Enjoy day trips and sightseeing tours when the Black Watch arrives in to harbour.
In September I went for an 11-day cruise on Fred Olsen’s Black Watch.
It was a full ship that sailed from Rosyth with 800 or so passengers (many Sunday Post readers, I’m delighted to say). Our itinerary was the Channel Island of Guernsey and the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain.
I’ll tell you about some of the wonderful ports of call next week but this week I’d like to tell you about the ship, because as it sails from both Greenock and Rosyth (not to mention Newcastle and Liverpool) it’s a super-convenient way of having a holiday without having the dreaded airport experience.
The Black Watch came into service with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in 1996 and the vessel offers a worldwide programme to the Canary Islands, Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords and Arctic Circle, Baltic, Africa, the Caribbean, Around the World, and Discover South America.
All cabins, from singles to balcony suites, are equipped with TVs, phones, private facilities (many bathrooms have a bath tub as well as a shower), hairdryer and individually-controlled air conditioning.
A total of 66 suites and cabins also have private balconies. There are four cabins equipped for use by wheelchair passengers and I’ve never been on any ship that takes more care of passengers with walking disabilities.
The mainly-Filipino 300-plus crew are just superb, and help infirm passengers at every turn. We sailed with at least half the passengers with some form of walking aid and, when asked, they all commented on how good this cruise line was and how it was the only holiday they’d now consider.
You’ll never go short of food, that’s for sure. Breakfast stops at 10am, but don’t worry, lunch is just round the corner at noon. There’s free tea, coffee and water all day, though if you want a specialty coffee you’ll have to pay.
There’s also a charge for a formal afternoon tea (a bit mean, I think), but it’s under £7 and well worth it.
Meals are served in the two main indoor restaurants, outdoors by the two pools, and one indoor restaurant for informal buffet dining.
The selection of bars and lounges ensures plenty of choice for passengers, day and night, whether it’s peace and quiet in the library you seek, or dancing in the Lido Lounge.
The main show lounge provides the setting for the nightly cabaret show, whilst the Observatory Lounge on the top deck gives a panoramic view.
And let me just sing the praises of the entertainment crew we had. Dunfermline-born comic/singer Clark Stewart a veteran of more than 1,000 cruises was absolutely excellent. We also had the talented Black Watch Troup, two excellent comedians and a host of good guest lecturers.
Captain Mikael Degerlund (from Finland) was on the ship when I sailed and was a delightful Master to sail under. My Captain’s Table and visit to the Bridge were great fun.
We had three formal nights where a gala dinner and photographs were the order of the day. Dig out your cocktail dress and DJ/Kilt. It’s a lovely occasion and a big part of the fun of cruising.
On-board facilities also include golf nets, a gym and fitness centre with beauty salon, two outdoor pools, two exercise pools and a whirlpool jacuzzi. The medical centre is staffed by a doctor and two nurses.
Smoking is prohibited in all indoor passenger areas including cabins and suites, on private balconies, and allowed only in designated areas on the outside decks.
If you like a drink opt for the All-Inclusive package. For an additional £10 a day you can have unlimited house wine, beers, soft drinks and, although their bar prices aren’t exorbitant, for most people it’s a good choice. As is usual on cruise ships that are not all-inclusive, and where alcohol has to be purchased on-board, it is not permitted to buy booze ashore and bring it into your cabin. All bags are x-rayed on return to the ships and if you’ve bought a tipple it will be taken from you until the end of the cruise.
Like I say though, that’s just the norm on any ship.
A similar cruise in 2015 with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines on Black Watch is a seven-night Medieval Towns & Museums cruise departing Liverpool June 19. Ports of call will be: La Coruna, Bilbao and La Rochelle, returning to Liverpool on June 26. Prices for this cruise start from £759 per person, based on an inside twin-bedded cabin, subject to availability, and includes all food and entertainment on board, and port taxes. Call 0800 0355 242 or visit fredolsencruises.com. Or visit an ABTA travel agent.