Having only been on far larger ships with Cunard and Celebrity, my wife and I booked Fred Olsen after research and finding mostly good reviews.
Embarkation for our 28 day Caribbean cruise was straight forward and well organised.
Ours was an outside 2 port hole cabin on the 4th deck, clean, tidy, and a good size, a little near the bow but expected with such a late booking. Our cabin stewardess was absolutely wonderful!
Black Watch Ship
Smaller than many new cruise ships, which gave it a much more interesting and intimate feel. You get to know fellow passengers on a daily basis rather than passing them once. Fred Olsen passengers on the whole are retired, interesting and friendly folk. The ship was refitted December 2009 and public areas are of a good comfortable standard with many where you can simply sit and read a book if that is your thing. Otherwise there is a full itinerary of activities and quizzes to keep your body and brain active and we met new friends this way.
Food and Service
The main restaurant was an absolute delight, food was of an excellent standard and quality, and typical daily dinner menu might include lamb shank, duck, steak, curries and various tasty vegetarian options. There was also a deck buffet for lunchtime diners and tasty fish and chips or burgers could be got from the upper decks weather permitting. There is also a supper club where diners can eat a hot or cold meal between 11-12pm. We also ordered complimentary room service from our cabin, snacks were excellent this way!
Service from restaurant staff and on the ship as a whole was generally of the highest standard, the overriding impression was that Fred Olsen staff really did care about you, many of who took the trouble to always remember your name, a really nice Fred Olsen personal touch.
The wood panelled Library was well stocked with comfortable seating, all areas including the bars on the ship generally had a comfy feel to them. The gym was well equipped with modern weights and cardiovascular equipment. There was also a well equipped laundry with washing machines and dryers and a dry cleaning service available.
We were both impressed with the Fred Olsen experience and can understand why the majority of Fred Olsen ships have repeat passengers on board. In fact, as soon as we got off the ship we booked the 77 day Black Watch South American cruise leaving on 5th January 2011 in a few weeks.