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136 Fred. Olsen Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

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
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving ... Read More
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving value for money with the staff impeccable in every sense. Seven days was an ideal duration for us, too. in current circumstances. Another stop (we went to Heligoland, Hamburg and Bremen) would have been welcome but there was more than enough to occupy us on board. A typical day comprised sightseeing or Scrabble, cinema, gym., drinks, dinner and a show. Perfect. Worth mentioning in addition was the fact the Black Watch is small enough to ensure clients are more than "ships that pass in the night" and over the week we enjoyed re-engaging with various fellow travellers something that would not have been as likely on a vastly bigger vessel. Nothing is ever 100 per cent, however, and the coffee/tea served in the dining room was lacking although in the specialised coffee areas normal high standards prevailed at reasonable prices. Roll on our next Fred Olsen cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
The cruise was to take my wife to the Xmas markets in Hamburg and Germany. I had lived in Germany for many years and speak the language fluently but she did not fancy the drive ( my chosen option). The boarding at Tilbury was a ... Read More
The cruise was to take my wife to the Xmas markets in Hamburg and Germany. I had lived in Germany for many years and speak the language fluently but she did not fancy the drive ( my chosen option). The boarding at Tilbury was a disgrace. car parking cost £9 per day to dump your car in a disused sand dump 4 miles away from the ship. the cabin was a good size and well designed, much better than the Britannia cabin we had last summer. The air con in the cabin cannot be shut off and the fan noise is very obtrusive and kept me awake. The food in the restaurant was ok better at dinner than the other two meals. wine and drinks expensive and not very good. a wine which costs £6 in Tesco, costs you £18 on board The entertainment was pretty dire. it made up for lack of talent by plenty of volume. The best lounge was the Observatory but even this was spoiled by the shouts and screams of the carpet bowling. The dis-embarkation at Tilbury was an absolute chaotic situation. Yiou are just dumped in the terminal no FO staff in sight. This was in stark contrast to the Magellan passengers who docked at the same time and were ushered to waiting coaches and taxis whilst we were stood in the pouring rain like poor relations until a clapped out old bus arrived for its first of many round trips. all in all never again Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was my first cruise alone, first cruise in an inside cabin and first time that I didn't actually know where I was going! I travelled down to Dover with Eavesway and they were excellent as always. We had to wait about 40 ... Read More
This was my first cruise alone, first cruise in an inside cabin and first time that I didn't actually know where I was going! I travelled down to Dover with Eavesway and they were excellent as always. We had to wait about 40 minutes to embark but I didn't feel that was too bad. Boudicca was just out of a refit and I have to say that the public areas and cabins are looking great with lovely furnishings and colour schemes but some of the outside areas do still need attention. Unfortunately all of the refit work hadn't been quite finished and the pool was out of bounds but Fred had given everyone a £50 on board credit so that was felt to be a good move all around. I believe that some cabins had an issue with their hot water but I had to say that I had no problems at all and had lashings of hot water for my shower. So we set off on our five night mystery cruise which was to call at three ports. I had 'guessed' at four ports from the excursion descriptions and was pleased that I had guessed correctly. The ports were not confirmed to us until we actually arrived and everyone had lots of fun guessing where we were going. First port was Ghent where we had a whole day - lovely city with beautiful medieval buildings and canals - and lots of chocolate! I had booked a walking tour excursion and this was good, although it would have been easy to do this independently had I known the destination. Boudicca was berthed 20/30 minutes drive from the city centre and there was a shuttle bus provided for passengers not booked on excursions. On the second day we arrived in Amsterdam late morning and would stay until 8am the following day. It was an easy 15 minute walk from the berth into Amsterdam although there was a tram for people who didn't wish to walk. Unfortunately, being Easter Saturday, Amsterdam was too crowded for comfort - the streets were absolutely packed and you could only 'go with the flow' and there wasn't really a pleasant atmosphere. If only I had known, one of the pre-booked excursions was to the Kurkenhoff gardens and I think I would have enjoyed that. Fortunately I had booked a canal boat excursion at night and that was really lovely, well worth doing, and improved my impression of Amsterdam. Easter Sunday was spent largely at sea until we arrived in Rotterdam at 6.30pm where we would stay until 6pm the next day. I have to say I didn't have great expectations for Rotterdam, knowing that it is a huge port but I was pleasantly surprised. The city itself has lots of interesting modern architecture and we were berthed right by the stunning Erasmus bridge. The Markt Hall is definitely worth a visit for an amazing selection of food - not that you need any extra food when you are travelling with Fred! I also did an excursion to Gouda which was a delightful town and a place I would be happy to return to. We sailed overnight to arrive back in Dover at 6am the next morning. The passengers on Fred were a good mix with the usual large percentage of 'seniors' but all seemed to get around well and I wasn't aware of any problems - everyone was very friendly as I find is usually the case on Fred's ships and even though I was travelling alone I was never short of someone to chat with if I wished. This was actually an extra cruise for me this year so I was trying to be frugal and so booked an inside cabin - 4128. I was actually very pleasantly surprised, it was clean, comfortable and well decorated. With being an inside cabin it was actually very dark at night and I slept really well - had to set the alarm on the cabin phone to ensure I didn't oversleep! My cabin girl, Donna, was lovely and looked after me very well. This cabin did not have other cabins at either side so there was very little noise. The food on Fred was excellent as always - I think there really is something for everyone and the entertainment was good too. With hindsight, for me personally, I don't think I would do a mystery cruise again as I am the sort of person that likes to plan what I am going to do in port, but having said that, this was a really good experience thanks to the great Fred staff and crew, interesting itinerary, good food and friendly fellow passengers. I look forward to travelling with Fred again later in the year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Wanted to see the Hanseatic cities so this fitted the bill. Positives:- Good itinerary, but we did our own thing in ports, usually using the excellent public transport. I'm fluent in German, which helps. Food very good. Cabin ... Read More
Wanted to see the Hanseatic cities so this fitted the bill. Positives:- Good itinerary, but we did our own thing in ports, usually using the excellent public transport. I'm fluent in German, which helps. Food very good. Cabin nice. I can't comment on the entertainment, as we didn't bother with any of it; it's just not our thing. Nice to have Bridge lessons on sea days. Plenty of activities; unlike many cruise lines these did not just involve trying to get you to spend more money on rubbish. (Usually.) Plenty of space to sit and read quietly, even though, being April, it was too cold much of the time to sit outside when under way. Drink Prices very reasonable, unlike a certain large USA-based group. Ship fully refitted a few years ago, but it looked all very new. Carpets just fitted I think. Against: We had Junior Suite 5005. Every night there was noise from above. Quite intrusive, though I usually slept through some of it. It sounded like some large wheeled objects were being wheeled around; a rumbling like distant thunder. Hopeless if you are a light sleeper. I think it must be the galley. Our neighbours in 5003 said they didn't have a problem, which seemed odd, but there you are. We preferred dining in the cafe as it just took so long in the restaurant, though that is our preference, rather than a criticism. Almost all cruise ships have to do some maintenance as they go along and this was no exception but the smell of the paint was pretty horrible tbh. Embarkation pretty smooth and disembarkation VERY quick and efficient as we took our own stuff off and Dover Port Parking were excellent. Yes- lots of very old people on there; if you don't like us oldies then please stay away! So, happy to use Fred Olsen again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
It fitted in with our busy schedule as we needed a much earned break and we received a good deal with all inclusive drinks. The ship was supposed to have had a refit but we couldn't see much that was new, carpets were still being ... Read More
It fitted in with our busy schedule as we needed a much earned break and we received a good deal with all inclusive drinks. The ship was supposed to have had a refit but we couldn't see much that was new, carpets were still being fitted, there were rolls of it everywhere, there was a smell of paint on several occasions but there were still areas that needed doing up, made it look untidy. Food and service was excellent. Husband was disappointed that he could not take his fold up bike as he is disabled and unable to walk very far, when we got on board several people had mobility scooters and someone even had a fold up bike! Would have made it much easier to get around as we had to make our own way because the tours were expensive, not really what we wanted to see and do and most of them involved a lot of walking. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We travelled by Evesway coach from Chester. Although we had 2 coach changes everything went smoothly. Embarkation went well and we boarded quickly, greeted by friendly staff and the usual photographer who took our photos as we boarded. The ... Read More
We travelled by Evesway coach from Chester. Although we had 2 coach changes everything went smoothly. Embarkation went well and we boarded quickly, greeted by friendly staff and the usual photographer who took our photos as we boarded. The ship a traditional older style suited myself and my husband and we enjoyed the freedom of moving from deck to deck outside. We had cabin 5019 junior suite. This is the third time we have travelled o and Boudicca. We have always been on deck 5 and find it an ideal deck location for the main activities and restaurants. The entertainment was good we enjoyed a new Boudicca Show Company, although the singer was a little dated for my liking. Other entertainers and dancing hosts were very good. We also enjoyed the lectures. Cabin very comfort and our hostess looked after us very well. We went on several tours, although not included in the initial cruise price, such tours I consider excellent as you travel in a group and you are likely to visit places you wouldn't do on your own. We went as a personal choice to see Bergen Belsen, Berlin, Lubeck, and superb Brenem. We had an excellent guide in Brenem. A special thank you to the waiters. I fact the waiter David also waited on us on the ship 3 years ago when we went to see the Solar Eclipse. One point it does seem a same that when you are asked to complete a form a couple of days into the cruise Fred Olsen will donate a 1p,yes 1p to the RNLI!!!! Why so little Fred? I would certainly recommend Fred Olsen. Although I was probably in the youngest 10%on board the ship suited me and being a smaller ship ideal for River Cruising. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
The food was excellent, the staff were friendly and helpful (as well as efficient) - but why is Wi-Fi so horribly expensive? and £50 each for a coach excursion is exorbitant ... On the other hand, embarkation and disembarkation were ... Read More
The food was excellent, the staff were friendly and helpful (as well as efficient) - but why is Wi-Fi so horribly expensive? and £50 each for a coach excursion is exorbitant ... On the other hand, embarkation and disembarkation were faultless ... There was very little 'mental stimulation' available - Quizzes and Bingo do not really take the place of a good talk by an enthusiastic expert - and the Port Talks were dire; reading text from a Wikipedia article is not what is needed. [Very personal opinion] Avoid (if you can) being seated at the rear of the Thistle Restaurant - the vibration when the ship switched to operating on two props (rather than the usual four) shook the cutlery off the tables, and made conversation almost impossible. I think we should have been informed that the email service via AOL is frequently not available - if you're normally an AOL user, make sure before you go that you have email access via another provider Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Like many contributers to these forums, my wife and I discovered "Cruising" over 30 years ago and embarked ( sorry for the Pun ) on an adventure which included 1,2 and even 3 cruises a year, trying every different cruise line we ... Read More
Like many contributers to these forums, my wife and I discovered "Cruising" over 30 years ago and embarked ( sorry for the Pun ) on an adventure which included 1,2 and even 3 cruises a year, trying every different cruise line we could find offering the most exciting destinations available. Then again with "time" we started to "hone" our requirements for a holiday avoiding "Long Haul Flights", the new exciting massive Liners with over 4000 + passengers, neither did we want to tackle the "Wall of Death", "Tower of Doom" or slide down a tube full of water from one end of the Ship to the other !!! So we started to look for smaller ships more in keeping with the pair of "Old Farts" we were turning into. That's when we discovered Fred Olsen some 6 years ago and proceded to have some wonderful holidays on the Balmoral ( 1350 cruisers ) and couldn't find fault with anything on board, although I did have to give up the"Bingo" as I found it too exciting especially with my "Dickie Ticker". Then "illness" set in and I had over 2 years of vascular disease in both legs, and some 5 Operation later our wonderful National Health got my as fit as they could and with much reduced "mobility" I was ready to return to cruising last August ' 17., and chose the smaller "Braemar" ( now repostioned to Southampton ) on a 9 day French River trip to get us back in the swing of things. Now I fully appreciate "cruisers" are fiercely loyal to their choice of cruise line/ship and Fred O is no different, so you may understand I was gob-smacked when I discovered the enormous lowering of quality on the Braemar with regards to Food and Drink on offer. This is something I had read about which other Cruisers had indicated from their observations that "Cut-backs" were apparent across the entire Industry. So, there was the wife and I thinking our cruising days were numbered when i saw our favourite Balmoral was back for 5 day trip to Belgium and Holland ( Tulips & Chocolate ). and with 2 friends we embarked. I have to say that whils't there were signs of the dreaded cuts in Staff ( you could easily wait 45 mins for a drink to be served in the Lounges ) my other fears were allayed and the Food and Drink were O.K. With such a short trip there's not too much I can say except when we did the Keukenhof Tulip Festival in Amsterdam with Fred O., we didn't know that the festival is only open for some 6 weeks and we went on a Sunday the first day it was open !. When we arrived their must have been 600 Coaches a !000 Cars and 500 Camper vans already on site, and we parked a good 1 1/2 miles from the gates..... how I walked it was a miracle !!, we later found out their was over 6000 in the park including half the Japanese Nation. Us Men shared a taxi in Antwerp round the Town and ended up in a local bar, whils't the Ladies went to the Chocolate Shop/ Factorytrip, then got caught up in a 2 hour traffic jam getting back to the Ship...........my mate and I were devistated without them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This is our second cruise with Fred Olsen Cruises, we have been on five different cruise lines, and would say they are all pretty good. We like Fred because it probably has the the most friendly crew, smaller ship catering mainly for a ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Fred Olsen Cruises, we have been on five different cruise lines, and would say they are all pretty good. We like Fred because it probably has the the most friendly crew, smaller ship catering mainly for a British passenger, entertainment was excellent in the Neptune show theatre, a little disappointed with the bar entertainment, although they were generally alright, we felt they could be more entertaining and involve the audience more. Bars were very pleasant, we also loved the fact that there are quiet areas on the ship, unlike some of the other lines where music would be playing everywhere. Crew is particularly friendly and efficient and help to make Fred cruise so good. We had to ask for a change of cabin because our first cabin on deck four was very noisy, no problem, within a couple of hours they moved us to deck five, great, they even sent a member of the crew to help. Food in general is very good, if not excellent most of the time, waiters very pleasant and efficient , you can enjoy a bit of banter with them. We did have on this occasion a couple of dishes that were not up to Fred’s standard, mash potato was lumpy and a braised lamb and also a braised beef dish a little tough, maybe just need more time in the oven. Don’t get me wrong the food is generally of a very good standard, just wanted to mention the fact. Cabin was of a decent size, particularly enjoy have tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin. Big plus for us was the ship was leaving from our local port, so we can be in our cabin within an hour of leaving home, no flights to bother with. We will definitely be cruising with Fred again. Passenger age group would be fifty plus, although there was some younger people on board, not many children. Because of the smaller ship you can enjoy some ports of call unlike the larger ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this cruise because it was easy to get to the port from Scotland. The itinerary was good as we had never been to Bremen, Kiel or sailed the canal. The late embarkation didn't suit everybody and the first evening was a free ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was easy to get to the port from Scotland. The itinerary was good as we had never been to Bremen, Kiel or sailed the canal. The late embarkation didn't suit everybody and the first evening was a free for all. The cruise settled down and we quickly found our sea legs. After a day at sea we got to Bremen. Deciding not to take a ship tour we made our way through a huge shopping Mall to the tram stop just beyond the mall. 2.60 Euros each way into the city centre. It was easy to buy your ticket on the tram. Take some small Euros. Bremen is a quaint German town with decent sights and a vibrant waterfront market. Next day through the canal. It was a very pleasant journey. It is an amazing feat of engineering. Then onto Warnemunde another pleasant port of call. just wandered the local streets and stopped for a beer when the rain came down. We then continued back to the ship. The Captain announced that due to impending bad weather we may not go back to Kiel and the canal but instead head for Copenhagen and home via the North of Denmark. For guests who have never been to Copenhagen it may have been a better visit than Kiel. As we had been there last September for a number of days so we just took the hop-on-hop-off bus which picked us up ate the ship. Good value for those who don't want to walk for miles. Back to Newcastle where our cruise disembarked, although we decided to do back to back with the Norwegian Fjords. We went on the anchor fare for outside cabins and were given 5052 on the port side forward. It was close to lifts and stairs. The room had ample storage and plenty of room to move about. I would also like to thank the bridge class organisers for their patience and advice when we played on sea days. We paid the £2 a night to change to the first sitting for the evening meals. The service in the Ballendalloch room was excellent. The food was always good without being oversold. Here comes the complaint, the service in the Morning Lite Pub went from excellent to really poor. I didn't get the waiters name but he was very jovial and loved his work. Unfortunately the other waitresses did about a quarter of the work of the waiter mentioned and on one evening we waited 30 minutes to be served. Very poor Fred. Your sales receipts will show who was working and who spent their time trying not to work. The Lido lounge service was poor as people would go to the bar and get served by the waiters as the barmen would not take orders. This meant the waiters never really got a chance to go to tables. The all inclusive was good value. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
For the itinerary and time of going. The entertainment in the Observatory lounge was excellent, Adam Reece who even played requests, did a great job despite people talking over his music which is very rude. The other musicians around the ... Read More
For the itinerary and time of going. The entertainment in the Observatory lounge was excellent, Adam Reece who even played requests, did a great job despite people talking over his music which is very rude. The other musicians around the ship were equally as good. The staff in the Lido lounge were very pleasant and friendly, nothing was too much trouble for them. Also the girls in the Casino who were very good and friendly. On going down to the tender to get off was easy as the crew helped my partner and i took my time walking down the steps and collecting my scooter. We only went on one trip which was well organised . In the future we wont be sailing with Fred Olsens, at the age of 60 and 61 respectively we found the other passengers alot older than us. For instance when i was reading a book i looked up and they were all asleep in the reading areas so i crept out and left them to it. Freds should advertise that their cruises are not really for anyone under the age of 60. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We booked this cruise as originally we booked a P&O cruise which was cancelled because they sold the ship! We booked it 7 months in advance and requested 1st sitting for dinner on a table of 6-8 people so that we would have a variety ... Read More
We booked this cruise as originally we booked a P&O cruise which was cancelled because they sold the ship! We booked it 7 months in advance and requested 1st sitting for dinner on a table of 6-8 people so that we would have a variety of people to talk to over a lengthy meal. However on arrival we discovered that we were on the 1st sitting but on a table for 4. The other couple were very pleasant but were very elderly (guessing near 90) and had very little conversation. We decided that we could not take another 9 evenings of stilted conversation and asked to move table but there were none available, so the only option was to move to the 8.30 sitting which we reluctantly did. Luckily we were on a table of 6 like minded people and enjoyed the rest of our meals. However, this meant that I was starving each evening waiting for my meal and had to fill up on snacks. Also there is absolutely no entertainment on the ship between 5pm and 8pm so the only options were to go to the bar, read a book or watch TV (which did not work a lot of the time as it lost the satellite signal so there was only the news or films to watch). In Addition the 2nd entertainment show was not until 10.30 pm, so we could not go as we wanted to be in bed by 11pm as we had be up early for tours. So our evenings were spoiled. However, we enjoyed the daytimes, food was very good and so was the service. We took advantage of the drinks upgrade which meant certain drinks were included all day. We enjoyed the one show that we did go to and the various tours, with the exception of Dublin, which was not very good. We were lucky that the weather was lovely and saw the Scottish islands at their best. We had a balcony cabin mainly because it gave you a larger cabin as the standard cabins on Boudicca are very small. Fresh fruit, water and canapés included every day, comfortable bed. Would not cruise with Fred Olsen again unless they change the evening meal to open dining. We were surprised that Shetland, the Orkneys and Lewis are very bleak with hardly any trees, the tours were of good quality. Only spent half a day in Mull, would have preferred longer. Some people had to get up at 6 am to go on a lengthy tour to be back in time to leave. Loch Ness boat ride was lovely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about ... Read More
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about the bow and funnel made it seem so elegant. I was marketed to world travelers, and offered six-star service. I dreamed that someday I might cruise on such a classically designed ship. Cut to more recent times when, thanks to the internet, I discovered that the ship was still in service with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, and had been refitted in 2016. I booked an 8-night cruise to Norway more than a year in advance, and waited with great anticipation for my departure. I will say that booking a Fred. Olsen cruise from the U.S. wasn't as convenient as I might have wished, but once it was done, it was "smooth sailing," as they say. I arrived in Liverpool the day prior to departure, and stayed in a hotel that overlooks the port. I awoke in the morning and went straight to the widow. There she was! After 46 years of waiting, I finally laid eyes on a ship I have admired since childhood! What an amazing feeling! Arriving at the port, my bags were immediately whisked-off, and I was welcomed into the well-organized and uncrowded terminal area. Unlike many of today's "mega-ships," where THOUSANDS of people are waiting to be "processed," check-in and embarkation for 'Black Watch' was a breeze. When I arrived in my cabin my bags were already there, and I was able to unpack and get organized before heading-off to explore the ship. The next 8 days were simply terrific! While the ship is 46 years old, FOCL has done a very commendable job of keeping her in great condition. If you're looking for all the latest advances in cruise ships, 'Black Watch' can't compete. But it doesn't need to. It is a classic, and offers an experience that is increasingly hard to find in today's world. Its size is perfect. Easy to navigate, and with around 800 passengers, it never felt crowded. Deck chairs and seats in the various lounges and bars were always available, and an air of quiet, comfortable ambiance prevailed. Viewing the spectacular fjords of Norway from the Lido Deck (cocktail in hand) was delightful. Evenings in the Observatory Lounge or Morning Light Pub were totally relaxing and enjoyable. Entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was fun and engaging. I especially enjoyed the productions by the "Black Watch Show Company." Made-up of about seven performers, each show was full of energy and real talent. The two male singers, Luke Suri and Tom Watson, were true stand-outs. If I had any disappointment on this cruise it is that we weren't treated to just one more show from them. Dining aboard 'Black Watch' was also quite enjoyable. Meals never felt rushed, and the service in all of the venues was attentive and professional. The Executive Chef was frequently in the dining room conversing with passengers, and she seemed to take a genuine interest in speaking with them. Choices were abundant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My cabin was spotlessly clean when when I boarded the ship, and remained that way throughout the cruise, thanks to my nearly invisible stewardess, Lang. The bed was comfortable, and the bathroom seemed gigantic compared to those found on some newer ships. In fact, my accommodations were among the largest I have seen among standard cabins on any ship. I visited the on-board Atlantic Spa on two occasions. While the space is not particularly glamorous, the staff was very friendly, and both treatments were quite rejuvenating. Well worth the money for a bit of pampering! All of the shore excursions I booked (Lerwick, Bergen, Flam, Olden) were well-organized, informative and fun. The local guides were excellent, and the coaches used for transport were very modern and comfortable. Prior to departure we were advised that our cruise would end in Rosyth, Scotland instead of Liverpool. This turned-out to be a bit of a treat, as it allowed for a visit to Edinburgh, which I would not have experienced otherwise. Overall, my experience on 'Black Watch,' and my first Fred. Olsen cruise, met and exceeded my expectations. Beautiful ship, wonderful crew, great itinerary! A trip I will always remember. I very much look forward to another opportunity to cruise with FOCL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Wanted a short Cruise around North Scotland. House not far from Liverpool to pick the Ship up. 6 days before the Cruise Fred Olsen informed us that we would be bussed up to Rosyth from Liverpool staying overnight in Rosyth .(Due to a ... Read More
Wanted a short Cruise around North Scotland. House not far from Liverpool to pick the Ship up. 6 days before the Cruise Fred Olsen informed us that we would be bussed up to Rosyth from Liverpool staying overnight in Rosyth .(Due to a mechanical fault). The original itinerary was Liverpool>Fort William>Stornaway>Orkney Islands>Invergorgen>Liverpool. The change now was Rosyth>Invorgorden>Orkney Islands>Stornaway>Fort William>Liverpool. In Invergorden because of bad weather we stayed overnight in anchorage in the MurrayFirth and we had another itinerary change, this time going to Dundee>Shetland Islands>Stornaway>Fort William>Liverpool. Then we had another Itinerary change Dundee>Orkney Islands>Liverpool. So as you can see it was a Mystery 7 night Cruise? The Cabin Stewardess was excellent. The Food was Excellent. The Entertainment was very good especially the Cruise singers & dancers called Musicality & from the off board Scottish Highland dancers. The show featuring members of the Crew was exceptional,especially a middle aged man that worked in the Kitchen (his range of voice was exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from ... Read More
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from Iceland so it was noisy groaning and creaking also engine noise. The main dining room food was very good,service very slow but with good company on a 9 seater table just about exceptable,buffet area small and crowded,especally as the guest's were very old and slow,it did feel as if we were in an old people home most times. Entertainment was very good and well presented. The Black Watch is a small ship which might appeal to certain people,but not me,in rough seas it was like a cork in a bottle,did'nt suit me but there was a lot going for it other than that. Crew were excellent ,very helpfull. All inclusive drinks programme was very poor,only 4-5 spirits and a few beers, no cocktails at all even non alcohol ones ,coffee poor,better if you payed !!!!!!. Liverpool cruise terminal was a shambles,especialy with so many very elderly guests ,staff tried their best but to small for that many people,won'tbe keento go from there again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The cruise was from Dover so an easy drive from East Sussex, the destinations in Northern Germany with combination of Kiel, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen were attractive and it was a good balance of sea days and port visits - an advantage ... Read More
The cruise was from Dover so an easy drive from East Sussex, the destinations in Northern Germany with combination of Kiel, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen were attractive and it was a good balance of sea days and port visits - an advantage of the smaller ship allowing us to dock so close to the centre of each city. First time on Fred Olsen and was impressed, the ship is an older one but had been refurbished well and the standard of cleanliness was very high, good crew and excellent food. Fred Olsen is definitely for the more 'mature' client and is very British but that made a nice contrast to other cruises we have made with a more American flavour. Entertainment is low key but fun and we met some lovely and down to earth people. We had a balcony cabin which was very nice, deck 8 slightly restricted view but really no problem, on the whole would recommend especially if over 50 and not looking for the wild nightlife! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Never on a cruise before; staff, entertainment, food, service, hygiene and gym all superb. Cabin was excellent, well appointed and serviced. The staff were very attentive and worked tirelessly. Food options were very good with a high ... Read More
Never on a cruise before; staff, entertainment, food, service, hygiene and gym all superb. Cabin was excellent, well appointed and serviced. The staff were very attentive and worked tirelessly. Food options were very good with a high standard of presentation. It was particularly welcome that you could get a late snack and an afternoon tea beyond the time of lunch (handy if you were out). The gym was well kitted out and the weather was also good enough to go out on the top deck pool. The atmosphere was excellent in all the bars, in particular the observatory. The selection of ports was good and it was welcome that shuttle buses were on hand at Lerwick and kirkwall. Embarkation was very efficient. We got a freedom fare which made it exceptional value for money. Limited selection of beers and ciders would be a minor criticism. Overall, an excellent experience and certainly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
A bit of a mixed bag. We had been on Balmoral before and it was not as good this time. Superficially the cabin appeared spotless but there was a large accumulation of dirt under the beds and it obviously had not been cleaned for a long ... Read More
A bit of a mixed bag. We had been on Balmoral before and it was not as good this time. Superficially the cabin appeared spotless but there was a large accumulation of dirt under the beds and it obviously had not been cleaned for a long time. The water in the bathroom was seldom more than lukewarm and ran very slowly. The shaver points were hanging off the wall. The toilet paper was thin and poor quality. The TV picture kept breaking up because of "incompatibilty with the onboard transmitting equipment". The beds and pillows were comfortable. We were booked on the 2030 dinner sitting by Fred, we didn't ask for it. This was far too late for us so we asked the maitre d' if we could change to 1830. He told us there were over 200 people wanting to change and he couldn't do anything for us. From an earlier review it seems that if money had changed hands a change would have been possible. As it was we had little choice but to eat in the self-service buffet every night, not exactly a prime dining experience. The food was generally quite good with a large choice. The coffee, however, was very poor indeed, almost totally lacking in flavour. Cups and glasses were often less than clean, with lipstick or stains on them. We found the waiters to be very offhand, bordering on surly, with a lack of manners in many cases. The waitresses, whom we encountered only in the Neptune Lounge, were better, with the odd exception. The Captain's cocktail party was a farce. It consisted of walking past the captain and officers at the entrance to the Neptune Lounge (a theatre), getting a free drink, the captain speaking for a couple of minutes, a few words from a sample of crew members, and that was it. Hardly a party. The entertainment was of mixed quality. The onboard company of singers and dancers worked hard and were very good across the piece. The "guest" classical pianist was excellent, the guitarists less so, often playing obscure material. The comedian was excellent. The pianist in the Observation Lounge seemed to simply tinkle away tunelessly in a totally disinterested manner on the occasions we went up there in the afternoons. The trio in the Bar were wasted; they were far far better than the inconsequential material they were required to play. The tours provide by Fred were, as always, grossly overpriced and exceptionally poor value for money. Doing-it-yourself, using local transport etc was far far cheaper and enabled close contact with local people, who were unfailingly helpful. The port call at Invergordon, a very small town, was clearly settled upon as a prime opportunity for Fred to sell his tours as there was very little to do there. On the way back to Newcastle (North Shields in reality) we left Lerwick in the Shetlands at 2300 on a Friday. We arrived at North Shields at 0600 on Sunday two days later, a journey of 31 hours doing approx 10 knots. It would surely have been possible to leave Lerwick earlier, call in at another port on the Saturday, perhaps Aberdeen, sailed a little faster than a crawl and still get into North Shields in time for a turnaround for the next departure. It felt very much like a wasted Saturday, and a missed opportunity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Absolutely no disrespect meant to elderly people but this cruioplpse had a lot of partially disabled elderly people on board bless them I admire the fact that they can still get out and about Getting on and off the ship was not easy not ... Read More
Absolutely no disrespect meant to elderly people but this cruioplpse had a lot of partially disabled elderly people on board bless them I admire the fact that they can still get out and about Getting on and off the ship was not easy not enough wheelchairs, a stepped gangway, Dropping anchor in open water and getting on off a tender in ruff water again not easy. Mooring at a pier that could not handle sufficient transport for people to get off with only one gangway. In the unlikely event of an emergency I could see things going wrong. 3/4 hr late getting off ship to go on a shore tour which had to be cut short, disappointing Cabin not as described in all the literature They didn't send suitable transport to either pick the disabled person up from home or drop back home another 3/4 hr wait on pier with no facilities Time ashore was to short Having said that the crew, service,food and entertainment on board were with out doubt excellent. You could pick your own evening meal times Breakfast lunch and supper were available in other restaurants. Entertainment throughout the ship with a full stage and several acts. Many of the bars had singers and television. Internet throughout the ship but it was expensive. Two formal black tie evenings And one meet the Captain night Both very good. You must use the hand sanitizer on entering and leaving most areas of the ship to reduce risk of infection this is not because the ship is dirty it’s very clean and well decorated Cabin was made up every morning and beds turned down every evening I didn’t use the fitness areas Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Always wanted to visit the Scottish Islands and this cruise gave us a great taste of what was available should we want to go back for longer visits. We took one of the organised trips but for the rest of the time opted to do our own ... Read More
Always wanted to visit the Scottish Islands and this cruise gave us a great taste of what was available should we want to go back for longer visits. We took one of the organised trips but for the rest of the time opted to do our own thing. As always we were very well looked after by the staff. The staff in the restaurants were attentive and always willing to help. The food was excellent, we used the buffet for breakfast and lunch, when on board and the Ballindalloch Restaurant for fixed dining in the evenings. Staff in the bars were also very good and always on hand. The evening entertainment was most enjoyable and of a high standard and there was always something to do during the days at sea. Interesting talks and recitals. We were more than happy with our room which was very comfortable and larger than we had expected. Overall, an excellent experience which we look forward to repeating hopefully soon!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was for me, a rare opportunity to visit Orkney, Shetland and Lewis and I was not disappointed. The ship was as excellent as expected (I have grown to love Balmoral) and the itinerary wonderful. Wonderful restaurant and bar staff, ... Read More
This was for me, a rare opportunity to visit Orkney, Shetland and Lewis and I was not disappointed. The ship was as excellent as expected (I have grown to love Balmoral) and the itinerary wonderful. Wonderful restaurant and bar staff, good choice of vegetarian food and everyone very friendly, as always expected from Fred. I particularly enjoyed the visits to the ancient archaeological sites on each of the islands we visited, which gave a really good insight into how people lived thousands of years ago. In Kirkwall we took a DIY excursion by taxi and our Driver Kenny was wonderful, full of enthusiasm for his homeland and giving every bit as good an experience as a professional tour guide. In Shetland we had the very cheerful Melvyn, who has such a gleeful personality that our time there just flew by. I cannot wait for my next cruise with Fred. - next Spring! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We've long wanted to visit Iceland, so this was the perfect choice- sailing out of Newcastle is easier for us than Southampton, and we were on Balmoral the previous autumn, so knew that she was a sturdy little ship, with excellent ... Read More
We've long wanted to visit Iceland, so this was the perfect choice- sailing out of Newcastle is easier for us than Southampton, and we were on Balmoral the previous autumn, so knew that she was a sturdy little ship, with excellent food and service. The itinerary was all Iceland- some cruises add other islands, or Norway, but that's not what we wanted. The check in was simple, and everything is so well organised for you to reach your cabin with ease. The ship has had a refurbishment since our last cruise on her, which included full make over of cabins- ours was spacious and very attractve. In the main dining room, the food was as excellent as last time, when we were able to say that it was the best food we've had on any cruise line- good choices;well served; good ingredients. Because the dining rooms are much smaller than on many ships the noise was minimal; large dining rooms on big ships often are quite noisy. The buffet is small, although we ate there rarely,as there are other options for breakfast and lunch. We did like to go there for a cream scone at tea time! Small ships don't have all the activities of the big ones, but there were plenty of lectures, along with traditional ship board games, quizzes and entertainment.The evening shows were good, with the usual song and dance routines, plus comedians, magicians and musicians. The lat time we were on Balmoral,it was an adult only cruise- this time, being in the middle of the summer holidays, there were some children cruising- perhaps 30 or so, and they always seemed to be busy with their leaders. Iceland itself was absolutely wonderful, from the long sail past the glacier, volcano and Westman Islands on the evening before arrivng at Reykjavk, to the final sailing down the last fjord, whale watching. There was a commentary for all these times, explaining much of what we were seeing,or what had happened in the past (Eyjafjallajokull eruption; Heimaey life; whale spotting). We took the cruise for the itinerary, but the ship was also a pleasant part of that itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise for its itinerary and the Orkneys and Shetland were great and well worth visiting. We took a shore excursion at Inverness which was informative and well organised by our guide. Check in at Newcastle was fast and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary and the Orkneys and Shetland were great and well worth visiting. We took a shore excursion at Inverness which was informative and well organised by our guide. Check in at Newcastle was fast and efficient. We booked an inside superior cabin on Bridge deck and it was OK with a larger than average bathroom. However, there were none of the touches such as hand cream, bath robes or flannels that we've had elsewhere. Just soap in a dispenser! The entertainment was adequate and varied for a short cruise. However, we found the food to be of a very basic standard and without a great deal of variety. Also the waiter service in the bars was very disappointing and more often that not, we had to go to the bar to order. The ship, overall, looks pretty tired and deck furniture definitely needs replacing with loungers showing rust and other signs of wear. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very ... Read More
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very disappointed. Only soap in a bottle supplied in the bathroom - just like a 3 star hotel. Very small towels. Thick rust round the taps and some black mould round bath. On the plus side, the beds were comfortable and we heard no noise at night. Food was excellent and nothing to complain about there. We didn’t go with the drinks package but the price of drinks was very reasonable and again nothing to complain about there either. Entertainment was aimed at an older generation, dance classes, tea dances and bingo etc. and nothing that I would participate in. In fact I question the amount of disabled people on board if there was an emergency. It would be interesting to see how quickly you were able to get to the lifeboats. There was nothing in terms of entertainment for children and yet there were quite a few on board. We participated in one very expensive shore excursion (£52 each) which was described as a walk through a forest to waterfalls and the description urged walking shoes and suitable clothing. In fact the walk was no more that 30 minutes in total and we spent a lot of that waiting for unfit people to catch up. I suppose the footwear of the guide gave it away really - fashion boots. We then visited a small town which was interesting but all of it could be seen in an hour or less. In Kirkwall we hired bikes for £20 and had a great day. In Lerwick we hired a car for £32 and saw all the area below Lerwick, which was fascinating. The day we were at sea all day was awful and we were bored stiff. We used the gym, which needs updating, for a couple of hours and then read for most of the day. The restaurant boasted a sea food lunch and certainly the display was wonderful but because the ship was busy there were queues for tables and we were shown to a table for 6. I really don’t want to eat with strangers, despite them being very pleasant. Overall I feel that this was very expensive for what you got, especially accommodation. Hopefully I have been fair in this review and maybe when I’m 80 and disabled I might choose to go on another one! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
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