2 Edinburgh (South Queensferry) to France Fred. Olsen Black Watch Cruise Reviews

We are regular cruisers with Mr. Olsen and the itinerary involving France, Guernsey and one Spanish port going down the Bay of Biscay really seemed to us a good choice by the cruise planners. We drove to Rosyth - 160 miles - and arrived ... Read More
We are regular cruisers with Mr. Olsen and the itinerary involving France, Guernsey and one Spanish port going down the Bay of Biscay really seemed to us a good choice by the cruise planners. We drove to Rosyth - 160 miles - and arrived at the time stated in our instructions to find that we could have arrived earlier and been allowed on board. A little niggle as we like being on the boat with time to spare before the drill. And the signage around the terminal was not up to scratch! But we managed it finally as did the others! Embarkation was more or less painless as they were well organised in the small terminal and we were soon aboard and found our luggage already in the cabin! The cabin was as we expected, having used this grade before and was clean and provided enough space for our 2 cases and our clothes in the drawers and hanging space. Next - the emergency drill! It all went smoothly! We were led to the lifeboats in the crocodile and the n stood around a while ( weather mild!) and as one of us can't stand for more than a short while the staff were quite happy to let us go early on health grounds. Such flexibility is most welcome! The grey weather stayed until we have got well into the English Channel and then as we went South to Spain it slowly improved and we got what we had hoped for! The better weather got people out on the decks and the ship got us to Getxo effortlessly! We don't do excursions, preferring to go the the ports, shop a little and have a drink and sometimes a meal so we have no comments on the ship's tours. A visit to Hendaye ( France ) on the Spanish border was a great choice! We had never heard jof the delightful little port and it is all credit to F. Olsen cruises for the choice of a new place to visit was Now it was North again to visit La Rochelle and L'Orient - good choices! We had breakfast in our cabin each morning and it always came on time! The food restaurant was up to its usual standard with a varied menu each night and our waiters were efficient and understanding as we did the usual trick of chatting instead of making our choices. Our only comment is that the chef used a very rich sauce in lots of his meals but were were able to work around it as there was a good selection. We only went to one evening show and the comedian was funny with a good act which was fortunate as we had seen him before on a F. Olsen boat! Our evening drink was in the Observation lounge with prompt, smiling service of the well-priced drinks and there was a " Palm Court trio " each night and we found them excellent in the quieter and more relaxed ambience. Disembarkation morning saw us having breakfast with no crush at all as the waiters were all prepared and then final departure was quick and our deck was called just at the time for us to vacate the cabin!! The terminal is small but it copes - only just with the throng of people. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We chose this cruise because we were travelling with my 86 year old father, who did not want the hassle of airports or long journeys to the embarkation port. I was surprprised how much I appreciated the lack of hassle too!  Embarkation ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were travelling with my 86 year old father, who did not want the hassle of airports or long journeys to the embarkation port. I was surprprised how much I appreciated the lack of hassle too!  Embarkation was a breeze, and my case was unpacked within 2 hours of closing it! The Black Watch is a smaller and older ship to those which I have previously cruised onboard ( Ryndam and Ventura) and I couldn't help compare. There were positives and negtives. Positives first: It was easier to find your way round the ship You were never too far from anything, and wasted less time getting from a to b ( cabin to bar, bar to restaurant, restaurant to theatre, etc) Getting off àt ports was also relatively easy, though we still had to queue for around 45 minutes when tenders were required. The ship never felt crowded The public spaces were smaller and seemed more intimate and friendly. There was never a problem getting a seat anywhere: bar, pool, lounge, etc. Even at the back of the theatre, you weren't far from the stage! Negatives: There was less of a wow factor, eg no central atrium and grand staircase. The cabins were unusual, with fixed berths in an L formation: one across in front of the window, the other down the side partition. There was only one Main Dining Room and one Self service buffet restaurant. Both could be crowded, especially on sea days. General positives: The ship was well maintained and kept spotlessly clean. The staff were friendly and helpful. The service was first class, especially in the Dining room. Bar service was excellent in most bars, but could be slow aroind the pool area (difficult to find the beer fairy, or attract their attention). The food was excellent quality, well presented, and plenty of choice. Breakfast buffet offered an excellent selection, including bucks fizz on sea days. General negatives: There was a crowded, almost battlefield, atmosphere in the MDR at breakfast and lunch, as a buffet was provided. It took us a while to realise that we could ignore the buffet, and a waiter would bring us something from the kitchen. We also made an effort to sit in the Orchid Room, off the MDR to avoid the melee. The sun loungers were old fashioned and not very comfortable. The entertainment was mediocre: not bad, just average. Dinner was at set times, 6.15 and 8.30, which I felt were too early and too late! There were plenty of activities on board, though nothing like wave pools, climbing walls, ice rinks, etc! Staff organised regular quizes, bingo, "dog races", wii games, bridge, carpet bowls, dance classes, etc. There were also talks by guest speakers (good) and port talks (dreadful: someone rading a script, with no enthusiasm). We did not do any of the organised excursions as we thought they were overpriced. We tended to use shuttle buses and or taxis. This worked fine, most of the time. However getting to La Rochelle was horrendous: we had to wait outside, no seats provided, for a shuttle bus that took us to no man's land, where we waited at a bus stop for a regular service bus. Taxis were not available. Imagine, scores of people, many elderly, standing at the bus stop! Needless to say, the bus was overcrowded. We managed to find a taxi to return, but were not allowed to go to the cruise terminal. He had to drop us at no man's land, where we had to wait, without shelter, without seats, for the shuttle bus again. The Black Watch does not cater for children, and I did not see any on board. We chose the "all inclusive" drinks option, which we thought good value. But drinks were not overpriced, nor was there a service charge added to them ( as with Holland America Lines) Not sure if this has anything to do with the ship, but the passengers were generally more friendly than on other cruises!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
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 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.4

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click