27 Fred. Olsen Black Watch Senior Cruise Reviews

Chose the cruise because it sailed from liverpool, paid for all inclusive then found out my drink was not on the list.now martini bianco is a cheap drink to buy so was amazed to find this out.so drank orange juice.no other cruise line I ... Read More
Chose the cruise because it sailed from liverpool, paid for all inclusive then found out my drink was not on the list.now martini bianco is a cheap drink to buy so was amazed to find this out.so drank orange juice.no other cruise line I have been on didnt not have this drink on it's all inclusive. Also bad weather spoiled this cruise for us.cabin stewardess was wonderful and looked after us brilliantly. The staff in Brigadoon were great,always smiling, and waiters in lounge areas were the same.I dont think we will sail with Fred Olsen again,not as good as cruise and maritime. Embarking was gteatand disembarking was great,couldn't wait to get home.met some nice people and enjoyed their company. Been to Lisbon before so knew our way around unfortunately my husband was in bed all day with sea sickness, so I had to go alone. Portimao was nice but didn't care for lexios. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want ... Read More
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want plenty of activity. Golf putting, carpet bowls in the corridor, whist, bingo, British singalong dress nights did not appeal. Ship was being constantly worked on so noise all over including windows being replaced on upper decks, toilets not working, information about destinations not great or non existent. The entertainment ranges from amateurish to good, the crew provide a lot of input. It is an old creaky ship which during storms bounced around. Disembarkation was appalling with low mobility people having and causing problems. A double decker bus shuttled people to trains with lower deck for suitcases including zimmer framed etc. and upper deck for passengers. The late arrival and departure of these ‘coaches’ caused many of us to miss our connections. Food is okay, staff ok, gym a bit limited, all areas busy and yapping all the time. All in all a great cruise for those who have low mobility but a snooze fest for others Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Local port , easy transport, weather very rough on sea days, food & staff excellent, apart from the restaurant Maitre D , who was most unhelpful, we asked to change our dining time as my husband is diabetic, we were told we would have ... Read More
Local port , easy transport, weather very rough on sea days, food & staff excellent, apart from the restaurant Maitre D , who was most unhelpful, we asked to change our dining time as my husband is diabetic, we were told we would have to pay extra. Fred Olsen want extra money all the time, 10 pounds each for shuttle bus in Lanzarote, 16 pounds for 5 cappuccinos. My husband had a fall & was helped by a member of the bar staff, an officer walked by & ignored us. Same happened to a very frail lady, the Hotel manager just walked past her. We had been to all the ports before so didn't take any trips, which like all cruises are hugely overpriced. cabin was very comfy, we paid extra for a window, & we were well looked after by our lovely stewardess. The sea water swimming pool was lovely, nice & warm, a bit deep at 7 ft 1 end & nearly 6 at shallow end. Arriving back in Liverpool, was great, we were home within 45 minutes, a big bonus. Overall a good cruise, the weather could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
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
A bit like a care home especially the lounge areas. A lot of elderly people with their carers on board and ambulance often waiting at the dockside. Some good points and some bad. It certainly would not suit everyone this ship or the type ... Read More
A bit like a care home especially the lounge areas. A lot of elderly people with their carers on board and ambulance often waiting at the dockside. Some good points and some bad. It certainly would not suit everyone this ship or the type of people. This review in 3 sections. 1. the Good 2. The Bad and 3. Some other general observations GOOD: Classic elegant salons Small ship - easy to get around Good service Uncluttered well designed interior Informative lectures Clear TV screen in cabin Good drinks prices. Good docking locations - due to small ship. Quick and easy to get off Good choice of wines Lovely library Some very interesting Norwegian works of art throughout ship No children Reasonably priced excursions THE BAD Amateurish shows including comedian Bad smells Maintenance work Average food Lack of friendly personable staff - extremely perfunctorily manner. Bored Only Stella lager on tap and Boddingtons beer Extremely unfriendly future sales - some kind of issue here Catastrophic port talks, the worst I've ever experienced Old peoples home atmosphere Very class based - various comments made - I.e. by comedian - reference to 'High Brow’ A Rough old crowd Extremely slow walkers Lack of current and/or forecasted weather conditions on in cabin screen Inaccurate Google Maps weather info on in cabin screen. 2nd restaurant sitting quite late @ 2100 2nd show sitting quite late @ 2230 Library can get very crowded. Strange games being played. Some general Observations: * There was Noise issue during 3 of the lectures which included the game of quoits as general maintenance work. I informed the GS about this in good time but they took a long time to stop the noise. Unacceptable. Even less acceptable was that they repeated the disruption on subsequent lectures and had to go to GS AGAIN to ask them to stop the noise. * Yellow water from taps * Guest Services seemed unable to take decisions or act with efficiency and basically not very happy with their job * Sticky handrails * Coaches not at ship in good time due to security at Casablanca delaying disembarkation. This should have been anticipated. Not good enough. * No current or forecasted weather conditions on TV * Google maps ship locator TV screen showed inaccurate information such as weather * Some girls lack warmth and performed duties with perfunctory boredom. * The port talks extremely poor - the worst I've ever experienced. * Guest Services - somewhat insolent. Not understanding questions. Impatient, tired, unsmiling. * Garden Cafe - matre D very good. But still there's a detectable uneasy malaise * Bookshelf Cafe - surly personal * No apology for maintenance wk * Special mention to staff of Observations bar plus William Rodriguez. Plus Chandra. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Chose this cruise as it sailed from Rosyth and expected to see Paris. First, £95 to park on wasteland, extortionate. No complaints about the ship. Dining and service in restaurant excellent. However, refused entry to restaurant on 2 ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it sailed from Rosyth and expected to see Paris. First, £95 to park on wasteland, extortionate. No complaints about the ship. Dining and service in restaurant excellent. However, refused entry to restaurant on 2 formal evenings as not wearing jacket and tie and had to queue for 15 minutes to get a seat in the buffet. Our cruise was ruined due to the continuous loud noises of welding, grinding and hammering coming from below our cabin. Had to complain twice before we were offered a SINGLE cabin where we could go to escape the noise and read, watch tv or have a nap. Unfortunately it was next to a staff only door, with staff constantly in and out banging door. Also offered £400 compensation and asked not to tell anyone. Docked in Guernsey on a Sunday, everything closed, no chance of "stocking up on duty free or low tax goods". Bus to La Rochele, Fred Olsen £20, local bus from dock gates e1.30. Lorient, booked excursion "scenic tour of Brittainy", £48 each, 4 hour "rip off" trip, spent 2h 10ms on the bus, first stop for 20 mins to see an island which most of the elderly passengers hadn't even the time to cross the small bridge, next stop was to stand for 20 mins looking at standing stones. Last stop to quaint village with streets too steep, which meant bus late in leaving. Only chance of seeing Paris if went on £220 a head excursion. Even after we got home money taken out of bank account for Premium drinks that we did not have. Still await refund and apology. A cruise that catered more for the elderly, included Saga passengers. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date September 2017
Never had visited areas before. History of all locations fascinated us and we wanted to see modern developments in the areas which had been rejuvenated post war. Although the ship was forced to anchor some distance from Helgoland ... Read More
Never had visited areas before. History of all locations fascinated us and we wanted to see modern developments in the areas which had been rejuvenated post war. Although the ship was forced to anchor some distance from Helgoland port the weather was kind and we managed to land by tender, in excellent conditions (which were a rarity for the island ). Walked around a fascinating laid back almost Scandanavian retreat . No cars or buses, delivery vehicles were all electric! Hamburg has a modern Hafen -City port, with centre easily reached by Ubahn.Architecture and area around Alster lake outstanding. The night time trip on the lake on a vintage steamer called the St Georg was memorable. Sailing, rowing and canoeing was still going on in the dusk.The new , very modern Philharmonie building near the cruise terminal offered free entry to viewing platform over the Elbe. The trip up the Weser from Bremerhaven showed Germany’s industrial redevelopment , container terminals, factories, ship building etc all featured. Although we berthed 7 km from the old town , buses took us into the centre in 30 minutes . The Town Square with the gabled builings, the Rathaus, St Peters Church wre very photogenic. However for us the main attraction was Stutting and the Art Deco buildings lesding down to the river. The Schnoor area had many pretty old alleys with typical Olde Worlde shops and houses.Although it was rather “touristy” with many souvenir shops. The Black Watch crise ship had been recently refurbished and our cabin was a compltete delight , decorated in turquoise and cream .Toilet and shower room had been tadtefully refitted too. Lifts and stairways were easily acessible and rarely crowded. Entertainment from the resident troupers was good. The guest violinist was outstanding too. Compliments were given personally to the head chef- his menus were varied and of high quality. To cap it all the North Sea was flat calm in both diirections and the sun shone when we were at sea. We would recommend this cruise whole heartedly. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This cruise was chosen because of the ports of cal -. Caribbean, Panama Canal, Easter Island and Tahiti. It met my expectations. Great service, entertainment, lectures and tours. The meals were a good portion size, varied and not too ... Read More
This cruise was chosen because of the ports of cal -. Caribbean, Panama Canal, Easter Island and Tahiti. It met my expectations. Great service, entertainment, lectures and tours. The meals were a good portion size, varied and not too large. The visiting entertainers and lecturers were first rate and the Black Watch entertainers were very enthusiastic. The band at times was too loud. Optional daily things to do were many and so many choices. The crew were a delight and nothing was too much trouble. Shore excursions catered for every interest and were well organised. The person giving the port talks was very informative and certainly knew his stuff. What makes Fred Olsen stand out from the crowd is the service, the meals, the many and varied ports and the feel that you are really sailing on a real ship. They may be older vessels but they have the feel of the grand old days of maritime travel. Having sailed with a number of shipping lines over many years I keep coming back to Fred Olsen. Whilst the voyage did have gastro problems after Peru the ship were quick to take action and the medics were very thorough. The Captain kept passengers updated twice daily on the outbreak. Would I do this again. A resounding yes. There is still the other half of the world voyage to take at a later date. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My wife and I have sailed with Fred Olsen on the Boudicca before and enjoyed it, so thought we'd like to try one of Fred's other ships. The cabin was just about adequate in terms of living space although storage and wardrobe ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed with Fred Olsen on the Boudicca before and enjoyed it, so thought we'd like to try one of Fred's other ships. The cabin was just about adequate in terms of living space although storage and wardrobe space was fine. The one thing which spoilt the cruise for me was the vibration in our cabin which was persistent and very noticeable. I will come back to this later in the review. We chose the cruise because it went to a warm destination at a time of year which we thought wouldn't be too stormy, sadly we were proved wrong, but this wasn't the fault of the ship or Fred Olsen. As a result of bad weather we couldn't dock at Funchal so missed a chance to visit that lovely island. The Dining Room was well lit and clean and the food well presented. The food on the the cruise was very good. The choice on the menu and the quality of the food was exceptional. We were on the Drinks Package which was limited in choice but more than acceptable. The onboard lectures were limited and on very similar topics which sadly did not appeal to us. Daytime entertainment was fine especially the quizs and Bridge. Evening entertainment was varied and "entertaining". The vocalists in the bars were exceptionally good. The service from all of the crew was fantastic and couldn't be faulted. Embarkation and disembarkation went without a hitch. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date September 2016
Taste of Iceland (and Faroes). Third F.O cruise. We have gradually moved up decks each cruise and travelled paying near top-price for a suite this time. Four negative experiences took the edge of an otherwise excellent cruise. ... Read More
Taste of Iceland (and Faroes). Third F.O cruise. We have gradually moved up decks each cruise and travelled paying near top-price for a suite this time. Four negative experiences took the edge of an otherwise excellent cruise. They were: 1. F.O's paper map (and website) detailed the approach to the Rosyth port as via the town from the north. Like others including taxi drivers we found this was out of date - a barbed wire perimeter fence is erected across F.O's map! Actual port access is two miles to the east via a new flyover and roundabout (much closer to the M90/Forth bridge in fact). Should have trusted the car's GPS and ignored the cruise operator's information. Admittedly the basic nature of Rosyth as a cruise terminal was described in advance but the bomb site-like nature of the long stay car park was not. We unloaded our luggage like all the others in the open and left it there with a promise it would be collected. We hoped so. A bus to the terminal and another bus to the ship worked reasonably well though. It would have been soaked if it had been raining on embarkation or disembarkation. 2. Two examples of really snappy and rude catering staff this time, unlike before. We pad the extra for the Afternoon Tea but were greeted by someone in charge who clearly was rattled by not being ready for us/tea. We sat in an overcrowded lounge with other non-tea taking passengers who not unreasonably wanted to enjoy the views of leaving the Faroes. They/he was just not ready to serve tea. The scones are a minuscule mouthful by the way, someone saving half a penny per passenger? Second was a disbelieving steward in the Orchid Room restaurant (a rather pointless annex off the main dining room we thought) who demanded to see the paper proof we were entitled to eat in there in front of the guests and left us standing while he checked up on someone's error. We were right, settings had to then be provided. Did he say sorry? Fortunately our table partners were excellent company for the nine days. 3. Service in the Orchid Room came nowhere near the high standards we enjoyed on the previous two cruises: indifferent, error-prone, lacking any meaningful contact with the guests, what a difference. No extra tip this time. 4. Shore tours. In summary, these were rushed, time at advertised destinations minimal and in one case not as advertised. We booked for five, one at each port. The first one to the Skalanes Nature reserve (tour D), was advertised with a half page picture of running reindeer and a description including the 45 types of bird on the reserve. When we eventually got there after an unnecessary tour of the port town and a forced change of buses (to a fwd one), we saw ten domesticated ducks and a labrador dog. No host in sight, no wildlife, no information to hand - a case of riding the Icelandic tourism boom? Take the money and…The refreshments were pleasant but slight and it seemed somewhat comical having 35 people wandering around a domestic house and grounds looking for a toilet…Our local tour guide was otherwise very good though. (£88 each). Second tours fault - rushed - we had a bare 45 minutes in the hot volcanic spring pools at two locations, spent hours getting there on the coach and could easily have set off earlier with proper planning. A mere 45 minutes in the Blue Lagoon after allowing for the rigorous changing room procedures out of a port stay of over nine hours just isn't good enough. (£72 each). Similarly, a visit to an interesting botanical garden (not the oldest one as the F.O guide says, we discovered), was honed down to 20 minutes out of three hours, and eight of those minutes were taken up walking to/from the separate coach park. Pretty poor really. One cruise highlight. The captain stopping (near enough) in the fjord leaving Akureyri to watch for whales, who duly obliged, one Ridgeback surfacing right alongside the ship just below us on the open boat deck. Fantastic. Saved £70 each on a whale-watching boat trip. Of the elderly ship, all is spotless and one would be hard-pressed to find a single dent, scrape or paint blemish. Imagine having to mildly grumble about the smell of polish on the handrails. The ship's company show was again the best feature of the organised evening entertainment we thought. Unlike the previous two cruises, the photographer made noticeably less effort to be creative/take money off us! Not even one attempt to sell us some expensive picture frames! The coffee shop inserted into the library lounge on this and the other ships provided excellent coffees at not unreasonable prices with exquisite attention to detail from the staff. Good while it lasts. This ship had suffered a fire and lost a cruise earlier this summer. One wishes the F.O formula will go on forever but maybe the supply of retired Brits will diminish as the four old or ageing ships reach withdrawal dates? We booked another cruise while on board. Make the most of it while it lasts. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Review of Cruise W1610 Black Watch: Arctic Adventure and Exploration July 17th- August 12th “Not again, even with discounts….” PART 1 THE REVIEW: This is at best a mixed reaction and review of a specialist cruise, which ... Read More
Review of Cruise W1610 Black Watch: Arctic Adventure and Exploration July 17th- August 12th “Not again, even with discounts….” PART 1 THE REVIEW: This is at best a mixed reaction and review of a specialist cruise, which was anticipated with great promise, but was compromised by a series of running flaws. Not many ships visit Greenland, certainly not with an itinerary that lasts just short of a full month, crosses the Arctic Circle and visits Norway, The North Cape, Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland. This means that the cost factors were comparatively high, and the ship was –at least initially- full to capacity. Things got off to a bad start after a drive to Tillbury found me and three suitcases (plus numerous other confused passengers besides) on a dockside with no ship in sight: in the event it was stuck at Dover so emergency coaches had to be quickly ordered as many hundreds of people began asking why they had not been informed of this so that they could have made their own arrangement to go directly to Dover. Fred Olsen’s explanation that it was simply not possible to contact everyone at short notice looked like a more than lame excuse when they had been sending passengers sms texts for some days reminding us all of arrival times, etc. No refreshments were provided for the journey and the coach driver- who could barely speak English- was completely flummoxed by the air-conditioning, which only worked intermittently. (“Oh my God, Oh my God” was all he was heard to utter.) Apparently a passenger’s plastic walking stick somewhere towards the coach’s rear began to melt! Fred Olsen’s Black Watch is by now clearly an ageing vessel and one desperately in need of a complete refit, severe updating, or putting out to pasture. The carpets were manifestly ancient and everywhere- corridors and public areas- covered with stains as if previous passengers and simple expired there (well maybe they had). The staff tried to cope with this on a more-or-less daily basis by soaking them thoroughly then aiming massive blower heaters on them (result: much noise plus humidity). My cabin (outside with view) was the size of a cramped prison cell with what seemed to be beds for four- all narrow and no more than 20” wide with two metal ones slung from the walls, presumably to accommodate a family, and reminiscent of primitive holiday conditions more suited to Butlins in the 50’s. The outside view was provided by two (I assume) original portholes bolted shut with rust all around on the outside. I asked for a change of room, for which I was fully prepared to pay additionally if necessary, but none was available and I was not informed of any subsequent vacancy although passengers did leave throughout the voyage. The walls were not well soundproofed and a noisy party next door allowed me to participate in most conversations, should I have chosen to, from a very short distance. (PS There is ALWAYS another cabin available; believe me I know this from friends who work in the business.) Here I must introduce another cautionary note: this cruise is adult only and attracts a comparatively aged group of guests. Indeed I think the average age was well over pension age, and to be amongst such a group was certainly a double shock; firstly in the realization that oneself is now probably perceived as an “older person” , but secondly as to how infirm many of the passengers are. Wheelchairs, walking frames and many with stick struggling in the public areas, particularly in rougher seas. I was unable amongst the 750 or so guests on board, to spot anyone under the age of 50: the downside of a combination of destination, price, length of voyage and ‘adults only’ appellation. (Just as I am completing this report I have spotted two who might just qualify not to compete in a senior tournament.) Food was reasonably good but on sea days always taken in very crowded conditions. Entertainment was of varying quality with an enthusiastic troop of young dancers who barely mixed with passengers, except when obliged to (on “Captains Cocktail Night”, etc.) a good trio, an excellent guest violinist and a very good pianist for the lounge areas. One thing I have noticed with Fred Olsen is that extras such as photography packages are increasingly “pushed” at guests, as are future cruises with added discounts and inducements. I suppose people fall for these ploys or else there would be much less activity of this sort, but it is a very unwelcome part of the Olsen cruise experience, in my opinion. Also, beware of hidden extras even with an all-inclusive package. I bought the drinks package @ £10 per day which in theory allows unlimited house spirits, wine and soft drinks. However, even though I presented my inclusive card to bar staff I was still charged for a Bloody Mary although the ingredients of tomato juice and vodka are part of the package. When I challenged this at the Guest Services counter a couple of days later this produced a dramatic encounter enjoyed by many staff and guests. The Bar Manager was called who explained that a Bloody Mary was a cocktail requiring expert preparation, hence the charge. When I explained that I had been making them for years by simply putting these ingredients together, I was repeatedly told, again and again, that it was classed by Olsen’s as “a cocktail”. When I said this should have been made clear by the bar staff and that I considered £8 excessive for 6 drops of Worcester sauce a guest listening nearby turned her prune-moon face at me and said “do be nice!” “That’s all very well madam,” I countered “but it is not your bill that’s been docked twenty four quid!” I was promised a complete refund and left the scene through a wave of clapping and supportive passengers. The departure from Greenland and the subsequent 3-4 days at sea was a terrific strain both on the inner resources of the ship and the passengers, many of who did not cope well with rocky sea conditions. Also, we steamed rapidly past the Faroe Isles, which seemed to me to be madness given that everyone was begging for a break from the lengthy sea days, and many would have given their eyeteeth for the chance to stretch their legs on dry land. From the reactions I canvassed from many guests, most thought well of the cruise and enjoyed much of the itinerary; although quite a few criticized the cost of many of the shore excursions which were all extras to the original cost (for example £90 for a guided 2 mile walk on one of the islands, easily accessible on your own from the ship, and therefore unguided and potentially cost free). I went for three reasons: Icelandic waterfalls, Greenland icebergs and to complete the draft of a novel. Frankly I was not too interested in local craftsmen weaving winter apparel from seal dung or whatever regional materials they use. So this made my reasons for travelling quite specific and probably unusual. But for those in general I noticed a measure of “British stiff-upper lip-ness” which I have to say I admired, but did not feel obliged to participate in. Cabin TVs looked like something out of “Crossroads” circa 1960s and performed about as well. Internet access was totally unreliable and very expensive, and I insisted of refunds of £41 and £13 respectively for connection to the server but thereafter NOT to the internet. If few other passengers complained then someone was making a lot of money out of this failed service. Much better to wait for a port day and connect to Wi-Fi in a local café for cost of a coffee (and very often entirely free.) In conclusion if you require dance lessons, craft and art classes (the art teacher’s own exhibition was a severe embarrassment to any half-competent watercolourist) basic lectures on ports of call, or geology, being sold overpriced jewelry and branded goods, expensive snaps of your trip et al, then this might be the one for you. But, I’m sorry to say, as I have travelled in the past with Olsen and have a soft spot for Fred Senior’s determination to continue with his pet loss-leader, this is not one for me, not again (even with 5% plus 4% plus 5% special offers off.) PART TWO: THE REPORT This part of the review has not yet been substantiated or commented on by The Fred Olsen Company. Currently I am waiting for confirmation that the following information is basically correct. I sent this directly to the M.D of Olsen who declined to respond or comment personally, and his Customer Service Dept. demanded 28 days to reply. I’m afraid, again, this is not good enough Messrs Olsen! The delay at the start of the cruise at Tilbury/Dover was due to a severe engine fire on a previous voyage, which had to be curtailed as a result. The marine authorities were not apparently satisfied with the quality of the repairs undertaken and requested that additional works be carried out. This meant The Black Watch was unable to sail to Tilbury due to a statutory entitlement for the crew to rest before setting out. It was fairly clear during our Arctic Adventure trip that problems with the engine(s) persisted. On our return from Greenland (three days non-stop at sea) in the mid-Atlantic and well over 24 hours from any safe haven, mechanical trouble seemingly struck again resulting in a severe loss of power. Speed reduced to approximately 8 knots, from 14 knots, and the ship began a series of circular manoeuveres transmitting a much greater degree of motion on board, sending many passengers to their cabins. This mechanical problem apparently manifest itself –at least as it was recounted to me- with a degree of panic on the bridge, and also seemed to affect the ships stabilizers which only appeared to operate spasmodically. A total engine failure in our position in the mid-Atlantic could have been a major calamity, and whilst it would clearly be unwise to transmit any kind of panic from crew to passengers, a blanket of silence is not a good solution either. In an era when transparency is a worthy goal to aim for, it seems that Fred Olsen have only managed to score one entirely of their own. 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Sail Date July 2016
Chosen fro nights at sea and atlantic crossing. We had a major fire on board we were without water, sanitation, lights and power for many hours and adrift without engines or steering for 10 hours in the atlantic ocean. The crew saved ... Read More
Chosen fro nights at sea and atlantic crossing. We had a major fire on board we were without water, sanitation, lights and power for many hours and adrift without engines or steering for 10 hours in the atlantic ocean. The crew saved us but the management were dreadful. There were no contingency plans on board, No proper torches only key ring, no hot food for 3 days, having said that the food was not hot before the fire. After 1 day they could cook it but it was congealed cold eggs, cold bacon, cold beans etc actually served on the table. No bars open after dark we were told to go to bed. Even when arrived port on Saturday no help was given, no entertainment, no ice for cold drinks, hot tea and coffee turned off by 10.30 no alcohol available. We had to leave ship on Sunday to get food and drink which we had to pay for we also had to find places to charge our phones etc. We had not been allowed to contact the outside world. We were treated like moaning school children by reception staff who seemed to think giving information was beneath them. We asked many times how and when to pack and was told we would be informed however they finally told us at 8.45pm that we had to pack 1 case only and leave it outside cabin by 12 midnight. It had to be done in the dark and 1 broken torch was initially offered. We were finally dumped in Dover at 10pm with no means of getting home after 18 hours travelling and no hotels available. We are all physically and mentally traumatised and Olsen has even had the nerve to deduct the 3 days all inclusive charge for the days that we had nothing. They have offered a refund as the law reuires as they did not fulfill their contract but so far no compensation for all these out of pocket expenses and our severe distress Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Only ever cruised with Fred. over many years. Black Watch is still to me the best. Excellent food all crew member were excellent Entertainment excellent ( I especially liked the choir performed by some passengers. Some crew ... Read More
Only ever cruised with Fred. over many years. Black Watch is still to me the best. Excellent food all crew member were excellent Entertainment excellent ( I especially liked the choir performed by some passengers. Some crew say when they see me ' Welcome home'. Even remember my name and what I drink. I think of some of crew as friends, however the do not forget all passengers and are always professional. The ship is always spotless and all crew work hard to keep it so. I used to travel with my partner, who was confined in a wheel chair. The seating arrangements at meal times for her was excellent. we always had a table to suit her needs. and spoilt her of many years. Pushing her in her wheelchair we managed to complete many miles around the desk. I now travel alone and now go on most of the trips on port days. I especially liked the cycle trip of about 8 miles (although it was electric cycle full instruction was given to all. Have booked for Iceland for next year, together with two other cruises with Fred. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The worse cruising experience I have ever had. From beginning to end. My wife and I have cruised with Fred Olsen cruises on three occasions this was to be our fourth, we booked a cruise for my mother and father in law, my sister and ... Read More
The worse cruising experience I have ever had. From beginning to end. My wife and I have cruised with Fred Olsen cruises on three occasions this was to be our fourth, we booked a cruise for my mother and father in law, my sister and brother inlaw and my wife and I. The cruise was on the "Black Watch" an eight night cruise sailing from Belfast October 2015. The cruise started on the 16th October 2015 we were told to check in at their facility at Belfast docks at 2pm, my brother Inlaw was given a 2.30pm checkin, why? After registration all 700+ passengers were herded into what I can only describe as a small warehouse with very basic facilities, like myself most passengers would have been retired with a large number of disabled people. We waited almost 2.50 hours in crowded cold conditions to be bused to the ship which was located at another dock beside an animal feed warehouse, the stench was almost overwhelming. The checkin warehouse had a hole in the wall canteen offering hot and cold drinks which we had to pay for, yet we had checked in, and all of our party had an all inclusive card, Both my wife's parents are in their 80's and sat shivering like others waiting on the inadequate number of coaches to take us to the ship. When we eventually arrived onboard we went immediately to our Cabin (Superior Outside cabin) which I can only describe as tired and past its sell by date, both single beds mattresses had bowed in the middle and looked like something you would get in some third world hostel. The usual ships newsletter was placed on the table it listed various events, restaurant times etc, enclosed with it was a special notice informing us that due to repairs to the ship auxiliary engine we would be missing our first port of call "La Coruna." The ship would be going to the second port of call "Bilbao" for repairs so we would spend almost three days there. We were offered £50 each as compensation which had to be spent on the ship. At this stage the ship had not left the dockside in Belfast. If Fred Olsen cruises had notified us prior to getting on the ship I would have cancelled, as one of the main reasons for booking was the opportunity of going to La Coruna and taking my wife's parents to Santiago de Compostela an opportunity which because of their age and cost will sadly not be possible again. Having sailed on Fred Olsen cruises three other ships I had no hesitation booking the Black Watch as the previous cruising experience on these ships was faultless, unfortunately the Black Watch fell way below their sister ships standards, the main restaurant was one of the worst I have seen, was more like a ferry canteen than an elegant cruise ship restaurant, It was to bright and lacked any atmosphere. The staff lacked personality and just seemed totally bored, unenthusiastic, we listened to a couple of the waiters complain about the salary they got from The cruise company and how it was topped up with the gratuities which we had all prepaid. In comparison with its sister ships the menus were boring, breakfast and lunch was a buffet but you could order off the menu if you could get eye contact with a waiter I gave up trying and opted for buffet. Trying to get a glass of wine on our all inclusive card on occasions took ages getting eye contact with a waiter got worse as each day went by, on the final night my father in law finally got a glass after he had finished his main course, in any case the house wine was practically undrinkable. The reception staff, shop staff were totally unpleasant, getting a smile was a rarity, the one area that I enjoyed on the ship was the observatory bar the staff were pleasant and efficient, the trio who played there every evening were excellent. One of my pet hates on any cruise is the constant manufactured occasions that their photographers use to get a happy holiday shot, captains dinner, captains farewell dinner etc, the photographs cost a fortune to purchase, on the Black Watch I seen one of the worse photographs I have ever seen, a couple getting photographed with the captain, his wife stood beside the captain, her husband was in a wheel chair, the photographer took this shot and put the picture on the usual display. The head of the person in the wheelchair was all that you could see of him sticking up at the bottom of the photo. All my comments like this are just a snapshot of a very bad experience on the Black Watch never to be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
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
We are all retired young at heart couples travelling for a birthday celebration with my husbands brother and his wife. We travelled on the door to door service organised by Saga which was very good. Embarkation was very good. We ... Read More
We are all retired young at heart couples travelling for a birthday celebration with my husbands brother and his wife. We travelled on the door to door service organised by Saga which was very good. Embarkation was very good. We were so looking forward to our cruise booked for my brother in laws 70th birthday year. The Cabins which were supposed to be superior outside, were awful. We have been cruising for nearly 20 years and superior these cabins were not. Once we set sail things went from bad to worse. The vibration from the engines and creaking and rattling of the ship prevented any of us from a decent nights sleep the whole holiday. We resorted to earplugs but these did not help with the vibration. When we put our heads on the pillows it was rattling our heads. I would advise avoidance of cabin nos. 5059 or 5061 arghhh! Needless to say we all complained but the situation went unresolved. The daily information on the ship was excellent. The food was very good and our waiters Chai and Arnold really looked after us and we had them the whole holiday which was great. The staff in the dining area and bars worked extremely hard and nothing was too much trouble for them. There were activities onboard such as Quizes and quoits but unfortunately a couple of these flew overboard Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Four of us joined the Black Watch as a surprise for 2 elderly relatives who had already been on board for 2 weeks. We found our cabin very disappointing and the general atmosphere felt like a visit to an old and fading Harrogate hotel in ... Read More
Four of us joined the Black Watch as a surprise for 2 elderly relatives who had already been on board for 2 weeks. We found our cabin very disappointing and the general atmosphere felt like a visit to an old and fading Harrogate hotel in March living off its long lost glory days. 1st of all the plus points, ++++ dinner and service was very good, gym 4 stars, bar staff and waiters excellent, cabin cleaned and towels also v.good, music in the forward bar not bad. 2nd minus points - - - - very drab cabin& beds, breakfast was 'stone cold' one morning but better the next, afternoon tea 3 stars, coffee 2 stars, general atmosphere was one of fading bygone days. Fred Olsen business model We are hardly youngsters ... all in our 60's but this ship caters for a mind set, the average regular card carrying "this is our 10th Fred trip' passenger swears by Fred Olsen because they get free upgrades to better cabins and 'well we know where everything is on this ship' is an indictment to the average passenger. On our return journey we were overtaken by the Queen Mary 2 and we hear oh look at that, all those lights and its far top big with too many people on board well I have been there and actually it was brilliant So if its fading glory, lets all wear beige anoraks and in bed by 10-30 then The Black Watch is for you - if its lets live a little, conversations that contain the word tablet means samsung and not something you take 3 times a day with meals then pick another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 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
Sail Date October 2014
It was our first time with Fred Olsen. We boarded at Southampton, it was quite slow considering the size of the ship, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was a lovely ambience on board. The crew were wonderful as on all the cruise ... Read More
It was our first time with Fred Olsen. We boarded at Southampton, it was quite slow considering the size of the ship, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was a lovely ambience on board. The crew were wonderful as on all the cruise ships. The excursions were ok, but do book before you go as we were unable to visit Hamburg as it was fully booked. The food was the best we had ever had and we have been on many cruise lines. The professional entertainment was excellent, there were two comedians who were just hilarious. We really enjoyed ourselves and felt we would become regular Fred patrons, until the second to last evening.We were then victims of the Beauty Salon renovation. The noise and dust were unbearable, our cabin was opposite and we were affected badly with coughing, sore throats and dusty clothes. The staff were well protected with masks etc, but we as paying guests had not even been told. Our protests were ignored and hardly had an apology so I'm afraid that we will not be using Fred Olsen lines again. Sorry Fred, but the welfare and safety of the paying client should be paramount. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
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
Travelled with my wife, this was our first experience with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, after having done the obligatory research initially. A well organised event - a Fred Olsen charter flight for some 370 cruisers aboard a Pullmantur ... Read More
Travelled with my wife, this was our first experience with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, after having done the obligatory research initially. A well organised event - a Fred Olsen charter flight for some 370 cruisers aboard a Pullmantur Air Jumbo 747 from Gatwick to Callao (Lima) was a pleasant experience, perhaps the most comfortable charter we've ever travelled on, with comfortable seats, plenty of legroom, seemingly continuously being fed & watered, toilets regularly cleaned by cabin crew during flight (something regular airline could learn). Upon arrival in Lima, clear directions through all formalities and onto the coaches taking all to the ship. The Black Watch itself is a tired old lady, but with a certain faded dignity - our cabin, rather optimistically called a "Superior Outside Double" was for us rather small and cramped, with no room for twin beds side by side, all be it with a small picture window as against portholes - one bed was along a cabin wall, the other against the outer bulkhead, set in "L" shaped configuration. Clear signs of wear & tear (scratch marks on dressing table, one draw not fitting properly, loose shower head, etc), but comfortable beds none the less. The in cabin TV was still was still one of the old box type, with sometimes a fuzzy picture - these days, we would have expected a slim flat screen set. The air conditioner struggled in the South American climate, even at the coolest setting, and sound insulation between cabins was an issue. Everything generally worked OK though, and unlike some cruise liners, tea/coffee making facilities were in situ. The Glentanur Restaurant was well fitted out, service quite attentive, with variation and quality of food generally very good indeed, as was the service. However, the finesse wasn't quite there, when compared to other cruises we've made on larger vessels - for example, all main dishes came with veg already on the plate, whether you wanted any or not (on the RCL and Celebrity boats, these were served separately by your table waiter, with more choice), and the waiting staff could have had a little more training (e.g. waiters often taking short cuts by leaning over and in front of you when serving other diners, rather than going round the table to serve them). We never used the Garden Cafe, or the Marquee Grill, so cannot comment. The entertainment provided in the evenings in the Braemar Lounge was excellent, and frankly exceeded expectations. The Black Watch Show Company provided quality floor shows, clearly well rehearsed on every occasion, and the quality of "imported" acts also in the same bracket. Upon arrival in St Johns (Antigua), there was to have been a changeover of entertainers & lecturers, but due to a flight cancellation at Gatwick, the replacements never arrived. The Cruise Director, Ashley Bolton-Burrows and his team pulled out all the stops, and provided alternative entertainment every day & evening, by organising crew talent (and it's surprising what can arise from below deck..!) into performing for passengers, and persuading some passengers to give talks on some of their experiences. Full marks must go to him and his staff. All (other) lounges and bars were pleasant, as were the staff servicing them, and drinks were about UK pub prices, with minimum price for a bottle of wine about £15 - £16 (for the dining room as well). The library had a large selection of all types of reading matter, so there was never any shortage. The Wifi was available, but only at certain "hot spots", and VERY costly (£25 purchased 146 mins of online time, about 18p per minute - and the connection is SLOW..!) During the voyage, a minor epidemic of "stomach flu", or some such tummy bug made a threatening appearance, with about 40 of the 721 passengers affected but the stringent hygiene practices and restrictions put in place kept matters from getting out of hand, and all credit due to the Doctors and their staff. Previous research seemed to put the average age of the predominantly British passengers as +/-60, but it certainly appeared to be MUCH more than that - my wife and I are in our mid-70s, and we felt (and looked) like young striplings by comparison to some. Taking the voyage as a whole, we THOROUGHLY enjoyed the complete experience, and the "friendly" atmosphere the ship and her crew generated - one can understand why Fred Olsen have such a loyal following. Would we rate the Black Watch 4 or 5 star..? No, 3 - 4 star is about right. Would we cruise on the "Black Watch" again..? Probably not, simply because we prefer cabins with balconies so that we can sleep with fresh air and not canned air, which we think caused our coughs & colds.. (there are balcony cabins on the Black Watch, but one of those costs an arm & several legs..). Would we use Fred Olsen again..? Yes, probably, as we like Fred Olsen as a cruise line, but only when they get hold of some more modern ships. Meanwhile, we'll stick to balcony cabins on other vessels... Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Smooth and well organised embarkation, nice welcome from staff as we entered the ship. The cabin was spacious with ample storage, we had a wardrobe each with space for shoes & suitcases, the cabin was clean & tidy and the beds were ... Read More
Smooth and well organised embarkation, nice welcome from staff as we entered the ship. The cabin was spacious with ample storage, we had a wardrobe each with space for shoes & suitcases, the cabin was clean & tidy and the beds were really comfortable, the cabin steward made up our beds and cleaned the cabin whilst we were at lunch & dinner. The highlight for me was the standard and quality of the food served at all meals, our table waiter (Danzil)was first class friendly & very professional what we really liked was that the staff had time to stop and chat unlike the P&O staff on our last cruise who were surly and too busy to care.The soups served at lunch & dinner were hot extremely tasty and well presented, the meals were good sized portions and were always hot and well presented (unlike the lukewarm effort one gets with P&O). Entertainment wasn't always to our choice but the 3 shows we did choose to watch were excellent, I would say that the majority of passengers went to most of the nightly shows. The weather wasn't always good enough to have a sail away party when leaving ports but the one we did have was great fun and we were even given complimentary rum punch unlike P&O who charge an average of £3.50 per drink. Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation we were driving out of Dover within 1 hour of getting up and we even had time for breakfast! We will certainly be going with Fred.Olsen again they seem to have everything right, the ships are not the huge liners that one sees these days but for quality of service, food and the right balance of all day entertainment small is definitely beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
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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