153 Fred. Olsen Black Watch Cruise Reviews

This ship is very old. Wouldn't be surprised if it gets decommissioned in the coming years. Does not handle the waves very well. Anything from 3 meters up and the voyage will be bumpy. It seems to attract an older traveler. Some are ... Read More
This ship is very old. Wouldn't be surprised if it gets decommissioned in the coming years. Does not handle the waves very well. Anything from 3 meters up and the voyage will be bumpy. It seems to attract an older traveler. Some are very old 90 plus. Alot had zimmer frames, walking sticks and there were a few in wheelchairs. The entertainment reflected this as acts were outdated and overall not very good. 1930s music was played alot, which seemed even too old for most of the people on board. Ship is also very small compared to modern cruise ships, with low ceiling height. We opted out of paying the £70 gratuity fee on our second day. If you opt in you can allocate where the tip money goes. Before we opted out our waiter was more chatty and kept telling us what his name was. We noticed a deterioration in the service we received after opting out. Our waiter seemed less interested in us and gave better service to other tables and sometimes forget to offer us condiments. I thought this was very unprofessional. It seems that the staff aren't paid much and are reliant on tips to supplement their salary. Would not go on another fred olsen cruise Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
This was our second cruise with Fred Olsen and the more we see of the FO fleet the more we love them. Fred Olsen's innovative choice of ports is a great attraction to us. After completing thirty cruises with other cruise lines mostly ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Fred Olsen and the more we see of the FO fleet the more we love them. Fred Olsen's innovative choice of ports is a great attraction to us. After completing thirty cruises with other cruise lines mostly Celebrity we were looking for new stimulating destinations and FO has come up with some fascinating packages. The highlight of the trip was the two day visit to Cadiz festival. What an experience. Colour, street entertainment, music and such friendly local people an experience not to be missed. Malaga and Almeria were equally stimulating with lots of historical sites to see. Our penultimate port Lisbon is always a wonderful day and we always seem to find new and interesting things to see. Unfortunately the last port Vigo we just cannot gel with at all, so we usually don't even bother going ashore when we visit this port now. Black watch is a lovely sahip she is quite old but FO maintain her in beautiful condition. After cruising on much bigger ships over the years we now enjoy the smaller more personal atmosphere Fred Olsens fleet. Our cabin 5079 with twin beds and a picture window was roomy and perfect for us. There was loads of storage space and the bathroom with a walk in shower was perfect. The one thing we do love about FO ships is the friendly and helpful staff. The staff in the dinning room are particularly good and very helpful. We had a wonderful cruise and are now looking forward to our next cruise with FO which we booked onboard with a good deal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our first Cruise with Fred Olsen. Most impressed. Despite being a small ship, the ship and the cruse organisation were quite superb. The staff were perhaps the friendliest we have encountered on other cruises, They were very ... Read More
This was our first Cruise with Fred Olsen. Most impressed. Despite being a small ship, the ship and the cruse organisation were quite superb. The staff were perhaps the friendliest we have encountered on other cruises, They were very attentive and were always ready to assist those need ing help Though the main entertainment was not as good as the bigger ships, the secondary entertainment was very good, and there was more than enough to do on sea days. Absolutely brilliantt cruise. We used the cruise because of the fabulous Cadiz Carnival, which is easily accessible. We didn't need to do shore excursions as we have visited the ports. We enjoyed the dining experience as you had a choice of waiter service or self service, iin one dining room. On bigger ships you don't have that option. This was a much nicer experience. We would definitely cruise with Fred Olsen again Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My partner booked this cruise for me as a last minute Xmas present to sea the Northern Lights, we could have flown but I have a naval background. Black Watch is a lovely ship in good condition for her age. We had Suite 7002 directly ... Read More
My partner booked this cruise for me as a last minute Xmas present to sea the Northern Lights, we could have flown but I have a naval background. Black Watch is a lovely ship in good condition for her age. We had Suite 7002 directly under the Navigation Bridge which if you do not like to feel movement is the last place you wish to accomodate when crossing the North Sea (I loved it but my partner not so much). The cruise to the Northern Lights was amazing, even with the embarkation and dis-embarkation problems, and the lights tour (which we booked independently) were fantastic. I would recommend this cruise My only problem with this cruise relates to a RIB tour in Alta where within 1 minute of leaving dock one of our Mercury engines exhibited problems and either had to be turned off, or was cutting out for large periods of time. Despite this the tour continued with the other RIB sporadically returning to ensure our safety. We were informed that this was a new problem to the engine that they had not known about but that they wished to complete the tour. Towards the end of the tour, rather than throw a line and tow us back to shore which you would normally do, the Officer in Charge informed us that they had to head back to prepare for the next tour (presumably using the RIB with the faulty engine). As we were at sea and the RIB had engine problems then in my view this was a breach of International Maritime Law Regulation 30 and a failure to comply with SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements. However as it was not my tour, seas were calm, and we were informed this was a new "intermittent" engine problem I did not undermine the Officer in Charge nor did I mark the tour down on return as with any new problem at sea you have to give the Officer in Charge leeway in reaching their command decisions based on them having more knowledge of the ongoing incident than a guest. That said, on the following evening I was informed by another passenger that they had experienced the exact same problem at the previous port of call and RIB Tour. The problem was therefore not new, was more serious than indicated to guests and the tour should have been immediately cancelled as soon as the engine exhibited the recurring problem, really it should have been sea trialed before guests were embarked. Certainly in these circumstances the Officer in Charge should not have left the RIB at sea and returned to shore but should have thrown the RIB a line and escorted back to shore to ensure compliance with SOLAS. What is even more amazing was that once complaint was made the Chief Officer tried to suggest that I was just trying to get £40 back and stated that it was a different engine to last time, the other engine having been repaired and sea trialed. He also stated that at no time was the RIB without both engines working I find this totally unbelievable especially as he refused to let to let me see the maintenance/repair and sea trial logs or he RIB engine data. Onshore Fred Olsen have also refused to provide this information. That they are hiding this information strongly suggests that they are hiding malfeasance by Officers and breaches of Maritime Law, after all why would they not wish to share evidence that proves they were not lying to a disgruntled guest Apart from this DINING As a vegetarian with other dietary needs there are limitations to what can be ordered but both the chefs and stewards are very willing to work with you to ensure that every meal is enjoyable and as varied as possible SERVICE This cannot be faulted, as with all small ships the staff take the time to quickly know your needs and to try to fulfill those in advance on future days (or even hours in the bars and cafe library DECOR Black Watch is an older ship and some of the decor is tired but this in a funny sort of way adds to the whole atmosphere of the cruise ENTERTAINMENT Excellent not just from the Black Watch Crew but also the acts. If you see Brenda Collins down for your cruise then you know that you are in for some wonderful entertainment and comedy without the modern need to swear all of the time. The only downer was that due to previous complaints the pianists had to limit the level of their playing making it very hard to hear them properly further away from the instruments. GYM Yes we did use this and were very impressed with the spread and quantity of available equipment. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
FRED. OLSEN CRUISES BLACK WATCH - 14 Nights, Norway & The Arctic Ålesund, Trondheim, Tromsø (overnight), Alta (overnight), Kristiansund I am on a mission. After sailing on over 50 ships, 150+ cruises and crossings, I'm ... Read More
FRED. OLSEN CRUISES BLACK WATCH - 14 Nights, Norway & The Arctic Ålesund, Trondheim, Tromsø (overnight), Alta (overnight), Kristiansund I am on a mission. After sailing on over 50 ships, 150+ cruises and crossings, I'm looking for the uncommon out-of-the-ordinary experience with respect to the ship I sail on and where it goes. Price is relative and a key factor. I love small ship cruising. The reasons and justifications are obvious. A level of personal service and attention one garners; quality of the product including food, entertainment and on-board amenities far exceed those on today's giga-ships with 3,500+ other passengers. Packing for 15 days was a challenge. One 20kg suitcase for on-board wear, another 20kg suitcase for winter and Arctic gear! My Norwegian Air ticket from Miami to Gatwick included two checked bags so I was safe. It was the carry-on camera equipment and my backpack with computer and electronics (I work when I travel) that brought my total weight to about 60kg (132lbs) of baggage. Of course, I wore about half of what I packed. I love the Norwegian origins of this ship. The warm woods and artwork furnished throughout by the Olsen's. It's simplistic minimalism and distraction-less parallels that of an English manor and the most comfortable shoes you own. We dined in Glentanar's Orchid Room each night for the exception of one night out while on tour and one night in "Black Watch's" optional dining venue: "The Black Watch Room - The Grill". Menu's in Glentanar were varied, creative, exceptionally presented, plated and hot, a rarity among many cruise lines today. Our nightly wait staff Jon and Elvis were on their toes setting the stage each evening with diligent, prompt service and attention to detail learning quickly how many twists of the pepper mill we preferred, who drank what, and how we took our coffee (more on the coffee later.) I opted for tours in each port. While I had been to Tromsø and Trondheim on previous cruises, I wanted to expand my horizons by visiting previously undocumented key points of interest for myself and my book. This would also be my first winter visit. Snow would be the game changer and a new element and facet on this adventure. I was well prepared. ÅLESUND: We embarked on a tour through the city then over roadways learning about the significance of the furniture industry in the region. It's big business and employs many of the local residents with modern factories and shipping points. Our destination was Stranda Mountain which would require a fjord crossing on a ferry (a simple feat in Norway even on a coach.) The fjord from the mountain top is Geirangerfjord - one which I had sailed through en-route to Geiranger in 2019, Norway's most visited fjord with over a million visitors a year. The return back to the ship was equally impressive with a stop at Ålesund's infamous Aksla viewpoint, 441 steps up from the city-center where photos of the most recognizable images of Ålesund are captured. According to National Geographic, "Ålesund could be the backdrop for a Nordic fairy tale - with a modern plot twist." Most of the city of Ålesund was leveled by fire which occurred on 23 January 1904. It nearly destroyed the whole city centre, built mostly of wood like the majority of Norwegian towns at the time. The town was rebuilt in the then contemporary style of Jugendstil (Art Nouveau). Modern historians have concluded that the fire was actually positive in terms of city development. The pre-fire city centre was extremely crowded, consisting mostly of old and cramped wood housing with only rudimentary sanitary facilities (WIKI). Our second port, Trondheim, was a repeat visit for me and there was much to see. A tour to the war memorial museum (Forsvarsmuseet Rustkammeret) and adjacent Nidaros Cathedral built over the burial site of King Olav II c. 995-1030 were first on the list. Trondheim was the scene of a mass fire in 1681 which destroyed most of the city. The Germans also had a significant influence during WWII all of which was thoroughly disclosed in detail at the war memorial museum. Kristiansten Fortress was built after the city fire to protect the city against attack from the east (Sweden.) An overnight port call in Tromsø was next. Enter the Arctic Circle ! On a previous visit, I had taken the cable car to the top of the mountain (Storsteinen) - this time around wanting to photograph the vista with its snow was not going to happen. The peak was shrouded in clouds and it was snowing hard. At 1,381 feet (421 metres), the weather changes fast. Next time? Next time also for the Northern lights in Tromsø as our seven-hour trek towards Finland and back proved to be too overcast for any hope of an evening display. Others on tour found the lights thanks to some clouds that strategically dispersed and perhaps a more advanced navigator. Let's try for Alta? Day two Tromsø, the sun reached out and delivered glorious view of the sights and scenery. Our sailing time prevented me from another journey up the mountain so I wandered around town capturing images featuring the town's people, streets, the Edge hotel to the harbour just as the sun set - around 15:00. Following a day at sea we arrived for an overnight stay in Alta. 69.9689° N, 23.2716° E, part of Norway's Finnmark country with a population of less than 15,000, our most northern port and evidently the largest northern-most town in the world.Gliding through Alta-fjord or any fjord in wintertime is drastically different in winter. The landscape is pristine, evoking yet stark. Much of my photography is black and white and as you can see, it's the right choice in the case below. Previously I'd only sailed through Norway in springtime and summer - this journey was different. At first light upon arrival in Alta, my traveling partners and I ventured off ship to see the Northern Lights Cathedral (Borealis). I had to grab some shots of this architectural wonder. The sun was brilliant, the church priceless. ALTA would be our final opportunity to capture the Northern Lights. Long story short, we were transported to a camp about fifteen minutes from the ship. Tents, fires, hot chocolate, banana cake and the Northern Lights greeted us. Blink and you'll miss them since out of a point system of 1-10, we struck a 2. With camera and tripod in hand we captured and alas witnessed the organic beauty of the atmosphere dancing in the night. Thanks to "Black Watch's" Supper Club (late night buffet), we returned in time for some tasty bites including crispy chicken wings, pasta and of course, the pastries, biscuits, puddings and more. While the sausage rolls and hot chocolate were a nice touch back in Tromsø at 02:00, the hot buffet at 23:30 was sublime. Bedtime. Set to sail at 15:00 with the wind blowing and snow falling, I didn't have much time except to wander out and catch some shots of "Black Watch", I had spent the morning photographing her interiors which explains why many of the people in my photos are missing. They're on tour. Our sail-away in the snow was memorable as we headed south through the channels of Hurtigruten safe from the North Sea (for the most part) towards Kristiansund, our final port. Sea days are perhaps my favorite time spent on a ship. One can lose touch with reality particularity with the backdrop of Norway in winter. We would sail through these channels' past town and villages, some with less than 100 residents. Our Captain's home was one of these small village and sailing south, we glided closely past, for the second time, the Arctic marker on Vikingen Island; a monument posted on this tiny island indicating the precise location of the Arctic Circle. Our final port of Kristiansund was icing on the cake. The weather turned in our favour and a tour to the Atlantic Road and a 1,000-year-old church (Kvernes Stave) were on the agenda, neither of which disappointed. Water was the subject of the coach ride as a record setting high-tide flooded seaside barns and homes. With sunshine and the crisp clear Norwegian air, the church setting brought a sense of tranquility and serenity. The birds were chirping. You knew, at least I did, we were in the presence of a igher power greater than ourselves. It was one of those moments in life when replayed, life challenges and issues seem to vanish. A sunset departure from Kristiansund left me in awe and reignited. My second trip to the Arctic, forth cruise through Norway, the 56th ship I have sailed on, new-found friends and a complement of joyous, happy, and wonderful people particularly the exceptional staff and crew. Just a few of the memories etched in my mind and forthcoming book: "NORWAY, A Photographic Odyssey" representing the 14 ports and seven fjords I have sailed to and through experiencing the most spectacular sights one could imagine. It's why I love Norway and Fred. Olsen cruises. It's all about the journey. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
To keep someone company. More fool me. Good job I like to read. Entertainment was more like a travelling Hi-de-hi camp. Very hard to find somewhere quiet if you only wanted a read for an hour. Music or entertainment everywhere - a bit ... Read More
To keep someone company. More fool me. Good job I like to read. Entertainment was more like a travelling Hi-de-hi camp. Very hard to find somewhere quiet if you only wanted a read for an hour. Music or entertainment everywhere - a bit overdone. Maybe a review of your retired speakers etc needed - appreciate their knowledge but it takes more than that to keep people interested. Food needs a step up in quality etc in the main dining room. Food ready plated with veg and obviously kept warm is not very enticing. Seating needs to be looked at and allowance for people wanting to move tables should be accommodated. Not all people get along sufficiently to be expected to sit together every evening for a whole cruise. People make friends and would rather sit to eat with them. Fred Olsen saving grace is their Cabin, Restuarant and Bar staff - they are amazing. They made the cruise as pleasurable as they could. Without them it would have been a very sad trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Chose the cruise because it sailed from liverpool, paid for all inclusive then found out my drink was not on the list.now martini bianco is a cheap drink to buy so was amazed to find this out.so drank orange juice.no other cruise line I ... Read More
Chose the cruise because it sailed from liverpool, paid for all inclusive then found out my drink was not on the list.now martini bianco is a cheap drink to buy so was amazed to find this out.so drank orange juice.no other cruise line I have been on didnt not have this drink on it's all inclusive. Also bad weather spoiled this cruise for us.cabin stewardess was wonderful and looked after us brilliantly. The staff in Brigadoon were great,always smiling, and waiters in lounge areas were the same.I dont think we will sail with Fred Olsen again,not as good as cruise and maritime. Embarking was gteatand disembarking was great,couldn't wait to get home.met some nice people and enjoyed their company. Been to Lisbon before so knew our way around unfortunately my husband was in bed all day with sea sickness, so I had to go alone. Portimao was nice but didn't care for lexios. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Was hoping to see the Northern Lights and we weren't disappointed. The embarkation at Liverpool was seamless. Our cabin was ready for us and within 30 minutes of arriving at the terminal to check in we were outside on the deck with a ... Read More
Was hoping to see the Northern Lights and we weren't disappointed. The embarkation at Liverpool was seamless. Our cabin was ready for us and within 30 minutes of arriving at the terminal to check in we were outside on the deck with a gin and tonic in hand. The trips through the Scottish islands were a real bonus both ways - plenty to look at as we cruised. The northern Norwegian islands were really stunning. We benefited from unusually calm seas (apart from one force 10 which saw us the last couple standing (apart from the crew) in the Observatory lounge). Some of the sunsets were almost unbelievable due to the arctic light and crossing the arctic circle whilst swimming in the well-heated pool was a particular highlight. We mostly travelled independently in the ports and it was easy to do so. The highlight was our 'Chasing the Northern Lights' tour. It was a 90 minute drive to get to our 'favoured' viewing point but once we were there, the lights put on a fantastic display. They were right overhead, there had been a solar burst and the night was clear. These conditions gave what our guide said was one of the top five northern light experiences he had ever seen. Truly awesome and something I will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
As first time cruisers we wanted a short trip on a smaller ship as we were travelling with young children, ages 7 and 11, and were not sure how they would be. They totally loved it and have already asked when we can go back. We had a ... Read More
As first time cruisers we wanted a short trip on a smaller ship as we were travelling with young children, ages 7 and 11, and were not sure how they would be. They totally loved it and have already asked when we can go back. We had a great experience departing from Liverpool. Easy to get to, drop the luggage, park the car and get on board. We arrived 1 hour before we were due on board but this was no problem and we got straight onto the ship. The ship is lovely and to a good standard. Small and very welcoming. We have a porthole cabin on deck 4 with 4 bunks and was fine for us. Very clean and the house keeper was amazing. She even knitted my daughter an outfit for her bear. Staff at the restaurants were all really good and made us feel really welcome. They got to know us so well that they always had 2 glasses of apple juice ready for our daughter and new to bring her loads of ketchup for her dinner! All the staff in general were great and very friendly. Entertainment was good and we went to the show after dinner every night and during the day there was a full itinerary of what was on offer. We stopped at Flåm, Olden and Bergen in Norway and Lerwick in Scotland. We had great weather at all the stops so we were lucky. Our favourite was olden as it’s such a lovely place. At Flåm you would really need to do an excursion as there is not a great deal to do there. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The main reason was sailing from Liverpool and a return visit to the Fjords. From our arrival at Pier Head all went smoothly. Our Balcony Suite was perfect, spacious, clean plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, met our needs and I ... Read More
The main reason was sailing from Liverpool and a return visit to the Fjords. From our arrival at Pier Head all went smoothly. Our Balcony Suite was perfect, spacious, clean plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, met our needs and I don't travel light. My husband had also requested a table for two and this was met. The Glentanar was a lovely, light, spacious Dining room, the breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent as was the waiter service dinner with excellent menu. We had lovely waiters but there were one or two who were not the friendliest. For our Anniversary Dinner we dined in the Black Watch Restaurant which again of high standard, my husband declared his steak one of the best ever. The ship was spotlessly clean in all areas, the Neptune Lounge especially pleasing.The Captain and Crew helped to make this a very special time for us. Flower Arrangement, bottle of Cava when we arrived and on the Day a lovely card, gift and Cava in Ice Bucket delivered to our suite along with our card from the Queen. In the evening we were presented with a lovely Happy Anniversary cake. These were all done in a very tasteful, no fuss way which we appreciated very much. My husband did have to visit the Cruise Doctor, again efficient attention.All in all this was a most memorable holiday, with wonderful scenery, off shore excursions and very relaxing on board atmosphere. Our first Fred Olsen Cruise but hopefully not our last.Thank you to everyone who helped in making this a very happy memorable occasion. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Fabulous to sail away from Liverpool. Very smooth and quick to embark and disembark. Our terrace balcony cabin 7024 was really lovely with a large lounge area and separate bedroom. Our steward kept the room spotless. Food was absolutely ... Read More
Fabulous to sail away from Liverpool. Very smooth and quick to embark and disembark. Our terrace balcony cabin 7024 was really lovely with a large lounge area and separate bedroom. Our steward kept the room spotless. Food was absolutely fantastic quality with plenty of choice. The dining staff were also so attentive, friendly and professional. We requested a table for two for our evening meal and at breakfast we generally sat at a table for 2 or 4. At lunch time we sometimes were seated at a larger table and always enjoyed the company. We didn’t get involved in too many onboard activities but there are certainly plenty to choose from. I did a yoga class at the well equipped gym and had 2 treatments in the spa which were very relaxing. We attended the show each evening in the Neptune lounge and some were really good, 1 or 2 were a bit outdated. The destination lectures are well worth attending or watching on your cabin tv if you miss out. To break up the relaxing cruise we booked all active shore tours from Fred Olsen and can recommend them to anyone looking for a more active way to spend time ashore. Flåm railway with hiking was great. In Olden we took a lake cruise then got a bus to the sky lift. At the sky lift you have refreshments and free time to walk or admire the view before returning by bus to the port. We then had 2 hours left to wander around the most beautiful local area. I also paddled in the Fjord as the weather was hot. In Bergen we took a cycle tour in the morning which then allowed us the whole afternoon to visit the places we wanted to explore further. ( we walked up higher in the city and went running then visited the UNESCO area) in Lerwick we took a sea kayaking trip. We were picked up and driven to the bay and kitted out. A dad and daughter duo then helped us get comfortable with all the basics of kayaking before guiding us around the most breathtaking coastal wildlife areas for 3 hours. We were surrounded by seals, some moved away and other followed us around. Above us flew guillemots and gannets and some of us were very lucky to see a sea otter. There would just have been enough time to head to the town but we chose to go back aboard for the afternoon tea that day.. It’s worth mentioning that the scenery is fantastic along the way in Norway and with sunsets after 11pm in July there is plenty of time to enjoy and take photos. It would be very hard to fault anything on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary . The fact that it sailed from Liverpool was an added bonus as we have always wanted to visit the city. We were not disappointed with our three night stay before boarding. Embarkation at the ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary . The fact that it sailed from Liverpool was an added bonus as we have always wanted to visit the city. We were not disappointed with our three night stay before boarding. Embarkation at the cruise terminal was efficient and speedy. The car parking arrangements worked well. We had a balcony suite cabin and were very pleased with its size and the facilities. This cruise sailed within sight of land most of the time and the fact that we were in the land of the midnight sun meant we could enjoy many hours of sightseeing from the comfort of our balcony. The ship itself is small by today’s standards but we don’t need shopping malls or climbing walls. There were lots of shore days so there were plenty of opportunities to get off the ship and walk in the lovely Norwegian countryside. We were very impressed by the standard of food offered at all meals. The menus were varied and the food tasty and hot. The service was impeccable. The wines on offer were very well chosen and priced competitively. The entertainment was standard fare for cruise ships. The young entertainment team provided some jolly themed Beatles and Brit pop shows. My husband particularly enjoyed the ukulele lessons with Ivy on sea days. We have sailed with several of the leading cruise companies and we felt that our experience on Black Watch surpassed them in the quality of the food and fairness of price for wine and gratuities. We shared a table for 6 and our dining companions were great fun. All the staff we came in contact with spoke excellent English and indeed could share a joke with the passengers. We did not go on any of the ships tours preferring to use local buses and do our own thing for the most part. Very easy to do as Norwegians speak excellent English and were very helpful. We did use a local tour group called Blue Puffin to visit the North Cape and they were excellent. We enjoyed all the ports of call. Trondheim has an interesting folk museum just a short bus ride out of town. We enjoyed the cable car ride in Tromsø with spectacular views from the top. Leknes was pleasant but very small however the Viking museum at Borg was a taxi ride from the port and well worth a visit - with a lovely walk down to see the Viking long ship. The North Cape visitor centre was well done. The Alta museum with its World Heritage rock art centre has spectacular view from well laid out paths. Go early and catch the local bus which runs regularly and miss the crowds. Kristiansund was a bit disappointing . Very picturesque but not much of interest locally. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All the people we spoke to said this was the port of call they were looking forward to the most. Instead we had 2 nights rather than one at Invergordon (NOT a holiday desination) Two buses were laid on at nearly £30 a time to go into Inverness (perhaps to offer this free would have been a nice gesture?) We took the local bus for about £11. Any other attraction was a long trip and expensive. Other things we were not happy with - Firstly , the car park in Liverpool was hard to find. Inadequate map and sat nav took you to a building site (not Fred Olson rsponsibility) - cabin noise (see below) Buffet area quite small, not always able to get a table at busy times - While the ship was well maintained there was no main staircase or reception area and the entertainment was mediocre . - many of the staff had a poor grasp of English which could be a problem, particularly at guest services - WiFi expensive - Timing given in port were misleading for example 'late p.m actually meant about 3.30 in the afternoon. - Tours were very expensive, there were 4 of us so it made more sense to book a private taxi to take us to the places we wanted to see, which worked out fine. - Passengers were mostly quite elderly and infirm so activities were geared up for this. I did sometimes feel I was sitting in the common room of an old peoples home rather than a cruise ship! - Finally the disembarkation process was not a happy experience, but mostly this was due to the facilites at Liverpool cruise terminal Good points, main dining room was nice and our waiters were freindly and helpful and there was a very good wine list at reasonable prices plus the food was excellent. Would not go with Fred Olson again Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our ... Read More
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our selected dining option was much appreciated. The bar staff were helpful and efficient. The entertainment was different each evening and very professional. The excursions we went on (Tobermory and Kirkwall) were very good - with knowledgeable guides. A comfortable cabin: not large but sufficient for our needs. We had a problem with a very noisy ventilation in our bathroom, which took two complaints (to the cabin staff and then the guest office) to get an engineer tp sort it out. The ship is also quite old and creaks a lot. Our cabin had a perpetual squeak from the door hinges when we were at sea. We also had an initial difficulty with the bar staff at sail-away time. They failed to deliver a drinks order, which necessitated three visits to the bar to chase it up: then when it arrived it was the wrong drinks. Then at our first breakfast, we made an order off the menu (rather than choosing the buffet) and it failed to materialise. After 30 minutes, one order arrived, then after I had finished, the other order appeared. We did complain and after that, we had no further problems. They blamed a "busy kitchen" - but others around us received their orders and had left before our food arrived. But overall the food and the service we received in all the eateries was first class. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want ... Read More
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want plenty of activity. Golf putting, carpet bowls in the corridor, whist, bingo, British singalong dress nights did not appeal. Ship was being constantly worked on so noise all over including windows being replaced on upper decks, toilets not working, information about destinations not great or non existent. The entertainment ranges from amateurish to good, the crew provide a lot of input. It is an old creaky ship which during storms bounced around. Disembarkation was appalling with low mobility people having and causing problems. A double decker bus shuttled people to trains with lower deck for suitcases including zimmer framed etc. and upper deck for passengers. The late arrival and departure of these ‘coaches’ caused many of us to miss our connections. Food is okay, staff ok, gym a bit limited, all areas busy and yapping all the time. All in all a great cruise for those who have low mobility but a snooze fest for others Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Local departure Liverpool Ships staff very friendly and well trained in serving guests. Some of the ship has been refurbished in a very modern and pleasing way other parts are rather lacking in style and colour and need bringing up to ... Read More
Local departure Liverpool Ships staff very friendly and well trained in serving guests. Some of the ship has been refurbished in a very modern and pleasing way other parts are rather lacking in style and colour and need bringing up to date. I had cabin 7041 which was quite spacious with a terrace balcony, the bathroom was dated although well maintained and clean bed quite comfy and linen of good quality pillows not the my liking next time I will take my own. The ports of call were all very interesting many of attraction were within walking distance of the ship. The food on board was excellent the executive chief was very visible and asking her guest how they enjoyed the food. Enjoyed most of the entertainment by the show group. There is a cinema room onboard and as we had a number of rather rough days at sea it would have been nice to watch a film in the afternoon but they were only screen in the evening overall I like the ship and the staff are very pleasant and professional Fred just needs to up his game a bit by bring his ships up to date. Still I've booked another cruise for next year on the same ship from same departure point in the same cabin so I must like it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
the time was right and some good places to visit and trip was good and food and service excellent good value for money. the cruise director had a snuffly cold and was announcing things over the tannoy and you could hear her sniffles ... Read More
the time was right and some good places to visit and trip was good and food and service excellent good value for money. the cruise director had a snuffly cold and was announcing things over the tannoy and you could hear her sniffles (not a good impression ) the toilets had no hot water in them and when we told the desk they said they would look into it. needless to say it was not fixed and as everywhere notices were posted about washing your hands to avoid the novo virus this should have been rectified. overall the ship was neat and catered for disabled guests the food excellent and the staff were very helpful and were quick to remember what you had ordered before so proving how attentive they were there was a change of ports due to the yellow jackets being in Bordeaux so we missed them but this did not affect us and it was done with safety in mind Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We knew we had made an expensive mistake with this cruise when we saw the other passengers at Southampton - we are in our late sixties/early seventies but we felt like teenagers compared with the rest of the passengers. During the course ... Read More
We knew we had made an expensive mistake with this cruise when we saw the other passengers at Southampton - we are in our late sixties/early seventies but we felt like teenagers compared with the rest of the passengers. During the course of the voyage we saw a few passengers younger than us - but that was it - a few! Embarkation and disembarkation was extremely efficient and we cannot fault anybody for that. The crew were fantastic and really helpful and we both really enjoyed the food. However, there were a lot of sea days and there was nothing to do. There was an ex BBC producer who gave some very good talks but after that it was all extremely boring if you didn't play bridge. The entertainment was amateur - there was one guest male singer who was very good and we enjoyed the crew show but otherwise we were very unimpressed. We went often in case it improved but we sat at the back so we could get out when we had had enough - we generally didn't last long. There were a couple of good pianists in the bars though. What really finished us off was not having enough time in port - particularly Lisbon. The itinerary said we would leave 'late pm' and we were looking forward to having a whole day there. However we had to be back on board by 15:30 - on what planet does half past 3 in the afternoon equate to 'late pm'? We were really disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Care of the customer seems to have become secondary to profit. A92 yr old pensioner had to be admitted to hospital in Cherbourg but was released as fit a few hours later. We saw him at 1pm sitting in the drafty embarkation shed having been ... Read More
Care of the customer seems to have become secondary to profit. A92 yr old pensioner had to be admitted to hospital in Cherbourg but was released as fit a few hours later. We saw him at 1pm sitting in the drafty embarkation shed having been refused entry to the ship despite the fact the hospital had discharged him as fit to travel, he was 50 meters from the ship,and the ship was not due to sail until 7.30pm. Having made a noisy protest at customer services whose only response was 'we cannot tell you anything' he and partner were finally allowed back on board. All we could do was to mention the Press and hope for the best. They were 12 hrs from Southampton but were expected to get a taxi and three trains to get to the port in the UK to get their luggage which was still on the ship. A truly disgraceful way to treat anyone. Ports and excursions left a lot to be desired. We apparently did not always get our normal births so shuttle buses were used, these dropped you off where they felt like rather the centre of towns, lots of walking on rough pavements. Lisbon was cancelled due to the weather, whose bright idea was Cherburg as a replacement? Entertainment was very good, the new dancing troupe were excellent. Food was adequate but small portions and not as good as before. Restaurants appear to be understaffed. My wife was confined to the cabin for over 30 hours following something she ate, and received a letter saying how grateful they were that she obeyed the guidelines, and as a reward she was offered £71 - off the next cruise booking within the next 12 months. We are speechless. Needless to say, we will not be using their offer. Our disappointment at the whole episode, which should have been a happy break, is now a very miserable experience, not to be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I wish I’d seen several of the recent comments before I booked on Black Watch. There is so little to merit this ship apart from a very loyal and overworked crew. I have no idea why it has such an apparently loyal following from ... Read More
I wish I’d seen several of the recent comments before I booked on Black Watch. There is so little to merit this ship apart from a very loyal and overworked crew. I have no idea why it has such an apparently loyal following from passengers, although maybe I will when I’m in my 80s which seemed to be the average age on board! The itinerary seemed good when I booked but we spent the minimum amount of time in several ports which seemed to be to save money rather than give passengers a real chance of seeing anywhere. They then sailed slowly to the next port to save money on fuel I guess? I wasn’t the only one who felt this! The food is only just above average unless you like traditional bland food. The fixed dining is out of date – we were allocated the 8.30 sitting which is far too late and the earlier sitting would have been too early! Thankfully they do have a café style restaurant Brigadoon which was generally very good and rarely crowded in the evening. It was packed by day especially as this is the only place to get afternoon tea! The coffee on board is terrible unless you pay for a coffee in one of the numerous bars. We chose the wrong fare so paid an exorbitant amount but even on one of the ‘drinks included’ packages, we were told by fellow passengers that it doesn’t include coffees! Come on, there is no reason not to have a decent coffee machine using actual coffee beans as all catering companies and other cruise lines such as P & O do! I also felt Fred were encouraging people to drink far too much alcohol especially spirits as well as wine and beer with all meals which is contrary to modern advice about drinking. I didn’t purchase a drinks package because of this and found their Freedom fare is no such thing, especially if you book late because it doesn’t even include the gratuities! The entertainment was very predictable and repetitive. The speakers were knowledgeable but their delivery was very poor. The only good classical concerts (of which there were only 2 in 14 days) were from a privately booked group. Many activities such as craft and some fitness classes have a supplementary payment which seems outrageous given the high prices. I have never known this on other cruise ships. The air conditioning was terrible in our very noisy cabin. I guess it is set high for an old people’s home which is what it felt like. The only cool place on the ship (apart from outside) was the Observatory so we spent lots of time there. To be fair, they do have lots of lounge space unlike many other boats but some areas especially near the theatre are very dated and gloomy especially at night. I am used to being able to walk around Promenade decks but don’t try this on any day with a glimpse of sunshine because you cant walk round the back of the ship without negotiating those in a bar who move their chairs to block the route! It seems the only way to get value from a Fred cruise if you can stand their very old fashioned approach is to book one of there 3 for 2 cruises packages but as I never want to go on one of their boats ever again, I have to live with very poor value! I very much agree with the comment about charging a 5* price, and delivering at best a 3* product, in fact it was more like 2*! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Chose this cruise so that I would miss the February UK weather. The ports of call were few and varied, however the european stops were very short and I felt were more for the benefit of the ship (eg bunkering) than for the passengers. ... Read More
Chose this cruise so that I would miss the February UK weather. The ports of call were few and varied, however the european stops were very short and I felt were more for the benefit of the ship (eg bunkering) than for the passengers. The food was okay (safe/boring) but the main dining room tried to mix buffet service with (if you were lucky) a menu service. The staff work hard but appear to be too few - there were many times that I was offered ground pepper or sauces when I'd practically finished my meal, and cheese would arrive long before the biscuits to put it on. The public rooms/bars are more like corridors and none of the seating is very comfortable. The entertainment was good, especially some of the guest entertainers, however the lack of a stage meant that you could not see the feet of the tap dancer. My cabin was perfectly okay and just as described (although I did wonder how some of the many larger guests managed in the small single beds). It is what it is ... a cruise for "old" people - not necessarily judged by years but by attitudes and the type of social activities offered. The saving graces were the few good films on offer in the cinema, some of the speakers, especially James Fraser who gave talks on photography and using your camera (and phone camera!) and the staff themselves who were generally very happy and friendly. For my next cruise i will hopefully return to Celebrity Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose this cruise to see the South Pacific and avoid much of the English winter. We have cruised a lot, including with Fred, so knew the pitfalls, which were mainly that this is an old ship with the sort of problems it may throw up. ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see the South Pacific and avoid much of the English winter. We have cruised a lot, including with Fred, so knew the pitfalls, which were mainly that this is an old ship with the sort of problems it may throw up. In the event, we got away with one episode of arcon failure, when some of us slept on deck, but were rewarded with a £75 sweetener. On the plus side, this was about as cheaply as we would be able to visit the remote islands of the South Pacific. Lectures were excellent, we played bridge on sea days and the ship was well run. Our biggest grumble - and this is a recurring theme with Fred - is their refusal to bring in what is now the industry standard of open seating for dinner. To stick with the old system of two sittings, in this case 6.15 or 8,30, is absurd, in fact the maitre d' admitted his job would be easier if they had open seating, as almost all other cruise lines do. If there is a sudden rush,just give people a pager and ask them to sit down for a few minutes, works a treat and we've never had to wait long. Apart from having to eat either too early or too late, the other big disadvantage with set seating is that you are stuck with the same table companions for the duration; if you want to do so,that's fine, but many of us like to meet a variety of guests. So come on Fred, join the rest of the world! In spite of the above grumbles, we had a great cruise and saw lots of interesting places in generally good weather. If you want a completely trouble-free cruise, go up-market - and pay the price! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Saw this advertised on our first ever cruise last April, and we were not disappointed. The Panama canal was awesome, and the South Pacific a lifetime experience. The lectures especially Peter on port excursions was funny and to the ... Read More
Saw this advertised on our first ever cruise last April, and we were not disappointed. The Panama canal was awesome, and the South Pacific a lifetime experience. The lectures especially Peter on port excursions was funny and to the point. James Fraser and the photography lectures were excellent my husband and I learnt such a lot, now I know how to use my camera on the phone, tablet and hand held camera. Please can he join our next cruise in July. We enjoyed the trip dispite the noisy neighbours in the next cabin so much that we rejoined the ship in Dubai 3 weeks after leaving in Brisbane, Australia. So we travelled section 2 and 4 of the world cruise. The other guests were delightful especially on our dinner table for both segments. The stewardess for cabins, bar and restaurant were helpful and friendly. A huge Thank you to the chaplain rev Richard frost and Jill his wife, the morning service on cruise days were always thoughtful. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
Sail Date October 2018
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
Fitness & Recreation 5.0 N/A
Family 2.0 3.4
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 5.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.4
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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