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10 Fred. Olsen London (Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Tilbury) Cruise Reviews

We are booked on a longish cruise on Balmoral in 2019 and wanted to refresh our Fred Olsen experience and keep our loyalty level current. So a one-night repositioning cruise was not quite as silly as it sounds. Some 200 other people ... Read More
We are booked on a longish cruise on Balmoral in 2019 and wanted to refresh our Fred Olsen experience and keep our loyalty level current. So a one-night repositioning cruise was not quite as silly as it sounds. Some 200 other people obviously agreed with us although many were travel agent staff on what is euphemistically called a familiarisation trip. Ticketing was bit haphazard as the information was an adaption of that for a usual cruise. You could interpret it that we could expect both a Welcome Aboard and a Farewell cocktail party - presumably back to back! The terminal at Tilbury was dreadful. Admittedly it was not the main London Cruise Terminal of 'Empire Windrush' fame. But check-in was rapid and efficient, we showed our free bus passes, were quickly directed to our cabin by the ever-friendly Fred Olsen crew and there was a good selection of hot and cold food available in the Glentanar restaurant. The main thing that impressed us was the quality of the refit that had taken place in the last year. A lot of money had obviously been spent bringing Black Watch as close to modern standards as is possible in an elderly lady. The decor and facilities in our cabin were very good. We were getting angry that the usual lockable drawer for valuables had no key - and then found a lovely new safe! The bathroom was spotless and storage had been very much improved. It was the same throughout the ship and the new facilities that have been shoe-horned into the ship over the years have not detracted from the sense of space. The new balconies on 7 deck (the Promenade deck) still seem a bit odd but we didn't have one, nor did we use the Prom deck much on a very cold night. There was one sitting for dinner, at 7pm, and a creditable impressionist did his job keeping everyone awake afterwards. You can't expect too much for £80 plus optional £20 return coach fare! This wasn't a busy, noisy party cruise, nor anything like a 'normal' cruise, but for 24 hours we got all the essentials and the four of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Well done Fred Olsen - a great idea and a very nice updated ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 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
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes ... Read More
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes downhill. The ship is very much still a "work in progress". The TV system kept giving the information "LAN lost" and closed down, even in port, so the problem with satellite explanation does not wash. We reported this regularly to reception and even missed part of the Queens Christmas speech because of it,but it was no better at the end of the cruise. Because of the weather, or so we were told, the itinerary regularly changed. The announcements were made on the ships system but did not sound in our cabin. This was regularly reported to reception. We were told how it should be set. In the end someone came to our cabin, set it differently to the instruction given to us at reception. On Boxing day we were supposed to enter the Port of Tyne early in the morning. We did not, instead we went to breakfast with the boat turning in a tight circle and the restaurant floor some degrees from horizontal. Later, up in the aft lounge, deck 7 it was noted that the new glass doors no longer stayed closed. By the evening it was realized that wooden wedges would solve the problem. They were still there at the end of our cruise. How could this possibly happen. The simple fact is that the ship should not have been put to service until after it had been thoroughly tested and any snagging required carried out. This was obviously not the case as other cruisers, on the first cruse have confirmed. It is now on a world cruise I wonder if the snags have been dealt with yet. The director of product and services has sent me a letter, full of apologies, but the only compensation she will offer is the equivalent of 20% of this cruise price off of a future booking made before 30th June 2017, otherwise no compensation what so ever. It appears that because some of the problems (obviously not the lack of a full test) were not of Fred's making that is it! O dear Fred you have blotted your copy book. Such a pity because the organization normally gives such good service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH ... Read More
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH dear the guide on our shore excursion in Plymouth - Dreadful, droned on and on. Heard much but learnt little. Got back on board to be told changes to route - all the Ireland visits cancelled due storms Barbara and Connor, so we were turning tail and going to Newcastle upon Tyne, and then Edinburgh - as planned. We booked this cruise because it was going to Ireland - Cobh, Dublin and Belfast. Never been to any of them. So Christmas Day was at sea and so onto the Evening meal - should have been the highlight of the day but it was not nice. Very much more like a poor school/canteen effort. Pity really because the food is very good otherwise. Spent Boxing Day standing off Newcastle because it was too rough. Crew splendid, coped and laid on lots of extra entertainment. At Newcastle told cutting stay short and going to Dundee. The next day told Dundee visit was to be cut short and going to Edinburgh early. Summary, Crew - fab, Food - mostly v good, Ship - showing her age. Tv system - "you was done" an amateur could have done better. Never Again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We booked a Christmas markets cruise to Denmark and Germany 18 months ago and at no time did Fred Olsen let us know that this cruise would be the first following a 28 day re-fit. We only found out by chance that this was happening just a ... Read More
We booked a Christmas markets cruise to Denmark and Germany 18 months ago and at no time did Fred Olsen let us know that this cruise would be the first following a 28 day re-fit. We only found out by chance that this was happening just a few weeks before departure. There had been quite a lot of cosmetic changes to the interior décor and the Glentanar Restaurant is much improved but who on earth chose the quite dreadful plastic feature in the centre? As is to be expected after a re-fit there were still residual "snagging" works carrying on even as the ship sailed. What was surprising however, was that there were no announcements or even letters to the cabins letting us fare paying passengers know that these works were still in progress and that “we apologise for any inconvenience caused”. Absolutely “zilch” from anybody, including the Captain and the (mostly anonymous) Cruise Director. The worst area was the cabin TV system. This was inoperative for the whole week and nobody at Fred Olsen seemed to care let alone take responsibility for the issue. All anyone got from the Reception desk was “someone’s working on it”. Very poor customer service if I may say so but then after all Fred Olsen had got our money 10 weeks prior to sailing so why should they care!! On a positive note the new “Black Watch Room” will be very good once they finish hanging the paintings that were still in packaging and left leaning against the walls. There is a £20 per head surcharge to dine in this room and I think that that amount is a fair charge for a distinctly superior meal. It was a great shame that they spoilt it by serving the butter for the bread rolls in those canteen type plastic sachets! Hopefully our feedback to the Maître D on this point will improve matters for future passengers. The crew were as friendly as ever and the entertainment was rescued by that excellent comedian Christopher Gee. The Guest Lecturer – who talked about various aspects of Christmas – was sadly out of her depth and persisted in reading verbatim from her powerpoint slides. Oh, and beware the new coffee station. This has now been transferred from the old Braemar Lounge to just outside the entrance to the Neptune Lounge. There is hardly enough room to swing a cat let alone help yourself to a drink, especially if more than three of you are intent on the same mission at the same time! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was not too far a trip for my mother in law and it was also near Christmas. We were not impressed with the parking set up for our car, signs not clear etc. After we had checked I looked for a bar and somewhere ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was not too far a trip for my mother in law and it was also near Christmas. We were not impressed with the parking set up for our car, signs not clear etc. After we had checked I looked for a bar and somewhere to eat, only found a gazebo type structure with a very poor range of drinks and very little to eat. If this port wants to be taken seriously it needs to get a grip. This is certainly not an international port of departure in my book. Problems. On leaving port we found our cabin very warm, tried to turn it down, no good. Many passengers we spoke to had complaints ranging from no hot water, no cold water or the best one, no water at all. Tv's did not work properly at all even though we were told they would be fine by the time we got to Hamburg. No they were not. One of the exercise pools seemed to be permantly out of order. Lots of work being carried on outside cabins, sometimes starting quite early in the morning and also quite late at night. Inside the ship notice boards or direction/information boards were still being put up. In my view 28 days was not long enough and the ship should never have left dry dock. Plus points. Those areas that had been refurbished were very nice particularly the restaurants. Staff were excellent. Food as usual was really good. Entertainment was not to bad either. We found information from the captain was poor and sometimes could not be heard, we were on this ship four years ago and had a poor cruise, captain was the same guy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Review of Cruise W1610 Black Watch: Arctic Adventure and Exploration July 17th- August 12th “Not again, even with discounts….” PART 1 THE REVIEW: This is at best a mixed reaction and review of a specialist cruise, which ... Read More
Review of Cruise W1610 Black Watch: Arctic Adventure and Exploration July 17th- August 12th “Not again, even with discounts….” PART 1 THE REVIEW: This is at best a mixed reaction and review of a specialist cruise, which was anticipated with great promise, but was compromised by a series of running flaws. Not many ships visit Greenland, certainly not with an itinerary that lasts just short of a full month, crosses the Arctic Circle and visits Norway, The North Cape, Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland. This means that the cost factors were comparatively high, and the ship was –at least initially- full to capacity. Things got off to a bad start after a drive to Tillbury found me and three suitcases (plus numerous other confused passengers besides) on a dockside with no ship in sight: in the event it was stuck at Dover so emergency coaches had to be quickly ordered as many hundreds of people began asking why they had not been informed of this so that they could have made their own arrangement to go directly to Dover. Fred Olsen’s explanation that it was simply not possible to contact everyone at short notice looked like a more than lame excuse when they had been sending passengers sms texts for some days reminding us all of arrival times, etc. No refreshments were provided for the journey and the coach driver- who could barely speak English- was completely flummoxed by the air-conditioning, which only worked intermittently. (“Oh my God, Oh my God” was all he was heard to utter.) Apparently a passenger’s plastic walking stick somewhere towards the coach’s rear began to melt! Fred Olsen’s Black Watch is by now clearly an ageing vessel and one desperately in need of a complete refit, severe updating, or putting out to pasture. The carpets were manifestly ancient and everywhere- corridors and public areas- covered with stains as if previous passengers and simple expired there (well maybe they had). The staff tried to cope with this on a more-or-less daily basis by soaking them thoroughly then aiming massive blower heaters on them (result: much noise plus humidity). My cabin (outside with view) was the size of a cramped prison cell with what seemed to be beds for four- all narrow and no more than 20” wide with two metal ones slung from the walls, presumably to accommodate a family, and reminiscent of primitive holiday conditions more suited to Butlins in the 50’s. The outside view was provided by two (I assume) original portholes bolted shut with rust all around on the outside. I asked for a change of room, for which I was fully prepared to pay additionally if necessary, but none was available and I was not informed of any subsequent vacancy although passengers did leave throughout the voyage. The walls were not well soundproofed and a noisy party next door allowed me to participate in most conversations, should I have chosen to, from a very short distance. (PS There is ALWAYS another cabin available; believe me I know this from friends who work in the business.) Here I must introduce another cautionary note: this cruise is adult only and attracts a comparatively aged group of guests. Indeed I think the average age was well over pension age, and to be amongst such a group was certainly a double shock; firstly in the realization that oneself is now probably perceived as an “older person” , but secondly as to how infirm many of the passengers are. Wheelchairs, walking frames and many with stick struggling in the public areas, particularly in rougher seas. I was unable amongst the 750 or so guests on board, to spot anyone under the age of 50: the downside of a combination of destination, price, length of voyage and ‘adults only’ appellation. (Just as I am completing this report I have spotted two who might just qualify not to compete in a senior tournament.) Food was reasonably good but on sea days always taken in very crowded conditions. Entertainment was of varying quality with an enthusiastic troop of young dancers who barely mixed with passengers, except when obliged to (on “Captains Cocktail Night”, etc.) a good trio, an excellent guest violinist and a very good pianist for the lounge areas. One thing I have noticed with Fred Olsen is that extras such as photography packages are increasingly “pushed” at guests, as are future cruises with added discounts and inducements. I suppose people fall for these ploys or else there would be much less activity of this sort, but it is a very unwelcome part of the Olsen cruise experience, in my opinion. Also, beware of hidden extras even with an all-inclusive package. I bought the drinks package @ £10 per day which in theory allows unlimited house spirits, wine and soft drinks. However, even though I presented my inclusive card to bar staff I was still charged for a Bloody Mary although the ingredients of tomato juice and vodka are part of the package. When I challenged this at the Guest Services counter a couple of days later this produced a dramatic encounter enjoyed by many staff and guests. The Bar Manager was called who explained that a Bloody Mary was a cocktail requiring expert preparation, hence the charge. When I explained that I had been making them for years by simply putting these ingredients together, I was repeatedly told, again and again, that it was classed by Olsen’s as “a cocktail”. When I said this should have been made clear by the bar staff and that I considered £8 excessive for 6 drops of Worcester sauce a guest listening nearby turned her prune-moon face at me and said “do be nice!” “That’s all very well madam,” I countered “but it is not your bill that’s been docked twenty four quid!” I was promised a complete refund and left the scene through a wave of clapping and supportive passengers. The departure from Greenland and the subsequent 3-4 days at sea was a terrific strain both on the inner resources of the ship and the passengers, many of who did not cope well with rocky sea conditions. Also, we steamed rapidly past the Faroe Isles, which seemed to me to be madness given that everyone was begging for a break from the lengthy sea days, and many would have given their eyeteeth for the chance to stretch their legs on dry land. From the reactions I canvassed from many guests, most thought well of the cruise and enjoyed much of the itinerary; although quite a few criticized the cost of many of the shore excursions which were all extras to the original cost (for example £90 for a guided 2 mile walk on one of the islands, easily accessible on your own from the ship, and therefore unguided and potentially cost free). I went for three reasons: Icelandic waterfalls, Greenland icebergs and to complete the draft of a novel. Frankly I was not too interested in local craftsmen weaving winter apparel from seal dung or whatever regional materials they use. So this made my reasons for travelling quite specific and probably unusual. But for those in general I noticed a measure of “British stiff-upper lip-ness” which I have to say I admired, but did not feel obliged to participate in. Cabin TVs looked like something out of “Crossroads” circa 1960s and performed about as well. Internet access was totally unreliable and very expensive, and I insisted of refunds of £41 and £13 respectively for connection to the server but thereafter NOT to the internet. If few other passengers complained then someone was making a lot of money out of this failed service. Much better to wait for a port day and connect to Wi-Fi in a local café for cost of a coffee (and very often entirely free.) In conclusion if you require dance lessons, craft and art classes (the art teacher’s own exhibition was a severe embarrassment to any half-competent watercolourist) basic lectures on ports of call, or geology, being sold overpriced jewelry and branded goods, expensive snaps of your trip et al, then this might be the one for you. But, I’m sorry to say, as I have travelled in the past with Olsen and have a soft spot for Fred Senior’s determination to continue with his pet loss-leader, this is not one for me, not again (even with 5% plus 4% plus 5% special offers off.) PART TWO: THE REPORT This part of the review has not yet been substantiated or commented on by The Fred Olsen Company. Currently I am waiting for confirmation that the following information is basically correct. I sent this directly to the M.D of Olsen who declined to respond or comment personally, and his Customer Service Dept. demanded 28 days to reply. I’m afraid, again, this is not good enough Messrs Olsen! The delay at the start of the cruise at Tilbury/Dover was due to a severe engine fire on a previous voyage, which had to be curtailed as a result. The marine authorities were not apparently satisfied with the quality of the repairs undertaken and requested that additional works be carried out. This meant The Black Watch was unable to sail to Tilbury due to a statutory entitlement for the crew to rest before setting out. It was fairly clear during our Arctic Adventure trip that problems with the engine(s) persisted. On our return from Greenland (three days non-stop at sea) in the mid-Atlantic and well over 24 hours from any safe haven, mechanical trouble seemingly struck again resulting in a severe loss of power. Speed reduced to approximately 8 knots, from 14 knots, and the ship began a series of circular manoeuveres transmitting a much greater degree of motion on board, sending many passengers to their cabins. This mechanical problem apparently manifest itself –at least as it was recounted to me- with a degree of panic on the bridge, and also seemed to affect the ships stabilizers which only appeared to operate spasmodically. A total engine failure in our position in the mid-Atlantic could have been a major calamity, and whilst it would clearly be unwise to transmit any kind of panic from crew to passengers, a blanket of silence is not a good solution either. In an era when transparency is a worthy goal to aim for, it seems that Fred Olsen have only managed to score one entirely of their own. 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Sail Date July 2016
We chose a mini cruise with Fred Olson to Brugge on Black Watch from Tilbury. Check-in is very different from Southampton you drive to the check in hall unload your luggage plenty of help available drive back to Tilbury dock leave your car ... Read More
We chose a mini cruise with Fred Olson to Brugge on Black Watch from Tilbury. Check-in is very different from Southampton you drive to the check in hall unload your luggage plenty of help available drive back to Tilbury dock leave your car in secure parking then catch a bus back to where you started. Check in was fast and easy we only waited a little while till embarkation which was at 2.15.we were soon on board and straight to our cabin. The Ship is very easy to get around and well laid out, there was loads of room in the Public rooms we never felt crowded even at the shows. The staff were friendly and not to pushie were drinks were concerned We only had time to go to the evening shows so did not join any of the other activities, the shows were good. . Dinning, my husband is a Coeliac and the staff very knowledgeable about this , the food was fine with a good choice. On the Sunday with had a Christmas themed meal. We had breakfast in the buffet which was good and as you were seated before you got your food there was none of that wandering around looking for a table. We had breakfast on the last day by 8 am and was off the ship by 8.10 you then catch the bus back to the car park your luggage goes in a covered trailer so you don't have to sit with it. We know why people keep going back to Fred the ships are not that big and you get good service and plenty of space we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Background information: We have seen the Northern Lights on a previous cruise on the Marco Polo but that was in February. When we saw this trip advertised we thought it worth another go and we would try out a Christmas Cruise at the same ... Read More
Background information: We have seen the Northern Lights on a previous cruise on the Marco Polo but that was in February. When we saw this trip advertised we thought it worth another go and we would try out a Christmas Cruise at the same time. When we joined the roll call and saw people booking whale watching trips we wondered if they realized it would be dark all day. Ship information: The Black Watch is not one of the newest and in some ways shows her age. Being of the smaller size one should expect comfort and convenience rather than the lavish entertainment of the bigger 3000+ ships. We found this so, and the experience was comparable to other smaller sized ships we have sailed on. Things that we liked about the ship were; walk round promenades on decks 7 and 10, tea and coffee facilities in the cabin, plenty of seating in the public lounges, the cinema on deck 3, just like a real cinema (although projecting DVDs), and being in the center of the ship, well down, just the place to ride out a storm. Activities: There were plenty of activities scheduled to keep one amused, which were advertised the night before in the Daily Times (patter). We didn’t attend many of these so we are not able to review them. Port & shore excursions: These we thought were of a high standard and cheap compared with other cruises we have been on. There was one exception which was the Northern Lights excursion at Tromso. The excursion itself was well organized by the tour company but the ships photographer attended too, and ruined it for everyone else by setting up LED lighting on a tripod to take photographs of people against the northern lights despite the instructions from the organisers for people to turn off their flash units as they would not help and it would annoy everyone else. The ship’s photographer would have done better by taking these shots on board with a projected background and controlled lighting, as in the event her results were pretty poor. We saw the lights, but few good photographs were taken due to this thoughtless behavior. She did pack up in the end, but only after the best of the lights had faded. Not directly attributable to F.O. but they should consider replacing the ships photographer. Travel to embarkation Port: This was easy for us, we live in Essex half an hour from the port so just travelled in by car after lunch. We had a car park sticker placed in the windscreen and were directed to an unloading bay where a porter took our cases and my wife took her hand luggage and went to book in. I followed the directions to the long stay car park. The spaces between the notices were quite large and one was fearful that somehow the turning had been missed, but it was very straight forward, there is only the one road and the turn off was clearly marked. Within 10 minutes I was back at the terminal on the shuttle bus and we checked in. Within half an hour we were in our cabins and our cases were already there. Cabin: See my review of cabin 4055 in the deck plans section. It was a category D, two porthole, outside view cabin on deck 4, the Atlantic deck. Dining: This is one of the areas in which there could be some improvement. The main problem is that there are just the two dining rooms, the Glentanar restaurant and the Braemar Garden café. There is an extra grill but it is bookable, surcharged and not available in inclement weather, so can be discounted on an arctic cruise in the winter. There is nowhere, that we found, where you could obtain a light snack or a sandwich. If you missed breakfast then you had to wait until lunch. If you want to make up a packed lunch for a private excursion you cannot do so, unless you can find what you want at the breakfast buffet. We didn’t try the Braemar Garden Café but we understood it had a similar but simplified menu to the main restaurant, but was open seating. The main dining room was fixed seating in two sittings. The Breamar Garden Café also had specialist menus on some occasions such as Chinese or Indian and had a supper club between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. Food was of good quality with a few exceptions, (fish and chips, cruise ships just don’t seem to be able to match the UK chippys). Choice was not so good. Sometimes there was nothing that one really fancied, at other times there were many things, so that choice was difficult, but the quality was always fine. Service was not so good on the open seating days; no menus, no bread, no coffee. Waiters slow. This was particularly bad at lunch time which was supposed to be á la carte as well as buffet. It was hard to get a waiter's attention and they never offered bread or coffee, you had to ask for it. When we were with our normal fixed seating waiters service was ok. Entertainment: We did not attend any of the shows or entertainment but from reports at the dining table it was of the usual smaller ship standard, magicians, musicians and dancers. We didn’t go to the port lectures but watched them on the TV and found them useful and informative. We also attended some of the enrichment lectures on Astronomy but found these less satisfactory. His first lecture on the history of what we have learnt about the universe from light covered too much ground including the history of astronomy as well. We have studied at college level and are amateur astronomers but found it overwhelming. Another lecture, repeated through popular demand, on the Northern Lights was disjointed and confusing. I think he knew the subject but was not a natural communicator. Disembarkation: When we found it was an “all leave the cabins by eight” system we had trepidations, having experienced this on the Marco Polo. We planned well for it. I got up first and went to find a place in the Neptune Lounge. When my wife was ready and had checked the cabin thoroughly, she joined me and I went to breakfast. On return she went to breakfast. In the event it was a much more leisurely affair than last time, the key being that there are plenty of seats for everyone. We thought being on deck 4 we would be one of the last but they called deck 9, deck 7 orange, three organized groups (coach transfers to airports, Wales, etc) and then us on deck 4 odd numbers. We found whole gangs of people gathered around the stairs and lifts despite being told not to do this. Why are people so thoughtless? In the terminal the luggage was segregated by deck, but mixed up within each area, so it took some finding. We were luckily just in time to grab hold of the last two trolleys. My wife waited in the reception area while I took the shuttle to fetch the car. The shuttle driver asked why I hadn’t got any luggage. I said I was fetching the car for it. They don’t like that, still it’s up to you. I risked it and it was no problem at all. Still if we had known we could have gone straight to the shuttle, caught an earlier one and then gone straight home form the long stay car park. WiFi: No Wifi in cabins. Jigsaws take priority in the internet room! The only table of suitable height for lap top use is in the internet room with four places but is reserved for jigsaws! Other hot spots have no tables or coffee tables. Reception has one small table but they often commandeer this to put notices on. The passenger information lists the Braemar lounge as a hotspot, as does the Daily Times, but although there are two wifi services there, neither provides connection for passengers. The card room is an alternative to the Internet room, but not when card games or bridge lessons are in progress. The jigsaw table was moved in to the Internet room when casino tables were introduced to the library replacing the tables that were there. There are better solutions to this problem then they have come up with so far. They could put the jigsaw table against the back wall, as there is only room for two jigsaws anyway and get some ordinary small table for laptops. They could consider putting Wifi in a few selected, cabins and charging extra for it; this would be popular with many, it could be spun as free Wifi. They could remove the pamphlets from the big circular table in the library, put those on a stand, put in some chairs and use the table for laptops. The existing hotspots in the lounges with coffee tables will cater for those with smart phones. Compared with other cruise lines Wifi is cheap with F.O., £30 for 24 hours with smaller packages available (£20-180m, £10-60m, £5-30m available from reception). There are two terminals in the internet room in which you can swipe your cruise card and pay as you go. Summary: We enjoyed the itinerary, we enjoyed the cruise and we will cruise on the Black Watch again. Whether we will take an artic cruise in the middle of winter is not so sure. What has spoilt it for us is the few people who got on the boat with stinking colds and didn’t have the sense to stay in their cabins until they were well enough to mix. We knew we were in for trouble with the sneezing in the lifts on the first day. By day four nearly everyone on board had coughs or colds. Those people who blow their noses on their table napkins do not help either.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Four of us joined the Black Watch as a surprise for 2 elderly relatives who had already been on board for 2 weeks. We found our cabin very disappointing and the general atmosphere felt like a visit to an old and fading Harrogate hotel in ... Read More
Four of us joined the Black Watch as a surprise for 2 elderly relatives who had already been on board for 2 weeks. We found our cabin very disappointing and the general atmosphere felt like a visit to an old and fading Harrogate hotel in March living off its long lost glory days. 1st of all the plus points, ++++ dinner and service was very good, gym 4 stars, bar staff and waiters excellent, cabin cleaned and towels also v.good, music in the forward bar not bad. 2nd minus points - - - - very drab cabin& beds, breakfast was 'stone cold' one morning but better the next, afternoon tea 3 stars, coffee 2 stars, general atmosphere was one of fading bygone days. Fred Olsen business model We are hardly youngsters ... all in our 60's but this ship caters for a mind set, the average regular card carrying "this is our 10th Fred trip' passenger swears by Fred Olsen because they get free upgrades to better cabins and 'well we know where everything is on this ship' is an indictment to the average passenger. On our return journey we were overtaken by the Queen Mary 2 and we hear oh look at that, all those lights and its far top big with too many people on board well I have been there and actually it was brilliant So if its fading glory, lets all wear beige anoraks and in bed by 10-30 then The Black Watch is for you - if its lets live a little, conversations that contain the word tablet means samsung and not something you take 3 times a day with meals then pick another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
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