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Cruise Ratings
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We chose this cruise because the size of the ship meant that it visited fjords other ships couldn't. It certainly didn't disappoint. The scenery was fantastic and we were lucky to have several sunny days, which enhanced the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the size of the ship meant that it visited fjords other ships couldn't. It certainly didn't disappoint. The scenery was fantastic and we were lucky to have several sunny days, which enhanced the experience. Embarkation was easy because we were amongst the last few to board. However this meant that we were unlucky enough to miss the buffet as the muster drill was put into effect straight away and we had to wait an hour or two to have something to eat. We were told that we could have order room service, but this wouldn't have been served during the drill in any case! Day one was at sea and the hours slipped by very quickly. Day two was cruising amongst smaller fjords and due to the clear blue skies, everything looked spectacular. Everyone was delighted with the views. Flam. We took the railway, the weather was cloudy but even if it had been sunny I'm not sure this lives up to its billing as one of the world's most spectacular railway journeys. Certainly a huge engineering achievement and worth doing, but the Flam railway is overpriced. I hired a mountain bike and rode down to the port again which got me back an hour before the other train passengers. The bike ride was really something else. Olden. We didn't book any excursions and took a couple of hours to walk to the Floen lake which was well worth doing and we had plenty of time. Great views all the way and the little railway excursion seemed to follow the same sort of route. Gerainger. Highlight of the trip. We had booked the local bus ride to the top of Dalsnibba mountain and this was spectacular. Sunshine again, and the bus driver told us that we we one of the few trips this summer which had clear skies as the weather had been poor all summer. The views were just spectacular and the trip was great value for money. We were back at the ship for lunch and able to go ashore again in the afternoon to explore the waterfall in the town. Free wifi at the tourist office with great connection and speed. Back across the North sea on the last day and while there was a bit of a swell it was not a problem. Some of our fellow passengers were extremely rude. I overheard one conversation in which it was stated that 'its like walking into a council estate' , a comment on some of the other passengers. Probably the best cruise we have done but that's due to Norway, the weather and not the ship or cruise line. Although the ship is old, you know before you go what to expect and it was fine. Food was excellent. Cabin a bit worn. Staff great. Back at the terminal at disembarkation we asked where we could find the bus stop to get to the airport. We were told there was none, although we had been delivered there by bus the week before!! ( The driver had dropped us closer to the terminal than the bus stop which is why we were not sure how to find it again). Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My brother and I chose this cruise because of the small ship, to see the Norwegian fjords and not to spend too much time on the open sea. The staff were really good and friendly, the ship looking a little worn in places, but as ... Read More
My brother and I chose this cruise because of the small ship, to see the Norwegian fjords and not to spend too much time on the open sea. The staff were really good and friendly, the ship looking a little worn in places, but as it's going into dry dock soon, this will be dealt with. The food was good and for me excellent portion size. Activities on board still pitched toward the older cruise client generally. Sort something before you leave if you need to keep in touch with family. We were on the bridge deck and found our cabin quiet and tranquil. Even when apparently it was a little rough one night- we slept through it. No criticisms of cleanliness, everywhere clean and particular attention made to ensure that all clients used hand cleaner on entering dining areas. Do not attempt to use the internet package. It is very expensive and very rarely works. Have downgraded the value for money because of the lack of internet access. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
As a 51 year old travel agent, i have been on many different cruise lines and the thought of travelling to the norwegian fjords on the back watch in september filled me with dread - how wrong was i !!! Surprisingly there was a very ... Read More
As a 51 year old travel agent, i have been on many different cruise lines and the thought of travelling to the norwegian fjords on the back watch in september filled me with dread - how wrong was i !!! Surprisingly there was a very mixed age group on board, yes a lot of older guest's yet many my own age and younger. We were in an outside cabin on deck 2, the cabin had 2 portholes but yet seemed to remain quite dark. Drawers resembled a filing cabinet - yes a refurb would be appreciated. Ship was a great size, very easy to get around. Plenty to keep you occupied, lots of activies to participate in, if you wanted too. Not too sure of some of the new dance hosts - didnt think they mingled enough with the guests. The food was excellent, entertainment pretty good too. Staff were wonderful - pleasant and very hard working. Luckily we had great weather in norway, the scenery blew me away ! Would i go again with fred olsen - yes i would ! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a ... Read More
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a lot but I found it to be clean, comfortable and the food is still great, what more could I ask for. Iceland is beautiful and the Faroes unexpectedly a great place....all in all I was very pleased with this cruise. All transport on trips were well arranged and the guides marvellous, embarkation, disembarkation very smooth, no worries. Yes I will sail again with FRED on any ship......sometimes I wonder exactly what the people who criticise are talking about, or is it just that they are unhappy people ? cheer up and go on a cruise with Fred Olsen and enjoy life. I will add that I am a single traveller and now feel part of the FRED FAMILY, which gives me confidence to travel anywhere in the world, and I will continue to do so. Thanks..... Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found ... Read More
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found the port facilities inferior to before when I departed from Southampton, although actual embarkation was much more painless.There is no left luggage facility which made if complicated sending luggage ahead. It was not made clear that there is no taxi rank at the small Rosyth station, better to stop off at Inverkeithing which is a more major station (indeed some of the London trains stop there). The actual cruise got off to a slow start because the first and second days were taken up with port visits - there was no captain's welcome until the third night (and the captain couldn't even come to that) - this meant that ship-bound activities such as Bridge and similar (which we were looking forward to) didn't start until the third day, which was very disappointing, for example for disabled people unable to go on trips. The "at sea" days where there were more activities so crowded the timetable that many things we wanted to go to all clashed. The Bridge sessions were very well-run and enjoyable. Having come up from London on the train, we were disinclined to launch into 4-hour bus trips to Loch Ness and such on the first full day so we stayed on-board feeling we were wasting time. However with the first sea day things picked up well. We didn't end up going on port excursions as we chickened out of going on tenders to some places and I had had the experience of missing trips I'd booked because of injury before. I thought that the food, although very good, wasn't quite in the same league as before. The soups weren't as good and the desserts were mostly very disappointing. The main courses remained excellent. Unlike before there wasn't wholemeal bread, which we like, and none of the speciality breads such as walnut were on offer. We took out the "all-inclusive drinks package" which was a huge mistake. The only things included in the price for free were the very poor house wines, a cava which we soon got bored with and a limited ranges of beers and spirits. Yes you can get other drinks for 50% of the price (reducing good wines from 3 times the price to 1.5 times) but not basics like tea and coffee for which full price was still applied. I think we averaged out losing out by about £10 per night between us. We definitely won't get that again unless they refine it sensibly. We didn't go to many of the entertainment offerings, but those we did go to were very good, all things considered although the lack of a proper theatre hampered things.There was a theme of a detective mystery run over several nights which was good fun. I even got the answer right (but didn't win the prize). The crew were uniformly good-humoured and friendly - some remembered unprompted my likings from my previous trip which was amazing! Still we enjoyed it enough to wander round to the "future cruises" office and book one for next year - this time on the "Black Watch". Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
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 2013
Fjords and Coastal towns of Norway - Sept 2013 My partner and I have been on 4 cruises but this was our first with Fred Olsen and our first away from the Med. The food, service and entertainment on board the Black Watch were all fantastic ... Read More
Fjords and Coastal towns of Norway - Sept 2013 My partner and I have been on 4 cruises but this was our first with Fred Olsen and our first away from the Med. The food, service and entertainment on board the Black Watch were all fantastic and the staff and fellow passengers were the friendliest we've ever encountered. Fortunately for us, we managed to evade the Norovirus! An email from Fred Olsen 2 days prior to our departure from Rosyth gave us our new, later boarding time. We later learned that this was due to the vessel being sanitised after a Norovirus outbreak on the previous trip. All embarking passengers received a personal sanitiser and instructions on how to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. However, a day into our journey all public toilets were closed and word spread that the virus had returned. During the week more passengers were taken ill and confined to their cabins under doctor's orders. The ship was being sanitised constantly and passengers were not allowed anywhere near food. I don't know how many people suffered with the virus but increasing amounts of empty seats at dinner tables indicated that it was not being contained. Sitting in the theatre one morning awaiting a tender to take us ashore, we witnessed about a dozen people handing back organised trip tickets belonging to family/travelling companions, all giving illness as the reason. We also heard the tale of an elderly woman who had booked a last minute deal just a couple of days prior to the cruise; she contracted the virus on the second day and was confined to her cabin for 5 days, thus missing every stop on the journey. She allegedly told a Fred Olsen representative that she would have never booked the holiday had she known there was a virus onboard the vessel. Fred Olsen offer an all-inclusive upgrade for £10 per day which is great for us as we both enjoy a drink on holiday. My 72 year old diabetic mother accompanied us on this trip but, as she does not touch alcohol, preferred not to pay extra for the package. At the time of booking, our travel agent was informed by a Fred Olsen representative that we were allowed to have all-inclusive and non all-inclusive passengers on the same booking but we would not be allowed to sit at the same table for dinner as diners on different packages were separated. This more or less forced us to book all-inclusive for the three of us. On board the vessel we quickly learned that, although there was allocated seating in the Glentanar restaurant (the main restaurant), the Braemar Garden Cafe and Orchid Room both offer free seating and all restaurants serve the same food. Also, our allocated table in the Glentanar restaurant had a 50-50 mixture of all-inclusive and non all-inclusive diners! To make matters worse, the soft drinks option on the all-inclusive package offers only one sugar free drink suitable for diabetics (my mother) which is diet coke, all other sugar free drinks incur a further charge - 50% off for all-inclusive passengers. Unfortunately my mother does not like diet coke! Just one more piece of useful information - there are two sittings for dinner in the Glentanar restaurant, 6.15pm and 8.15pm. If you wish to change your allocated sitting time there is a charge of £2 per person, per day. So, if you have a preferred meal time, it may pay to sort it with your agent or Fred Olsen prior to boarding. None of this has put any of us off future trips with Fred Olsen but we do feel like we were misinformed and I hope this information is beneficial to others.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We booked the cruise in Sep 12 having been offered All Inclusive as an incentive. The cabin grade we were after was "Sold Out" and the cheapest we could get was a D Grade cabin on Deck 4 (We had already booked a Transatlantic for ... Read More
We booked the cruise in Sep 12 having been offered All Inclusive as an incentive. The cabin grade we were after was "Sold Out" and the cheapest we could get was a D Grade cabin on Deck 4 (We had already booked a Transatlantic for a few weeks earlier on another liner so this was a Bonus Cruise). At the time of booking there was only one price range offered. A few months later we noticed that FO had introduced 2 price ranges and ours was on offer for £400 less and the lower grade room we were told were sold out were being offered even cheaper. We tried a number of times both direct and via the Agent to rectify this to no avail. The day before the sailing we were informed that our embarkation had been delayed by a few hours due to decontamination of the ship from a Norovirus outbreak the cruise before. During the 7 days we witnessed several individuals being sick in public areas, unable to control their actions. The Captain had ordered all public facilities closed and passengers had to use there own cabin facilities. This had 2 effects - firstly people who use their own toilets are less likely to wash there hands after than those in a public toilet. Secondly, its no fun if you are trying to consume "All Inclusive" drinks on Deck 9 and the toilet is on Deck 4. It saved the company a fortune on Drinks! All Self Service facilities were withdrawn and the staff (Entertainers included) had to man the Serveries. This was a disaster as they cordoned off the facilities and the staff served from inside the cordon. Passengers could not see what was on offer and had to accept the crews portions. Also the staff would only serve "their Patch" so if you wanted a variety you could end up queuing 4 times for 1 meal. It saved the company a fortune on Food! The actions taken did not slow down the virus so how was it moving through so many passengers. Not being a medical person I could not make a professional comment but as a passenger I would point out that on more than one occasion I noticed that everyone who was drinking was signing for their drinks with the same pen!!! Luckily neither I nor my wife were taken ill, neither were we ever intoxicated! 3 Days after my cruise I weighed less than when I boarded. This has never happened before. As a bonus we could not sleep on the first night due to a loud buzzing noise. The pursers staff said it was normal. A senior engineer then said it was not normal and it was from the refrigeration unit. A junior engineer set to fix it couldn't and we spent the next 6 nights with earplugs which the shop just happened to have on sale. Other cabins in the same area did not have the noise ! I would add that the Ports were excellent and would recommend Norway Cruising to anyone   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Check-in Check-out. Check-in at Forth Ports was simple. Parted from baggage, passengers were then corralled with 700+ souls of a similar age (60 -90 years) before being taken in small numbers by bus to the pier where the Black Watch was ... Read More
Check-in Check-out. Check-in at Forth Ports was simple. Parted from baggage, passengers were then corralled with 700+ souls of a similar age (60 -90 years) before being taken in small numbers by bus to the pier where the Black Watch was berthed. Disembarkation is best likened to the discharge of a battle weary army with a simple order - pick up your kit and get out. Forth Ports have a lot to learn about simple courtesy and their capacity to do so might even be in doubt. Boat Stuff. Built in 1972 it was sumptuous for it's time but with three major refits increasing passenger numbers from 539 to 820, it is now a crowded old tub with old tub problems and only a few old tub graces. Having visited accommodation on decks 3,4,5,7 and 8 I hold the view that decks 2 and 3 fall far short of what I would recommend to people for whom I have only a cool regard and deck 5 could only be recommended as basic but probably value for money. I occupied a mini suite on deck 7 by default and at very little extra cost : a very large cabin, double windows, sofa, chairs, wardrobes and drawers aplenty, thick pile carpet, TV, fridge, comfortable queen size bed, spotless mattress, ensuite with bath, basin and shower with no tell-tale black fungus on the grout. Every thing was clean and kept clean. The lobby opened into a hallway corridor rather than passageways smelling of the last two cruises. Normally I would have taken a standard outside cabin at time of booking. The onboard public areas including the lounges and corridors were in good condition, well carpeted and decorated but all were characterized by low deckheads (ceilings). The theatre was barely adequate for the population and with no real elevation of the floor, dodging heads was a show-long exercise. The inescapable problem of overcrowding was most manifest in the dining room where tables were packed in with little room to move while meal service was underway.Unfortunately practically all tables were rectangular,2s, 4s and 8s which are asocial by design.I was fortunate being placed, as requested and at a cost of £28, at one of the round tables. These deficiencies, created by Olsens in the interest of profit, detracted greatly from an otherwise excellent restaurant with a superb menu served by overworked Filipino waiters who did all they could to please. There was a small flexible dining buffet area but the vast majority elected to have fixed dining with the social benefits of meeting familiar people at each evening dinner. Complementing these facilities are the Observatory lounge at the for'ard end above the navigation bridge where the sea-hardy could watch the bow dive into the swell and throw heavy sea against the for'ard windows of deck 7, the cinema in the bowels of deck 3 - a refuge for those suffering mal de mer, two bars, a gymnasium restricted due to noise transmission and a delightful library and card room which was rapidly colonised by lodgers who held and guarded their seats throughout the 14 day cruise. On the outside, weather permitting, there is a promenade deck too narrow for multiple activities. Ardent walkers, including those with mobility problems, must navigate past various obstructions, structural narrows and wind bafflles at the rear to prevent passengers being swept off the after-end or into the pool. Yes! there is a mini pool with waves suitable for wind surfing and jacuzzi in which to thaw. Entertainment. Olsen staff organised oodles of activities for all tastes and there were several good films as well as middle-of-the-road stage shows but the real bonus came from the guest lecturer and his pre-excursion talks. A stowaway Peer of the Realm also popped up to amuse for an hour or two and was probably not missed at Westminster for the duration. Strange choice. Itinerary. Cruise non-stop to Iceland, two nights in Reykjavik, circumnavigate calling at two important settlements with a wide choice of excursions. Fascinating. Must be seen but not by ship. Cruise non-stop to the Faroe Islands - gems in the Atlantic. Not to be missed. Cruise to Norway and two of its most picturesque fiords with a final day in Bergen. Excursions. Well done Olsens. Excellent extensive choice of well chosen and well organised tours with local guides included. Many tours were influenced by the poor weather but should certainly not to be missed. They were reasonably priced which is unusual for cruises.The geophysical opportunities in Iceland are boundless. Weather. This is a significant factor when considering a cruise on this little ship at any time in the north Atlantic. It may have been built forty years ago with this maritime geography in mind but at 200m by 25m it is not suitable for the bulk of the population who chose to hitch a ride, with or without stabilisers. One hour west of the Pentland Firth the Captain announced that we were heading for a depression with a changing sea state reaching storm force 8 to 9. The Captain will be remembered for his honesty. For the next 30 hours Black Watch pitched, heaved and corkscrewed it's way north only finding relief in the darkness as we approached Iceland. Only the most infertile imagination could fail to picture how 700+ pensioners coped with these challenges and there was more in store enroute to the Faroes, from there to Norway and on the final dash from Bergen to Rosyth. A great many people were inconvenienced, many were nauseated and sick, the dining facilities became surprisingly spaceous while the stair-wells and public rooms were decorated with garlands of free vomit bags. Despite these conditions I was not aware of any concern on the part of fellow passengers with regard to the Ship's safety or the capabilities of the crew. Fellow Travellers. Olsens alone have the statistics but I believe there were in excess of 670 passengers over 60 years of age with most being in their 70s. A small number were probably well preserved in their 80s, many were frail elderly powered by determination, others were assisted by sticks and tripods, a few had wheeled assistance while others talked of various spare parts embedded somewhere in their anatomy. To complete the picture four courageous children appeared from time to time while a similar number of teen-aged youths suffered in silence. From conversations in which I participated or overheard and pill-taking witnessed at various breakfast and dinner tables, I would estimate that 50% of passegers were travelling with significant illness managed successfully by medication including anticoagulants, antihypertensives, arrhythmia mitigators , beta blockers, diuretics, steroids, minor psycotropics, and prescription-only-analgesics. While these issues are normal in any civil population they may constitute another dimension for concern if that same population is threatened by additional illness such as prolonged vomiting as in motion sickness or Norovirus or both with disturbance of fluid intake. This was the first time we had travelled as qualified members of a geriatric group and it was probably the most important mass social experience since our student years. 43,000 cumulative years of life experience to share, no illusions about immortality, pretentions and ambitions abandoned, greed muted in recognition of simple need and a sound belief that the hourglass is inverted. The company could hardly have been better and our dinner table group was excellent. But why? Why had so many elderly people gravitated to this old ship? The excellent food and table service are available elsewhere and better shipboard facilities and hotel services likewise. The itinerary can certainly be enjoyed by other means, earlier in the season, or on a larger ship and from my own observations few, if any, could not afford a greater outlay. Perhaps it is because word has spread that the Black Watch and other Olsen ships are very friendly, that lots of people say the same (although evidence is not made available), that there are no lager louts, no badly behaved children, no social mountaineers, no Louis Chopard watches on over-exposed wrists, Garrard trinkets dripping from ears and no Donatella Versace labels flaunted. Yet this social milieu is not the invention of Olsens , though they are quick to exploit it commercially, it is the by-product of this type of passenger population, their expectations, their attitudes, their challenges and their shared predicaments, sticks, wheels and all. What a pity they are not rewarded with a better ship. Norovirus - The self limiting minor communicable illness from which all but the frail and immuno-compromised are expected to recover. What an understatement. The first authors of these words should have a bout and reflect on the likely experience of the population described in these notes and in the environment also described. As Black Watch ploughed it's way to the Faroes the Captain announced that the virus had joined ship and passengers started to look around for missing faces. Slowly people began to disappear as cabin quarantine took it's toll and public life on board changed character - catering staff donned blue gloves, passengers were isolated from all buffet contact, storm troopers attacked with sani-sprays, butter portions and tea bags were moved by tongs and finally the Captain announced that he and his officers would not shake hands with passengers at the gala dinner. We had become dirty, dirty fare-paying people. Semantics aside if one did a pencil audit of Olsen's management of the outbreak in relation to the controls, set out by the US Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the UK Health Protection Agency, faults were not in abundance. The sad fact is, the outbreak continued and the two follow-on cruises suffered also. Perhaps of greater importance is the potential impact such events can have on a captive population of elderly people, many of whom have significant pre-existing medical problems, many affected by motion sickness, all of whom are located in storm bound waters with limited onboard medical facilities, one doctor and two nurses. Conclusions. The Icelandic tour has a high probability of bad weather which may make the ship experience unpleasant and in some personal circumstances pose a threat to the impaired health of certain passengers. In 2013 the ship demonstrated an inability to free itself from norovirus.between cruises. The Black Watch, in my opinion, has long since sailed past its sell by date as regards the physical provisions for contemporary hospitality and elderly people particularly, deserve better. There are some charming features about the ship and the actual domestic and catering services were of a high quality. In many other matters too Fred Olsen demonstrated qualities worthy of praise but I view this particular cruise from the perspective of a reasonably fit senior citizen who has sailed with others less fortunate in this respect and find it difficult to recommend the cruise on that basis for this section of the touring public.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Travelled to Spitsbergen (Svalbad) and the North Cape of Norway on Fred. Olsen Cruise Line MS Boudicca July 2012. Great service from start to finish. Speedy embarkation and (sadly) also quick disembarkation at the end of the trip. ... Read More
Travelled to Spitsbergen (Svalbad) and the North Cape of Norway on Fred. Olsen Cruise Line MS Boudicca July 2012. Great service from start to finish. Speedy embarkation and (sadly) also quick disembarkation at the end of the trip. Wanted a change for our summer holiday and decided that this particular cruise ticked that box. We were not disappointed. Ny Alesund and Longyearbyen were two of the ports of call. They are as remote as it gets and was great to visit, as I understand the authorities there are looking to restrict the amount of visitors to these places. In addition, the captain took the ship past the 80 degree North Latitude marker, anything above which is considered Polar! Service on board was excellent. Entertainment by the Boudicca show company was excellent. The comedian and cabaret however were not of a similar high standard. Cabins were clean and spacious. Public areas clean and tidy. All food prepared and served to a high standard. Hygiene measures implemented by Fred. Olsen have got to be as strict as it gets. Guests are fully briefed regards the importance of using hand gels before entering the ship from being ashore and prior to entering the dining areas. Despite this, and it really was unbelievable to watch, there was still a minority of selfish and inconsiderate passengers who did not make use of these before entering dining areas. There are usually captain waiters who monitor guests entering these areas, however guests would walk in without using the gels if the captain waiters back was turned for a minute!! Am sure these passengers would be the first to complain should they contract Norovirus. All in all though, an excellent cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, a company which I would recommend to anyone who appreciates good service, good company and a relaxing time. If your idea of dressing for dinner involves wearing a clean vest after getting drunk at the all inclusive bar, then Fred. Olsen may not be for you! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We boarded the good ship Boudicca on 20th August at Rosyth in Scotland. The cabin was at best adequate, much smaller than any other cruise ship we'd been on and wardrobe space was minimal to say the least but we only had to sleep ... Read More
We boarded the good ship Boudicca on 20th August at Rosyth in Scotland. The cabin was at best adequate, much smaller than any other cruise ship we'd been on and wardrobe space was minimal to say the least but we only had to sleep shower and dress there so no great problem. Food to start with was excellent but seem to deteriorate as the cruise went on, breakfast never seemed quite up to scratch from the start but on the whole we were quite happy with the food. Entertainment, now there's something I can truly cringe about even now, the show troop were ok but the brass section of the orchestra yes the orchestra could barely play in tune. The cabaret acts were aimed at an audience in their seventies and while I'm 60 years old myself I cringed virtually on a nightly basis at the offerings (the acts were mostly quite good ,just targeted at old people). This brings us to the lounge entertainers, one was ok to passable but the duo was horrific as in the female vocalist could not hold a tune at all, how she managed to get the job I'll never know. The crew were on the whole the saviours of the ship for the most part, the smiled a lot, worked very hard and seemed to do their best, they didn't seem quite as smiley the last morning of the cruise at breakfast, but we'd given them their tips the night before but maybe I'm just cynical. Ports of call all I can say is thank the Lord for Tallin in Estonia,StPetersburg and Travemunde as they were superb, StPetersburg should be on everyone's list of places to go, it was fabulous. I won't go on forever. We met lots of very very nice people on the cruise (D1117) but I'll never cruise again with Fred Olsen. The cruise was well overpriced for the experience and everything was designed for older people than I'll ever be. The cruise while it had some good stuff was overall a great disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We would consider ourselves to be experienced cruisers who go for the itinerary rather than the ship. If the ship is a good one ,then thats a bonus. We've sailed with 10 different cruise lines,some up to four times and on different ... Read More
We would consider ourselves to be experienced cruisers who go for the itinerary rather than the ship. If the ship is a good one ,then thats a bonus. We've sailed with 10 different cruise lines,some up to four times and on different vessels in the same line. Embarkation: Best ever! we joined at Rosyth, and as we live in Scotland's central belt we were on board one and a half hours from leaving home, plus we both 90kgs luggage allowance!! Just as well we did not load our luggage up to the mark as one of our cases was damaged during embarkation. Fred Olsen completed a form for our insurers. P.S. get a lift to Rosyth as Forth Ports charge over £7 per day to park Cabin : We were on the Main deck, starboard and towards the stern, we would normally book a balcony cabin but were not prepared to pay the prices asked for, we spoke later to one disgruntled couple who had paid almost £6000 more than us albeit for a suite. First impressions were that the (twin) cabin was small compared to what we are used to,but we got used to it. At least we had natural light coming in the double window, but we did find the cabin stuffy, in fact some of the public rooms were stuffy, but when you see the prevailing age of most of the guests you know thats what they like! The beds were comfy and warm, we had a bath and shower,safe,space for clothes ok, enough drawers as well. Coffee and tea maker provided but we never used it, would much preferred to have a fridge. Dining and Service: Have to say that we were pleasantly surprised here, We were not looking forward to the fixed 1st sitting after having got used to freestyle type eating, however, even in the main restaurant, breakfast and lunch was buffet style,so only dinner was served. The buffet area got a mite busy at times but there was never any shortage of food. Staff would fetch and serve breakfast and lunch to those less mobile. Breakfast was fine but repetitive, lunch options really good, dinner likewise, service was smart and friendly (as it was throughout the ship) There is an informal restaurant(secret garden cafe) which looked interesting,but we never used it, probably as its really too small and there was normally a queue waiting. Afternoon tea was served here and was very nice. Activities: We had a lot of sea days so activities were important..the lectures were good, Library and games room pleasant, gym well equipped,pool and jacuzzis fine, so the days passed reasonably well, but you would be advised to take plenty of reading material,or catch up on some writing, the Boudicca is not a resort ship! Entertainment: Generally very good,although the passenger talent show had a high cringe factor. Good tight dance and singing troupe, we had a Scottish comedian who was able to make us all laugh with clean material, an excellent crooner, and the musicians dotted around the lounges were also to a good standard. Of course its all geared to the older clientele so dont look for a disco! The Cruise Director was a very nice and experienced guy but I would say he is probably by his sell by date. Excursions: We only went on a few as two of the Greenland ports are really just walk off, however, the trips we did use were well organised and reasonable value, got to say this is when the smaller ship comes into its own,when waiting for tenders especially, dont have to get 3,500 people off !! Ship : Our last time with Fred Olsen was in 2000 on the Black Watch and it was hard to believe that in 2011 we were going on a ship nearly 40 years old. I suppose that Olsen will be able to cash in on the Vintage/Classic market soon! Best thing is that the main sailing crew are Norwegian and I always feel safe sailing with the Vikings, Captain Jan Thommessen is by a long way the best captain we've ever sailed with. He was informative,humourous,walked the ship and had a chat with everybody,instilled confidence when we had a few shaky hours in ice and fog, takes part in a jazz jam session,playing a good trumpet. When we had to miss an Icelandic port because of the ice problems the previous night he told us the reasons why he had to make straight for Reykajavik. OK the ship is a little tired in some public areas and the main theatre is really just a big lounge,so you have to be early to make sure you are not seated behind a pillar! Disembarking: No problems, little bit chaotic in the terminal(Rosyth)as its not really big enough. Summary: Despite our concerns about an older, smaller ship and being with the "blazer brigade" we would travel with Boudicca and Olsen again. We were concerned about the ships history of Norovirus, but we were exorted at every turn to use the hand sanitisers,even in the library! We felt the shop prices and bar prices were reasonable, and the photographers were excellent again with good value prices. The ship has a homely feel about it,but also has some character, a real nice touch was having the great grandchildren of Fred Olsen on board who assisted the Captain to throw a wreath over the stern during a small service of remembrance for Olsen merchant sailors who perished in WW2. We think though that as the older Olsen returnees(most of the guests we spoke to had never sailed with anyone else) pass on, they will have to address a few things. A wee bit too formal, we dont mind "proper formal" nights, but there were too many jacket and tie nights for us. Also need to enlarge the informal anytime dining area as more of us want dining flexibility. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Embarked from Greenock which is surely the best port in the UK for ease of embarkation. Boarding was easy and completely stress free and took approx 30 minutes from arrival to cabin. Cabin was a superior outside which was spotless and ... Read More
Embarked from Greenock which is surely the best port in the UK for ease of embarkation. Boarding was easy and completely stress free and took approx 30 minutes from arrival to cabin. Cabin was a superior outside which was spotless and roomy with tons of luggage space and all the required facilities. The ship itself was small enough to be intimate and large enough to give ample variety.Our fellow passengers ranged in age from about 30-90 and all being Brits were very friendly leading to us meeting lots of new friends. Dining was a very positive experience with the food in all the eating places being varied and of the highest standard. We even went along with the formal evenings and surprisingly found this to be a very enjoyable part of the cruise and well worth the effort.The ships company were the best I have encountered on any kind of holiday ,being always attentive,helpful and polite and nothing seemed to be a problem for them. The bars and entertainment areas were again first class and on board entertainment was of the highest order and the price of drinks were roughly uk pub prices or cheaper. I did hear one or two moan about various aspects but could not understand why. I suppose some people are just programmed to moan no matter what. The only single complaint I had was that there were not enough outdoor areas to have a smoke and this took a little bit off the enjoyment for me...not the biggest issue,but...if you are a smoker? Would I cruise again with Fred Olsen? Yes I cant wait but only from a UK port and hopefully Fred Olsen and others might attempt more departures from Greenock which now attracts about 30 odd ships as a port of call. Overall 9.5 out of 10 for a great experience Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2010
Although my husband and I had cruised before ,although not with Fred Olsen, we were a little apprehensive about taking my mother a first -time cruiser for her 80th birthday. Although her looks belie her age she is less sprightly than she ... Read More
Although my husband and I had cruised before ,although not with Fred Olsen, we were a little apprehensive about taking my mother a first -time cruiser for her 80th birthday. Although her looks belie her age she is less sprightly than she once was, with a heart condition and an arthritic knee and what was more worrying for me she has a palette for very plain food and can't abide mayonnaise, sauces, pasta, high seasoning. I need not have worried. She managed moving around the ship quite easily as there was always a lift within easy reach and she enjoyed sitting in the open lounges reading,napping or talking to other passengers.The food was not an issue at all as there were open buffets at lunchtimes with dressings available but not added to salads. At dinner there was usually enough choice and our waiter was skilful at offering her items on the menu without the accompanying sauces etc. I liked the Boudicca;its comfortable ,unpretentious,very spacious in the public rooms and very easy to familiarise yourself with the layout. We booked early to ensure we had adjoining cabins but my mother paid just £400 less than my husband and I together. We could have had a suite for the same price and my husband and I could have slept on a sofa bed. I think it would have been better value as the cabin was cramped and my husband and I are both still suffering sleepless nights with bad backs due to the bed we slept in on board. There was however lots of storage space which was a god send for the number of clothes I took. The dining categories are difficult to understand and I can't say I understand the differences (particularly for women) completely. There were three formal nights with most men in dinner suits and women in evening or cocktail dress. Then there were informal where men wore lounge suits and women wore cocktail dresses and then there was casual, two of which were theme nights and men wore smart trousers eg linen or chinos with open necked shirts or ties and a smart jacket, women could wear smart trouser suits or cocktail. The two shops on board are rather strange and really do need to be sorted out. The larger of the two carries perfume, clothes, jewellery and nice pieces to take home as souvenirs. The second shop also carries clothes although more casual eg cagoules and souvenirs with Boudicca on them, but there was just one carousel of books and no magazines or stationery and limited stock of the things people really need or forget. On sea days there were special sales eg The Russian Bazaar and the shop moved into the corridor on Deck 5 which also held the photo boards of the recent photographs taken on board. It became a scrum and I had to leave pronto when I started an asthma attack. The staff had to provide handwritten receipts for every item bought and these had to be inputted later to the onboard ship account often incorrectly. Has Fred Olsen not heard of barcode scanners? I only went into the Neptune Lounge shows once but you can access them live on Channel 6 in your cabin. The entertainment team seemed a little young and inexperienced ,good dancers but generally not good singers. They also seemed a bit giggley when they performed other duties on the ship. I attended some of the talks on board and they were interesting and informative. I also went to the six Art Classes and they were very relaxing and the class was a mix of complete beginners and others. I hadn't taken my art equipment but the pack for £10 was excellent. Fred Olsen send out the tour and excursion book out several weeks before the cruise. My advice is read it thoroughly especially the advice on terrain and suitability and if necessary get more information from the internet or guidebooks. We booked all our excursions before we left the UK. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
We booked this cruise on the Boudicca primarily for the itinerary, which took us all the way up to 80 degrees north, as we love cruises that include beautiful scenery and wildlife. The Boudicca was built in 1973 but has been refitted ... Read More
We booked this cruise on the Boudicca primarily for the itinerary, which took us all the way up to 80 degrees north, as we love cruises that include beautiful scenery and wildlife. The Boudicca was built in 1973 but has been refitted several times, so her age does not really show. The ship has an open, spacious feel with plenty of deck space so it seldom felt crowded. Embarkation at Leith was extremely quick and efficient, with no waiting around. We boarded the vessel at around 2.00pm. Our cabin was a standard outside one on Deck 4, 160 square feet with two portholes and twin beds. There was plenty of stowage space and lots of room to hang our clothes. We also appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin, something that is often omitted by other cruise lines. The bathroom was a little on the small side, but was adequate. There are five lounges and three restaurants on board, so there was always somewhere to get something to eat or drink! The food was excellent - there was a good choice and plenty of it. The dinner menus were comprehensive and you were often spoilt for choice. All the food was well presented and the service was excellent. The daytime activities were somewhat repetitive and were aimed mainly at the 'older' cruiser (60+) - there were a LOT of quizzes (about 4 a day) and dolphin racing, as well as talks by guest speakers, and ballroom dancing and craft classes. The main evening entertainment took place in the Neptune Lounge, and was very good indeed. Most evenings featured a cabaret with the excellent ship's orchestra and singers and dancers. There was also a very good Geordie comedian, an exceptional magician/illusionist and a fairly run-of-the-mill male/female duo. Each of the other lounges had their own resident cocktail pianist. There were a couple of Captain's Cocktail parties as well as a deck party which was surreal at almost 80 degrees north. Copious quantities of sparkling wine were served (and consumed!) at each :-) The ports of call were excellent and were certainly different. We visited Molde, Andalsnes, Tromso, Honningsvag, Longyearbyen, the Liljefjord, Ny-Alesund and the Magdalenefjord, to enjoy the Arctic landscape and any wildlife if you were lucky enough to spot whales, dolphins and seals but - alas - no polar bears. All in all we had a really good time on a lovely ship and in unusual surroundings. This is our 21st cruise and second one with Fred Olsen and I would recommend it without hesitation. Read Less
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