<em>Editor's note: Black Watch will undergo significant refurbishment in November 2016, which will include, upgraded in-cabin technology, new restaurants, new decor and new designs for the pubs and bars onboard.</em>
Built in Finland, this ship started life in 1972 as the Viking Star, and at the time was regarded as one of the most luxurious cruise ships in the world. After two brief acquisitions by other cruise lines, it was bought by Fred. Olsen in 1996 and renamed Black Watch. In common with the rest of the Olsen fleet, Black Watch has a devoted following of regular cruisers; and the majority say they would never want to sail on any other line.
Black Watch really does hark back to the days when cruise ships were all about their sleek lines, stylish design and onboard ambience. Crew have been on this ship for years, and guests likewise -- with one of the highest repeat rates in cruising.
The ship is minute compared to the modern-day behemoths and Fred. makes a virtue of this, proudly declaring: "Focusing on providing a traditional cruise experience rather than gimmicks such as climbing walls and on board bumper cars, Black watch feels friendly and familiar."
And it's true -- it does. Staff are attentive and smiling, and you'll find after a day or two onboard (or if you've returned), will remember your favourite drink or where you like to sit in the main dining room.
There's no disguising the fact, however, that the ship is well into its middle age -- and it shows -- with many fixtures, fittings and upholstery needing a refurb. The good news is it's set to have one in November 2016, which will see a significant number of venues redesigned or moved.
In keeping with the rest of the Fred. fleet, Black Watch sails from a number of ports around the U.K.