6 Fred. Olsen Black Watch Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

We are booked on a longish cruise on Balmoral in 2019 and wanted to refresh our Fred Olsen experience and keep our loyalty level current. So a one-night repositioning cruise was not quite as silly as it sounds. Some 200 other people ... Read More
We are booked on a longish cruise on Balmoral in 2019 and wanted to refresh our Fred Olsen experience and keep our loyalty level current. So a one-night repositioning cruise was not quite as silly as it sounds. Some 200 other people obviously agreed with us although many were travel agent staff on what is euphemistically called a familiarisation trip. Ticketing was bit haphazard as the information was an adaption of that for a usual cruise. You could interpret it that we could expect both a Welcome Aboard and a Farewell cocktail party - presumably back to back! The terminal at Tilbury was dreadful. Admittedly it was not the main London Cruise Terminal of 'Empire Windrush' fame. But check-in was rapid and efficient, we showed our free bus passes, were quickly directed to our cabin by the ever-friendly Fred Olsen crew and there was a good selection of hot and cold food available in the Glentanar restaurant. The main thing that impressed us was the quality of the refit that had taken place in the last year. A lot of money had obviously been spent bringing Black Watch as close to modern standards as is possible in an elderly lady. The decor and facilities in our cabin were very good. We were getting angry that the usual lockable drawer for valuables had no key - and then found a lovely new safe! The bathroom was spotless and storage had been very much improved. It was the same throughout the ship and the new facilities that have been shoe-horned into the ship over the years have not detracted from the sense of space. The new balconies on 7 deck (the Promenade deck) still seem a bit odd but we didn't have one, nor did we use the Prom deck much on a very cold night. There was one sitting for dinner, at 7pm, and a creditable impressionist did his job keeping everyone awake afterwards. You can't expect too much for £80 plus optional £20 return coach fare! This wasn't a busy, noisy party cruise, nor anything like a 'normal' cruise, but for 24 hours we got all the essentials and the four of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Well done Fred Olsen - a great idea and a very nice updated ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose this ship as it was leaving from scotland and was not a big ship. Embarkation was good and the safety drill well done though i was disturbed that wee were not made to wear and demonstrate our life jackets on other cruises this ... Read More
We chose this ship as it was leaving from scotland and was not a big ship. Embarkation was good and the safety drill well done though i was disturbed that wee were not made to wear and demonstrate our life jackets on other cruises this has not been the case. W were well aware of the ship and were pleasantly surprised at the general state of her. Food good. entertainment really excellent with an exceptional classical pianist and a great show team, The speaker doing port talks was quite abysmal. the first speaker at any event i have ever heard. the speaker on the russian area nd jewellery was knowledgeable enough but a hustler and really was only there to sell as much on board of the good he brought but we did learn a fair bit from him, The crew were really lovely hard working learnt our preferences very quickly. we could not fault them. now for the rub. One does not pay over 4k for a holiday and expect it to be anything other than a luxury holiday. I did not expect to have th very strong smell of sewage or effluent in our corridor around our cabin we could next leave or enter the area with out it hitting us. this is cabin 5105 and i would strongly recommend anyone avoid it. We reported it an at first the smell of a lot of air freshener seemed to be on top of the nasty pong then after the canon next door complained and e did again. a pumper came ands took a panel of the corridor an ugly sight. The smell continued till finally vy the 8th day it was gone. Not a word of apology or offer of change or even on board spend. not everyone can afford cruise after cruise,i felt cheated a little by this. Having said that we did grow to really like the ship.We would consider going on her again but never on this deck. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
It was by pure chance that we booked the cruise. I was scanning the advertisements for a cruise around the British Isles when I spotted the Fred Olsen advert for St Petersburg and the Baltic Capitals. It was on my 'must do' ... Read More
It was by pure chance that we booked the cruise. I was scanning the advertisements for a cruise around the British Isles when I spotted the Fred Olsen advert for St Petersburg and the Baltic Capitals. It was on my 'must do' list for 2013. The price was right. The date and length of cruise just right, so why not. The Black Watch is a small ship with a big heart. Obviously, her age dictates that she looks a bit tired in places but she is obviously a battler and she is a pleasure to be a passenger on. You could always find a quiet area to read and reflect, or company in one of her many lounge areas. You were not aware of the Black Watch being small as there always seemed to be plenty of space and room. Her personnel are second to none. The service we had throughout the cruise from the dining room staff and room attendants was second to none. They always had a smile, were always cheerful and nothing was too much trouble for them. The food was an absolute delight with something for everyone. Just couldn't be faulted. The evening shows were a pleasure, and the Black Watch Company are to be congratulated. No bad language from the comedian just pure fun and laughter. The singers and dancers plus musician's throughout the ship were a delight. There are two shops on board. Small but full of goodies. In fact I bought a lot a goodies with no regrets. Ladies, do not bother to take clothes with you, they carry a beautiful range of clothes and swimwear. My husband also purchased some items of clothing. Very pleased at the fact he wouldn't find them on the High Street. You won't find a rock climbing wall or a water ski facility on board this ship, but who really needs it. Not I. If you are seeking warmth, comfort, good food and company, interesting speakers (we had several), the opportunity to go on excursions that give you a taste of the various countries and lots of different activities during the day (including how to play bridge and learn to dance), then the Black Watch is for you. Try it and see. Note(s) Would prefer to sail from and to Southampton as it is much easier from the Midlands. Thought the booking in at Dover an absolute farce. Upon arrival we were allocated a number, told to sit and wait for it to be called out so that we could then book in. It was never called out. After an hour of waiting in vain, we made enquiries to find that the system had disintegrated and basically we were to queue alongside others who had just arrived. Totally inadequate number of seats available within the hall. Why allocate a time for people to book in, if that instruction is then totally disregarded. Surely it would be easier on every-one, if once booked in you could then proceed to the ship. Disembarkation An absolute mess. Instead of arriving at Dover, whereupon a taxi would take us to the Ramada Hotel where we would collect the car and arrive home at a reasonable time, we docked at Southampton at approximately 9.30 with a three hour coach journey to Dover. Granted it wasn't the fault of the shipping line that the weather was horrendous, but why use Dover if it is renowned for problems when the weather is bad. When we arrived at Dover, it was noted that the P & O Ferries were still running backwards and forwards and that a large ship had docked that same morning. Mmm! There was no help at Dover from Porters as they were busy? with luggage for the return trip. In fact the physical help at Dover was absolutely non-existent. In the pouring rain, I had to gather up my luggage (4 x items), find a trolley (like gold) then stack it myself onto a heavy cumbersome trolley and push it to the reception area. There were no taxis to be seen anywhere, and we had to ask Dover Reception to help out with contacting a taxi company, which she did. All in all, a very wet, bedraggled and fed up person. Agreed it was not the fault of Fred Olsen that the weather was bad, but the extreme lack of help and attitude at Dover was naughty, and when I choose my next cruise I will steer clear of Dover. Missing Port - Turku, Finland. Complimentary Port Shuttle Bus was available, however we went on a trip - Panoramic Turku. A pleasant trip out ending up in Naantall, a pretty town alongside the archipelago. A much appreciated comfort stop and a coffee and cake in a beautiful timber restaurant followed by 'free time' to explore the area. Ideal trip for those with a limited mobility problem. Missing Port - Kristiansand, Norway. Arrived on a Sunday. Elected not to go on a trip. Big mistake. Used the 'Noddy Train' (10 Euros per person - big rip off) from the port to the centre of the town. The 'noddy train' would only stop at the one place) Everywhere closed up for the day except the Church and a few bars. Very disappointed. Would suggest 'find an alternative port of some interest or at least with some life'. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We had two changes to our itinerary prior to embarkation. Firstly, instead of Warnemunde we went to Rostock; secondly (and very shortly before the holiday began) we were advised that the second port in Denmark was cancelled and we would ... Read More
We had two changes to our itinerary prior to embarkation. Firstly, instead of Warnemunde we went to Rostock; secondly (and very shortly before the holiday began) we were advised that the second port in Denmark was cancelled and we would anchor at Kristiansaand in Norway instead. We also visited the port of Turku. We parked at Relyon in Dover and found them very friendly and efficient. Would definitely use them again if sailing from Dover. We also used Forex for our different currencies and had them delivered to the ship. Again, a very friendly and efficient experience. We did not do any of the ship's excursions mainly because we were doing a private tour of St Petersburg and having researched - primarily on your web site - the other ports, it seemed quite practical to do them independently. All the ports we visited were interesting and absolutely able to be done without the expense of ship's tours. Our private tour of St Petersburg was excellent and definitely worth the expense. We saw far more than we would have done doing the ship's tours. We did this on the recommendation of friends and we were not disappointed. With regard to the Black Watch itself, we were happy overall with the experience. If we could change one thing, it would have been to have had a flexible dining time in the evening. We had second sitting reservations but we felt this was a bit too late at 8.30 with the first sitting being rather early at 6.30, especially for people who had been on ship's tours and we did hear some grumbles about this. The staff were all excellent and we enjoyed the entertainment provided. We particularly enjoyed the trio in the Garden Cafe. The food was good with plenty of choice and the wines were priced at an acceptable level. We did think at £5 pp the shuttle buses wherever available were a bit pricey! Both embarkation and disembarkation were carried out efficiently. Did we like a smaller ship? Yes but not at the expense of mid-size or larger ships. We feel we have now tried three different sizes of ships and each has its own good points. Would we sail on Black Watch again? No reason why not but maybe we will try yet another line next year! What we will not do is book too far in advance as we met some 'last minute bookers' who had had a much better deal. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Cruising with Fred Olsen ships really is like setting sail in an old peoples home - but there are no noisy kids running around, no rowdiness or bad behaviour and this is why we enjoy it so much. The Black Watch is a small ship with around ... Read More
Cruising with Fred Olsen ships really is like setting sail in an old peoples home - but there are no noisy kids running around, no rowdiness or bad behaviour and this is why we enjoy it so much. The Black Watch is a small ship with around 800 passengers but this is so much better than the super cruisers with thousands of people on board. The crew were all polite and efficient and the ship although now 40 years old, has bags of character. The cabins (we were on deck 5)are adequate though not luxurious but kept spotlessly clean and the beds very comfortable. Food was superb with plenty of choice. Fish and chips on the Marquee deck not to be missed. Nightly entertainment in the Neptune lounge was good overall but I preferred the featured entertainers to the Black Watch Show Company, where the quality of the singers was somewhat variable. The biggest gripe we have with Fred Olsen is the shore tours, which are way overpriced for what they deliver. We did the St Petersburg organised trips because of Russian visa restrictions but chose to do our own thing in other destinations. Fred Olsen could provide much more information for those wanting to go ashore independently, such as nearest buses & taxis, what currencies are accepted and maps or locations of things to see and do. They seem to take the attitude, if you're not paying for our organised trips, then tough - find out for yourselves! They even had the cheek to charge £10 per person for a shuttle bus in Copenhagen because our berth was changed to one further out of the city centre. Otherwise, the weather was great and we had a fantastic time in the Batic. We look forward to travelling with Fred Olsen again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
After more than 50 years of marriage of two people with disparate natures, the cruise to the Baltic offered the prospect of finding a mutually rewarding experience. This proved to be true- to say the least. The Black Watch was small ... Read More
After more than 50 years of marriage of two people with disparate natures, the cruise to the Baltic offered the prospect of finding a mutually rewarding experience. This proved to be true- to say the least. The Black Watch was small enough to reach isolated ports, with a reasonably small group of like-minded travellers. Single dining rooms and masterful activities. The service was superb and the generous,top class meals embarassingly good. The embarassment caused solely by quantity not quality. Excersions were well taken in Denmark, Estonia, Germany and Russia. The quaint Danish port and market in Kalundborg, the delightful port in Estonia where my lack of attention let my purse be stolen(but quickly returned intact by a kindly villager-not police),Swedish/ German efficiency and Russian oppulance. St Petersburg was a revelation in grandeur and magnificance provided by a Russian guide with excellent English. While we learnt from her about Russian bloody history she learned from us many slang expressions not covered in English dictionaroies The on board entertainment was first class; the main comedian managed to get the crowded theatre laughing heartedly-without any smutty jokes and the troupe of dancers were pretty, young and delightful. Classical piano playing complemented continuous light music in the various lounges and bars. I even managed to play some duplicate bridge in the afternoons while my less-active wife read or attended interesting talks. A very good holiday which suited us both. I'm hoping to find another opportunity to find another suitable cruise which will cater for our respective interests. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.4
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.4

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