund is situated on a series of islands, many of which are linked by tunnels. Visit delightful town museum and the Jugendstil Centre which tells you all about the Art Noveau period. Rating: 5
Port 3 not listed in drop-down list. Stavanger. Visit the old quarter where all the houses are white, made of wood and set in beautiful little gardens along old cobbled streets. The town museum is very extensive covering many aspects. Parts of the town are still full of wooden buildings.