1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Sailed with Fred Olsen several times..this was not what I expected after paying top rates for a luxury cruise. Not a sparkling ship, the windows were filthy, sticky chair arms and backs of chairs. Smears on tables, even the black pianos ... Read More
Sailed with Fred Olsen several times..this was not what I expected after paying top rates for a luxury cruise. Not a sparkling ship, the windows were filthy, sticky chair arms and backs of chairs. Smears on tables, even the black pianos were clearly unpolished. Double glazed windows had water inside and during the heavy seas the blinds could be heard rattling all over the lounge bars. The al la carte restaurant was excellent but highlighted how basic the rest of the food was. Due to be understaffed - according to a staff member - a two course evening meal could take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Paper? covering the safety rails on the stairways was pealing. Several drinking glasses had to be replaced, smelly and dirty. Inclusive canapes were dry bread and inedible. I have never had such a claustrophobic cabin. We had to sit on the toilet in order to close the door, it was so tiny. The noise from fixtures and fittings made sleep impossible during high seas. For the third time we booked this cruise to celebrate an anniversary, our 40th. On a last minute decision we booked a tour on the actual day. £216 to see the Glacier fjords and Hesteyri boat trip. The Glacier was a background view through a split in the mountains about 2 mile away, nearly missed because no one mentioned it. As for the scenery not what I would call spectacular. When it came to disembarking the boat was moored at sea, offshore, so it entailed climbing over the back rails and dropping 2 feet to a ladder and then sitting on the edge of a rubber inflatable. The first 10 to go had a 15 minutes wait on shore in the biting cold for the rest of the passengers. The highlight, a cemetery and deserted herring factory? Elderly people do not like to be seen as unable to do things but an awful lot were decidedly green around the gills. I refused to go because amongst other things I suffer from severe sciatica but in the UK health and safety would have been appalled. The entertainment was excellent, activities were rather short and sweet. When a deserted village or one with 2 shops and a small supermarket are included in the stops there is not a lot one can say. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from ... Read More
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from Iceland so it was noisy groaning and creaking also engine noise. The main dining room food was very good,service very slow but with good company on a 9 seater table just about exceptable,buffet area small and crowded,especally as the guest's were very old and slow,it did feel as if we were in an old people home most times. Entertainment was very good and well presented. The Black Watch is a small ship which might appeal to certain people,but not me,in rough seas it was like a cork in a bottle,did'nt suit me but there was a lot going for it other than that. Crew were excellent ,very helpfull. All inclusive drinks programme was very poor,only 4-5 spirits and a few beers, no cocktails at all even non alcohol ones ,coffee poor,better if you payed !!!!!!. Liverpool cruise terminal was a shambles,especialy with so many very elderly guests ,staff tried their best but to small for that many people,won'tbe keento go from there again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Wanted a short Cruise around North Scotland. House not far from Liverpool to pick the Ship up. 6 days before the Cruise Fred Olsen informed us that we would be bussed up to Rosyth from Liverpool staying overnight in Rosyth .(Due to a ... Read More
Wanted a short Cruise around North Scotland. House not far from Liverpool to pick the Ship up. 6 days before the Cruise Fred Olsen informed us that we would be bussed up to Rosyth from Liverpool staying overnight in Rosyth .(Due to a mechanical fault). The original itinerary was Liverpool>Fort William>Stornaway>Orkney Islands>Invergorgen>Liverpool. The change now was Rosyth>Invorgorden>Orkney Islands>Stornaway>Fort William>Liverpool. In Invergorden because of bad weather we stayed overnight in anchorage in the MurrayFirth and we had another itinerary change, this time going to Dundee>Shetland Islands>Stornaway>Fort William>Liverpool. Then we had another Itinerary change Dundee>Orkney Islands>Liverpool. So as you can see it was a Mystery 7 night Cruise? The Cabin Stewardess was excellent. The Food was Excellent. The Entertainment was very good especially the Cruise singers & dancers called Musicality & from the off board Scottish Highland dancers. The show featuring members of the Crew was exceptional,especially a middle aged man that worked in the Kitchen (his range of voice was exceptional. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about the bow and funnel made ... Read More
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about the bow and funnel made it seem so elegant. I was marketed to world travelers, and offered six-star service. I dreamed that someday I might cruise on such a classically designed ship. Cut to more recent times when, thanks to the internet, I discovered that the ship was still in service with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, and had been refitted in 2016. I booked an 8-night cruise to Norway more than a year in advance, and waited with great anticipation for my departure. I will say that booking a Fred. Olsen cruise from the U.S. wasn't as convenient as I might have wished, but once it was done, it was "smooth sailing," as they say. I arrived in Liverpool the day prior to departure, and stayed in a hotel that overlooks the port. I awoke in the morning and went straight to the widow. There she was! After 46 years of waiting, I finally laid eyes on a ship I have admired since childhood! What an amazing feeling! Arriving at the port, my bags were immediately whisked-off, and I was welcomed into the well-organized and uncrowded terminal area. Unlike many of today's "mega-ships," where THOUSANDS of people are waiting to be "processed," check-in and embarkation for 'Black Watch' was a breeze. When I arrived in my cabin my bags were already there, and I was able to unpack and get organized before heading-off to explore the ship. The next 8 days were simply terrific! While the ship is 46 years old, FOCL has done a very commendable job of keeping her in great condition. If you're looking for all the latest advances in cruise ships, 'Black Watch' can't compete. But it doesn't need to. It is a classic, and offers an experience that is increasingly hard to find in today's world. Its size is perfect. Easy to navigate, and with around 800 passengers, it never felt crowded. Deck chairs and seats in the various lounges and bars were always available, and an air of quiet, comfortable ambiance prevailed. Viewing the spectacular fjords of Norway from the Lido Deck (cocktail in hand) was delightful. Evenings in the Observatory Lounge or Morning Light Pub were totally relaxing and enjoyable. Entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was fun and engaging. I especially enjoyed the productions by the "Black Watch Show Company." Made-up of about seven performers, each show was full of energy and real talent. The two male singers, Luke Suri and Tom Watson, were true stand-outs. If I had any disappointment on this cruise it is that we weren't treated to just one more show from them. Dining aboard 'Black Watch' was also quite enjoyable. Meals never felt rushed, and the service in all of the venues was attentive and professional. The Executive Chef was frequently in the dining room conversing with passengers, and she seemed to take a genuine interest in speaking with them. Choices were abundant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My cabin was spotlessly clean when when I boarded the ship, and remained that way throughout the cruise, thanks to my nearly invisible stewardess, Lang. The bed was comfortable, and the bathroom seemed gigantic compared to those found on some newer ships. In fact, my accommodations were among the largest I have seen among standard cabins on any ship. I visited the on-board Atlantic Spa on two occasions. While the space is not particularly glamorous, the staff was very friendly, and both treatments were quite rejuvenating. Well worth the money for a bit of pampering! All of the shore excursions I booked (Lerwick, Bergen, Flam, Olden) were well-organized, informative and fun. The local guides were excellent, and the coaches used for transport were very modern and comfortable. Prior to departure we were advised that our cruise would end in Rosyth, Scotland instead of Liverpool. This turned-out to be a bit of a treat, as it allowed for a visit to Edinburgh, which I would not have experienced otherwise. Overall, my experience on 'Black Watch,' and my first Fred. Olsen cruise, met and exceeded my expectations. Beautiful ship, wonderful crew, great itinerary! A trip I will always remember. I very much look forward to another opportunity to cruise with FOCL. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose the cruise because of the ports it was visiting, we have sailed on all of the other Fred Olsen ships in the last few years. This was our first and and is definitely our last cruise on Black Watch, she is a tired old ship from a ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the ports it was visiting, we have sailed on all of the other Fred Olsen ships in the last few years. This was our first and and is definitely our last cruise on Black Watch, she is a tired old ship from a bygone era and it shows, they really are papering over the cracks with this ship, she is a tired old lady who should be put out to grass or advertised as a ship for the over 70's and especially single older ladies. We don't wish to be rude to any one but, just pass by the Library at any time and you will see what we mean, we nicknamed it the dormitory, it was full of old people fast asleep. We like traditional cruising and enjoy formal nights and all of the other things that go with it and we like smaller ships, we don't want to go rock climbing and surfing on board or wish for a 6000 passenger super ship but, Black Watch is past it. The specialty restaurant was dark and uninviting with people queuing outside for the main restaurant staring through the lattice grill whilst you ate, not a good option. The self service restaurant is tiny and full of staff members so we could never get in. The saving grace was the crew, they are very good and try hard to get things just right for you. The Observatory Bar Staff in particular were excellent. We chose the all inclusive drinks package, it wasn't worth it, the longer the cruise went on the less wine refills seemed to be available in the restaurant, the spirits are short measures and mixers from the pump so very sweet in taste and not much flavour. Beware when in the outside spaces as great chunks of oily soot from the funnel make an all too regular appearance on you clothes, in your drinks and in the swimming pool! I am sure some people reading this review love Black Watch and will howl in protest at its content but, we are in our early 60's so not 30 year old's wanting a "Night Club" ship, and this ship in our view is not up to standard for the 21st century. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this ship due to its size, having never cruised before we did not want to be on a ship with thousands of people. Apart from the fact that the boat is now very old and it did show in places, it was immaculately clean and the ... Read More
We chose this ship due to its size, having never cruised before we did not want to be on a ship with thousands of people. Apart from the fact that the boat is now very old and it did show in places, it was immaculately clean and the facilities were very good. The pools are showing their age and did not look too appealing although if the weather had been better we probably would have had a different outlook. We did try the jacuzzis which were good. The marquee deck had new very comfortable tables and chairs etc which were very nice and were not very crowded on our trip, probably again due to the climate. Our balcony room was very nice and again immaculately clean, towels refreshed twice a day and the fresh fruit and canapés each day were very nice. The food was very good, the staff in the restaurants were exceptional and the evening entertainment was also first class. The sights on this trip were amazing and cruising in the Fjords was just breathtaking. We enjoyed the ports of call and would recommend this trip highly. The one thing I did like on the Black Watch was that there was no hard sell in respect of additional dining, shore tours and future cruises etc. We were all inclusive and if on the occasion we did want premium brand drinks they were always consulting us to see if we wanted to pay the upgrade and did not try to sell us these at all. The wifi was very expensive at £63 for 7 days and I felt this was a bit steep. The embarkation and disembarkation was very efficient although getting back off at 8.00 a.m in Liverpool was something of a shock. Before we went on this trip people said ooh Fred Olsen, full of old people. As a young just 60 yr old I would say the average age on board was 70 but there were also lots of younger people and it did not by any means feel like an old peoples home as others had led us to believe. It has now given us an insight into cruising and for our first experience it was very good, most people were very friendly and we would probably book again, but maybe somewhere warmer next time. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this ship because it was smaller than most circa 800 guests and around 300 crew. As it transpired we felt the decision was justified as the service was first class in both the housekeeping and hotel services on board. Food was of ... Read More
We chose this ship because it was smaller than most circa 800 guests and around 300 crew. As it transpired we felt the decision was justified as the service was first class in both the housekeeping and hotel services on board. Food was of an exceptional standard and plenty of it. Bar prices were very reasonable and the same in any of the bars and restaurants. Entertainment was very professional and would stand up to comparison with any live show on shore, this is inclusive of the singing and dancing, musicians and comedians. The various crew departments had a show night which although was an amateur night it was nonetheless extremely entertaining. All in all on board ambiance was terrific and the scenery in the Norwegian fjords was second only to Highland Scotland. There was an abundance of shore excursions should you wish to partake in or the ports visited were close enough to walk to the centres. I should add all furnishings re seating etc in the lounges were of a very high standard. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The itinerary sounded interesting. Sadly, Norway was closed between Christmas and New Years! So nothing to see unless you bought a lot of tours. This was not mentioned when we signed up. The food and service were great. The ... Read More
The itinerary sounded interesting. Sadly, Norway was closed between Christmas and New Years! So nothing to see unless you bought a lot of tours. This was not mentioned when we signed up. The food and service were great. The entertainment was mediocre, usually provided by members of the ship's company. There was a very interesting lecturer from the air safety board but he was the only bright spot. The ship supposedly had recently had a major refit. However, many public areas were very cold and our suite was either too hot or too cold. There were very few public toilets (a distinct problem for the large number of older cruisers aboard). There was sometimes rusty water in the bathroom and the overhead lights flickered on and off. During a rainy spell many tables in the diningroom (including ours) had to be roped off for several days as the ceiling was leaking. We certainly were not expecting a Cunard experience, but given what we paid we were disappointed and will not be cruising Fred Olsen again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat ... Read More
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat in a non moving queue watching the taxi meter go from £13 to £20 finally getting out and carrying our luggage 100 metres to baggage check in. The cruise itself was great although we were struck down with a "Virus" for the last 5 of the 15 days. We didn't leave the cabin. Luckily this virus was in the form of a hacking cough and not stomach related. Many passengers were affected. Everything on board was good, food, service, cabin and most of the entertainment although we did have a guy called Christopher Gee who had, quite frankly, seen better days, dreadful. We did have issues with a couple of the port tours. We were disappointed that the catamaran used to take us Whale Watching was so large ( about 200 passengers) BUT we did see Whales so all good really. The other disappointing tour was Reindeer Sledding. Got to do it when you go to Norway. We arrived at the Sami Village and had a drink and traditional cake along with a talk about Sami Life, all very interesting. We were then divided into groups to go down to the reindeer. Bear in mind it was dark. We were led outside and a guy on a snow mobile helped a disabled person to get down to the lower level. He shot off with her on the machine and left the rest of us floundering around not knowing where to go. The Path was unmarked and unlit. We finally made it. They were having trouble controlling the reindeer! We were in a line of about 6 sleds, we were 2nd to last with a young reindeer behind us, well, we thought it was going to get into the sled with us and it was only my hand pushing it away which stopped by wife being injured. She was petrified and the trip was totally spoilt. I did complain at the time to the handler he admitted the problem. I complained again when back on board. I was given a 33% refund as a "Good Will Gesture" but I'm not happy. When taking these shore tours it's important to feel safe and that someone from the ship is keeping a lookout for you. Well this certainly wasn't the case. Definitely no Health and Safety procedures here. Other shore tours were good if a little more expensive than usual. Brilliant Northern Lights experience and an Igloo Hotel. This is my 2nd time to Norway so not sure would go back again but the scenery is amazing. My wife absolutely loved it. Seeing snow at Christmas really made the experience truly great. We've been travelling with P & O for our last few cruises on their smaller ships and I don't think there is much to choose between them. Hope this is helpful. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
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
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.5
Family 2.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 5.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.4

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