13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a ... Read More
All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a search for him was conducted which in turn caused the abandonment of the highlight stop on the tour. Not Fred's fault I know, but very very annoying. Boarding at Dover was a breeze, we were aboard before we knew it. Our suite, 5015 on the Main Deck was very comfortable and well serviced as was the rest of the ship. No sign of the dreaded Noravirus. There were sanitisers everywhere. All the passengers appeared to use them as a matter of course which was good to see. The food was excellent. Somehow I managed to maintain my weight. Goodness knows how. Disembarkation was pretty quick although there was a slight delay due to fork lift activity around the dock. We enjoyed the experience so much we re-booked on board for the Amalfi Coast Cruise aboard Boudicca in April 2017 Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
On board the Black Watch is like stepping back in time. The decor and fittings are very 1970s although clean, there is no WOW factor anywhere on the ship. This was our first cruise and based our poor experience it could be our last. ... Read More
On board the Black Watch is like stepping back in time. The decor and fittings are very 1970s although clean, there is no WOW factor anywhere on the ship. This was our first cruise and based our poor experience it could be our last. The boarding process at the port was one of the worst travel experiences I have had. Hundreds of passengers crammed into a hangar waiting their numbers to be called and we waited for 1hr 50 minutes and were the last to board even though we arrived exactly at the time we were instructed to on our boarding instructions. There was no explanation given just occasional apologies. So we arrived at our cabin fighting disappointment at our introductory experience with Fred Olsen. The next blow was that we learned that we would not be stopping at our first port of call, la Coruna, due to some mechanical problem. This port and the onshore trip to Santiago was the reason I booked the trip. The food was good. The alcohol reasonably priced and the service of a high standard with one or two surly exceptions. The shows were unoriginal. There was a very good comedian. The onboard activities were ok. The highlight of the trip was the Observatory Lounge where we enjoyed lovely cocktails while listening to an excellent trio. We met people who we will keep in touch with. Overall we both feel we spent a lot of money on a poor holiday and that same sum could have got us a luxury hotel for longer. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
As seasoned travellers with many years of road tripping under our belts (to most parts of the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe & Canada) we wanted to try a tour of Norway, a country we'd never been to before but had been considering for ... Read More
As seasoned travellers with many years of road tripping under our belts (to most parts of the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe & Canada) we wanted to try a tour of Norway, a country we'd never been to before but had been considering for quite some time. However, as we started planning it, it became evident just how expensive such a trip would be, plus there was also the issue of there being no ferries to Scandinavia from the UK anymore, which would have meant a very long drive via Holland, Germany, Denmark & Sweden before we even reached Norway. We’d never tried a cruise before, but as an alternative to a road trip we looked at some Norwegian offerings, which appeared to be a more cost effective way of getting / staying there than going by road. We eventually ended up booking with Fred. Olsen for a cruise on the 'Black Watch' leaving Liverpool on 11th May bound for the Norwegian ports of: Alesund, Hellesynt, Gerainger, Olden, Bergen, Eidfjord & Stavanger. The Black Watch is quite small for a cruise ship, it accommodates just over 800 passengers, its compact size meaning it can access the smaller fjords. Being so early in the year meant that we were the only ship in most ports on a given day which was a plus.. The first thing that struck us about the ship as we embarked was how 'well used' and dated it is. On board it's quite jaded in places and in need of a good spruce up and some modernisation. Some people - Fred. Olsen and a few dedicated fans of cruising - call it charm, we call it, 'wearing out'. The exterior of the ship also looks quite bad with it's many “battle scars”, looking at it close-up at the ports of call reveals some nasty looking dents in the hull, and some rust appearing in several places. There seems to be a never ending painting programme going on to cover up the rusty bits. In every port we called at, out came the bucket of paint & rollers to conceal a bit more of it. What this poor 43 year old lady really needs is to go into dry dock for a spell and have the rust properly treated – or better still she should be gracefully retired as her best days are most certainly now behind her. We’ve been on nicer cross channel ferries. When we booked the cruise, we opted for the 'all inclusive' drinks package at £220 for the 2 of us. Like a lot of other things with Fred. Olsen the details of this were very vague until we got on board and found out that 'all inclusive' actually isn't. Water is available at the bar as part of the deal but only by the glass so it can't really be taken back to the cabin and is probably only the tap water anyway. Bottled water in the cabin has to be requested and paid for. Coffee and tea and a kettle is provided in the cabins but in the bars aren’t covered under the all inclusive deal. Only very cheap wines and spirits are part of the all inclusive package on-board, the house “whisky”, as an example, is some cheap Spanish brew which is quite rough, if you want even the lower end brand blended Scotches, like Bells or Grouse etc you have to pay a 50% surcharge – despite it being listed as only 10p dearer than the nasty house whisky in the bar price list. The same applies to other spirits and wines, although it has to be said the red 'house' wine is more palatable than the spirits. For draught beers there’s very little choice – lager or Boddingtons bitter were all that was on offer in the bars. No Guinness or any other dark beers on draught – only tins & bottles which again are not part of the All Inclusive package so attract the 50% surcharge . Olsen need to be a little more transparent regarding things like this because the way things stand it's all just a little too vague in the pre booking information and can catch out the unwary. If we'd known beforehand that the all inclusive package included only the cheapest unbranded whisky and other spirits that nobody outside of the ship has ever heard of we'd never have taken it, we'd have paid for our drinks as we went along and bought the cheap branded stuff on offer, but having to pay 50% extra, even for the likes of Bells, Grants and Grouse made us feel a little cheated. Calling it 'all inclusive' is very misleading. We used the complimentary cabin service on a few days when we arrived back at the ship too late for lunch or dinner and found it very good. Our order was usually at the cabin door within 10 mins of phoning it through. Only things like sandwiches & soup and a few deserts were available but they were of good quality – better than the main restaurant food in some cases. Food in the main waiter served “Glentanar” restaurant was pretty average at best, with more emphasis being placed on the presentation rather than the taste & texture. To be honest it's all just a bit pretentious on what is a rather tatty little ship, especially the formal evenings where passengers have to dress accordingly for dinner. A lot of folk did seem to like that sort of thing though, which only added to the pretentiousness of the whole affair. We only ate in the main Glentanar restaurant on a couple of occasions, on our second and final visit our rather pompous waiter was quite rude to an elderly gent at our table who had complained about his soup. On that particular night we had what was allegedly pheasant which it has to be said was disgusting, it all looked very nicely laid out on the plate in nouveau cuisine fashion, but eating it was like chewing an old inner tube. I'm no expert on pheasant but I'm sure it shouldn't have been that tough and dry. After that experience we elected to eat in the Braemar Garden Café which is a self service buffet restaurant and the food all the better for it. This was a far less ostentatious atmosphere and the waiters were marginally more pleasant. We didn’t eat too may lunches on board, preferring instead to stay out using the limited time available to explore wherever we were docked, as no matter where we’d arrived it was always more interesting than on board the ship. We partook of breakfast most mornings, but found the cooked offerings to be invariably cold to lukewarm. The first morning we tried it the fried eggs were barely warm, as were the beans, sausage and bacon. The cold scramble egg was the particularly unappetising “piece de resistance”. The following few mornings were no better in either restaurant so we opted for the cold continental breakfasts after that which were an improvement even if the croissants were miniscule. We'd booked a couple of shore tours before we left home. The first was from Gerainger by coach up the Eagle Road which was spectacular and well worth the cost. Sadly the second one from Stavanger was a huge disappointment. This one consisted of a trip on the so called Jaeren Railway to Egersund which cost us £75 each. It promised wonderful views as we travelled through the “Breadbasket of Norway”. The reality was a ride by coach through Stavanger at rush hour to the railway station, where we got on to a commuter train. We then travelled for over an hour and a quarter through some pretty underwhelming countryside to the lacklustre town of Egersund where we then boarded the coach for the run back to Stavanger by road which was only slightly better. We did have an hour to kill in Egersund though so rather than stay with the tour guide (who at least had the decency to look a bit embarrassed), we took off to find a coffee shop instead. Talking to other participants of this tour back on the ship afterwards it transpired that we weren't the only ones who felt disappointed by it. We could probably have done the same trip ourselves for less than £20 Norway is undeniably beautiful, the cruise showed us a mere glimpse of what this wonderful country has to offer and we will return there, but next time will be a road trip - and hang the expense, it'll be worth it. As far as cruises go for us, never again. I'm too young even in my mid 60s. If this particular cruise is typical of most then they seem geared more to passengers in the 70 – 80 age group who's idea of fun and adventure appears to be stuffing themselves with as much food as possible, a game of bingo and a quiz chucked in now and then.... and dressing up for dinner whilst on an ageing ship being the icing on the cake. Just short of 3 days to get to and from Norway is excessive, and boring, I’d have preferred a quicker cruise and more time in Norway. Having experienced the open road for years, we simply felt trapped inside the ship. Having too little time to explore the places we saw became frustrating as we had to keep a constant eye on the time in order to get back in time for departure and we hated the stress of clock watching whilst on holiday. I can see the appeal of cruising for some people, but it's not for us I'm afraid. In future I’ll be firing up my car or the motorbike again and taking off for some real travel adventures Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
I was desperate the see the Norwegian Fjords, which by the way were spectacular, so my sister and I booked a trip with Fred Olsen which included the all inclusive drinks package. Embarkation at Liverpool was a breeze and the baggage ... Read More
I was desperate the see the Norwegian Fjords, which by the way were spectacular, so my sister and I booked a trip with Fred Olsen which included the all inclusive drinks package. Embarkation at Liverpool was a breeze and the baggage handlers at the port were slick and fast, however, you do have to fight through all types of walking sticks, Zimmerframe walkers and very slow infirm passengers. My sister and I, although not young, felt like teenagers in comparison as the average age on board was in the region of 70+. Although on the fully inclusive (FI) package, which is good value for money, the rules around what is included in the fully inclusive package is ambiguous and at best vague. This is compounded by the staff offering you items that are not on the FI package, although knowing that you are on the FI package. The result is that you find yourself being charged for a drink that you didn't realise you'd bought? There is a form of stealth sales that goes on as I think the staff receive an incentive to sell drinks and on several occasions I found that I'd unwittingly bought a coffee or a glass of wine in error. The other irritant is that on the occasion that you do order a drink on the FI package you're still expected to sign for the price of it which left us with a tree's worth of paper receipts. Make sure you always check the receipt which has a printed 'FA' on it if you've achieved the fully inclusive package as the staff don't tell you. We found this helpful piece of information from a fellow passenger. All communication is provided whilst on ship via a daily paper put into your room by the evening service staff. This is useful and provides you with all the information you need with regard to sailing time, ports of call, activities and services. We didn't pre-buy port and shore excursions but used the hop on, hop off, facilities that is available at each port. They were perfect for us as it gave us the opportunity to see what we wanted to see and was much cheaper than the excursions. Our cabin was small and dated but was kept super clean by our Cabin Attendant who was fabulous. Everything onboard is chargeable including the cabin bottle of water. We were on deck 5 which is perfectly based for reception, the restaurant one deck below and to disembark which is on deck 3 and the spa which is on deck 3. You don't have to use the lifts and can get everywhere fast. You'll never get in the lift anyway as 2 walkers fill the entire lift and there are only 2 lifts in the centre of the ship. The food is good although typically British themed with it's target passenger being the older demographic. I was however, so tired by the end of the trip by the continual chorus of 'Happy Birthday to you' which is sung by the staff and an attempt to get you to buy your table a round of expensive liqueurs. Although, we met some lovely passengers, the more mature passenger can tend to feel superior and will reserve the best seats, push you out of the way and tell you to move if you're in their way, although they've reserved seats for their friends. You having to stand wherever possible to enjoy the evening is an insult to them. Some would go into the library and put all their belongings down and then disappear for a couple of hours, returning at their leisure expecting their seating to be there waiting upon their return. This resulted in my sister and I roaming around the ship looking for somewhere to sit during inclement sea days, eventually going back to our cabin. The only place that would guarantee us an escape from the infirm was the Gym which was well equipped, clean and tidy with showers and a steam room. The most modern part of the ship in fact. On day 8 of our trip there was a terrible smell across our deck which was attributed to the water refuse tanks being full. They had to dump it into the sea but because we were still in the Fjords the ship had to keep hold of it. All deck passengers complained and we were offered a move to another deck but only for the night which meant we would have had to pack up and then move back - we declined and stayed wishing we'd brought pegs with us for our noses. The reception staff are all poe faced women who know nothing and are accountable for the same. We had several encounters with them and at no time do their faces crack into a smile which is accompanied by 'the computer says no' mentality. The 'can do' ethos is nowhere to be found on this ship. The restaurant staff are polite and friendly, however, have to be because the Management in charge seem to run the place with a fear culture,as we saw staff being told off in public areas in view of passengers which was very uncomfortable to witness. We would cruise again but not on this line - an expensive disappointment to say the least. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both ... Read More
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both being hard and lumpy. We found the indoor areas of the ship to be clean and bright, the standard of the food was very high and could not be faulted, and the staff were very friendly and eager to please. However, we encountered quite a few problems with our room. When returning to our room after dinner on the first night we found the wind howling around and under the door, making such a loud noise that sleep was impossible. We had to wait over one hour and make two calls to reception before maintenance attended our room. Only a temporary fix could be effected and this was only by placing a towel along the door bottom, but we were happy to accept this as we wanted to retire and were told that a permanent repair would be done the next day. After going to bed we were woken about 2.00a.m. by a loud intermittent clanging. It turned out that the metal balcony divider had come loose in the very wet and windy weather and this was swinging back and forth. After trying to fix it twice ourselves it still worked loose again after 10 minutes so it meant another phone call to reception and a visit from the maintenance man. We would expect that these type of items should have been checked as part of general maintenance before the room was allocated. We went off the ship on the Saturday and were very disappointed on our return at 5.00 p.m. to find that the howling noise under the door had not been attended to, so we called out the Customer Service Manager to explain how very disappointed we were with our experience so far. She apologised and offered to move us to another cabin but we were loathe to do that as it involved moving our belongings ourselves. She then called out the senior maintenance man who said he had listened outside our door earlier in the day but as he could not hear anything he did not think there was still a problem! He came back an hour later and effected a repair involving duct tape. On Sunday I went to use the hairdryer and it would not work, so this meant another visit from a maintenance man and the problem was found to be an electrical one in the razor point in the bathroom - yet again another item not checked to be in working order. In the newsletter we received we were told that on the last evening we would receive a questionnaire for completion - we did not, I wonder why? There a many good things to be said about Fred Olsen cruising, the embarkation and disembarkation was handled well and efficiently, the standard of hygiene is very high too. It may have just been our bad luck to have so many problems with our room but it did mar our enjoyment of the trip to a large extent. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We booked the cruise via Saga, and were told that it was All Inclusive. The list included all on board gratuities. However, at the end of the cruise we were charged the standard £4 per day for this. On the first day we did not know that ... Read More
We booked the cruise via Saga, and were told that it was All Inclusive. The list included all on board gratuities. However, at the end of the cruise we were charged the standard £4 per day for this. On the first day we did not know that we had the all inclusive drinks package. Fred Olsen had written to us inviting us to pay for this. However, once on board, our Saga rep told us that we already had this package included. Some miscommunication there between Fred Olsen and Saga. Other than that the cruise was very enjoyable. The food was wonderful, the staff could not have been more helpful and friendly, and there were various on board activities and talks. We liked that the boat was relatively small, and the slick way in which it docked and left the ports was very impressive. The time ashore was rather short, and as we chose not to go on any organised trips (very expensive), our options were somewhat limited. Just time for a short stroll around really. We didn't dare to venture too far for fear of missing the boat departure time. There were shuttle buses where the town was far for walking, and, as Saga passengers we did not have to pay for these, though others had to pay £5. It would have been nice to spend a couple of days in Madeira and miss one of the other islands. In fact, maybe miss two islands and spend more time at the other two? That might encourage us to book another cruise to the Canaries, next time seeing the islands missed. As it is, we will probably go on another cruise, but to a different destination. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
We are the sort who holiday in the quietest, remotest areas so we were nervous but decided this was the way to see the fjiords. What a revelation! Booking a suite with a balcony was definitely the way to go and worth every penny. I spent ... Read More
We are the sort who holiday in the quietest, remotest areas so we were nervous but decided this was the way to see the fjiords. What a revelation! Booking a suite with a balcony was definitely the way to go and worth every penny. I spent hours just sitting in privacy watching the mountains and rivers go by. We had no noise problems from other cabins nor at night which surprised us. We could be as private or involved as we wanted to be and the staff on the Black Watch were all wonderful without exception.We enjoyed the smaller size of the Black Watch and have decided we wouldn't like anything much bigger, especially after seeing one or two around the fjiords.Our only criticism was that it did seem silly to stop at Stavanger, where there were more shops, on a Sunday when all was closed, instead of a week day when we stopped at small places with very few shops but that might not be up to the cruiseline.We found Fred Olsen staff helpful and had absolutely no problems.Put it like this - we have already booked another one for 2012! We have even found one from the north of england which saves us going down to Dover although we had no problems with any of that either. Read Less
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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