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
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
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
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
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.
Yes we did use this and were very impressed with the spread and quantity of available equipment.
7002 is directly under the Navigation Bridge on the Promenade deck. Given it's excellent view forward the cabin could benefit from 1 way glass as otherwise those on deck can see into your cabin (our neighbour did not realise this and was spotted walking around nude in their cabin).
The cabin decor is good but beginning to look a bit tired and the bath's enamel is beginning to flake, but the bed is very comfortable.
Being directly forward this cabin is great if you love the feel of the sea but if you suffer from sea sickness or do not like excessive movement then I would not recommend it when you know you will be crossing rougher seas. Given the movement the wardrobe doors and drawers could benefit form stronger catches as they open quite continuously over Force 5
Everything was closed for the season which had not been communicated to us. You needed to do a Shore Tour to see anything :)
Many things were closed but a lovely port of call
Our choice for the Northern Lights, ended up driving into Finnmark to see them which you could not do on the Shore Tour
Loved it except for the dangerous RIB tour which left shore with what I believe was a known faulty engine
Probably the best port of all.