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Black Watch Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
151 Reviews

Overpriced and poor value for money!

Black Watch Cruise Review by ALlew

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2019
  • Destination: Europe
  • Cabin Type: Outside Cabin

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 The fixed dining is out of date – we were allocated the 8.30 sitting which is far too late and the earlier sitting would have been too early!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*!

ALlew's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Outside Cabin

See above. The cabin layout is good and the bathroom better than on many cruise ships although the water supply to the shower was pitiful.

As stated the aircon was set far too high and as it was on maximum cool, we couldn’t adjust it.

Our cabin staff was a new member so didn’t want to engage in conversation much. She was efficient but I saw no signs of her being monitored by senior staff. We didn’t get a review form at the end which may have been down to her lack of experience.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

La Coruna

very good clean and bright city with interesting historic district right next to the ship. we walked to the tower of Hercules lighthouse which was a good walk (c2km each way) taking in the coastline and other attractions on the way. We were told about the cruises4you independent tour for c17 Euros for 2 hours who met the ship which would have been a good option if you didn't want to walk.

Very good excursion to the mountain in La Palma although a bit more time in the National Park Visitors Centre would have been good.

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Caldera de Taburiente

Very good excursion to the mountain in La Palma although a bit more time in the National Park Visitors Centre would have been good. The guide who had lived in the UK for many years was knowledgeable and had a good sense of humour.

View All 5 Caldera de Taburiente Reviews

This is the port where we lost half a day due to Fred seemingly being unwilling to pay for us to dock earlier. Being very close to the capital of Tenerife was excellent including seeing the Carnival which was well worth it. It is mainly an event for the locals which was good to see. Why were Black Watch the only ship in port on the day?! Well done to Fred for this.

The next day we walked around the town starting with the large concert hall close to the sea which has an excellent open air café / restaurant facing the swimming complex and Palmetum. We then walked up hill to the shopping centre with a large El Cortes Ingles department store which is good value for Brits! Back through the excellent traditional market and some of the old town.

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