8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All the people we spoke to said this was the port of call they were looking forward to the most. Instead we had 2 nights rather than one at Invergordon (NOT a holiday desination) Two buses were laid on at nearly £30 a time to go into Inverness (perhaps to offer this free would have been a nice gesture?) We took the local bus for about £11. Any other attraction was a long trip and expensive. Other things we were not happy with - Firstly , the car park in Liverpool was hard to find. Inadequate map and sat nav took you to a building site (not Fred Olson rsponsibility) - cabin noise (see below) Buffet area quite small, not always able to get a table at busy times - While the ship was well maintained there was no main staircase or reception area and the entertainment was mediocre . - many of the staff had a poor grasp of English which could be a problem, particularly at guest services - WiFi expensive - Timing given in port were misleading for example 'late p.m actually meant about 3.30 in the afternoon. - Tours were very expensive, there were 4 of us so it made more sense to book a private taxi to take us to the places we wanted to see, which worked out fine. - Passengers were mostly quite elderly and infirm so activities were geared up for this. I did sometimes feel I was sitting in the common room of an old peoples home rather than a cruise ship! - Finally the disembarkation process was not a happy experience, but mostly this was due to the facilites at Liverpool cruise terminal Good points, main dining room was nice and our waiters were freindly and helpful and there was a very good wine list at reasonable prices plus the food was excellent. Would not go with Fred Olson again Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our ... Read More
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our selected dining option was much appreciated. The bar staff were helpful and efficient. The entertainment was different each evening and very professional. The excursions we went on (Tobermory and Kirkwall) were very good - with knowledgeable guides. A comfortable cabin: not large but sufficient for our needs. We had a problem with a very noisy ventilation in our bathroom, which took two complaints (to the cabin staff and then the guest office) to get an engineer tp sort it out. The ship is also quite old and creaks a lot. Our cabin had a perpetual squeak from the door hinges when we were at sea. We also had an initial difficulty with the bar staff at sail-away time. They failed to deliver a drinks order, which necessitated three visits to the bar to chase it up: then when it arrived it was the wrong drinks. Then at our first breakfast, we made an order off the menu (rather than choosing the buffet) and it failed to materialise. After 30 minutes, one order arrived, then after I had finished, the other order appeared. We did complain and after that, we had no further problems. They blamed a "busy kitchen" - but others around us received their orders and had left before our food arrived. But overall the food and the service we received in all the eateries was first class. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from ... Read More
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from Iceland so it was noisy groaning and creaking also engine noise. The main dining room food was very good,service very slow but with good company on a 9 seater table just about exceptable,buffet area small and crowded,especally as the guest's were very old and slow,it did feel as if we were in an old people home most times. Entertainment was very good and well presented. The Black Watch is a small ship which might appeal to certain people,but not me,in rough seas it was like a cork in a bottle,did'nt suit me but there was a lot going for it other than that. Crew were excellent ,very helpfull. All inclusive drinks programme was very poor,only 4-5 spirits and a few beers, no cocktails at all even non alcohol ones ,coffee poor,better if you payed !!!!!!. Liverpool cruise terminal was a shambles,especialy with so many very elderly guests ,staff tried their best but to small for that many people,won'tbe keento go from there again. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Wanted a short Cruise around North Scotland. House not far from Liverpool to pick the Ship up. 6 days before the Cruise Fred Olsen informed us that we would be bussed up to Rosyth from Liverpool staying overnight in Rosyth .(Due to a ... Read More
Wanted a short Cruise around North Scotland. House not far from Liverpool to pick the Ship up. 6 days before the Cruise Fred Olsen informed us that we would be bussed up to Rosyth from Liverpool staying overnight in Rosyth .(Due to a mechanical fault). The original itinerary was Liverpool>Fort William>Stornaway>Orkney Islands>Invergorgen>Liverpool. The change now was Rosyth>Invorgorden>Orkney Islands>Stornaway>Fort William>Liverpool. In Invergorden because of bad weather we stayed overnight in anchorage in the MurrayFirth and we had another itinerary change, this time going to Dundee>Shetland Islands>Stornaway>Fort William>Liverpool. Then we had another Itinerary change Dundee>Orkney Islands>Liverpool. So as you can see it was a Mystery 7 night Cruise? The Cabin Stewardess was excellent. The Food was Excellent. The Entertainment was very good especially the Cruise singers & dancers called Musicality & from the off board Scottish Highland dancers. The show featuring members of the Crew was exceptional,especially a middle aged man that worked in the Kitchen (his range of voice was exceptional. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about ... Read More
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about the bow and funnel made it seem so elegant. I was marketed to world travelers, and offered six-star service. I dreamed that someday I might cruise on such a classically designed ship. Cut to more recent times when, thanks to the internet, I discovered that the ship was still in service with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, and had been refitted in 2016. I booked an 8-night cruise to Norway more than a year in advance, and waited with great anticipation for my departure. I will say that booking a Fred. Olsen cruise from the U.S. wasn't as convenient as I might have wished, but once it was done, it was "smooth sailing," as they say. I arrived in Liverpool the day prior to departure, and stayed in a hotel that overlooks the port. I awoke in the morning and went straight to the widow. There she was! After 46 years of waiting, I finally laid eyes on a ship I have admired since childhood! What an amazing feeling! Arriving at the port, my bags were immediately whisked-off, and I was welcomed into the well-organized and uncrowded terminal area. Unlike many of today's "mega-ships," where THOUSANDS of people are waiting to be "processed," check-in and embarkation for 'Black Watch' was a breeze. When I arrived in my cabin my bags were already there, and I was able to unpack and get organized before heading-off to explore the ship. The next 8 days were simply terrific! While the ship is 46 years old, FOCL has done a very commendable job of keeping her in great condition. If you're looking for all the latest advances in cruise ships, 'Black Watch' can't compete. But it doesn't need to. It is a classic, and offers an experience that is increasingly hard to find in today's world. Its size is perfect. Easy to navigate, and with around 800 passengers, it never felt crowded. Deck chairs and seats in the various lounges and bars were always available, and an air of quiet, comfortable ambiance prevailed. Viewing the spectacular fjords of Norway from the Lido Deck (cocktail in hand) was delightful. Evenings in the Observatory Lounge or Morning Light Pub were totally relaxing and enjoyable. Entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was fun and engaging. I especially enjoyed the productions by the "Black Watch Show Company." Made-up of about seven performers, each show was full of energy and real talent. The two male singers, Luke Suri and Tom Watson, were true stand-outs. If I had any disappointment on this cruise it is that we weren't treated to just one more show from them. Dining aboard 'Black Watch' was also quite enjoyable. Meals never felt rushed, and the service in all of the venues was attentive and professional. The Executive Chef was frequently in the dining room conversing with passengers, and she seemed to take a genuine interest in speaking with them. Choices were abundant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My cabin was spotlessly clean when when I boarded the ship, and remained that way throughout the cruise, thanks to my nearly invisible stewardess, Lang. The bed was comfortable, and the bathroom seemed gigantic compared to those found on some newer ships. In fact, my accommodations were among the largest I have seen among standard cabins on any ship. I visited the on-board Atlantic Spa on two occasions. While the space is not particularly glamorous, the staff was very friendly, and both treatments were quite rejuvenating. Well worth the money for a bit of pampering! All of the shore excursions I booked (Lerwick, Bergen, Flam, Olden) were well-organized, informative and fun. The local guides were excellent, and the coaches used for transport were very modern and comfortable. Prior to departure we were advised that our cruise would end in Rosyth, Scotland instead of Liverpool. This turned-out to be a bit of a treat, as it allowed for a visit to Edinburgh, which I would not have experienced otherwise. Overall, my experience on 'Black Watch,' and my first Fred. Olsen cruise, met and exceeded my expectations. Beautiful ship, wonderful crew, great itinerary! A trip I will always remember. I very much look forward to another opportunity to cruise with FOCL. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The cruise was to take my wife to the Xmas markets in Hamburg and Germany. I had lived in Germany for many years and speak the language fluently but she did not fancy the drive ( my chosen option). The boarding at Tilbury was a ... Read More
The cruise was to take my wife to the Xmas markets in Hamburg and Germany. I had lived in Germany for many years and speak the language fluently but she did not fancy the drive ( my chosen option). The boarding at Tilbury was a disgrace. car parking cost £9 per day to dump your car in a disused sand dump 4 miles away from the ship. the cabin was a good size and well designed, much better than the Britannia cabin we had last summer. The air con in the cabin cannot be shut off and the fan noise is very obtrusive and kept me awake. The food in the restaurant was ok better at dinner than the other two meals. wine and drinks expensive and not very good. a wine which costs £6 in Tesco, costs you £18 on board The entertainment was pretty dire. it made up for lack of talent by plenty of volume. The best lounge was the Observatory but even this was spoiled by the shouts and screams of the carpet bowling. The dis-embarkation at Tilbury was an absolute chaotic situation. Yiou are just dumped in the terminal no FO staff in sight. This was in stark contrast to the Magellan passengers who docked at the same time and were ushered to waiting coaches and taxis whilst we were stood in the pouring rain like poor relations until a clapped out old bus arrived for its first of many round trips. all in all never again Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving ... Read More
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving value for money with the staff impeccable in every sense. Seven days was an ideal duration for us, too. in current circumstances. Another stop (we went to Heligoland, Hamburg and Bremen) would have been welcome but there was more than enough to occupy us on board. A typical day comprised sightseeing or Scrabble, cinema, gym., drinks, dinner and a show. Perfect. Worth mentioning in addition was the fact the Black Watch is small enough to ensure clients are more than "ships that pass in the night" and over the week we enjoyed re-engaging with various fellow travellers something that would not have been as likely on a vastly bigger vessel. Nothing is ever 100 per cent, however, and the coffee/tea served in the dining room was lacking although in the specialised coffee areas normal high standards prevailed at reasonable prices. Roll on our next Fred Olsen cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant ... Read More
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant maintenance takes place to ensure this. Our cabin 8005 with balcony was adequate for our week's holiday and it was cleaned and maintained daily by our wonderful young lady who looked after us for that week. Dining was excellent, we requested first sitting and had a table for two, although we were in close proximity of 4 other people whom we struck up good conversation with. The waiters could not do enough to please you, along with bar staff in all the bars. Evening show was well presented and varied with some talented artists. Although there were a high percentage of elderly people on board that did not make the experience less enjoyable, in fact it was nice to see older people enjoying themselves. Trip was so good, we booked for another one next year to the fjords and the port being 5 minutes from our door. Couldn't ask for more. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I booked this cruise about a month before departure date. Price and value are the most important factors when I book a cruise for myself. I booked a Single Interior Guarantee cabin for a great price. I didn't think too much about ... Read More
I booked this cruise about a month before departure date. Price and value are the most important factors when I book a cruise for myself. I booked a Single Interior Guarantee cabin for a great price. I didn't think too much about the itinerary, although I of course realized it would be cold. I have lived in a warm climate almost my entire life. Normally, I would prefer an extra month of summer as opposed to an extra month of winter. In this case, though, I made the reverse trade-off. I bought two pairs of heavy socks and a fleece neck warmer. I brought them and other appropriate clothing with me. While we did get lucky with the temperatures and the weather, it was nonetheless cold, although it was never an issue for me. In fact, I often went into the open-air jacuzzis and laid out on deck (as did others) when the sun was shining. The bathrobe I rented for GBP 10 came in quite handy. Because almost everything was so wonderful, areas with room for improvement were conspicuous. I simply can't mention everything that was great, but I will mention and describe the areas with room for improvement. Choosing rate types and finding the best rate on the Fred.Olsen website is one of the areas with room for improvement. In fact, because my credit card payment did not go through (see below), I called Fred.Olsen to book the cruise. Initially, the representative did not find the Anchor Fare I saw on the website and I had to describe how and where I saw it. Another note is that the cruise line only has a UK office and phone numbers. Those were intercontinental calls for me. As noted, I was unable to use my non-UK credit card to book the cruise. I was also unable to use it to purchase travel currency through City Forex, Fred.Olsen's partner. It eventually turned out that I did not understand the relationship between my credit card limit and my bank account credit limit, but I did see, read, and hear misleading information on the Fred.Olsen website, the City Forex website, in emails and during phone conversations. For example, an email from City Forex informed me that their website does not accept MasterCard, contradicting an error message I had seen. The fact is the website does not accept non-UK credit cards, so an expensive bank transfer was necessary. Fred.Olsen was eventually able to charge my credit card for the cruise, albeit manually over the phone. After I had resolved the credit limit issue, it is likely I would have been able to use the card on the website. Back to the cruise itself. I was assigned Single Interior cabin 5085. For more information about the cabin, see the associated cabin review. The one organized tour I took was also an area with room for improvement. Up until this cruise, I never booked or participated in an organized tour or shore excursion. A day or two before we docked at Reykjavik, I decided to book The Golden Circle tour, which included Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall), the Geysir area, and Thingvellir National Park. The tour was one of three throughout the cruise line designated Must Do, and it was a popular one, with passengers filling up six buses, I think. My bus drove first to Thingvellir National Park. Unfortunately, we were only provided 30 minutes to walk from one parking lot to another. I would have liked (a lot) more time there. We then drove to Gullfoss. We were given about 35-40 minutes to walk to the waterfall before lunch at the visitors center. Again, I felt it was not enough time to walk both available paths. Breathtaking waterfall, though, and the sit-down lunch was very good, too, with soup and fish (salmon?). After lunch, we drove to the Geysir area. Again, we were given about 30 minutes to walk around before we had to be back on the bus. The tour was advertised as lasting 8-8 1/2 hours. The tour started at around 10:00. When we got back on the bus at 15:00 in the Geysir parking lot, we had already seen the Big Three. The only other item on the tour description was a short comfort stop at the village of Hveragerði. As far as I could tell, the ship was no more than an hour's drive away from the Geysir area. So, besides driving, what would we be doing for the next three hours that didn't appear in the tour description? Well, the bus took what I think is the long way back to Reykjavik. We saw some nice scenery, with commentary from the tour guide. Not bad, but I still would have traded that time for more time at the Big Three. Then, we actually drove past where the ship was docked and went to the Perlan (Pearl) Museum. The museum is made up of former water tanks, sits on a hill, and has a fourth-floor observatory that provides a 360-degree view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. Nice. However, the guest elevator/lift was out of service, and I decided not to walk up and down via the stairs. We were only given 20 minutes there, anyway. So, instead, I walked around the building, which I enjoyed. Nonetheless, I again would certainly have been happy if we had not gone to a place that did not appear in the tour description. I would have gladly traded the time there and the time it took to get there and back to the ship in favor of more time at the Big Thee natural phenomena. Even though this tour allowed me to see these stunning natural phenomena, it was nonetheless an area of the cruise with room for improvement. Another minor area with room for improvement were discrepancies in the daily newsletter. For example, one night, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was supposed to be screened in the Marina Theatre. They screened The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by mistake. A few days later, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel appeared in the daily newsletter, and they screened that movie again. Finally, at Tromsø, Norway, the cruise line's port agent provided a paid shuttle bus to the city center. When I asked Guest Services whether there is public transportation nearby, the woman told me there isn't. Therefore, I bought a ticket for the shuttle bus. However, in a tourist information tent on the pier, I saw information about public bus services and the nearby stop. So, I went back onto the ship, returned the shuttle bus ticket, got a refund, and used public buses for the day. Again, let me stress that these areas with room for improvement are conspicuous because of how great everything else was. Even after paying a low price for the cruise and only GBP 4 per day gratuities, I discovered more and more ways the cruise line provides value as the cruise went along. One example is the GBP 10 bathrobe. Another example: Alcohol. In addition to reasonable alcohol prices at the ship's bars, a couple of days into the cruise, I noticed a form and a display for ordering alcohol for on-board consumption. The prices were higher than duty free, but you can't consume duty free alcohol on board. Over a four-week cruise, I ordered a few bottles of whisky and that's what I drank on-board except for the first couple of days and a few drinks with glacier ice (!). So what that I had to ask bartenders for glasses of ice a couple of times a day? A few of them soon remembered my "regular" drinks of either glasses of ice or water and offered one or the other when I approached the bar. Final example of value for money: Self-service laundry for GBP 2 per load, and free use of the dryers. Many ships don't even offer self-service laundry. This was a phenomenal cruise in almost every way. Only a few weeks after this one ended, I booked myself on another four-week Fred.Olsen cruise! Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes ... Read More
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes downhill. The ship is very much still a "work in progress". The TV system kept giving the information "LAN lost" and closed down, even in port, so the problem with satellite explanation does not wash. We reported this regularly to reception and even missed part of the Queens Christmas speech because of it,but it was no better at the end of the cruise. Because of the weather, or so we were told, the itinerary regularly changed. The announcements were made on the ships system but did not sound in our cabin. This was regularly reported to reception. We were told how it should be set. In the end someone came to our cabin, set it differently to the instruction given to us at reception. On Boxing day we were supposed to enter the Port of Tyne early in the morning. We did not, instead we went to breakfast with the boat turning in a tight circle and the restaurant floor some degrees from horizontal. Later, up in the aft lounge, deck 7 it was noted that the new glass doors no longer stayed closed. By the evening it was realized that wooden wedges would solve the problem. They were still there at the end of our cruise. How could this possibly happen. The simple fact is that the ship should not have been put to service until after it had been thoroughly tested and any snagging required carried out. This was obviously not the case as other cruisers, on the first cruse have confirmed. It is now on a world cruise I wonder if the snags have been dealt with yet. The director of product and services has sent me a letter, full of apologies, but the only compensation she will offer is the equivalent of 20% of this cruise price off of a future booking made before 30th June 2017, otherwise no compensation what so ever. It appears that because some of the problems (obviously not the lack of a full test) were not of Fred's making that is it! O dear Fred you have blotted your copy book. Such a pity because the organization normally gives such good service. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH ... Read More
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH dear the guide on our shore excursion in Plymouth - Dreadful, droned on and on. Heard much but learnt little. Got back on board to be told changes to route - all the Ireland visits cancelled due storms Barbara and Connor, so we were turning tail and going to Newcastle upon Tyne, and then Edinburgh - as planned. We booked this cruise because it was going to Ireland - Cobh, Dublin and Belfast. Never been to any of them. So Christmas Day was at sea and so onto the Evening meal - should have been the highlight of the day but it was not nice. Very much more like a poor school/canteen effort. Pity really because the food is very good otherwise. Spent Boxing Day standing off Newcastle because it was too rough. Crew splendid, coped and laid on lots of extra entertainment. At Newcastle told cutting stay short and going to Dundee. The next day told Dundee visit was to be cut short and going to Edinburgh early. Summary, Crew - fab, Food - mostly v good, Ship - showing her age. Tv system - "you was done" an amateur could have done better. Never Again! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We embarked and spent 2 days at sea eventually arriving at Lorient. This was our first disappointment, not a thing was open. A total waste of time The ports in Spain (Gexto,Aviles & El Ferrol) where excellent choices as well as ... Read More
We embarked and spent 2 days at sea eventually arriving at Lorient. This was our first disappointment, not a thing was open. A total waste of time The ports in Spain (Gexto,Aviles & El Ferrol) where excellent choices as well as Leixios (Oporto)in Portugal. This was followed by another 2 days at sea on the way to Honfleuer which was a quaintly pretty town but extremely expensive 10 Euros for 2 coffees. This was followed bt 1 1/2 days at sea to disembark at Rosyth. The cabin (4045) was comfortable and clean with a daily news sheet supplied in the evening. Overall the food, Staff and Shows where faultless. The downsides were. To many days just cruising designed so you spend money in the ship on very overpriced items. Overpriced Tours which most were walkabouts. We only took one which was a half day from the ship to Oporto which cost £15 a Taxi was 8 Euros. WiFi was adequate however should really be apart of the package. I paid £100 for 10 days. Although I have a few gripes we did enjoy the cruise The ship is more suited to short cruises as it feels a bit cramped on sea days when all 700+ passengers are looking for suitable seats to relax in. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More ... Read More
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More importantly you were called by your name so you felt more of a person rather than just being a number. Houskeeping staff attended to the cabin twice a day and the waiting staff were efficient and could not do enough for you. The entertainment was top class and there was plenty organised activities throughout the day. Yes, the Black Watch may be an older ship compared to the mammoth ships sailing today, but this just added to the friendliness amongst the crew and passengers. I have booked with the Black Watch for 2018 and intend to do so for as long as I can. Long may the Black Watch continue to sail the seas from Rosyth! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a ... Read More
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a lot but I found it to be clean, comfortable and the food is still great, what more could I ask for. Iceland is beautiful and the Faroes unexpectedly a great place....all in all I was very pleased with this cruise. All transport on trips were well arranged and the guides marvellous, embarkation, disembarkation very smooth, no worries. Yes I will sail again with FRED on any ship......sometimes I wonder exactly what the people who criticise are talking about, or is it just that they are unhappy people ? cheer up and go on a cruise with Fred Olsen and enjoy life. I will add that I am a single traveller and now feel part of the FRED FAMILY, which gives me confidence to travel anywhere in the world, and I will continue to do so. Thanks..... Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We were part of the Ramblers Worldwide group on this 7 night cruise. I'd read previous reviews and expected a tired, shabby vessel with ultra smiley staff. Black watch is a small ship therefore the dining room is overcrowded and the ... Read More
We were part of the Ramblers Worldwide group on this 7 night cruise. I'd read previous reviews and expected a tired, shabby vessel with ultra smiley staff. Black watch is a small ship therefore the dining room is overcrowded and the staff overworked but deal well with the confines of the room and the number of guest they care for. The food was very good, drinks were pub prices or better. We found Boddingtons on offer at £1.60 a pint. Fred does not seem to like to communicate with customers. I found it very hard to book spa sessions before boarding. Bearing in mind our limited time on board due to our planned walks I wanted to make sure I could enjoy the cruising aspect of the holiday too, but booking ahead seemed an odd request. We boarded as request at 1700 with a dinner sitting at 1815, but had time to shower and change into the clothes we had taken on with us. On arrival at the restaurant we found that the dress code had been relaxed so that we could have turned up in our travel clothes. We probably wouldn't have, but they just didn't tell us. The beds are very comfortable, there is a strange custom of the beds being made up during the day with a counterpane on, but the duvets are folded up at night into a zigzag so that you have to put them straight before retiring, no big deal, just odd. Shower was spacious, everything very clean and not shabby as described by some. Entertainment very good. Coffee shop prices surprisingly good too and the specialist chocolate are a treat. It's not hard to find your way around as it's a small ship, luckily as the deck plans are a bit worn, but the staff are only too happy to help out with direction. The band (orchestra) were excellent but don't smile, perhaps they are concentrating too hard. Crew show is super. The Captain appeared to meet guests twice and spoke well which was impressive as I'm sure there are many things he'd rather have been doing. I'm sure the ship will benefit from it's forthcoming refit but it wasn't as shabby as others will have you believe. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Itinerary to Spitsbergen Greenland via Norway and Iceland. Ship is tired but given a fire previous to the cruise it was on, engineers were on the ship the whole time rectifying the damage, generator was on top deck, The trip was ok. ... Read More
Itinerary to Spitsbergen Greenland via Norway and Iceland. Ship is tired but given a fire previous to the cruise it was on, engineers were on the ship the whole time rectifying the damage, generator was on top deck, The trip was ok. Staff great food average ,entertainment's poor, accommodation ok, value for money poor Excursions were expensive. Trying to get information from Fred Olsen difficult .. Vessel was due to depart from Tilbury but was stuck in Dover consequently a coach trip on clunky vehicle's had to be endured to get to Dover which we had driven past to get to Tilbury. Telephones were not answered so stressed passenger's bonded in adversity. Very short duration stops, Tromso 1 afternoon, Iceland glitters as always Wild life performed specially for us. Cruising Prince Christian sound nd was spectacular Greenland excellent. Weather unbelievable for latitude . Kirkwall, Orkney welcomed us with open arms. Finally got to Tilbury what a dump. No trollies . Have they not been to an airport? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
This was a short 3 night cruise to Dublin & Waterford, and as the embarkation was running late we boarded about 4pm. Once on board we went to our cabins which were lovely and clean to unpack. We them went to find some food as we ... Read More
This was a short 3 night cruise to Dublin & Waterford, and as the embarkation was running late we boarded about 4pm. Once on board we went to our cabins which were lovely and clean to unpack. We them went to find some food as we hadn't eaten since breakfast, however this proved to be a problem as it had all gone! We had to wait, along with many others, for more sandwiches etc. to be brought out. One small tray at a time. Food was in plentiful supply for the rest of the cruise and lovely. We enjoyed the entertainment with several excellent acts and danced the night away in the Lido Lounge. The entertainment staff were very good and also host dancers made sure that we were on the dance floor with them. Yes, the ship is an older ship and not ultra modern like some others but it was kept very clean at all times. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the organisation. When disembarking to go into Dublin, we had to queue for over an hour just to get off the ship. The following day we went to Waterford and got on the shuttle bus after a short wait. However our return was horrendous, we returned to where the coach was to pick us up only to wait over an hour in the pouring rain, we then decided to phone for a taxi to take us back to the ship. Several other taxis were also ordered as 30+ people were also waiting. When we did eventually arrive back the end of lunch time was fast approaching so this had to be extended for us however some were too late so they were given free room service. Having said this we would go on Black Watch again as the ship is small, kept lovely & clean and more suitable for us. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS ... Read More
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS went well. Check in not as slick as Southampton. Boarding the ship entailed walking under a partially covered walk way which did nothing to stop the area being a couple of inches deep in rain water. We've not sailed with Fred.Olsen before, this cruise was ideal to check out Black Watch with a view to booking a longer cruise. The staff were probably the best we've come across. Their friendliness, use of passenger names, eye contact, made them stand out from other cruises companies. Ships officers were visible too, but not the captain. Drinks were reasonably priced, however in the Lido bar, being asked if you'd like a bottle of wine when you ordered a glass was a bit pushy. One evening I was asked if I'd like a large cocktail, this was served in a pint glass decorated with a slice of pineapple! Mixed age group on board plus a Hen Party who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Menu looked good on paper but not as good when it came to the dining experience itself. Breakfast was poor. Poached eggs, cooked to order, one of which was perfectly cooked the other was so cold it tasted as if it'd been in a chiller. Cabin was a terraced balcony suite on deck 7 I understand this cabin used to be classed as a junior suite before the refurb to include a balcony. The cabin was spacious with plenty of storage, good size bathroom. However the decor was dated, the bath had a sizeable chip which had obviously been repaired (badly) Double bed with two single duvets. Soft furnishings were dated, carpet completed the 'vintage look' The innovative balcony was slightly raised from the deck and so long as you don't mind fellow passengers promenading past you'll be fine. Don't expect privacy on the balcony and keep those net curtains closed! The balcony is a waste of time you may as well find yourself a chair on Lido deck Unfortunately Fred.Olsen doesn't have any photos on their web site of these cabins. Entertainment was fun and informal. Dublin was fantastic, great city to visit, plenty of wonderful attractions and friendliest of people. So, would we book a longer cruise with Fred.Olsen? Not on Black Watch. She may be sea worthy but she is far from luxurious, just a tired old lady who needs a lot of TLC. If Fred.Olsen consider Black Watch to be of a suitable standard for their passengers then Fred.Olsen is not for us. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We chose a mini cruise with Fred Olson to Brugge on Black Watch from Tilbury. Check-in is very different from Southampton you drive to the check in hall unload your luggage plenty of help available drive back to Tilbury dock leave your car ... Read More
We chose a mini cruise with Fred Olson to Brugge on Black Watch from Tilbury. Check-in is very different from Southampton you drive to the check in hall unload your luggage plenty of help available drive back to Tilbury dock leave your car in secure parking then catch a bus back to where you started. Check in was fast and easy we only waited a little while till embarkation which was at 2.15.we were soon on board and straight to our cabin. The Ship is very easy to get around and well laid out, there was loads of room in the Public rooms we never felt crowded even at the shows. The staff were friendly and not to pushie were drinks were concerned We only had time to go to the evening shows so did not join any of the other activities, the shows were good. . Dinning, my husband is a Coeliac and the staff very knowledgeable about this , the food was fine with a good choice. On the Sunday with had a Christmas themed meal. We had breakfast in the buffet which was good and as you were seated before you got your food there was none of that wandering around looking for a table. We had breakfast on the last day by 8 am and was off the ship by 8.10 you then catch the bus back to the car park your luggage goes in a covered trailer so you don't have to sit with it. We know why people keep going back to Fred the ships are not that big and you get good service and plenty of space we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
Fjords and Coastal towns of Norway - Sept 2013 My partner and I have been on 4 cruises but this was our first with Fred Olsen and our first away from the Med. The food, service and entertainment on board the Black Watch were all fantastic ... Read More
Fjords and Coastal towns of Norway - Sept 2013 My partner and I have been on 4 cruises but this was our first with Fred Olsen and our first away from the Med. The food, service and entertainment on board the Black Watch were all fantastic and the staff and fellow passengers were the friendliest we've ever encountered. Fortunately for us, we managed to evade the Norovirus! An email from Fred Olsen 2 days prior to our departure from Rosyth gave us our new, later boarding time. We later learned that this was due to the vessel being sanitised after a Norovirus outbreak on the previous trip. All embarking passengers received a personal sanitiser and instructions on how to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. However, a day into our journey all public toilets were closed and word spread that the virus had returned. During the week more passengers were taken ill and confined to their cabins under doctor's orders. The ship was being sanitised constantly and passengers were not allowed anywhere near food. I don't know how many people suffered with the virus but increasing amounts of empty seats at dinner tables indicated that it was not being contained. Sitting in the theatre one morning awaiting a tender to take us ashore, we witnessed about a dozen people handing back organised trip tickets belonging to family/travelling companions, all giving illness as the reason. We also heard the tale of an elderly woman who had booked a last minute deal just a couple of days prior to the cruise; she contracted the virus on the second day and was confined to her cabin for 5 days, thus missing every stop on the journey. She allegedly told a Fred Olsen representative that she would have never booked the holiday had she known there was a virus onboard the vessel. Fred Olsen offer an all-inclusive upgrade for £10 per day which is great for us as we both enjoy a drink on holiday. My 72 year old diabetic mother accompanied us on this trip but, as she does not touch alcohol, preferred not to pay extra for the package. At the time of booking, our travel agent was informed by a Fred Olsen representative that we were allowed to have all-inclusive and non all-inclusive passengers on the same booking but we would not be allowed to sit at the same table for dinner as diners on different packages were separated. This more or less forced us to book all-inclusive for the three of us. On board the vessel we quickly learned that, although there was allocated seating in the Glentanar restaurant (the main restaurant), the Braemar Garden Cafe and Orchid Room both offer free seating and all restaurants serve the same food. Also, our allocated table in the Glentanar restaurant had a 50-50 mixture of all-inclusive and non all-inclusive diners! To make matters worse, the soft drinks option on the all-inclusive package offers only one sugar free drink suitable for diabetics (my mother) which is diet coke, all other sugar free drinks incur a further charge - 50% off for all-inclusive passengers. Unfortunately my mother does not like diet coke! Just one more piece of useful information - there are two sittings for dinner in the Glentanar restaurant, 6.15pm and 8.15pm. If you wish to change your allocated sitting time there is a charge of £2 per person, per day. So, if you have a preferred meal time, it may pay to sort it with your agent or Fred Olsen prior to boarding. None of this has put any of us off future trips with Fred Olsen but we do feel like we were misinformed and I hope this information is beneficial to others.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We have just returned from our 1st cruise with Fred Olsen, we have however, cruised 22 times previously ! Having heard some mixed reviews about FO we decided to give them a try for ourselves. Our itinerary was a 3 night trip ... Read More
We have just returned from our 1st cruise with Fred Olsen, we have however, cruised 22 times previously ! Having heard some mixed reviews about FO we decided to give them a try for ourselves. Our itinerary was a 3 night trip Harwich-Amsterdam-Newcastle. We arrived at Harwich, check in was efficient , easy and the staff friendly. We were invited to wait in the check-in area until we were invited for boarding. Boarding started at 2pm deck by deck, everyone was onboard I would say by 2.45pm or so. We went to our cabin, another 1st for us, a low deck external cabin ( no balcony). It was on deck 3 , smallish, but very well designed, beds in an odd L shape,this layout though, did provide alot of space though ! The cabin was spotlessly clean, flat screen TV ,the usual dire selection of channels as on all cruise ships ! This cabin featured 3 large wardrobes and drawers , so on a long itinerary, plenty of storage ! The shower room was functional, clean and the usual twice a day servicing. The cabin also had tea/coffee making facilities. After we had unpacked, we made our way up to the cafe area , where a very pleasant afternoon tea was available, buffet style, a good choice of sandwiches, cream cakes , scones, cream and jam. A trio was playing which was very pleasant. The ship has several nice bar areas, with friendly staff and a nice atmosphere. The restaurant experience was exceptional. We requested , and paid extra for a table on the late sitting and a table for 2, albeit this was very close to a table for 4, so in effect, as we got our courses at the same time, was almost a table for 6!Choices for each course were excellent, the food was always beautifully presented and hot. For breakfast, you had a choice of waiter service or buffet, kedgeree was excellent ! On our 2nd day, a Sunday, lunch featured a Roast Beef carvery, with all the trimmings, delicious ! On our sea day, there was a seafood buffet on offer, also excellent ! The Captains cocktail party was well attended and the drinks flowed....not always the case on larger vessels ! We enjoyed 2 shows onboard, the ships dancers and singers put alot into their acts . Outside deck space was good, 2 large pools , with steam coming from them (important for this itinerary), several whirlpools, a good sized gym also featured. The ship, personally , I feel , is suited to warmer climes as it didn't feature any indoor pools or whirlpools. But in fairness, its an old ship ! The staff onboard seem genuinely happy and this makes for a nice atmosphere. All in all, we enjoyed our 'FRED' experience and I would repeat the experience !   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
Introduction: This was an 8-night cruise visiting four ports, two each in Portugal and Spain, which afforded the opportunity to fulfil a long-standing ambition of visiting Santiago de Compostela. Sailing from Southampton, the itinerary ... Read More
Introduction: This was an 8-night cruise visiting four ports, two each in Portugal and Spain, which afforded the opportunity to fulfil a long-standing ambition of visiting Santiago de Compostela. Sailing from Southampton, the itinerary was: Lisbon - Porto - A Coruña - Aviles. The Ship: The Black Watch is a relatively small (it's barely a minute's walk from the restaurant astern to the forward show lounge), comfortable, easily navigated ship offering a relaxed sea-going experience - when not bobbing up and down in the Bay of Biscay or the Atlantic, that is. It is also one of the world's oldest ships, having begun life as a Viking vessel! There are plenty of public spaces both inside and out and the classic, wide promenade deck allows for enjoyable strolls. The white exterior was rather blighted by rust streaks and contrasted sharply with an elegant, tastefully decorated, clean interior. Announcements were in English only and the passengers with whom I came into contact were all from the UK and almost all were young in spirit if not in body. Embarkation and Disembarkation: We used ParkAtMyHouse and found the drop-off and pick-up to be pain-free and reliable. Having previously used off-port parking, either can be recommended. Embarkation was severely delayed due to an impromptu inspection by the Maritime Cruise Authority, and air-bridge problems. To his credit, Fred laid on a shuttle to Southampton town centre and we, like many other passengers, took advantage of this. The passenger safety drill was conducted as we moved away from the port. Disembarkation was efficient and a rather relaxed affair. Cabin: Our clean and comfortable outside cabin was ideally located between the launderette and the beauty salon, and even had kettles and safe drawers. The beds were in an L-shaped configuration with one being made up as a settee during the day. A note in the bathroom cabinet explained that bars of soap (rather than the liquid soap provided), shower caps, sewing kit and other assorted items would be provided upon request. Dining: This was available in two locations, and the quality and choice of meat, fish and vegetarian options were a delight. Buffet dining was available in the slightly-too-small Garden Cafe. Breakfast and lunch in the Glentanar Restaurant was a mix of buffet items, and menu items on request. Afternoon tea included excellent scones and cream, against a backdrop of the occasionally-not-quite-in-tune musical trio. The patisserie offerings for the afternoon Tea Dance on the second sea day were indescribably good. Did you hear the one about the English couple, the Scottish couple and the Welsh couple? They all became friends at a fine dining table where the late-sitting experience in the Orchid Room (a slightly stuffy annex off the Glentanar Restaurant) was excellent. The cheerful waiters contributed to this bonhomie. There were two formal nights to which most of the men wore dinner suits and others, like me, wore smart, sober attire. There were also two themed nights: Nautical and Rock 'n' Roll. The ship, very commendably, even provided hats for the former and scarves for the latter. Most joined in but you didn't feel awkward in the least if you didn't. The Supper Club buffet, available from 11pm till midnight, included biscuits that were so large they could have been used for shuffleboard - conveniently they came in two colours. The hot-drinks station, located adjacent to the restaurant was spacious and open 24 hours although packet biscuits were only available for mid-morning coffee. Some cruise lines still don't appreciate that a drink's too wet without one! Entertainment: The shows in the Neptune Lounge were varied and generally entertaining, sometimes unintentionally so - the dancers can dance and the singers can sing, but the latter's struggle to cope with both disciplines led us to wonder if they might be graduates of the Eric Morecambe Performing Arts Academy. The late-night dancing and entertainment up in the Lido Lounge were particularly enjoyable - kudos to the musicians and dance hosts (and teachers for their tips on how to dance on 2). The photography and history lectures were informative, well-presented and well-attended, and the piano recitals were entertaining and deservedly well-received. What is it about port lecturers and piss-pronunciation? The Spanish and Portuguese for 'avenue' is 'avenida', not 'avienda'! Despite these and other locutionary lapses, the port lectures were not just focussed on the shore excursions but thankfully also offered useful information for the independent traveller. Public Rooms and Spaces: The ship has an always-open library, internet room, card room, games room, observatory lounge (whose function was militated against, initially, by uncleaned, salt-sprayed windows), and bars and cafes both indoors and out by the pools. Warning! People can be very possessive about jigsaws. (I promised JacqTar not to reveal that it was she who caused one particular male passenger to lose his rag.) The onboard shops were quite adequate and included a small but varied book selection, and the photo shop quickly sold out of their stock of Canon cameras with viewfinder. There was also a gym, and self-service launderettes where cruise passengers are more commonly exercised. Unfortunately the decks were not smooth enough for playing shuffleboard - copious quantities of spinach should be consumed before playing. Ports of Call: We did not take any shore excursions but those that did seemed happy with them - although we met some who were a little grumpy due to a lot of standing around in Santiago de Compostela (they should have joined us in the adjacent parador for Cola Cao and almond cake). 1. Lisbon (a 15-minute walk or 5-minute bus into town): An enjoyable day visiting Sintra and some of its outlying palaces and gardens. 2. Porto (a 30-minute ride on a tourist bus - they come out to Leixos for cruise ships): A fine day exploring port warehouses on one side of the river and tourist attractions on the other. 3. A Coruña (a 10-minute walk into town): An enjoyable visit by train to Santiago de Compostela, followed by exploration of the port. 4. Aviles (a 2-minute walk into town): A wonderful day boozing in bodegas and generally chilling in a lovely, little-visited port. Summary: This was an extremely enjoyable cruise visiting interesting and some less-frequented locations. The experience was enhanced by sunny (if not particularly warm) weather (the ship does not feel claustrophobic even if outside spaces can't be used), helpful and pleasant crew, fine food and even finer dining companions. A combination of swells and winds made for a generally bumpy ride - and particularly challenging dance lessons (my triple-time waltz steps tended to be 1-2-3 stutterstutter; 1-2-3 stutterstutter). With hot drinks on tap and a traditional promenade deck I would certainly consider sailing aboard her again but please: - Clean the windows - Paint the ship - Smooth out the shuffleboard Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
My wife and I were avid cruisers and have sailed on the largest and smallest vessels. This was our first experience with Fred Olsen. We arrived at Southampton and all was well until we came to board. Although we had some heavy hand ... Read More
My wife and I were avid cruisers and have sailed on the largest and smallest vessels. This was our first experience with Fred Olsen. We arrived at Southampton and all was well until we came to board. Although we had some heavy hand luggage no help was offered and a fellow passenger assisted. This was due to medication which could not be packed in our cases. When on board the booking in was quick and efficient but we were not given any indication as to where the cabin was situated and it fell to a passing crew member to advise us where we should head. When we finally found the cabin (some 10 minutes later) we were pleasantly surprised at the size and general condition of the cabin. Food was acceptable. Tours were very good. Disembarkation was easy. However I can't say this was an experience to be repeated. Until now. I lost my wife to cancer and found how expensive it is to travel as a single passenger on both Cunard and P&O. Fred Olsen offer certain cruises with no single supplement so I thought I would try them again in a different vessel. I will keep you posted.... Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
We've travelled on Fred Olsen ships before, and on one or two of the larger ships (Royal Carribean and Ocean Village), but for a summer holiday for my husband and I, our 11 year old son, and my 80 year old parents, we chose a week on ... Read More
We've travelled on Fred Olsen ships before, and on one or two of the larger ships (Royal Carribean and Ocean Village), but for a summer holiday for my husband and I, our 11 year old son, and my 80 year old parents, we chose a week on the Black Watch sailing around Iberia. Although the Fred Olsen ships are not aimed at families with children we had taken our son once before, and he quite enjoyed it. My parents have very low mobility, so a smaller ship was a must this time, and the Black Watch was ideal. Embarkation was very easy. We arrived to the cruise terminal in Southampton at our allotted time (about 1pm), leaving our car with valet parking and our cases with staff. We queued for around 20 minutes or so to check in and then waited in the lounge until boarding. The waiting area was clean and spacious and it wasn't long before our number was called. Our cabin was an outside three berth on main deck. There was plenty of space, and loads of storage. One of our suitcases was too large to store under the bed, and the cabin stewardess took this away for us, and returned it on the last day. My parents had an inside two berth on the deck below. This was smaller, but they were happy with the size and space available. Our cabin was ideally located for us - being right by the stairs leading up to the pool above. It did suffer from some vibration and noise when the ship was manoeuvring into dock, but otherwise we had no noise problems. We'd asked for first sitting and to share a table with my parents and this worked well. The waiters are superb. I had been on the Black Watch back in April with my mother, and one of the waiters passing me in the corridor on the first day of this holiday not only remembered my name, but asked how my mum was, and even remembered which table we had been on! The food was excellent. There was a good selection and it was beautifully presented. Our son wasn't too keen on the sauces, and the waiter was very helpful and flexible with his choices. More than once he had two main courses instead of a starter - nothing was too much trouble. My mum can only eat gluten free food, and this was superb. Her special bread arrived on the table as she sat down each night, the waiters were knowledgeable about what she could and couldn't eat, and the chefs would prepare special versions of the main courses. My dad is diabetic and this was also very well catered for. I can't think of any other holiday where the different requirements of all our family members were met so well. There were two formal nights on board and most people dressed the part (including the children). There were three 'theme' nights, a country and western, tropical, and British (red white and blue) night. Unfortunately our ticket pack only mentioned the country and western night, not the tropical or British night, so we did not pack any suitable clothes. As a result the second two theme nights were not as well supported by the bulk of passengers. The entertainers onboard the Black Watch were good, if a bit predictable. The Black Watch Show Company (four dancers and three singers) put on four shows with plenty of energy. There was a very good comedian and magician too. A bonus was having Jim Bowen (of Bullseye fame) as one of the guest speakers, and he was extremely good and very popular. One of our favourite parts of the ship is the Lido lounge on Deck 7 where we would end up most nights listening to a Duo (called Timeline) and a piano player (called Alan, I think) who would alternate during the evening. And also loosing our money on the roulette table just outside the Lido bar! As mentioned before, Fred Olsen Ships are not aimed at children, and they do have an 'older' passenger profile. But with this break being during the school holidays it did attract families. There were around 60 children on board, and the ship had some children's representatives and a 'Junior Cruiser' programme for children. This was mainly taken up by the younger children. Our son was friendly with another boy on board who was slightly older and they amused themselves - joining in with events aimed at all cruisers such as the Dolphin Racing, and Wii sports, but also using the pool, the putting green and other facilities, or just finding a quiet spot on the ship and playing with their consoles! On the final day the Cruise Director as part of his thank you to staff praised all the kids - and I have to agree. All those we saw on board were polite, well behaved yet having fun. It was a pleasure to see them and from what I could see the generations all mixed well. There were four ports of call on the itinery: La Coruna, Gibralta, Lisbon and Vigo. The main problem was that we did not have enough time in the ports. Most stops were only half days (especially in Gibralta) which made trips on shore too rushed. We also felt that the shore excursions were too expensive, and child prices were almost as much as adult prices. We did most of our exploring independently (of which more below). I have never been a great fan of the port talks on board, usually finding that they provide limited information about the port, and are mainly a way of selling the port excursions. However, alongside the standard port talks there were three port 'enhancement lectures'. These were excellent, providing the history of our ports and lots of ideas of things to do in them. We got many ideas, and would like to return to all of these ports for longer in the future. La Coruna We berthed near the town and walked into the 'old town' where we saw traditional dancers in the Maria Pita Square. We then walked to Roman Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse that has been round for almost 2,000 years. There was a small charge to go in, and we climbed the 239 steps to the top. Well worth it for the views. We then walked back to the ship as we had to be back by early afternoon. This was quite a long hike in total for us, but there were trams available which we saw others catching. Gibralta It was a fairly easy 20 minute walk to the main shopping street, and we continued walking to the cable car for a trip to the top of the rock. Unfortunately the cable car was closed due to strong winds. We decided to walk up the rock which in hindsight was not a good idea, even though we are keen walkers. The Rock is not designed for walkers - it is not clear where to go, and we kept having to step off the narrow roads to let tour buses and taxis past. We did not have enough time to visit the main attractions such as St Michaels Cave as we had to be back at the ship by lunchtime, and were also unlucky enough not to see a single ape! However the views from the (empty) Ape's Den half way up were great, and we had a nice walk back into town, picking up our duty free from the many cheap booze shops on the way. Gibralta was very busy the day we were there. We were moored next to the Independence of the Sea (our ship looking like a dinky toy). So there were lots of tour buses and competition for the taxis. Some friends of ours who had done the ship's tour of the rock said there were 'traffic jams' of the tour buses trying to get up the rock. And they also didn't get to see any apes! Lisbon We were berthed a couple of miles from Lisbon and the ship provided a shuttle bus service (£5 each, with our son at 11 travelling free). We wanted to visit Lisbon's Oceanarium as this is one of the world's largest aquariums, but thought the ship's trip (at £140 for the three of us) was too expensive, so we did it ourselves. We took the shuttle into Lisbon and then the Metro to the Oriente Station. The metro was incredibly easy to use - the ticket machines even have a button to press to get the instructions in English, and the return trip cost around 6 euros for the three of us. A family ticket to enter the Oceanarium was 29 euros, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, spending nearly 2 hours there. If you are visiting Lisbon with children I would recommend it. We returned to Lisbon centre, did a little sightseeing and relaxed at a cafe before boarding the last shuttle bus back to the ship at 3pm. Vigo Vigo was our last port of call, and again we only had half a day there, having to be back on the ship by lunchtime. We berthed near the town. It was very hot, so we ambled up to the old castle and explored an iron age settlement. Then returned to the town, admiring the many sculptures, relaxed in a cafe and then returned to the ship. Final disembarkation was as easy as embarkation on the first day. Our car was waiting as we stepped off the boat. And we're already planning our next cruise! 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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 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.4

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