Fred Olsen, Black Watch North Amerca Cruise Review

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  • Food - quality & variety

  • Entertainment on board

  • Value For Money

mwe152's review of Fred Olsen, Black Watch North Amerca Cruise



Written on: 13/11/2007 by mwe152 (11 reviews written)

Good Points
1) Itinerary.
2) Overnight stops in major ports (Unlike QE2/Cunard).
3) Shuttle bus in New York (unlike QE2/Cunard). ...Some thought seems to have gone into this cruise!
4) The requirement of all passengers to see US immigration at first port of call in US (Boston) was managed intelligently by BW staff, unlike the disorganised free-for-all on QE2

Bad Points

1) Poor service in restaurants.
2) Built in Finland in 1972, formerly the Royal Viking Star, Black Watch seems rather tired. Recent refurbishment (2005) wasn't very comprehensive.
3) A partial air-conditioning malfunction in Florida caused a lot of irritation among passengers. Some people complained about cold cabins and cold air-conditioning, but my cabin (5018) was excellent: it maintained a constant 22C without touching the thermostat.
4) Outside of cabin window was not washed between Nova Scotia and Martha's Vineyard and wasn't washed again. US regulations on washing ships in port were given as the reason for this when I complained (I paid extra for a big window so I could have a decent view).
5) Cruel pricing policy! ...My cabin (5018) was £5172, it reduced to £4211 when I booked on August 13th. However, it dropped to £3511 less than 2 weeks later and dropped to a £2015 last minute bargain.

General Comments

My trip with Fred Olsen on board of the Black Watch was the 2nd leg sector of a 51-night Dover to Dover cruise:

Leg 1, Dover to Montreal, via Shetland, Faeroes, Greenland, Iceland & Quebec.

Leg 2, Montreal - Nova Scotia - New Brunswick - Boston - Martha's Vineyard - Rhode Island - New York - Virginia - Florida and Nassau, Bahamas.

Leg 3, back to Dover via Bermuda and Azores.

Having travelled on BW in 2002 &; 2004 I noticed the ship getting increasingly 'tired' & I heard it was going to be refurbished in 2005. This wasn't very thorough, most of the ship was left alone. A bit of a culture shock, having been on Boudicca (BW's sister ship) in July, which was refurbished in 2006.

Despite Boudicca being better overall, BW does have a better restaurant with better quality furniture and a much better self-service restaurant. However, waiter service in the restaurants, especially at breakfast, was poor. Most of the waiters, despite not having much to do were chatting to each other, posing, looking out the window, or daydreaming. They didn't seem very observant: they'd serve a table, but not look around to see if anyone else needed serving, or tables needed clearing. Trying to get eye contact with them failed, whilst other diners were looking back at you wondering what you were looking at!

I was usually early into breakfast, but one day I arrived at 8:45am, 15 minutes before it closed and the waiters were resetting tables for lunch and removing food.

There were 700 passengers on the ship, although there were fewer aged 80+ compared with Boudicca, they were typically in their 70s. A surprisingly high number were doing the full 51-night cruise. Disembarkation and the airport/flights are an eye-opener for those who think ignorant behavior is largely confined to the younger generations: A couple of women blocked the stairs by sitting down for a chat whilst people were disembarking. I was pushed by a man whilst we were queuing for airport security (yes, I was keeping up & not letting people in) and had my hand luggage rammed by some fool pushing a wheelchair while waiting to board the plane. The aircrew persistently requested passengers not to use row 15 as a shortcut to the toilets and some fruitcakes in the row behind me reckoned I wasn't supposed to recline my seat until after we had my meal. Thanks to the Thomson crew for pointing out they were in the wrong!

  • October, 2007

    Date of Cruise

  • 20

    Nights on board

  • North America

    Itinerary Name

  • Superior outside.

    Cabin Type

  • Single

    Group description

  • Food - quality & variety

  • Entertainment on board

  • Value For Money

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