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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
My mother - mid 70s - and I in my late forties sailed from Belfast, for the Scandanavian capitals cruise, including Talinn and St Petersburg. Cabin: Deck 3 outside, twin bed cabin. Totally satisfied with our cabin. Plenty of room, kept ... Read More
My mother - mid 70s - and I in my late forties sailed from Belfast, for the Scandanavian capitals cruise, including Talinn and St Petersburg. Cabin: Deck 3 outside, twin bed cabin. Totally satisfied with our cabin. Plenty of room, kept beautifully clean by Vanessa our cabin steward; who also performed in the crew shows. And plenty of storage space for our clothes and bits and pieces. Dressing table, chair; table and tub chair - large shower; hair drier and tv. Hospitality tray, though we never used it once, so much food on offer, plus a permanent tea and coffee station outside the restaurant. Being low down in the accommodation we were little troubled by deck maintenance and sea movement. Beds very comfortable with beautifully laundered linen and great pillows. Having some experience of travelling on cargo ships over the years, the occasional ship smells of bunkering, and the inevitable hum and vibration of the engines disturbed us hardly at all, as we reckoned it was hardly possible to avoid these things altogether. We slept well, and loved our cabin and found Vanessa efficient and cheerful. One morning we noticed our tap was squirting a bit strangely and thought we'd have to report it at some time. When we returned to the cabin a few hours later it had been fixed without the need for us to mention it. Food: excellent. A real treat. I tried lots of things I wouldn't normally have had access to, and enjoyed virtually everything. Breakfast and lunch have both buffet and service options; and there are other options apart from the restaurant for dinner, as well as the supper club for late night snackers. These early meals are open sitting so waiter service for those not doing the buffet option is a little looser than at evening meals. And tea and coffee after lunch is provided at the drinks station outside the restaurant door rather than at the table. Can't say it was a problem though. My mother is a very plain-food and picky kind of eater, and after chatting with the Maitre D - Jefron - was accommodated perfectly. They couldn't have tried harder to please her. Superji and Apirat our waiters were friendly and attentive. Fabulous food. We had the all inclusive package so our drinks were 'free' for an extra £10 per day per person. So unless you're only interested in premium brands, we'd recommend this. Well worth it. Being able to say 'yes' to a gin or glass of wine or fruit juice as often or whenever we fancied was brilliant. Fellow passangers: most of the folk we spoke with seemed to really enjoy their cruise. Heard a few moans eg, wifi problems. There where a few wheelchair users, and many people using sticks and wheely-frames. They seemed to receive good assistance from ship's crew. So I would say - only from appearances, I hasten to add - that Fred Olsen is welcoming and good for passengers who are less mobile, or have particular mobility needs. Most folks were friendly and it was easy chatting with others. Facilities: pool and jacuzzis were used, even in Baltic waters. Lifts worked very well. There wasn't a full passenger capacity on board so maybe lift congestion was relieved a little that way. Activities were good; aimed mainly, I suppose, at the older cruiser. Bingo, quizzes, quoites, bowls, putting etc. The evening entertainment was great: the show company dancers and singers very good indeed. The musicians also very good either in the showband or around the ship in different places and at different times. The comedian was popular, as was the singer; and the featured artists - guitarist and harpist very good in their own way. Nice selection of movies, too. Speakers for the port talks and the enrichment lectures also quite excellent, and really did add to the experience of taking the tour excursions, which were brilliant. Great guides, great destinations - not at all harmed by the generally wonderful weather. I don't know what Fred Olsen could provide by way of children's provision, but there was only one tiny infant on our voyage, with its young family. It has to be said that a lot of otherwise doting grandparents who would normally worship their youngsters were very happy to be in a basically child-free holiday atmosphere of quiet peacefulness. Maybe this line isn't geared up for children's clubs, and disney-esque activities to keep large groups of children of all ages entertained while parents while away the hours doing other things - it's not a big ship - but there's obviously a place for older, slower folks wanting something a bit more gentle-paced without the fear of trampling down or being trampled by kids, much as they might be adored in other contexts and at home. Mileage will vary! There was provision for a late-night crowd however in the Lido deck after the evening entertainment; singing and dancing. This was an excellent cruise, overall. Worth noting: we did the Boudicca voyage from Belfast two (or three?) years ago and really enjoyed that. But the embarkation, disembarkation was much much better this time round. Big improvement. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Having read some of the reviews on this site about cruising on the Black Watch we were a little concerned about the holiday we had booked. Contributors commented about noisy cabins and about the quality of the food. This was our 4th ... Read More
Having read some of the reviews on this site about cruising on the Black Watch we were a little concerned about the holiday we had booked. Contributors commented about noisy cabins and about the quality of the food. This was our 4th cruise, one previously with Fred, one with Celebrity X and one with P and O. We enjoyed them all in different ways, but have returned from the Baltic completely satisfied both with the cruise company, the ship and the destinations. We chose a superior outside cabin and were allocated 5095 towards the aft of the ship and on the same deck as reception and the shops. It turned out to be perfectly placed with easy access to dining, entertainment and the heated outside swimming pool. The only improvement we could have wanted would have been a double bed but I understand these are less plentiful on the Black Watch, compared to the Boudicca. The cabin was spotless and Joanne, our housekeeper, was friendly and always smiling. The quality of the food was terrific and we felt fortunate to have been allocated a table in the Orchid dining room, with two other personable and interesting older couples. We particularly enjoyed the three formal evenings and noticed that the chef made a special effort on these evenings. For example, half a lobster as a starter choice, what's not to like? We are ballroom dancers and we're delighted by the beginners classes run by the three dance hosts, Alan John and Lynn whom we got to know quite well over the course of the holiday. I guess our only disappointment was the organisation of the Tea Dance when afternoon tea was not based in the Neptune Lounge. As a result, very few joined in the Tea Dance. The lectures on St Peterburg were informative and well presented and I liked the talk on Russian Miniatures. As for the entertainment, the young company of 'Black Watch' singers and dancers were outstanding with shows full of energy and colour, comparable with anything we had experienced on larger ships. The guest entertainers were likewise very good and catered for a variety of tastes. The crew show was uplifting and insprirational. The panel discussion with the Black Watch company, chaired by Antony, was very interesting. The artists answered questions about how they got into show business and what life was like onboard ship for months on end. The life of a performer is both precarious and maybe short lived. The destinations were outstanding. I guess St Peterburg and our visit to the Winter Palace was the highlight, and everyone agreed that we would have liked more time in Russia. Next time. However, all of the other destinations had something different to offer; the ABBA museum in Stockholm, a husky ride in Helsinki, the three Explorer museums in Oslo, were all quite special.The guided shore excursions were good value. On our previous cruise with Fred Olsen on the Boudica we were fortunate to be upgraded to a junior suite and, astonishingly, were invited to dine at the Captain's table. We never expected to beat that, but our cruise to the Baltic on the wonderful Black Watch was the best yet. As a postscript, a bus to Great Victoria and Central stations in Belfast might have relieved the long queue for taxis on disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We had a wonderful cruise to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The Ship is small by our standards, and the décor is a bit tired, but the staff and the food was wonderful. The entertainment was very good, probably the best of any of the nine ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The Ship is small by our standards, and the décor is a bit tired, but the staff and the food was wonderful. The entertainment was very good, probably the best of any of the nine cruises we have been on. Pity about the Nova-virus that affected quite a number of guests and crew. ( we escaped thanks) The Ship's crew never made any announcements. (all we had was Chinese whispers) There was however some BAD points, First the ship was late! Embarkation was an embarrassment, sitting in a Big Tent for TWO hours, Coffee from the back of a truck, Porta-loos. Information from a lady standing on a chair shouting instructions.( no loud speaker) Arrival back in Belfast to very heavy rain and being stuck in the large tent again, the same shouting lady and one senior police man and other people in yellow coats,not knowing what they were doing, directing passengers into lines going nowhere. (organized confusion) No transport was laid on, any other Port always has Buses, and/or Taxi-cabs. (some body missed a trick here).   Read Less

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