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Michelle Stevens

Age: 36

Occupation:Financial Advisor

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Fred Olsen Cruises

Ship: Black Watch

Sailing Date: August 1st, 2007

Itinerary: Western Europe

We selected this cruise only 3 months before traveling as a last minute holiday – we hadn’t planned to go on a cruise this year but due to the ‘value for money’ being offered, we decided to book…. We paid £680 each for a 10 night cruise sailing from Dover.

Having cruised before, we were expecting a certain ‘standard’ of accommodations.  On previous trips we have opted for a lower level of cabin and have always been more than happy.  I think that if we were to travel with Fred Olsen again we would not opt for anything below the grade of an ‘Outside Higher Standard Cabin’.  Basic cabins on the Black Watch are VERY basic.  Be warned… 

The cabin we were originally allocated was rather scruffy, cramped and dated.  We requested an alternative cabin and after lots of arguing we were offered an upgrade to a junior suite – at an additional cost of £2,750!!  Doesn’t make it such a cheap holiday does it??

We were not happy with this and involved the Hotel Manager who agreed to upgrade us to a better cabin, but still at an additional charge reduced (apparently) from £1500 to £375.

So we moved to our new cabin.  The accommodations were ok – but very noisy when at sea.  Unless you are a heavy sleeper, I wouldn’t recommend cabin 3040.  The bathroom was tiny – the shower supplied hot and cold water – usually during the same shower… one moment it was lovely and hot, the next moment it was ice cold!  Good for the circulation I believe though.

In regards to the food – I don’t think I could have ANY grumbles.  It was very good and I would even go so far as to say, better than I expected.   I was a little disappointed that there was no possibility of having Eggs Benedict for breakfast, despite a request being made in advance to the Maitre’ d.  But on the whole – food was hot, well presented and super quality.  Waiting service was excellent.

We were on early seating and didn’t feel rushed at all in eating and being out of the restaurant in time for the 2nd sitting.

Communal areas were a little dated in the decorative style and it was surprising to learn that the ship had been refurbished in 2005 – it had a much more 1985 influence in the décor!

Entertainment was of a good standard.  The ‘in house’ animation team were very good at grouping people together to take part in activities such as shuffleboard and deck quoits.  We loved the daily quizzes too!  These guys just don’t seem to stop working. 

The evening shows were super and we did find these really enjoyable.  It’s a shame that the dancers mimed to so many of the songs – but I think this was probably due a reduced number of microphones being available and only the lead vocalists being able to use the ones they had.

Trips were of a good standard.  Shuttle buses were complementary, which makes a refreshing change.  Booking for trips seemed to close quite a while in advance, but we discovered that we could still book these after the specified closing date.

The age range of the clientele was mostly older, my husband is 43 and I am 36 so we were quite young in comparison to the vast majority of the guests, but we quite like the more refined traveler so this suited us well.  We traveled in the school summer holidays and have to say we were disappointed with the number of children on board.  Whilst they were all well behaved – we just felt there were too many of them around the pool etc!

Would we travel with Fred Olsen again?  Probably, but I would ensure we didn’t leave booking to the last minute.  I would also make sure that we booked a better standard of cabin as the basic level was just too basic for us.

Would we use our travel agent again?  No.  They had implied to us certain things about our accommodation that simply were not available.  Very disappointing.



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