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   Cruise Travel - Reader Reviews

Welcome to Your Favorites, where you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with fellow Internet Travelers around the world.

Fred Olsen Cruises

MS Black Watch

Your Rating:Four Stars
Reviewed by:Malcolm Oliver
# previous cruises: 1
Date of Trip: August 1, 2000
Itinerary: Baltic/Black Sea/Russia

A smaller Norwegian ship, built in 1972, which is aimed at British passengers. She is reasonably well maintained for her age. Her interiors are all of a particularly good standard. She is rated as four star ship, but my wife and I thought that the food and entertainment was five star. With any older ship you will find a few rust spots on the hull and you may be unlucky enough to experience a plumbing problem in your cabin? Such cabin problems were quickly rectified by the maintenance team. The vibration from the engines, in certain areas of the ship, is a little more obvious than on a new ship. Should you book the Black Watch? Ask yourself this question first - do you prefer a pair of new shoes or a pair of old shoes?

Public Areas
For a smaller classic ship (800 pax) the Black Watch has a remarkable number of smaller/intimate public rooms available, rather than vast unfriendly cavernous spaces. These include a show lounge, two main restaurants, fitness and beauty centres, two pool side grills, a general lounge (free self service tea/coffee all day) an observation lounge, library, card/board games room, cinema (with tiered seating) smoking room, small casino/slot machines, a nightclub, various bars and a useful self service laundrette. She has a traditional fantail design at the rear which is very attractive. There are two pools and three Jacuzzi's, plus a great wrap around teak promenade deck. She has a very large amount of deck space for a small ship including areas for the traditional deck sports and table tennis, paddle tennis and golf driving areas. The Black Watch is more spacious than many other smaller cruise ships, which often have a higher density of passengers.

Food and Service
The food was aimed at British tastes and was excellent! My wife and I rated the evening meals in the Glentanar dining room as better than Celebrities food. The menus were incredibly varied, never repeating and included some unusual delicacies such as 'Braised leg of Norwegian Reindeer'. The service was fast and efficient. Buffets were available for breakfast and lunch. My only complaint was that the tables were a little too close together in the Glentanar. The alternative, Garden Café, was charming and intimate.

Alcoholic drinks were reasonably priced and were NEVER pushed! You could sit in any public spaces all day and not be hassled to make a purchase. There was a free 24 hour room service facility available. The staff were genuinely warm and friendly even the day after they had received there tips (this is not always the case).

(Note: In the past the Black Watch had problems with passengers brining aboard a stomach virus and spreading it.Other ships have also experienced this. Tests on the B.watch determined that this illness was not due to food poisoning. The ships management took swift steps to eradicate this problem.)

All the cabins that I saw seem reasonably spacious and comfortable. Even in the cheapest cabins, the amount of storage space was remarkable. You got three closets, numerous draws and space under the beds to put your empty suit cases. The bathroom had a proper toilet (no ear popping vacuum systems here) sink and a spacious shower. Even the rooms with twin port holes, on the lower decks, offered plenty of light and good views. We heard little noise from the adjacent cabins. The cabin air conditioning worked well. Each cabin had a colour coffee table, dressing table, TV, telephone and hair-drier.

Much of entertainment was aimed at British tastes, and was brilliant. Every show within the two week cruise was different. The Cruise Director (Gary Nicholson), the band, the dancers and singers (Deja Vu) plus specialist acts were all of the highest standard. I'm sure that American passengers would also be impressed as long as they did not expect a rendition of the 'Star Spangled banner'.

I would particularly recommend the Baltic itinerary. St.Peterburg was one of the high-lights.

A full program of activities including port talks, maritime history lectures, ballroom dancing, bridge and deck sports were on offer. Visits to the navigational bridge and engine control room were also arranged. Something for everyone!

Who Goes
The ship carries a range of ages, but does tend to be particularly popular with the older age group. The cruises from Dover (UK) are aimed at the British guests. Many of the passengers seemed particularly interested in Ballroom dancing and Maritime history. I'm sure American passengers would enjoy Fred. Olsen's cruises as long as they except that us British do have a different culture. If you want a 100% American experience, on a shinny new ship, please look elsewhere. If you want a cruise experience, with a British flavour, on a more traditional vessel, at a reasonable price, look no further.

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Description: Experience the beautiful ports of Nassau and Royal Caribbean's private island - CocoCay on a 3-night Weekend Getaway to the Bahamas. Absorb everything island life has to offer as you snorkel with the stingrays, parasail above the serene blue waters and walk the endless white sand beaches. From Miami.
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