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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Having been on a Fred Olsen cruise before and seeing this one departing from my home port of Belfast. Being a regular cruiser I was aware the check in system is normally the worst experience. This was much better and when we arrived ... Read More
Having been on a Fred Olsen cruise before and seeing this one departing from my home port of Belfast. Being a regular cruiser I was aware the check in system is normally the worst experience. This was much better and when we arrived there was no one else in the queue. The short journey to the ship was done on a local bus. The only negative point was when we arrived on board only a small snack was supplied. this was at 2pm and as we were not having our evening meal to 8.30 this was a bit too long. The room was clean and as described. The ship overall was a bit dated but presentable. The staff like any other ship were helpful. The normal shows and actives were available. The all inclusive was described as any thing available however I found that for selected teas and drinks for example cocktails and specialty tea was priced at half price. Barcadi would be my drink of choice however again this was half price a local white rum was choice. ad to see that from the information we were given no more cruises will start from Belfast after the two planned for next year. Hope to be able to go on the ship again next year. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We wanted to do the German Rivers Cruise and this lived up to our expectations with the towns visited. We have now cruised on Braema twice and find this ship is 'homely' and has a good atmosphere. As always the crew are ... Read More
We wanted to do the German Rivers Cruise and this lived up to our expectations with the towns visited. We have now cruised on Braema twice and find this ship is 'homely' and has a good atmosphere. As always the crew are brilliant, the food good. Our frustration surrounds the fact that the ship was extended and more cabins added, which was clearly a commercial decision to improve the cost effectiveness of running this ship. The fact that the Neptune Lounge was not redesigned/ extended is a major weakness. Port Talks on sea days are a nightmare as you have to be up very early to get a seat in the lounge. Watching these in the cabin on the television is a VERY POOR substitute. We are not saying NEVER AGAIN - but we will be considering it very carefully and the itinerary will have to be very good. Over and Out Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
As many have stated the ship is small and this possibly encourages the mainly friendly atmosphere. The demographic is narrow with significant numbers of elderly people and few families. A small number of so called "Chavs" still ... Read More
As many have stated the ship is small and this possibly encourages the mainly friendly atmosphere. The demographic is narrow with significant numbers of elderly people and few families. A small number of so called "Chavs" still managed to feature on board and at times made a concerted effort to cause disruption. This was particularly bad one evening with one chap making a nuisance of himself in the corridor after his partner had locked him out of their cabin.. I was more surprised that it seemed there is no CCTV in the walkways that picked up on this. It will have been threatening for some of the older people already in their cabins in that vicinity as the volume was very high with threats being issued.. The staff were consistently good and well motivated, they were so pleasant to deal with. Cabins are outdated and noticeably small but very clean and well serviced. Food was generally speaking good with an odd blip and there was plenty of choice. We took one organised shore trip and opted out for independent travel after this. We visited Nantes by coach followed by a trip up river. The coach tour segment focused on redundant warehouses and old cranes which was bizarre with the guide literally forgetting the outstanding cathedral. Her commentary was dull and delivered in a monotone which rapidly became irritating. Some comments were inappropriate, for example she pointed out a nursery onboard a barge type of vessel for small children and said that when the Teachers became sick of the children they could throw them out into the river. With 250 people on board chances are someone has been involved in a tragedy with children or water, not good. The ensiung trip on the river boat proved suffocating due to the heat and despite being assured the the Shore Trip FO Rep that the windows opened, this was not the case. Oversold and under delivered never a good combination, so take care when choosing trips! The other downside of this ship is the flat bottom that allows access to the shallow water ways. We had two bouts of seas described as moderate swell by the Captain and this caused significant rolling. At one point all the children were washed out of the pool and then back into it, by the water sluicing from side to side where it was captured by the retaining wall built for this purpose. Would I cruise with FO again, possibly, but on a different ship mainly due to the effect of the seas on the quality of the journey. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
After cruising with Royal Caribbean, Cunard & P & O (never had any problems) some "acquaintances" persuaded us to give Fred Olsen a try. So we thought, a quick 7 day "Easter Getaway", across the North Sea & ... Read More
After cruising with Royal Caribbean, Cunard & P & O (never had any problems) some "acquaintances" persuaded us to give Fred Olsen a try. So we thought, a quick 7 day "Easter Getaway", across the North Sea & up a couple of rivers, what could go wrong ! A letter arrived just before departure stating; "Some F/O Braemar passengers have been affected by mild Gastric Flu, therefore there will be a delay in departing". I phoned their office and was told "some people had taken on-board viral gastric flu from grandchildren, but no one had been positive tested for noro-virus". Fred O Ipswich told us that no Car Park booking paperwork was required as APNR was in place at Harwich, I queried this, as we needed it when sailing from Harwich before and were told we were incorrect. We arrived at the car park - no ANPR was ever in place, this caused additional delay as well as embarkation due to fumigation. Finally on board, access to our cabin was prohibited as we had to carry our hand luggage & wear the lifejackets for the Evacuation Drill. Breakfast & lunch were taken from the cordoned off open buffet containers by serving, non fluent waiters. Food requested and quantities misunderstood. At all meals salt & pepper packets, butter, sugar etc. had to be repeatedly requested. The waiters were overwhelmed and often did not return with the requested items before the food, tea/coffee was cold. All this took a considerable time, with no additional time allowed for consumption. We were regularly rushed to leave the restaurants, closing at, say 9.30 a.m. didn't mean last orders - they wanted you out the door by then. No fresh milk whatsoever available through out the cruise. Inclusive draught mixers were always flat; bottles & tins were available at additional cost. Despite the heighted hygiene measures with all the disinfectant spray (causing rough & swollen hands) menus were handed from passenger to passenger, and with each drink order a signature was required - using the same, possibly infected pen (we used our own). Identical food (under another description) was served from buffet lunch to dinner. All guests were forced to sit very close together yet dozens of tables were empty (with less guests each time as the "Gastric Flu" clearly spread). When asked by us where their "partner" was, we were regularly told "they're got a cold or flu", one guest (with a straight face) said her husband got sunstroke (in cold, 5 degree Hamburg the previous day!). Maybe the Ships Doctor had told them not to admit to any possible Gastro Problems. Often when noticed a new red sticker over an open door, we could see the poor patient laying in bed, no bunk beds in there - the reason for a red sticker often used to denote additional beds.. There were large red bins marked "Gastro" parked in the corridors, the cabin On the only sunny afternoon, we could not sit in certain deck areas because of "cleansing protection, for our passengers wellbeing". The Captain updated the situation every day, blaming the passengers, but they were fine for the first couple of days. His final comment was always "Look after each other". We purchased hand wipes, for use each time we touched door handles etc. I saw no Male public toilets with urinals, consequently queues of men formed to use the single WC, toilet rolls rolled around the floor. After two days the Captain requested everybody to return to their cabin if they needed the toilet. When berthing the ship's bow thrustors shuddered & rattled so much that decorations fell over. The Captain often chose this time to make his announcements, and his comments were drowned out and any useful information lost. Two days in Amsterdam consisted of arriving very late afternoon (dinner at 6.15pm) and leaving next day at 3pm. After arriving at the Church in Hamburg on Easter Monday, access was not possible as it was restricted to the regular Worshippers. The entry to Hamburg miniature railway world was delayed because F/O did not purchase the entry tickets in advance or advise the tour operator the numbers. The cruise was so stressful & rushed, upon returning home we are paranoid and still won't touch anything & are constantly washing our hands. I went to put my hand on the bannister and quickly recoiled, before I realised I was home. In contrast, my only reasonable experience were the evening meals served in the Grampian Restaurant. All in all a complete waste of money and a wasted week of our lives. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
This cruise went to Rouen, Amsterdam and Hamburg. In each port we stayed overnight. It was lovely cruising up the Seine to Rouen and also the Elbe into Hamburg. Very interesting and enjoyable. It was our first time on the Black Watch and ... Read More
This cruise went to Rouen, Amsterdam and Hamburg. In each port we stayed overnight. It was lovely cruising up the Seine to Rouen and also the Elbe into Hamburg. Very interesting and enjoyable. It was our first time on the Black Watch and although there were some things we liked, she really is getting very shabby. There were holes in the teak decks, the varnished rails were in dire need of varnish and the windows throughout the ship were very dirty. As the weather was not very warm, we obviously spent some time inside apart from when we were ashore. The food was fairly good, but having been on the Balmoral in January, the menus were exactly the same. At 67 I felt young. the majority of passengers were older than me. although I like the smaller ships, Black Watch felt rather too small for me. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
The Black Watch is a small ship with around 800 passengers but this is so much better than the super cruisers with thousands of people on board. Our first experience of this vessel was from Dubai to Southampton a few years previously so I ... Read More
The Black Watch is a small ship with around 800 passengers but this is so much better than the super cruisers with thousands of people on board. Our first experience of this vessel was from Dubai to Southampton a few years previously so I was looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with her. We drove to Dover, a distance of 110 miles and all motorway (M20). Porters were on hand to take our single piece of luggage and then we located our pre booked parking space on the quayside after which we strolled back to the Check In area. This area is bright and welcoming but if you want a sandwich or cuppa from the cafeteria you pay over the odds for it. Forget about the joining instructions in your pre cruise booklet as on check in you are given a number so it's a first come first serve basis for boarding. Gold Members go first however. Once onboard the cabin was easily located on deck 4 forward. As our booking was 'cabin detailed on arrival' we had no say in where our cabin was located and I would have preferred one more midships. However the seas were not going to be rough so cabin location was not an issue on this occasion. The cabin was spacious enough, two portholes, one permanent bed and a sofa bed in L shape configuration. Since sailing on her before, the Black Watch has been refurbished. The only major difference as far as I could see was the inclusion of 'The Courtyard' (Bar, seating, piano and new entrance to the Garden Cafe. My own opinion but I preferred the old setting where you could sit quietly and if so minded view brilliant models of Fred Olsen vessels. These are now scattered around the decks making viewing less pleasant. The main dining room, the Glentara Restaurant was clean and bright and the waiting staff were attentive and always smiling. The food was excellent and if you have a big appetite there is no problem in asking for a double portion. I was glad to see the 'Board of Trade sports day' was well run. For the uninitiated that last sentence is Merchant Navy speak for Lifeboat Drill. Our Muster Station was the Glentara Restaurant and after the roll call and life vest instruction we were led conga fashion to our lifeboat station. Our 'Coxswain' was one of the singers onboard and after the drill I asked him a couple of questions re launching procedures. He failed to reassure me that he would know what to do in a full emergency. Sailaway was quiet and beautiful as we turned west out of the port into the setting sun. Next stop Rouen where we arrived around 09.00hrs the following day. Excursions were few, Paris, Monet's Garden and Rouen Experience. We plumped for Monet's Garden which meant an hour and a half drive by coach. We couldn't understand why the excursion did not leave until 13.30 but the brilliant guide explained that the afternoon light showed off the Lily Pond to its fullest. Well worth the trip but and independent visit would have been cheaper by �£10-�£15. The entertainment on the first night was very good, the singers and dancers performed with gusto and the sound was brilliant for a small vessel. The other two nights were a comedienne magician and a comedian. I declined to attend these performances preferring to be entertained by an excellent duo in the Lido Bar. The last morning we used the ships shuttle (�£5pp) to visit Rouen city. The weather was not really in our favour as it was windy with rain squalls. We were dropped a short walk from the Cathedral Notre Dame which opened at 09.00hrs (Closed on Mondays). Venturing in to get out of the rain it was dark and not a patch on some other Cathedrals we have been in around the world. It was then the turn of the Tourist Information Office located opposite the Cathedral where I was able to obtain free wifi access. Afterwards we aimlessly walked round cobbled streets and rickety buildings soaking up the atmosphere which was dampened slightly by the wet weather. Having walked for an hour or more, we spied the Tourist Train which was about to leave. Costing €6pp we traversed more of the city that we had missed by foot and it was a welcome hour's trip out of the rain. Afterwards it was a mad dash to get the last shuttle bus back to the ship. Oh by the way our cabin was just three cabins down from the gangway so it was easy to hop on and off during the stay. The ship sailed at 13.30hrs and after cruising past the extensive dock area we were soon cruising along the River Seine passing beautiful scenery and the occasional riverside school where children came out to wave as we passed. The Captain obliged by giving long blasts on the ships horn. It was an excellent experience. Leaving the river and pilot around 20.30hrs we headed back to Dover in slightly choppy seas arriving around 06.30hrs. We had to vacate our cabin by 08.30hrs but disembarkation went very smoothly and we off the ship by 09.30hrs heading for home and looking forward to our next cruise 5 days hence. If I had one criticism it would be the occasional waft of, I assume, diesel fumes or was it sewerage. Not sure but it did not detract from the overall experience.   Read Less
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