3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
2 Helpful Votes
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
3 Helpful Votes
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
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
1 Helpful Vote
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
2 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
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
12 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
9 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
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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