6 Fred. Olsen Black Watch Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Baltic Sea

Sailed with Fred Olsen several times..this was not what I expected after paying top rates for a luxury cruise. Not a sparkling ship, the windows were filthy, sticky chair arms and backs of chairs. Smears on tables, even the black pianos ... Read More
Sailed with Fred Olsen several times..this was not what I expected after paying top rates for a luxury cruise. Not a sparkling ship, the windows were filthy, sticky chair arms and backs of chairs. Smears on tables, even the black pianos were clearly unpolished. Double glazed windows had water inside and during the heavy seas the blinds could be heard rattling all over the lounge bars. The al la carte restaurant was excellent but highlighted how basic the rest of the food was. Due to be understaffed - according to a staff member - a two course evening meal could take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Paper? covering the safety rails on the stairways was pealing. Several drinking glasses had to be replaced, smelly and dirty. Inclusive canapes were dry bread and inedible. I have never had such a claustrophobic cabin. We had to sit on the toilet in order to close the door, it was so tiny. The noise from fixtures and fittings made sleep impossible during high seas. For the third time we booked this cruise to celebrate an anniversary, our 40th. On a last minute decision we booked a tour on the actual day. £216 to see the Glacier fjords and Hesteyri boat trip. The Glacier was a background view through a split in the mountains about 2 mile away, nearly missed because no one mentioned it. As for the scenery not what I would call spectacular. When it came to disembarking the boat was moored at sea, offshore, so it entailed climbing over the back rails and dropping 2 feet to a ladder and then sitting on the edge of a rubber inflatable. The first 10 to go had a 15 minutes wait on shore in the biting cold for the rest of the passengers. The highlight, a cemetery and deserted herring factory? Elderly people do not like to be seen as unable to do things but an awful lot were decidedly green around the gills. I refused to go because amongst other things I suffer from severe sciatica but in the UK health and safety would have been appalled. The entertainment was excellent, activities were rather short and sweet. When a deserted village or one with 2 shops and a small supermarket are included in the stops there is not a lot one can say. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat ... Read More
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat in a non moving queue watching the taxi meter go from £13 to £20 finally getting out and carrying our luggage 100 metres to baggage check in. The cruise itself was great although we were struck down with a "Virus" for the last 5 of the 15 days. We didn't leave the cabin. Luckily this virus was in the form of a hacking cough and not stomach related. Many passengers were affected. Everything on board was good, food, service, cabin and most of the entertainment although we did have a guy called Christopher Gee who had, quite frankly, seen better days, dreadful. We did have issues with a couple of the port tours. We were disappointed that the catamaran used to take us Whale Watching was so large ( about 200 passengers) BUT we did see Whales so all good really. The other disappointing tour was Reindeer Sledding. Got to do it when you go to Norway. We arrived at the Sami Village and had a drink and traditional cake along with a talk about Sami Life, all very interesting. We were then divided into groups to go down to the reindeer. Bear in mind it was dark. We were led outside and a guy on a snow mobile helped a disabled person to get down to the lower level. He shot off with her on the machine and left the rest of us floundering around not knowing where to go. The Path was unmarked and unlit. We finally made it. They were having trouble controlling the reindeer! We were in a line of about 6 sleds, we were 2nd to last with a young reindeer behind us, well, we thought it was going to get into the sled with us and it was only my hand pushing it away which stopped by wife being injured. She was petrified and the trip was totally spoilt. I did complain at the time to the handler he admitted the problem. I complained again when back on board. I was given a 33% refund as a "Good Will Gesture" but I'm not happy. When taking these shore tours it's important to feel safe and that someone from the ship is keeping a lookout for you. Well this certainly wasn't the case. Definitely no Health and Safety procedures here. Other shore tours were good if a little more expensive than usual. Brilliant Northern Lights experience and an Igloo Hotel. This is my 2nd time to Norway so not sure would go back again but the scenery is amazing. My wife absolutely loved it. Seeing snow at Christmas really made the experience truly great. We've been travelling with P & O for our last few cruises on their smaller ships and I don't think there is much to choose between them. Hope this is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Having read some of the reviews on this site about cruising on the Black Watch we were a little concerned about the holiday we had booked. Contributors commented about noisy cabins and about the quality of the food. This was our 4th ... Read More
Having read some of the reviews on this site about cruising on the Black Watch we were a little concerned about the holiday we had booked. Contributors commented about noisy cabins and about the quality of the food. This was our 4th cruise, one previously with Fred, one with Celebrity X and one with P and O. We enjoyed them all in different ways, but have returned from the Baltic completely satisfied both with the cruise company, the ship and the destinations. We chose a superior outside cabin and were allocated 5095 towards the aft of the ship and on the same deck as reception and the shops. It turned out to be perfectly placed with easy access to dining, entertainment and the heated outside swimming pool. The only improvement we could have wanted would have been a double bed but I understand these are less plentiful on the Black Watch, compared to the Boudicca. The cabin was spotless and Joanne, our housekeeper, was friendly and always smiling. The quality of the food was terrific and we felt fortunate to have been allocated a table in the Orchid dining room, with two other personable and interesting older couples. We particularly enjoyed the three formal evenings and noticed that the chef made a special effort on these evenings. For example, half a lobster as a starter choice, what's not to like? We are ballroom dancers and we're delighted by the beginners classes run by the three dance hosts, Alan John and Lynn whom we got to know quite well over the course of the holiday. I guess our only disappointment was the organisation of the Tea Dance when afternoon tea was not based in the Neptune Lounge. As a result, very few joined in the Tea Dance. The lectures on St Peterburg were informative and well presented and I liked the talk on Russian Miniatures. As for the entertainment, the young company of 'Black Watch' singers and dancers were outstanding with shows full of energy and colour, comparable with anything we had experienced on larger ships. The guest entertainers were likewise very good and catered for a variety of tastes. The crew show was uplifting and insprirational. The panel discussion with the Black Watch company, chaired by Antony, was very interesting. The artists answered questions about how they got into show business and what life was like onboard ship for months on end. The life of a performer is both precarious and maybe short lived. The destinations were outstanding. I guess St Peterburg and our visit to the Winter Palace was the highlight, and everyone agreed that we would have liked more time in Russia. Next time. However, all of the other destinations had something different to offer; the ABBA museum in Stockholm, a husky ride in Helsinki, the three Explorer museums in Oslo, were all quite special.The guided shore excursions were good value. On our previous cruise with Fred Olsen on the Boudica we were fortunate to be upgraded to a junior suite and, astonishingly, were invited to dine at the Captain's table. We never expected to beat that, but our cruise to the Baltic on the wonderful Black Watch was the best yet. As a postscript, a bus to Great Victoria and Central stations in Belfast might have relieved the long queue for taxis on disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
It was by pure chance that we booked the cruise. I was scanning the advertisements for a cruise around the British Isles when I spotted the Fred Olsen advert for St Petersburg and the Baltic Capitals. It was on my 'must do' ... Read More
It was by pure chance that we booked the cruise. I was scanning the advertisements for a cruise around the British Isles when I spotted the Fred Olsen advert for St Petersburg and the Baltic Capitals. It was on my 'must do' list for 2013. The price was right. The date and length of cruise just right, so why not. The Black Watch is a small ship with a big heart. Obviously, her age dictates that she looks a bit tired in places but she is obviously a battler and she is a pleasure to be a passenger on. You could always find a quiet area to read and reflect, or company in one of her many lounge areas. You were not aware of the Black Watch being small as there always seemed to be plenty of space and room. Her personnel are second to none. The service we had throughout the cruise from the dining room staff and room attendants was second to none. They always had a smile, were always cheerful and nothing was too much trouble for them. The food was an absolute delight with something for everyone. Just couldn't be faulted. The evening shows were a pleasure, and the Black Watch Company are to be congratulated. No bad language from the comedian just pure fun and laughter. The singers and dancers plus musician's throughout the ship were a delight. There are two shops on board. Small but full of goodies. In fact I bought a lot a goodies with no regrets. Ladies, do not bother to take clothes with you, they carry a beautiful range of clothes and swimwear. My husband also purchased some items of clothing. Very pleased at the fact he wouldn't find them on the High Street. You won't find a rock climbing wall or a water ski facility on board this ship, but who really needs it. Not I. If you are seeking warmth, comfort, good food and company, interesting speakers (we had several), the opportunity to go on excursions that give you a taste of the various countries and lots of different activities during the day (including how to play bridge and learn to dance), then the Black Watch is for you. Try it and see. Note(s) Would prefer to sail from and to Southampton as it is much easier from the Midlands. Thought the booking in at Dover an absolute farce. Upon arrival we were allocated a number, told to sit and wait for it to be called out so that we could then book in. It was never called out. After an hour of waiting in vain, we made enquiries to find that the system had disintegrated and basically we were to queue alongside others who had just arrived. Totally inadequate number of seats available within the hall. Why allocate a time for people to book in, if that instruction is then totally disregarded. Surely it would be easier on every-one, if once booked in you could then proceed to the ship. Disembarkation An absolute mess. Instead of arriving at Dover, whereupon a taxi would take us to the Ramada Hotel where we would collect the car and arrive home at a reasonable time, we docked at Southampton at approximately 9.30 with a three hour coach journey to Dover. Granted it wasn't the fault of the shipping line that the weather was horrendous, but why use Dover if it is renowned for problems when the weather is bad. When we arrived at Dover, it was noted that the P & O Ferries were still running backwards and forwards and that a large ship had docked that same morning. Mmm! There was no help at Dover from Porters as they were busy? with luggage for the return trip. In fact the physical help at Dover was absolutely non-existent. In the pouring rain, I had to gather up my luggage (4 x items), find a trolley (like gold) then stack it myself onto a heavy cumbersome trolley and push it to the reception area. There were no taxis to be seen anywhere, and we had to ask Dover Reception to help out with contacting a taxi company, which she did. All in all, a very wet, bedraggled and fed up person. Agreed it was not the fault of Fred Olsen that the weather was bad, but the extreme lack of help and attitude at Dover was naughty, and when I choose my next cruise I will steer clear of Dover. Missing Port - Turku, Finland. Complimentary Port Shuttle Bus was available, however we went on a trip - Panoramic Turku. A pleasant trip out ending up in Naantall, a pretty town alongside the archipelago. A much appreciated comfort stop and a coffee and cake in a beautiful timber restaurant followed by 'free time' to explore the area. Ideal trip for those with a limited mobility problem. Missing Port - Kristiansand, Norway. Arrived on a Sunday. Elected not to go on a trip. Big mistake. Used the 'Noddy Train' (10 Euros per person - big rip off) from the port to the centre of the town. The 'noddy train' would only stop at the one place) Everywhere closed up for the day except the Church and a few bars. Very disappointed. Would suggest 'find an alternative port of some interest or at least with some life'. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We 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
Sail Date June 2011
It was with some misgiving that we booked our cruise on a smaller and older ship than we had previously sailed on but we needn't have had any doubts. From the moment we checked in to the moment we disembarked we were delighted with ... Read More
It was with some misgiving that we booked our cruise on a smaller and older ship than we had previously sailed on but we needn't have had any doubts. From the moment we checked in to the moment we disembarked we were delighted with the friendly welcome and service we received and with the whole ambiance of the Black Watch. Yes, it was an older ship and this couldn't be disguised but the interiors were very tasteful and fresh and there were so many delightful nooks and crannies both inside and out where you could watch the throng or be quiet and peaceful. The cabin (our first without a balcony) was amazingly light and bright and contained everything we required and the beds were supremely comfortable. The food was very good throughout with the meat and fish being particularly outstanding. A full silver service wasn't offered in the dining room (presumably due to lack of space) but we didn't find it an issue. There was sometimes a small amount of confusion at breakfast when wanting to mix and match between waiter and self-service but it soon resolved itself because the staff were all so charming and so willing to please. This attitude was reflected throughout the ship. Nothing was too much trouble and I never saw a sulky face in the whole 8 days. We had both a Welcome and a Farewell Captain's party, both extremely good with a wide range of drinks on offer plus delicious canapes and very funny speeches from the Captain. Also we got to sit down which was much more pleasant than standing. The entertainment from the resident troupe was terrific. A very skillful choreographer had chosen some wonderfully varied themes thus allowing varied forms of song and dance which really showed off the talents of the dancers and singers. The one area of disappointment for us was the poor quality of the ballroom dancing. The dance floor was very small and the music provided (both live and recorded) was played at a speed which made for totally uninspiring dancing - we gave up. We also very much enjoyed the entertainment by the ship's crew on one evening - much of it comprising charming and beautiful dances from the Philippines. Of the other facilities, we very much enjoyed the observation lounge at the front of the ship where a pianist played beautifully in the evenings and I enjoyed the swimming pool although, due to the fact that there was no shallow end, my husband who is not a confident swimmer, did not join me. We took two excursions, one on the spectacular Flam railway and onto Voss where we had a superb lunch before rejoining the ship at Gudvangen and the second from Olden over the Dalsnibba mountain to Geranger where we took a wonderful ferry trip along this most spectacular of fjords. Port 2 not listed in drop-down list. Alesund. Truly unique architecture in Art Noveau style. Town rebuilt after fire in 1904. Do climb (418 steps) or drive up to the mountain lodge which sits on a bluff overlooking the town and local area. Descriptive boards up there explain that Alesund is situated on a series of islands, many of which are linked by tunnels. Visit delightful town museum and the Jugendstil Centre which tells you all about the Art Noveau period. Rating: 5 Port 3 not listed in drop-down list. Stavanger. Visit the old quarter where all the houses are white, made of wood and set in beautiful little gardens along old cobbled streets. The town museum is very extensive covering many aspects. Parts of the town are still full of wooden buildings. Rating: 5 Read Less
Sail Date June 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 3.6
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.4

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