9 Fred. Olsen Black Watch Family Cruise Reviews

As first time cruisers we wanted a short trip on a smaller ship as we were travelling with young children, ages 7 and 11, and were not sure how they would be. They totally loved it and have already asked when we can go back. We had a ... Read More
As first time cruisers we wanted a short trip on a smaller ship as we were travelling with young children, ages 7 and 11, and were not sure how they would be. They totally loved it and have already asked when we can go back. We had a great experience departing from Liverpool. Easy to get to, drop the luggage, park the car and get on board. We arrived 1 hour before we were due on board but this was no problem and we got straight onto the ship. The ship is lovely and to a good standard. Small and very welcoming. We have a porthole cabin on deck 4 with 4 bunks and was fine for us. Very clean and the house keeper was amazing. She even knitted my daughter an outfit for her bear. Staff at the restaurants were all really good and made us feel really welcome. They got to know us so well that they always had 2 glasses of apple juice ready for our daughter and new to bring her loads of ketchup for her dinner! All the staff in general were great and very friendly. Entertainment was good and we went to the show after dinner every night and during the day there was a full itinerary of what was on offer. We stopped at Flåm, Olden and Bergen in Norway and Lerwick in Scotland. We had great weather at all the stops so we were lucky. Our favourite was olden as it’s such a lovely place. At Flåm you would really need to do an excursion as there is not a great deal to do there. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
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
Sail Date June 2018
Cabin , spacious, newly refurbed and very pleasant except for when at sea . Very loud intermittent banging, rattling noise. I have cruised several times and accept that when at sea there is always a certain degree of noise from engines, ... Read More
Cabin , spacious, newly refurbed and very pleasant except for when at sea . Very loud intermittent banging, rattling noise. I have cruised several times and accept that when at sea there is always a certain degree of noise from engines, machinery, air con but this was exceptional and unacceptable. Some service especially in the dining rooms was spa radio and at times chaotic. In the Observatory on Sunday Lunchtime, there were three waiters, one setting out tables for Afternoon tea yet some people waited for service and then walked out after being ignored. You have to ask for tea and coffee instead of waiters approaching tables . A value for money cruise but it shows on the quality of food . Avoid cabin 3106 very noisy Would I use FreD Olsen again ? Only if no one else was offering the same itinerary and I would upgrade cabins , but that would negate the advantage of being value for money. A more expensive cabin still means you would still have the Medicare food and sporadic service Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise as it was not too far a trip for my mother in law and it was also near Christmas. We were not impressed with the parking set up for our car, signs not clear etc. After we had checked I looked for a bar and somewhere ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was not too far a trip for my mother in law and it was also near Christmas. We were not impressed with the parking set up for our car, signs not clear etc. After we had checked I looked for a bar and somewhere to eat, only found a gazebo type structure with a very poor range of drinks and very little to eat. If this port wants to be taken seriously it needs to get a grip. This is certainly not an international port of departure in my book. Problems. On leaving port we found our cabin very warm, tried to turn it down, no good. Many passengers we spoke to had complaints ranging from no hot water, no cold water or the best one, no water at all. Tv's did not work properly at all even though we were told they would be fine by the time we got to Hamburg. No they were not. One of the exercise pools seemed to be permantly out of order. Lots of work being carried on outside cabins, sometimes starting quite early in the morning and also quite late at night. Inside the ship notice boards or direction/information boards were still being put up. In my view 28 days was not long enough and the ship should never have left dry dock. Plus points. Those areas that had been refurbished were very nice particularly the restaurants. Staff were excellent. Food as usual was really good. Entertainment was not to bad either. We found information from the captain was poor and sometimes could not be heard, we were on this ship four years ago and had a poor cruise, captain was the same guy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Firstly I have to say that our cruise itenary to Ireland and Canada was excellant. However having traveled with Fred Olsen on many occasions and had no serious problems, it was very disappointing to find that once we set sail there was ... Read More
Firstly I have to say that our cruise itenary to Ireland and Canada was excellant. However having traveled with Fred Olsen on many occasions and had no serious problems, it was very disappointing to find that once we set sail there was a very noticeable vibration in our cabin, 4078, which made sleep very difficult. Reception admitted that there was a problem and eventually moved us to a forward cabin where we could sleep. However the vibration continued and was noticable throughout areas of the ship for the duration of the cruise. Also over the last couple of years the food quality and variety on Fred Olsen ships does seem to have declined from what used to have been some of the best at sea, especially the fish. As usual the crew were excellent and the entertainment and lecturers were of a good standard. We would cruise on Fred Olsen again but probably not on Black Watch. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This is my experience. Everybody has a different experience so these are my opinions on what i found onboard this cruise. I booked 2 weeks prior to departure and booked a balcony cabin. Fred Olsen kindly gave me a free upgrade to a ... Read More
This is my experience. Everybody has a different experience so these are my opinions on what i found onboard this cruise. I booked 2 weeks prior to departure and booked a balcony cabin. Fred Olsen kindly gave me a free upgrade to a suite. Boarding at Liverpool was great, far more comfortable than Sounthampton. Very pleased with the cabin, all comforts and nice fresh flowers, sparkling wine, canapes, fluffy bath robe and free slippers. Also use of binoculars and umbrella if needed. Lovely bathroom, and great for smokers as you can smoke on the balcony. Unlike other cruise lines where you have to trek around the decks to find a smoking area. Bravo to FO for their smoking policy. The ship is looking its age. Sun deck tired and decor very low key and dull. All staff friendly and polite. Lifts very small and always a wait for one to arrive. The Glentaner dining room was one of the worst i have ever been in on a ship. A large version of a nursing home dining room. Very harsh lighting and too bright. Food was a let down. On Boudicca and Balmoral it was fine but not on this cruise. Were they on rations ? I ordered shrimps to start with which i know means prawns. I was served 3 prawns on a plate !!! gone in seconds. Then an Italian tomato salad. One tomato cut in slices drizzled with oil !!! useless. Main course was poor and also long waits in between courses. Not impressed. The garden cafe is lovely and food is far better and nicer surroundings. Mini cruises attract a totally different type of passenger than a proper cruise would so i seen a wedding party was onboard. Bad news ! By evening the females were drunk and swearing and bawling walking around the ship, drinks in hand. Horrendous language. FO need to curb this fast. Next day i heard other passengers say they were kept awake all night due to the noise in the cabins from these women. This is really bad that people like this spoil peoples cruises because of their drinking and bad behaviour. Half day trip to Dublin was enjoyable, only 27 on the trip. Rather bossy tour guide but it was a good trip. I would not travel on Black Watch again. She is near retirement now and her age shows. Entertainment was poor. Comedian who was not funny, a weak choir and the ships singers and dancers very amateur. I do wish people who want to sit and talk would not come in to see a show as they do not watch the show, just loud voices non stop. Go to one of the lounges if you want to talk. Its bad manners to the acts who are trying to entertain. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We booked last October for a cruise of the fjords. At embarkation, our luggage was delivered to outside our cabin on third deck. The cabin was clean and throughout the cruise was well-serviced by Rodell. We found the entertainment very ... Read More
We booked last October for a cruise of the fjords. At embarkation, our luggage was delivered to outside our cabin on third deck. The cabin was clean and throughout the cruise was well-serviced by Rodell. We found the entertainment very good, and we saw a few great shows, and a funny comedian. As we bought the all-inclusive drinks package, we were limited to what and where we could drink, no drinks included on deck seven, and a limited number of drinks on deck six, which meant we were drinking house rum or Stella. We used the buffet for most of our meals, and the food was reasonable to good, the service was good to indifferent. The Reception staff were helpful and polite, and the staff in the Braemar Room were very cheerful and funny. The pianist Ronald is very good indeed, and we enjoyed our time in their as well as the quizzes at 10pm. Wi-Fi is available on board but is very slow,and some days doesn't work atall, It is very expensive if you only buy a few hours, so I would suggest paying £30 for a 24 hour package,not £5 for half an hour. The excursions are very expensive, so think about making your own way around when you dock. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, but felt that we didn't get the value for money we should have got, and considering we booked so far in advance, should have been given the all-inclusive drinks package and gratuities free of charge, which were later advertised as included. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have cruised with Fred Olsen on several occasions on the Boudicca. Having had two cruises this year we only decided at last minute to cruise on the Black Watch because of the attractive 28 days Anchor Fare. We opted for a Superior ... Read More
We have cruised with Fred Olsen on several occasions on the Boudicca. Having had two cruises this year we only decided at last minute to cruise on the Black Watch because of the attractive 28 days Anchor Fare. We opted for a Superior Outside cabin and late dinner sitting. When our tickets arrived shortly before the departure we were placed in cabin 5112 - a Superior Outside which was marked "subject to some noise and vibration" and allocated an early dinner sitting. When we rang F. Olsen to change the dinner sitting we were told it would cost £2 per person per night to change. Very reluctantly we paid £112 as an early dinner is not to our liking. Our cabin was certainly a Superior Outside, spacious and well equipped BUT when manoeuvring in port, at certain sea states or engine revs. the cabin shook so that items fell off the dressing table and the noise was akin to having a pneumatic drill in the cabin. Having booked a late fare we were obviously given the crap cabin! Talking to other last minute Anchor Fare passengers it was obvious that Fred Olsen now have a deliberate policy of giving late bookers the opposite dinner sitting to the one they request and then try and extract a £2 per passenger per night levy to change. A cheap, unpleasant way of raising revenue and doing little for passenger relations. Because the ship was only 2/3rds full the dining room on both sittings had plenty of room. The irony was that, after we had booked, cruise web sites were offering balcony cabins for less than we had paid for an Anchor Fare Superior Outside. The cruise itself was excellent although with 3 days bad weather on leaving Dover and not F.Olsens fault. Food was good but by no means top class and the entertainment what you would expect on a small ship. Cost cutting was obvious judging by our previous F.Olsen cruises but still good value. However, if attracted by last minute deals be aware of the possible problems I have written about.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
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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Sail Date August 2010
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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