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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Very interesting cruise -AUTHENTIC India - so good variety of destinations. Some passengers were not as happy visiting Porbandor, the birthplace of Gandhi, which was very poor, but was made interesting by excellent shore tour guide. ... Read More
Very interesting cruise -AUTHENTIC India - so good variety of destinations. Some passengers were not as happy visiting Porbandor, the birthplace of Gandhi, which was very poor, but was made interesting by excellent shore tour guide. Authentic India means visiting real India - in a safe manner. Shore excursions were all excellent - brilliant variety & choice. Excellent guides- very professional. Extra trip to Taj Mahal was highpoint of trip. well planned, excellent hotel in Delhi, and excellent guides & representatives at every point. Only niggle - definitive info not available until just before we went so missed out on trip to Goa, because didn't know exactly when we were leaving. Trip was expensive, but think everyone realised where money had been spent. Ship, as always, very comfortable. Staff absolutely excellent. Food always fantastic and variety of entertainment to suit all tastes. Good choice of daytime activities. Love Fred Olsen small ships & fact you can walk around the decks. Will definitely be cruising with them again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
We embarked in Brisbane instead of Sydney as it was more convenient for us to do so. Embarking the ship was very straight forward, easy and professional and all our details and cards were waiting for us. Yes this ship is an old girl, 42 ... Read More
We embarked in Brisbane instead of Sydney as it was more convenient for us to do so. Embarking the ship was very straight forward, easy and professional and all our details and cards were waiting for us. Yes this ship is an old girl, 42 years! we knew this when we booked so didn't expect a brand new sparkling ship, the price decided it for us. With this in mind it was still in good condition for the age, rust here and there but the crew were always trying to keep the paint up to it. This did not worry us though. The inside of the ship was kept spotless. The Food in the main restaurant was great, the service was efficient, our two waiters could not do any more for us, don't think we had the same meal served twice in 18 days. We ordered wine and never had to ask for our glass to be filled. We were on the second sitting 8.30pm this was quite late and the show for us was at 10.30pm so it did make it a late night but on the plus side a lot of times when leaving ports we were able to see the sunset and enjoy the sail away party, if you were on the early sitting you missed out. Think it would be better if the meal times were changed, second sitting was say about 8pm and the show at 10pm this would make it a better time, think it would have suited a lot of the older generation to eat at 5.30pm and their show at 7.30pm. We loved having breakfast in the garden cafe each morning as it was very relaxing, no queuing up for food, no crowds of people. One thing I did notice on this cruise was that for some reason there was an absence of coughing and people with colds. This would have been one of the first cruises I have been on that I did not catch some sort of cough or cold. They were very strict with the use of the hand wash and you were not allowed in the restaurant without using it. I did not see anybody refusing to use it as I have on other ships! So good on you Fred Olsen. Our cabin was quite low in the ship, also a bit noisy! think we were near the engines!! It did have two portholes, having single beds did make the room seem larger, you could not join the beds together, not sure but think most cabins only had single beds. The room was cleaned twice a day and our cabin steward was very friendly. No complaints. I found the doona on the bed a bit too warm at night, I suppose I could have asked for a blanket but we just turned down the air conditioner to the lowest and then it was alright. There were no children on board or even teenagers, probably as it was a world cruise. I did not see anywhere were they would have entertained children or teenagers even if they were on board. I don't think this cruise would have suited people in their 20's to 40's as it did cater for an older generation, we are both in our early 60's but didn't mind it a bit. We wanted a relaxing cruise and that is what we got. We still had fun, loved the shows at night especially the Fred Olsen Dancers, they were not only dancers but could sing really well too. Did not miss one show! not too keen on some of the other entertainers they had. There are no poker machines on board, not a poker machine player so didn't effect us. The stand out in the lectures was the man from Customs who gave us some great stories, enjoyed them all. We had been on the Balmoral the year before and personally I prefer the Black Watch, it's a smaller ship than some of the other big cruise lines but because of that it had a really nice feel and atmosphere to it. The majority of the passengers on this cruise were English having embarked in Southampton or Sydney and we found them to be very friendly and interesting, made some great friends on our table. They were also very interested in finding out all about Australia. All in all we enjoyed our cruise and would certainly do another Black Watch cruise if it came to Australia. We knew it was an old ship so yes a few things needs fixing up but it didn't deter from the overall look and feel of the ship. We got value for money and had a great time. Would love to try the other Fred Olsen ships as well. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
This cruise was the Singapore / Vancouver sectors of the "Balmoral's"2009 world cruise. It was very much a destination orientated cruise. The flights to Singapore and from Vancouver were Fred. Olsen exclusive charters ... Read More
This cruise was the Singapore / Vancouver sectors of the "Balmoral's"2009 world cruise. It was very much a destination orientated cruise. The flights to Singapore and from Vancouver were Fred. Olsen exclusive charters operated by Thomsonfly. Apart from a hiccup and a slight delay in Vancouver when the cabin crew discovered that the company in Gatwick had forgotten to load food for the return flight into the hold the flights were good. As a regular on Fred. Olsen and on my second cruise on this ship I am still not completely sold on it and still prefer the "Black Watch" or the "Boudicca". It is a rather anonymous ship mainly because of its larger number of passengers.There is also an amount of wasted space on the ship especially on the Main and Lido decks. Internally the decor on the ship was pretty good but externally it was looking a little "tired" after two months of cruising the world. I had a double cabin on a single occupancy basis and it was more than satisfactory. There was ample storage space. As ever the service in the restaurants, bars and cabins was excellent with most friendly staff. The same cannot be said of the reception desk staff who give the impression that dealing with passengers is upsetting their routine. The food was of high quality. The daytime lecturers were good but it was pity that Edwina Currie gave virtually the same lectures on my last cruise. The cabaret acts varied from first class to dire but were certainly much better than in the recent past. The Captain certainly led the way with his enthusiasm for the ports of call. He is a most approachable and sociable person epitomized by the fact that he was on the gangway at Vancouver to shake hands with all 600 passengers who were disembarking. We had the remarkable event on board in that as we crossed the International Date Line in that we gained an extra day so celebrated two Easters! The destinations were superb; Chan May in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tianjin in China, Incheon in Korea, Kagoshima and Yokohama in Japan, Kodiak, Seward, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan in Alaska. The shore tours were very good indeed especially the 3-day overland tour in China. We were fortunate in Alaska for we were the first cruise ship of the season so we could visit the ports in peace and quiet which is unknown when the monster cruise ships call in the Summer. In Alaska we were we were very fortunate with the weather as apart from a wet visit to Kodiak island we had virtual wall to wall sunshine albeit quite chilly at times. It wa a most enjoyable cruise to lovely destinations. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I believe FO first time on this itinerary to India and initial visa problems should iron out as its definitely a wonderful country to visit. The ship IS getting old and the first two nights it was like sleeping on a Power plate the ... Read More
I believe FO first time on this itinerary to India and initial visa problems should iron out as its definitely a wonderful country to visit. The ship IS getting old and the first two nights it was like sleeping on a Power plate the vibration was so bad (although after the safety officer dined with us and we complained - it stopped!). Problems with toilet drainage (my cabin in particular wasn’t totally solved) was evident. LOTS of black soot from funnel made me towns and cossies dirty - be warned. The show company were absolutely superb - top class entertainment, well choreographed and super singers (who also ran the singing for fun which was great!) - the little blonde Niamh disappeared the last few nights but hope she’s okay. Guest entertainers, Simon the comedian, Jo the saxophonist and singer along with Aiden the magician were very good also and the last show they did where they worked together was hilarious - nice to see how well they got on Big shout out to the destination desk, the lovely ladies Alex and Jen were SO helpful in altering plans and changing shore tours without flapping at all. Customer services - its probably a cultural thing but the young ladies there were coolly professional but totally without empathy; so when you’re cabin card didn’t work 3 times in succession a bland ‘I’ll print you another’ truly isn’t sufficient when you’d actually like an “Oh I’m so sorry about that” - this aspect was commented on by several guests and I believe needs addressing by FO on the staff training side Cabin, you get what you pay for and my balcony suite was good (apart from loo problems!) and kept spotless by Miac. The food was lovely throughout and despite the rather unfriendly waiting staff in the poolside restaurant, I often used it for breakfast as the eggs benedict and fruit plate were superb. The ship was only half full so our table at dinner only had 4 out of 6 people but we all got on well and the waiting staff were very nice and efficient. (We ate in four seasons) The excursions with one exception (Zeebop by the sea) were excellent and I’d recommend them esp the Tuk tuk rides!! I did enjoy the cruise, loved the ports we called at (will def visit Sri Lanka for a full visit) and this boat comes 3rd out of 4 of the Freds for me. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
Me and my partner went on the Australasian leg of the Black Watch World cruise 2104. We boarded the ship in Sydney March 15, 2014. When we had boarded we learnt from some of the fellow passengers that there had been a newspaper article ... Read More
Me and my partner went on the Australasian leg of the Black Watch World cruise 2104. We boarded the ship in Sydney March 15, 2014. When we had boarded we learnt from some of the fellow passengers that there had been a newspaper article about the previous legs of the cruise.The ship had broken its propeller and had it be repaired. Also we were informed that a passenger had jumped off the ship and committed suicide. Well onboard we found our cabin on deck 5, said to be a deluxe cabin. Couldn't find out where the luxury was. After a week we were informed that we had to move because of an emergent maintenance. This was informed to us through a letter under our cabin door at 10 pm! No personal information. No explanation. They wanted to move us to a cabin on deck 4 with portholes. And, as a gesture of good-will they offered us 320 British pounds in compensation! This was just what we had paid extra for not having portholes! Then they offered us a cabin on deck 8 and told us that we had to move the next day after we came back from a tour. Next day, when inspecting that cabin, we found out that they repaired the bathroom so we could not move in there. At this stage our patience with the ships staff was running out. But finally it ended with them offering us another cabin on deck 8 with a great balcony, some sort of suite. OK, it ended fine for us. But how do they treat their passengers that do not argue with them? The food onboard is very British! No real highlights. I would say... just average. You do not travel with Black Watch for the food! I would say perhaps a 2,5-3 out of 5. Definitely not more. How can they serve canned litchies when you are in ports where they have so much fresh fruit? We got the answer the last day in Singapore. They captain then announced that the ship had to wait in port for at least one more day due to a late incoming container ship from England. This ship should deliver three containers of food from - England!!! All food onboard so far had been brought from the beginning of the journey, from England. Can't British people eat other food than British? Fred Olsen do what they can do make money. So, for example you have to pay 5 pounds for the shuttle buses. 1 pound for 50 cl water on excursions which are heavily overpriced! Fellow passengers? Mainly British lower middle class/working class people in their late 70s and up. Perhaps even older than that. Not all passengers were using wheelchairs or rollator walkers but many, many. I don't know how many who died during the cruise out of old age, but it has to be quite a few. The ship priest died in Cairns. Even if not all passengers are British so do Fred Olsen treat all passengers as if they were. All entertainment on the ship catered to the British. On tv they just had British channels. If you were not British you were more or less out. We, not British, didn't really matter to them! The ship has some formal nights, but it looked more like a masquerade. Formal did not really mean formal to mane passengers. Also they had some theme nights. One of them is British! What on earth is that? How do you dress when you are not British? The ship in itself? Well, from the outside she is a beauty. But on the inside she is an old wreck, like the passengers. The water in the taps was brown/yellow from rust (?). They had close the water system quite often for maintenance. The rust on the outside showed in so many places. I just wonder how she looks on the inside. Or perhaps I don't want to know. In short: The crew saved the cruise! The captain Age Danielsen did a good job with telling us stories etc about the places we visited. The staff in the Garden Café did a very good job under the management of the Captain waiter. Would I go again with Fred Olsen? Hard to think so. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Went on a sector of a World cruise as interesting itinerary. Embarkation was a total mix up as we were taken to wrong terminal at Dubai and left to almost check in on the wrong ship whereby we had to then walk along with everyone else from ... Read More
Went on a sector of a World cruise as interesting itinerary. Embarkation was a total mix up as we were taken to wrong terminal at Dubai and left to almost check in on the wrong ship whereby we had to then walk along with everyone else from our coach down the dock with our had luggage to the Balmoral tent where we were met with "Are you looking for the Balmoral". We then proceeded to the ship where no friendly welcoming was waiting just "your cabins are waiting. Ship was a dated rust bucket whereas we expected high quality sedate cruising since it is advertised as home from home . The cabin, food were 2nd class guest house standard and the entertainment Leeds Music Hall/Blackpool Pier. The bedlinen was nothing short of shabby, bobbley duvet cover which if it was ever changed in 25 days then the same quality was put back on. Bed was 2 small singles with no headboard placed under the picture window rather than on the side so you could actually see out of the window and you couldnt sit up in bed because of the window sill jutting into your neck. Examples of food, sausage and mash/steak pie and fish and chips at DINNER! Mostly accompanied by frozen peas and carrots. If you wanted vegetables you had to pile your plate up lunchtime at the self service. Supposedly 5 course dinner. 2 mouthfuls of salad on a large plate does not constitute an appetiser, followed by watery soup with virtually no content, 3rd course more salad, choices of main variable and then the smallest desserts you ever saw. Cheese and biscuits never offered because this was available on the 11pm buffet. Our waiter was surly all cruise. He was given our table as an extra and every night almost threw the menu at us and wanted to know your order before you had a chance to see what was available. He made it clear he wanted you out by taking cruet off table every night half way through the meal. If you picked something other than main course choices which you were entitled to do as detailed on the menu ie omelette or chicken he made it clear he was not happy. Your plates were almost thrown at you. First cruise where I hadnt had mix of female and male waiters. Girls are more chatty and friendly. This man never once in 4 weeks asked our names, what sort of day we'd had, had we enjoyed our sightseeing etc. Dinner should have been an experience on a long cruise. The ship had a coughing virus when we got on in Dubai which spread like wildfire throughout the ship. Despite my best hygiene precautions I was one of those who succumbed and had to spend 2 hrs one night on deck to give my neighbours and husband relief from what was described as a 40 a day smokers bark. The virus spreading wasnt helped by the restaurant staff insisting at breakfast and lunch that tables were filled so healthy people (me) were placed next to coughers and then I was one of those coughing placed next to healthy people. With the best will in the world and coughing only into hankies, you are touching communual tongs, butter dishes and milk jugs with hands that have been anti-bacterialised going into the dining room but they should have allowed people to sit apart if they choose. We witnessed a member of he catering staff in what could only be described as the canteen (called the Palms Cafe) sneeze all over a tray of cups and saucers and then had them out to passengers. The ship needed a thorough deep clean, the public toilets particularly by the Palms cafe were often smelly and the edges of the floor tiles were filthy. The ship was clearly unstable in rough weather but passengers might have been able to take extra precautions if the captain had indicated that we were in for an extremely bumpy ride out of Singapore. I've been on bigger ships in a Force 11 and never had a problem. This time in what the Captain described as a Force 7-8 I was extremely seasick before taking seasickness pills along with many others on board. This was our first time with Fred Olsen but never again. It seemed that all rounders as they called themselves took priority and the 400 or so who joined in Dubai were just making up the numbers. The ship rarely docked on time so port time was limited. There was something extremely wrong with the gangway so getting on and off the ship was slow. In Myanamar due to traffic the coaches had to be escorted and therefore were in convoy which meant 20 full coaches arriving back to the ship together. Disabled people were left with no canopy for shade on the dock for long periods in temps of 34degrees because the only gangway was a makeshift thing balanced on wooden pallets which for health and safety could only allow 3 to board at a time. Every night the seating on all aft decks were covered in soot from the funnel and one one morning the aft top sun deck was so badly covered in soot and debris from the funnel that you couldnt avoid walking through it and the soot was then taken into the carpeted areas giving the cleaners more work shampooing them but the actual deck remained covered in soot even when sunbathers were assembling after 9.30am. I consider this entire cruise was poor value for the money invested. The jingoism of "British Night" union jack waving and singing of nationalistic songs was so over the top I was embarrassed on behalf of the few foreign nationals on board as Brits are obviously 90% of the clientele of this cruise line. If you are of sound mind physically active and wish to experience rather than criticise other cultures this is not the ship for you. On a positive note we understand the chef left in Hong Kong when we did so perhaps the quality of the food has improved and the majority of fellow passengers were very friendly.. Read Less
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