Sail Date: October 2018
Local port , easy transport, weather very rough on sea days, food & staff excellent, apart from the restaurant Maitre D , who was most unhelpful, we asked to change our dining time as my husband is diabetic, we were told we would have ... Read More
Local port , easy transport, weather very rough on sea days, food & staff excellent, apart from the restaurant Maitre D , who was most unhelpful, we asked to change our dining time as my husband is diabetic, we were told we would have to pay extra. Fred Olsen want extra money all the time, 10 pounds each for shuttle bus in Lanzarote, 16 pounds for 5 cappuccinos. My husband had a fall & was helped by a member of the bar staff, an officer walked by & ignored us. Same happened to a very frail lady, the Hotel manager just walked past her. We had been to all the ports before so didn't take any trips, which like all cruises are hugely overpriced. cabin was very comfy, we paid extra for a window, & we were well looked after by our lovely stewardess. The sea water swimming pool was lovely, nice & warm, a bit deep at 7 ft 1 end & nearly 6 at shallow end. Arriving back in Liverpool, was great, we were home within 45 minutes, a big bonus. Overall a good cruise, the weather could have been better. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise because it sailed from Liverpool. Fed up of travelling from the north to Southampton. Food was generally good and as a vegetarian I had a good choice. Cabins were fresh and clean. beds and bedding were very ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it sailed from Liverpool. Fed up of travelling from the north to Southampton. Food was generally good and as a vegetarian I had a good choice. Cabins were fresh and clean. beds and bedding were very good. Entertainment was mediocre and so we didn’t go to the Neptune each night. Some of the entertainers had been on previous cruises. Ports of call In Canada were interesting but tours expensive. One walking tour cost £80. We had to be in The Neptune st 11.15 so we missed lunch. We were told we would be given a snack. This turned out to be a cereal bar and a bottle of water. There was nowhere on the walk to buy a sandwich. We returned to the ship around 5.30. Most people on the 11km walk were not pleased. After so many complaints we were given a 50% refund. Well done Fred. Unfortunately half way round our trip (26 days) we had a serious outbreak of Noro virus. This lasted until our return to Liverpool. We couldn’t use the pools, jacuzzis. Launderette etc. Salt and pepper was taken off the tables and food in the buffet had to be served by staff. We were constantly having our hands sanitized. The black watch is an old ship and there is constant noise of chip chip, grind grind, bang bang, drill drill. This reverberates into the cabin and is very annoying. Major rewiring was taking place during our cruise so ceiling panels were removed. The cabins are very creaky and I would advise taking ear plugs if you want a good nights sleep. Staff were very pleasant and friendly but I wouldn’t go on this ship again due to its age and the need for constant serious maintenance. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Location - we wanted to travel to Greenland and this cruise left from Liverpool which was reasonably convenient. The itinerary (Iceland and Greenland with a short stop at Belfast at the end) was the decider. Plus points - ... Read More
Location - we wanted to travel to Greenland and this cruise left from Liverpool which was reasonably convenient. The itinerary (Iceland and Greenland with a short stop at Belfast at the end) was the decider. Plus points - Pleasant cabin Very efficient cabin steward Good food suitable for older conservative eaters (eating their body weight in smoked salmon) Observatory lounge very comfortable Excursions were interesting although they were keen to make sure that their elderly and very frail passengers didn’t struggle with the trips. Chris Bielby’s talks on the natural history of our itinerary were an absolute highlight. He was available to help with whale and bird watching and never endingly patient. Minus points Entertainment was embarrassingly old fashioned. The “black & white minstrel show” version of the Jackson Five was toe curling. The cinema was freezing cold and they had the nerve to show Mrs Doubtfire (made in 1993). The entertainment was overall more like a trip back into a Sunday evening television programme from the early 1960s. I wouldn’t travel on Black Watch or any other Fred Olsen ship unless it was for the itinerary. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Interesting itinerary, including Norway, Svalbard and the Faroes. Black Watch is an old boat, but is comfortable. Other clients are self evidently fairly old, and mainly British. Being smaller, embarkation and disembarkation is ... Read More
Interesting itinerary, including Norway, Svalbard and the Faroes. Black Watch is an old boat, but is comfortable. Other clients are self evidently fairly old, and mainly British. Being smaller, embarkation and disembarkation is quick and efficient. We were impressed with the attention given to sanitation/handwashing, with regular reminders and lots of antiseptic liquid available. We enjoyed the varied, well prepared food. The ship has a number of black tie dinners, but didn't really differentiate the dining experiences on these nights, so I'm not really sure why they bother (and many guests weren't compliant with the dress code anyway). The entertainment was very good, especially the main dance troupe. The crew are exceptionally friendly, and service was always excellent. We travelled with a walking group so did not go on any FO excursions - however these looked interesting and at a reasonable price. The reason why we have downrated this cruise is solely because of our neighbours smoking on the balcony adjacent to us (see below). Unfortunately, this means we will not book with Fred Olsen again until they change their smoking policy. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
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
5 Helpful Votes
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
7 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
4 Helpful Votes
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
11 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
8 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
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
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 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.4

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