Editor's note: Black Watch went into dry dock on November 4, 2014, for an 11-day refurbishment and will have 27 cabins on Lido Deck 7 fitted with balcony terraces, which will extend out 1.2 metres from the ship's bulkhead. The rest of the changes include various engineering works, general refurbishment and interior and exterior painting.
This sleek, Finnish built mid-sized ship designed for long distance cruising started life as the Royal Viking Star, entering service on June 26 1972. She was built by Wärtsilä in Helsinki as a six star vessel and owned by Royal Viking Line, as were her sisters, Royal Viking Sky and Royal Viking Sea, which followed in 1973. These elegant ships were considered to be amongst the most luxurious cruise ships in the world at the time.
In 1992 it was acquired by Norwegian Cruise Line and renamed the Westward, and in 1994 became the Star Odyssey and spent two years as a member of the now-defunct Royal Cruise Line.
Acquired in 1996 by Norway-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, it was renamed the Black Watch after a Scottish Regiment and nowadays is best known for its innovative worldwide itineraries, outstanding service and affordable rates. Since Black Watch carries primarily British passengers the U.K. influence is evident in everything from onboard activities and lectures to cuisine and currency (all charges are assessed in pounds). The ship inspires extreme loyalty among past passengers as on a typical cruise upwards of 50 percent may be repeaters.
The continuing refurbishment programme on Black Watch means she is an attractive vessel and an appealing option, especially for the older set looking for a relaxing and authentic cruising experience.