Black Watch

Overview

Acquired in 1996 by Norway-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, it was renamed the Black Watch after a Scottish Regiment and nowadays is best known for its innovative worldwide itineraries, outstanding service and affordable rates. Since the Black Watch carries primarily British passengers the U.K. influence is evident in everything from onboard activities and lectures to cuisine and currency (all charges are assessed in pounds).

Key details

  • Cabins 423
  • Crew 388
  • Passengers 804
  • Decks 7
  • Launch Year 1972
  • Registry Bahamas

Reviews summary

3
Average
( 26 reviews)
Brilliant
12
Good
6
Average
3
Poor
5
Awful
7
  • 3 room
  • 3 pool
  • 3.5 service
  • 4.5 dining
  • 3.5 amenities
  • 2.5 value
  • 4 food
  • 4 cleanliness
 

Traveller reviews

Well done Fred.

5
Brilliant
by

"We sailed from Dover to Norway, Spitsbergen ,Iceland and Greenland for 27 nights in April this year, (2016) and could not fault anything on the trip. Yes we know the ship is old and tired, but you are a where of that when you book the trip, so why people , who obviously are too lazy to do their home work , are so surprised when they get on board find that the Black Watch is not the 5 star ship they want it to be, but don't want to pay the price to travel on.
The Black Watch is old but it makes up for that in spades. Excellent food. Better then the Princess Grill on the Queen Mary. Staff very friendly and so helpful. Drink prices at a realist price and no 15% service charge stuck on the end. In fact if you are on the drinks package then is a no brainier. We stayed on deck 4 cabin 4025. Plenty of locker space but a bit tight for 27 nights. Very handy have coffee and tea making facilities. Ship is very clean, bedding changed regularly and mattresses very comfortable. Evening entertainment no better or worst then we have experience with Cunard. The ships entertainers on the other hand were superb. The show where they featured songs from Les Mis brought the house down. And their comedy song on the final night had everybody, including the singers , in tears of laughter.
It was a lovely experience having these ship entertainers join you at a table ,either at breakfast or lunch, and get to hear of their dreams and expectation of the future. So reassuring to hear youngsters with ambitions.
Shore excursion, like all ships, can be expensive , but the two trips we took, one to the ice field in Greenland , where we sailed through a lord of giant icebergs and the other in Iceland where we traveled in a monster jeep up to a 7000 foot glacier were worth every penny.
Like most journeys undertaken, it all dispenses on the day, and this time the whole trip was a success. We have book a 25 night trip next year with Fred to Croatia and we hope that it will follow the same wonderful time but if it doesn't you have to accept you win some and lose some.
Would give this trip 9/10."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sat 1st of October 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 5 Service
  • 4 Value
  • 5 Food
  • 4 Cleanliness

A pleasant holiday

4
Good
by

"This was my first cruise and had read that Black watch is dated so wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised.

Finding the car park in Rosyth was a nightmare. The postcode given for a Satnav took me to a dead end and it was only by accident that we found where we were supposed to be going. Embarkation was pretty organized.

I think it is fair to say that the cabins are a little bit old but they were more spacious than I expected and were kept clean and well serviced throughout the trip.

I found the food very good. Breakfast and lunch were buffets with plenty of choice along with menu options which could be ordered. I thought the food was of good quality and plentiful. There was afternoon tea available although with all the other food, we didn't need it. The evening meal in the restaurant was from the menu and nice. The portions weren't huge but we were on a late sitting so didn't want an enormous meal before going to bed. I think there was a supper buffet around 11pm but I didn't investigate. The staff in the restaurant were brilliant - helpful and pleasant.

We only went to the crew show which was good. Entertainment during the day was limited so it depends what you want. There is dancing, bridge, various talks, films. I did the jewellery making which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The gym was pretty good but I was disappointed that there weren't more exercise classes and those that there were clashed with other things.

I think it is a fair to say that the ship is aimed at an older passenger but I still enjoyed it (I'm in my 40s but was traveling with someone in their 80s).

The actual cruise was a taste of Iceland. The shore tours seemed pricey but everything in Iceland seemed pricey. I would have liked longer in some of the places (e.g. Reykjavik) but the cruise was only a taster.

Disembarkation seemed slow but pretty organized.

I would happily travel on black watch again."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 6th of September 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 4 Pool
  • 5 Service
  • 3 Value
  • 5 Food
  • 5 Cleanliness

Enjoyable

4
Good
by

"All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a search for him was conducted. This in turn caused the abandonment of the highlight stop on the tour. Not Fred's fault I know, but very very annoying.

Boarding at Dover was a breeze, we were aboard before we knew it. Our suite, 5015 on the Main Deck was very comfortable and well serviced as was the rest of the ship. No sign of the dreaded Noravirus. There were sanitizers everywhere. All the passengers appeared to use them as a matter of course which was good to see.

The food was excellent. Somehow I managed to maintain my weight. Goodness knows how.

Disembarkation was pretty quick although there was a slight delay due to fork lift activity around the dock.

We enjoyed the experience so much we re-booked on board for the Amalfi Coast Cruise aboard Boudicca in April 2017 "

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 19th of June 2016

Norway cruise on Black Watch

4
Good
by

"Just come back from this cruise to Norway. Great shows and comedian, dancing later but music then a bit boring. No sail away parties. This is really a cruise for older people and Fred knows it's customers. Food was excellent but I'm afraid ship is getting too old and i don't think refurbishing would help a great deal. A lot of vibration in our friend's cabin on deck 5 also some in ours on deck 8 at back. Swimming pool looking tired also. Saying that we really enjoyed ourselves but Braemar is a better ship and you can eat outside which you can't do on Black Watch."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 12th of June 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 3 Pool
  • 4 Service
  • 4 Value
  • 4 Food

NOT FOR THE MOBILITY IMPAIRED!

1
Awful
by

"We booked a 2 night mini cruise from Liverpool to Dublin. Some weeks before departure I emailed their Customer Services asking for wheelchair assistance with embarkation and disembarkation due to mobility problems. Their reply stated that they were unable to arrange this in advance and to arrange it at the ports.
In Liverpool we were transported to the ship's gangway and had to walk up the gangway in the rain. Once on board I had to stand for about 15 minutes while they got me a wheelchair. Standing without support is very difficult for me and indeed I had a very painful calf for an hour. In Dublin we were not allowed to take their wheelchair off the ship for us to make contact with our private tour guide for whom we had paid. My partner went and told the guide and then returned to the ship to take care of me.
I wrote a letter of complaint to the MD of Fred Olsen. I was amazed by their cavalier reply. They acknowledged my email but then went on to say that do not have any wheelchairs on board except for the one we had which was kept solely for medical emergencies. They charged us £10 a day for its use.
I cannot understand why their Customer Service email never mentioned that they did not have any wheelchairs and failed to inform me that I would have to walk up the gangway. All the other cruise lines we've traveled with (Cunard, NCL, RCL,MSC) provided wheelchair assistance.
We will never travel with Fred Olsen again. Their attitude to disabled people is NOT what it should be. I am disgusted."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 29th of January 2016

Not the best Fred can provide

2
Poor
by

"We have done many Fred Olsen Cruises cruises but its been a while on Black Watch Most of the trip we had novovirus restrictions. The entertainment very poor,no imagination.
Food very good.Staff brilliant, if you like cards or old style dancing its great.The hosts didn't seem to mix and the cruise director never seen and when found wanted to be elsewhere.
New Years eve started poorly with loud music playing over the cruise ships symphony until someone pointed out it had started then the countdown is as a little late. Once it got going great stuff.
All in all the worst Fred Olsen Cruise we've been on. Destinations great however.
The ship is tired and paint can only hide so much,but very clean all over but again tired in many places.
Breamar seems to have more life and imagination."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Tue 5th of January 2016

Rating breakdown

  • 5 Room
  • 2 Pool
  • 5 Service
  • 5 Food
  • 5 Cleanliness

boring boring boring

2
Poor
by

"Just back from 2 week cruise from Belfast to Morocco,Canaries,Madeira and Portugal on Black Watch.

Problems started when we arrived in Belfast from Stena, taxi had no idea how to get to ship, finally found ship only to be told had to go to another terminal to book in and then be bused back to ship. Cabin on deck 4 was large(one of the largest we have had,) have to say ship was very nice, spotlessly clean and fresh looking and cabin staff were brilliant.

Food was very much a hit or a miss Glentander restaurant was best garden was pretty poor bacon at breakfast for instance was as tough as old boots and cold.

Three days at sea to start with and only line dancing, bingo or bridge is not my idea of entertainment, and the night entertainment was not much better,some singer brought in from UK who was no better than a pub singer, a comedian whom we did not see so it would be unfair to comment on him. Best shows were the crew show and the entertainment team, who were not the most talented I have seen but put there heart and soul into it, full of energy.

Service was again a bit of a hit and miss, trying to get a drink on deck was difficult, our waiters in Glentander were excellent but in the Garden they were miserable as sin, the 2 girls in the Bookmark cafe were very good the guys not so good.

Do not touch the tours, £22 each to be taken from Lexios to Porto, left there and taken back 3 hours later when it was billed as 3 or 7 hours but the stop was cut short, discovered you could take the hop on hop of bus or a taxi for a fraction of price,

Met some great folk and had a good time , but overall this ship only caters for over 70s.

At he end of the cruise there seemed to be a rush to get everyone off they started disembarkation at 7 am."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 8th of November 2015

Rating breakdown

  • 5 Room
  • 2 Service
  • 2 Value
  • 3 Food
  • 5 Cleanliness

Black Watch Fred Olsen 2015

2
Poor
by

"This cruise is suitable for age 70+, so if you are younger than this please do not consider this cruise. I found that there were too many days at sea (4) on the way to Portugal from Liverpool. The activities on board were suitable for the 70+ age group only, not nearly enough to occupy people younger than this. When we reached Portugal I found that the excursions were not worth the money, and there was not enough time off the ship to appreciate our surroundings, it was very rushed as we only had a few hours ashore. The journey back to Liverpool was broken up by visiting Lisbon for a few hours, however, I found the journey quite boring. All in all, very disappointing. My partner also agrees with my comments, he thought there would be a lot more entertainment considering the time we were at sea. We cannot fault the crew they were exceptionally good, friendly, kind, considerate and hard working. These comments have no bearing on the crew, only the cruising experience due to the poor planning of places we visited by Fred Olsen."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Wed 19th of August 2015

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 2 Pool
  • 4 Service
  • 2 Value
  • 5 Food
  • 4 Cleanliness

Liverpool to Iceland

2
Poor
by

"We could not dock at the Faroes as the Braemar was in and no room for us, pilot not able to manage to get us in, rough sea, so another day at sea organized. We have had 5 Balmoral cruises (very good) 1 Bouddica (ok) but would not recommend or go on the Black Watch, avoid deck 7 lido deck. We had a large deluxe junior suite. Woken at 1am by deck crew pulling chairs along and then most of the other days at 5.30 onwards by deck hands banging, washing the deck down, others complained about them talking loud, we reported it twice. Moved cabin to equivalent as strong smell of diesel in bedroom, this seemed to be all round the ship. Restaurant like a canteen, and never had any moans before, but waiters not as quick and friendly as the Balmoral, never offered tea or coffee with dessert at lunch time, food good but breakfast often cold, good variety. Brenda Collins comedienne was fantastic and the male singer, team shows were good, dancers seem snobby. Special thanks to Chandra the Maitre D who got us into the Orchid Room for dinner. Quizzes good with Olly, Jonny and Liam, not as good in the day with the dance team (one in particular). Met some nice people, but seemed a lot of snobs on board. Back on Balmoral Sept and trying Braemar in October. Never saw our cabin maid in 2nd cabin, name tag was not even in room. On other cruises they have gone out of their way to meet you. also poor information from the Captain at 12 midday more interest in given the pool temperature "

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 24th of July 2015

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 2 Service
  • 2 Value
  • 3 Food
  • 3 Cleanliness

Iceland and Faroes ?

3
Average
by

"We could not dock at the Faroes as the Braemar was in and no room for us, pilot not able to manage to get us in, rough sea, so another day at sea organized. We have had 5 Balmoral cruises (very good) 1 Bouddica (ok) but would not recommend or go on the Black Watch, avoid deck 7 lido deck. We had a large deluxe junior suite. Woken at 1am by deck crew pulling chairs along and then most of the other days at 5.30 onwards by deck hands banging, washing the deck down, others complained about them talking loud, we reported it twice. Moved cabin to equivalent as strong smell of diesel in bedroom, this seemed to be all round the ship. Restaurant like a canteen, and never had any moans before, but waiters not as quick and friendly as the Balmoral, never offered tea or coffee with dessert at lunch time, food good but breakfast often cold, good variety. Brenda Collins comedienne was fantastic and the male singer, team shows were good, dancers seem snobby. Special thanks to Chandra the Mater D who got us into the Orchid Room for dinner. Quizzes good with Olly, Jonny and Liam, not as good in the day with the dance team (one in particular). Met some nice people, but seemed a lot of snobs on board. Back on Balmoral Sept and trying Braemar in October. Never saw our cabin maid in 2nd cabin, name tag was not even in room. On other cruises they have gone out of their way to meet you."

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 24th of July 2015

Rating breakdown

  • 4 Room
  • 2 Service
  • 3 Value
  • 3 Food
  • 3 Cleanliness

Definitely not worth even trying

1
Awful
by

"Just returned from a week on the Black Watch and will not be recommending the ship or Fred Olsen to anyone in the future. I can agree the cabins were clean and housekeeping kept them this way throughout the trip clearly working very hard! Food was of a good standard throughout the trip too with a good selection on the menu.

Entertainment was poor, lacked creativity with the clearly talented singers/dancers spending more time serving afternoon cakes or squirting hand sanitizer, not sure this was really the best use of their talent! Evening singers in lido lounge were superb, but disappointed that last night on board was a poorly organized karaoke, ruining the end of the cruise as it lacked flow and atmosphere to celebrate the last evening on board.

Most of the restaurant/bar staff are miserable and lack a sense of urgency in service. Waited over 20mins in one bar to even have my order taken, then another 15mins for drink to arrive, which was only a pint so not a complex round of drinks. Seems Fred Olsen have cut back on the staff numbers which clearly reflects in the horrendous level of service.

Photographers are also questionable. Very disappointing to find that many of the photographs taken were amateurish. Backdrops half in/out of the shop behind the group, heads cut off and faces covered by other members of the group. When charging nearly £15 for a single photo I would have expected a little more skill. Has left us with no "nice" family photos from the trip that we can proud of and remember our trip by which was a birthday celebration.

Age profile on board were definitely for the older generation with majority being 70+ and only around half a dozen under the age of 50 on the ship. Ship is clearly showing signs of its age too and is undergoing extensive ongoing maintenance which is excessive to the point it was intrusive to our enjoyment of the cruise.

If traveling in a group on the all inclusive package I would suggest taking a stamp of your signature, trying to get a round of drinks for 5 can be an ordeal with some bars insisting they are individually ordered or ordered by cabin. This then means signing for each drink individually rather than the round, totally ridiculous! We booked as one group so surely this can be noted somewhere on the card or till system to reduce this process, I have left the ship with an RSI from signing that many times!

Having cruised with other companies I will not be going back to Fred Olsen, we tried it for he convenient Liverpool departure but given the level of service I think the hassle of flying or driving to Southampton will be our future choice! "

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Fri 26th of June 2015

Rating breakdown

  • 3 Room
  • 3 Pool
  • 1 Service
  • 1 Value
  • 4 Food
  • 4 Cleanliness

worst holiday EVER

1
Awful
by

"Went Dublin first the two good things.clean.Filipino staff very good.then things go very wrong..went to our first cabin supposed to have picture windows in reality squared port hole, bed one single and a put u up made up at night under the porthole no good for the TV as you're under it.in fact my truck has more equipment so this would have been a Busmans holiday for me.So went to complain basically told pay more no other help at all.So agreed to pay more £204 then given a room number to look at so looked at it and accepted it went back to reception to Get to it sorted then told sorry that is not the Wright room told Togo to another one so carried our bags to yet another room again no help with bags so 2 hrs we go into a room.then thought get some food big mistake waste of time bread roll with egg or something not at all inviting so left it went to bed , went for shower no cold water decided to half fill the bath and top it up in the morning with hot water could not be bothered to complain lost hope gave in.Day 2 woke up in a working port no view apart from ships.Went to Dublin not bad not good nowhere to sit and rest unless you want to eat or drink went back to ship got ready for a good night.WRONG entertainment we think magician or comedian still not sure which ever seen better at kids party absolutely pathetic. Followed by crew members playing blankety blank all in all not at all entertaining. Complete and utter waste of time .Went get evening meal not much choice as both dinning areas have the same food on offer one is self service the other table service nothing special pretty basic. Day 3 got woke up with sound of reversing beepers and heavy traffic loading and unloading all different kinds of ships on the dock and a crane actually drove past our balcony so closed doors got bath as we were told the hot would be turned of at 13.06 hrs until 17.06 hrs saw some buskers in Dublin fantastic should have booked them for the ship but would have had to pay them , so eventually had to go back to ferry sorry cruise ship maybe Wright first time .Went to dinner did not bother with (entertainment same as before) we weren't the only ones that thought it was bad lots of people thought the same thing , so went to dinner not expecting much but my wife thought it would be a bit special as it was the last night WRONG cottage pie or macaroni cheese went to bed. LAST day thank god wanted to get of on the first day .In summary no help moving rooms my wife is disabled I'm getting over an operation
food basic
room 1 no good for couples not only ones to complain one couple extra £480 several other people same complaints
entertainment embarrassing and waste of time again not the only people to walk out in disgust
wasted 4 days leave on this not to mention our hard earned money my wife feeling bad as this was supposed to to be a break so this disaster has really upset her
but when you think about it on our first complaint we were told by the ships cruise manager that this was not Cunard her words not mine read into that what you will
returned home sent an email to the company and gave them time to reply over a week and nothing don't want a free cruise from them would not go on it if they payed me this is the first time we have ever complained about a holiday before we have ALWAYS been able to find something to laugh about no matter how bad but this was just to much and we think that once you have paid your money customer service is gone this company makes Ryanair look 5 star WE HAVE TRIED TO WARN YOU
"

Holiday details

  • Travel date: Sun 31st of May 2015

Rating breakdown

  • 1 Room
  • 2 Pool
  • 2 Service
  • 1 Value
  • 1 Food
  • 5 Cleanliness

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Stayed on Black Watch ? Share your insight.

Top traveller tips for Black Watch

  • "Keep an open mind and remember you are on vacation and not looking to find fault.…"

    Happy destination by Happy destination
  • "We booked direct with Olson. Having reviewed our booking we contacted Olson to enquire about an upgrade and got a good deal. Black Watch is fully stablised. Book a cabin mid-ships to reduce the posibilty of roll if it is of a concern to you.…"

    Travelpix by Travelpix
  • "Check you get a good cabin without much noise.…"

    illawyert4 by illawyert4
  • "wait till you are around 75 and take plenty books…"

    Alistair B by Alistair B
  • "Be of a certain age group and be able to entertain yourself, and for it to be made clearer in any literature about age groups.…"

    Janandchris by Janandchris
  • "get off were possible…"

    trixmax2000 by trixmax2000
  • "Book cabins on deck 5 or lower, or deck 9 the expensive suites…"

    trixmax2000 by trixmax2000
  • "Don't bother booking it…"

    Chris A by Chris A
  • "Take your own entertainment and some food nothing available after 23.00hrs…"

    chrisandjane by chrisandjane
  • "Use another shipping line altogether…"

    Evelyn P by Evelyn P
  • "the staff are fantastic cant do enough for you…"

    jassmudge by jassmudge
  • "all ok for the age of ship…"

    Robert S by Robert S
  • "Check out your cabin before you arrive…"

    Barbaa by Barbaa
  • "night time entertainment…"

    Robert S by Robert S
  • "Take lots of good reading material and give the quizzes a go.…"

    Kathy by Kathy
  • "If you have never been on a cruise, go on the Black Watch you won't be dissapointed.…"

    blondy by blondy
  • "Great for non seasoned cruisers…"

    shrapnel8 by shrapnel8
  • "If you were still hungry - the Midnight Buffet was brilliant complete with ice carvings!!…"

    jazzdave by jazzdave