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!
Nice bright cabins, pretty near midships, so no noise or vibration
Our booked shore excursion was cancelled due lack of support, so we joined a minibus that said it was going to the old town. in fact, it took us on a long detour to a hilltop lookout, much to the annoyance of many people who ONLY wanted to go shopping in the old town. rather naughty.
Birds were shy. Most exciting wild life was the ants
Good to see something of the island, because Papeete is essentially a seedy French colonial town
Snorkel and then stingrays, which were fed to attract them. Brilliant
A very pleasant surprise. friendly people, great place.
Another age related problem with the Black Watch is that the Neptune Lounge is really unfit for purpose as a theatre-cum-lecture venue, as it has no raking, so that only the front row has an unobstructed view. It is also too small, a fact that Fred has tried to get round by cramming in far too many seats, leaving many of them unused because people can't get at them.