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Black Watch Berlitz Review

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Berlitz Rating:

Mature Couples/Singles
Ship Beam (ft/m):
Ship Builder:
Wartsila (Finland)
Ship Cabins (for one person):
Ship Cabins (total):
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Ship Cabins (with private balcony):
Ship Casino (gaming tables):
Ship Crew/Passenger Ratio:
Ship Cruise Line:
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Ship Elevators:
Ship Entered Service:
Jun 1972/Nov 1996
Ship Former Names:
Star Odyssey, Westward, Royal Viking Star
Ship Hot Tubs (on deck):
Ship IMO Number:
Ship Length (ft/m):
Ship Library:
Ship Onboard currency:
Ship Passenger Decks:
Ship Passenger Space Ratio:
Ship Passengers (lower beds):
Ship Propulsion:
diesel (13,400kW)/2
Ship Self-Service Launderette:
Ship Size:
Mid-size Ship
Ship Size Range (sq ft/m):
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Ship Swimming Pools (outdoors):
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Ship Wheelchair accessibility:
This ship provides good value for mature-age cruisers

Fred. Olsen Cruises - Black Watch

Overview: Black Watchis a comfortable but not luxurious ship best suited to the older traveler seeking a British cruise environment, where relatively formal attire is the norm. Cruises are well organized, with interesting itineraries and free shuttle buses in many ports of call.

The Ship: The ship’s name is taken from the famous Scottish Black Watch regiment. There is a good amount of open deck and sunbathing space, and a decent health and fitness area high atop the ship, as well as a wide walk-around teakwood promenade deck with wind-breaker on the aft part of the deck.The interior decor is quiet and restful, with wide stairways and foyers, soft lighting and no glitz anywhere, though many passengers find the artwork a little drab. In general, good materials, fabrics (including the use of the Black Watch tartan), and soft furnishings give a pleasant ambience and comfortable feeling to the public rooms. Most of these are quite spacious, with high ceilings, and located on one deck in a user-friendly horizontal layout.An observation lounge, The Observatory, displays nautical memorabilia and has commanding views. Draft beers are available in all bars. The whole ship indoors is a smoke-free zone.There is a good cinema (few ships today have a dedicated cinema) with a steeply tiered floor.A popular meeting place is the Braemar Room, a large lounge close to the restaurant; it has a self-help beverage corner for coffees and teas (open 24 hours a day, although it becomes overly busy during afternoon tea time), comfortable chairs, and large ocean-view windows along one side. The Library and Card Room is a pleasant facility – an adjacent room contains two computer terminals for Internet access. There is a self-serve launderette, useful on the longer cruises, with washing machines, dryers, and irons.Although it is being well maintained, this ship is now over 40 years old, so little problems such as gurgling plumbing, creaking joints, and other idiosyncrasies can occur, and air conditioning may not work well in some cabins. But the ship still looks good, and is quite comfortable. The company suggests gratuities of £4 per passenger per day.Black Watch offers a moderate standard of service from a friendly, mostly Filipino staff that provides decent, though not faultless, service. There is ample space per passenger, even when the ship is full. Port taxes are included for UK passengers.The National Express bus operator works in conjunction with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines to provide a dedicated Cruiselink service via London’s Victoria Coach Station to the UK departure ports of Dover or Southampton.Passenger niggles include: noticeable cutbacks in food variety and quality; packets of butter, margarine, and preserves; very poor coffee; long lines at the cramped buffet; poor wine service; and too few staff for the increased passenger numbers after the addition of more cabins.Black Watch is a comfortable but not luxurious ship best suited to the older traveler seeking a British cruise environment, where relatively formal attire is the norm. Cruises are well organized, with interesting itineraries and free shuttle buses in many ports of call.

Accommodation: There are many cabin price categories (plus one Owner’s Suite, whose price is not listed in the brochure). These include four cabin gradesspread around most of the decks, for solo travelers. The wide range of cabins provides something for everyone, from spacious suites with separate bedrooms, to small, no-view cabins. While most cabins are for two, some can sleep up to five people. Some 27 balconies were added to cabins on Lido Deck in a 2015 refit.In all accommodation, all grades come with hairdryers, duvets, 100 percent cotton towels, and wall-mounted soap and shampoo dispensers in the bathrooms. Suite-grade occupants also get a cotton bathrobe and cold canapés each evening, plus priority seating in the restaurants.The suites and cabins on decks 7, 8, and 9 are quiet units. A number of cabins in the aft section of decks 3, 4, and 5 can be uncomfortable, with noise from the generators, particularly in the cabins adjacent to the engine casing. The room service menu is limited.Outside-view and interior cabins. Spread across decks 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8, all cabins are quite well equipped. Some bathrooms have awkward access.Deluxe/Bridge/Junior Suites. Each has a bathroom with tub and shower (cabin 8019 is the exception, with a shower only).Marquee Suites. These suites have a large sleeping area and lounge area with bigger ocean-view picture windows and a refrigerator, more hooks for hanging bathrobes, outerwear, and luggage; and a bathroom with tub and shower.Premier Suites. Each of these nine suites is named after a place: Amalfi (9006), Lindos (9002), and Nice (9004), each measuring 547.7 sq ft (50. 9 sq m); Seville (9001), Singapore (9003), Carmel (9005), Bergen (9007), and Waterford (9009), each measuring 341.7 sq ft (31.7 sq m); and Windsor (9008), measuring 574.8 sq ft (53.4 sq m).Owner’s Suite. This measures 819.1 sq ft (76.1 sq m).

Cuisine/Dining: The Glentanar Dining Room has a high ceiling, a white sail-like focal point at its center, and ample space at each table. The chairs have armrests, and are quite comfortable. The Orchid Room is a smaller offshoot of the dining room; it can be reserved for intimate dining. While breakfast and lunch are typically in an open-seating arrangement, there are two seatings for dinner. Passengers help themselves from two cold food display counters during breakfast and lunch.The Garden Café is a small, more casual dining spot with a light, breezy decor. It sometimes has themed dinners, such as French, Indian, or Thai. There is a self-help salad bar and hot food display. This is also the place for late-night snacks.Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has above-average cuisine that is attractively presented, with a good range of fish, seafood, meat, and chicken dishes, and has a good selection of cheeses, plus vegetarian options. There is a decent range of wines, at really moderate prices, but few of the stewards have much knowledge of wines. Coffee and tea are always available in the Braemar Room, next to the Glentanar Restaurant.An 80-seat poolside Grill Restaurant costs extra for dinner, but menu items include premium steaks and lobster, and the surroundings are pleasant.

Entertainment: The Neptune Lounge, the ship’s showlounge, seats about 400, although some sight lines are obstructed by pillars. The entertainment mainly consists of small-scale production shows presented by a small team of resident singers/dancers, and cabaret acts. Standards are quite poor though, to be fair, passengers who cruise aboard this ship are not especially looking for first-rate entertainment, but rather something to fill time after dinner. There is plenty of live music in several lounges, and good old British singalongs.

Spa/Fitness: The spa/fitness facilities are located at the top and front of the ship – inaccessible for wheelchair users. There is a combined gymnasium/aerobics room, while a door provides access to steam rooms, saunas, and changing rooms. Some fitness classes are free, while some, such as yoga and kick-boxing, cost extra. It’s prudent to make appointments as early as possible. Sports facilities include a large paddle tennis court, golf practice nets, shuffleboard, and ring toss.

Berlitz Guide © Apa Publishing 2017

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