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Fred. Olsen cruises have always been about making the most of your well-deserved time away and building memories to treasure for a lifetime. Hop on board a small and friendly cruise ship to enjoy a relaxing and intimate experience as you glide through the European waters and beyond.
A few of our enthusiastic travellers from the Hays Travel family had the exciting opportunity to see what makes a traditional cruise adventure aboard the sleek and stylish Black Watch.
The Black Watch underwent refurbishment in late 2016 but still keeps its original allure from the days when cruise ships were revered for their style and charm. On the Black Watch don’t expect to see modern gimmicks such as climbing walls and moving floors. It is all about sophistication and personal touches. Be prepared for the attentive staff to not only remember your name but your favourite tipple and how you like your eggs in the morning. With departures from Liverpool or Southampton, and also fly cruises available, Fred. Olsen offers once in a lifetime adventures anywhere in the world!
Let’s find out exactly what our lucky employees loved about the ultimate home-from-home at sea, which they boarded in Southampton…
Marjorie Dench, Dorchester branch
“Excellent service on board and a roomy cabin which was bright and airy. The food was fantastic with plenty of choices. Even though we were only on for two nights we made sure we tried out the buffet, main restaurant, and speciality, as well as the afternoon tea! All were superb; lots of options and all served piping hot. We were lucky to have a tour of the galley with the Head Chef, so we got to see first-hand how spotless the kitchens were. Not to mention everything is made to order and cooked on board fresh (only exceptions are croissants and one type of cake!) The cost of the drinks are very reasonable, with the majority of drinks all under £5, including a vast array of cocktails. Lots to do on board if you want to participate - they deliver a newspaper each day to your cabin with a schedule. Also plenty of nice quiet spots to read a book and have a coffee. There are a couple of pools to choose from and a few hot tubs to relax in. The highlight of our trip was the tour of the bridge; as an avid sailor I was keen to see how a cruise ship operated! The greatest highlight on board has to be the friendly staff, as nothing is too much trouble. I would recommend this trip for anyone who enjoys great service and food in a relaxing setting. Nothing better than the fresh sea air. Great for couples, solo travellers, friends, and multi-generational families too.”
Teresa Williams, Personal Travel Consultant
“It’s a lovely ship with eclectic decor. The cabins were surprisingly spacious with very comfy beds. All of the staff were amazing and very friendly. The food was outstanding – probably the best I’ve had on a cruise. I also loved the afternoon tea, the tour of the galley was really good, and the tour of the bridge was interesting. The highlight was probably our meal in the posh restaurant; it was just fabulous!”
Julie Pithers, Cruise Call Centre
“The Black Watch was amazing. I wasn't sure what to expect as it is quite a small ship and I’ve only been on larger ships. From the moment I walked on to the time I disembarked the staff were amazing; they were always so polite and cheery and would do anything for you. The food in both the main dining area and the buffet was fantastic. The speciality dining was out of this world - both the food and service. We were involved in a treasure hunt which was a great way to see parts of the ship by ourselves. Afternoon tea in the Observatory was very special; again excellent service and food. We also took part in a cocktail-making session which was brilliant fun, as was the karaoke evening. There was always plenty going on if you wanted to join in. The highlight of the trip had to be the staff on board. They were exceptional and extremely friendly, particularly Angela and Becky, who were lovely and got the group involved. We spent both evenings in the Lido Lounge where there was entertainment and a great atmosphere.”
Scott Eveleigh, Honiton branch
“Ship was very nice. A smaller, more traditional ship, but I can see the appeal and understand which clients would enjoy her. There was a gym, a swimming pool and a few Jacuzzis. There was a casino on board but wasn't in use to do with regulations of gambling at sea. There were a couple bars on board which were nice and the staff were amazing. You could sit down and once you finished your first drink they would ask if you'd like another. Everyone was very friendly and polite and couldn’t do enough for you. Definitely, one of the stand out points of the cruise. For me the stand out selling point would be the food on board. I've had many ship visits and sampled food from many other popular cruise liners and Fred’s beat them all. As we went as a group of 16 we made our own entertainment in the evening. The second night we did karaoke which was brilliant. There were quizzes and activities throughout the day along with singers playing the piano, however, we were busy looking at cabins, eating cream teas, having a tour of the bridge, tour through the galley, and making cocktails! Definitely go to the Lido Lounge in the evening for a bit of liveliness. It's worth paying £20 extra for the specialty restaurant. The food is out of this world and the atmosphere is great to celebrate a special occasion. The buffet is very nice and the main restaurant is still really good as well! A huge range of cocktails are available; something for everyone and at a reasonable price. Very good value drinks package if you would spend over £25 a day on alcohol. My personal favourite was the Long Island Iced Tea.”
Jenny Ferns, Personal Travel Consultant
“Rooms on the Black Watch were a good size and very spacious. Clean and decorated nicely. The entertainment was good and included a pianist, a singing duo and a karaoke night. The service throughout the ship was outstanding, the staff were always ready to help to. The food again was delicious; of a very high standard and always hot, fresh, and most of all enjoyable to eat. My highlight of the trip was the bridge tour, it was very informative and fascinating to see what and how much work goes into sailing a big ocean liner. The overall experience was fantastic and I would definitely sail with Fred. Olsen again. It was a fab educational. I would recommend the Traditional Afternoon Tea which takes place in the Observatory and only £8.95pp. At the Black Watch Fine Dining Restaurant (a supplement of £20pp) the food was to die for. The menu which lit up when you opened it was a really elegant touch. The steak was cooked to perfection and the wine complemented the meal. Reservations are recommended.”
Bella Murphy, Blandford Branch
“I was lucky enough to get the chance to experience a two night educational cruise with Fred. Olsen! The ship has a passenger capacity of just under 800 people giving the cruise a really personal feel and by the end of my first day the staff were already calling me by name. While on board I was lucky enough to visit the galley where all the food is prepared to order, meaning everything is made from scratch. The first night we ate in the main dining room and sampled a five course menu whilst being lucky enough to watch the sunset over the ocean as we tucked into the fabulous food. We also had the opportunity to explore the empty cabins as well as completing an orientating game that allowed us to really get to know the ship! We were allowed into the bridge, where the ship is controlled - a very exclusive visit as you are not normally allowed into this area of the ship! This was followed by a champagne afternoon tea, which was to die for! Finally, in the evening we had a go at cocktail making, where I made the best Mojito I have ever tasted, if I do say so myself! This was then followed by a luxury three course meal in the speciality dining room, where I had my first ever taste of scallops and loved them! I would highly recommend Fred. Olsen for those who enjoy good food and wine but also prefer a smaller ship. The staff were so attentive and the ship was very well organised. Overall, an excellent experience."
Kirsty Mitchell, Personal Travel Consultant
"I was so impressed with the overall experience on the ship; the food was outstanding, the staff were professional, attentive and friendly, and the cabins surprisingly spacious. Although the ship was very old they have done a good job to keep it well maintained. The group took part in some of the activities and entertainment while on the ship which was thoroughly enjoyable. We took advantage of the extra supplement restaurant which was amazing and well worth it and we also did the afternoon tea in the observatory which was really enjoyable. The food and entertainment was excellent and we were really lucky with the weather which made the experience that bit more enjoyable as we were only sailing from Southampton to Liverpool, however, the sun shone both days. The ship experience overall was more enjoyable than I expected it to be so we had an amazing time.”
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