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!
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.
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.
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!