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Cruise Ship Information

MS Black Watch is a cruise ship, currently owned and operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. She was built by Wärtsilä Helsinki New Shipyard, Finland for Royal Viking Line as Royal Viking Star, entering service in 1972. She has also sailed for Norwegian Cruise Lines as Westward and Royal Cruise Line as Star Odyssey.

Atmosphere on board

Black Watch went into dry dock on November 4, 2014, for an 11-day refurbishment and will have 27 cabins on Lido Deck 7 fitted with balcony terraces, which will extend out 1.2 metres from the ship's bulkhead. The rest of the changes include various engineering works, general refurbishment and interior and exterior painting.

 

This sleek, Finnish built mid-sized ship designed for long distance cruising started life as the Royal Viking Star, entering service on June 26 1972. She was built by Wärtsilä in Helsinki as a six star vessel and owned by Royal Viking Line, as were her sisters, Royal Viking Sky and Royal Viking Sea, which followed in 1973. These elegant ships were considered to be amongst the most luxurious cruise ships in the world at the time.

 

In 1992 it was acquired by Norwegian Cruise Line and renamed the Westward, and in 1994 became the Star Odyssey and spent two years as a member of the now-defunct Royal Cruise Line.

 

Acquired in 1996 by Norway-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, it was renamed the Black Watch after a Scottish Regiment and nowadays is best known for its innovative worldwide itineraries, outstanding service and affordable rates. Since Black Watch carries primarily British passengers the U.K. influence is evident in everything from onboard activities and lectures to cuisine and currency (all charges are assessed in pounds). The ship inspires extreme loyalty among past passengers as on a typical cruise upwards of 50 percent may be repeaters.

 

The continuing refurbishment programme on Black Watch means she is an attractive vessel and an appealing option, especially for the older set looking for a relaxing and authentic cruising experience.

 

Family with Kids/Teens

Hosts are available on cruises with a sufficient number of children, to organise activities like pizza and dance parties.

 

Past Passenger Programs

The main business of the ship resides on Main Deck 5 where you will find Reception, shore excursions desk, two retail shops and photo gallery. The Atlantic Deck below houses the beauty salon though massage treatments do take place in the fitness centre on Sun Deck 10.

 

The spacious cinema and medical centre are on Marina Deck 3, while the Internet café, library and card room are located on Lido Deck 7. The self-service launderettes are on Decks 4 and 5; purchase a token at Reception and washing detergent is automatically discharged.

Fitness And Spa

The fitness centre on Sun Deck 10 is surprisingly spacious with enough room for exercise classes, such as Pilates, and for numerous pieces of workout equipment. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow guests using treadmills and stationary bikes a view of the sea. There is no Spa per se, but there are treatment rooms for massages and spa treatments.

 

Golf nets and tennis courts are also on Sun Deck (10) while deck quoits and shuffleboard are available on Lido Deck 7. The walking track, also on Lido Deck 7, has a couple of obstacles to navigate around (large screens used as wind breaks). The pool on Lounge Deck 6 is heated which makes swimming a pleasure, and is also quite large at 36 feet (11 metres) by 21 feet (6.5 metres) and with a depth of over 6 feet (2.18 metres) at the deepest point. The pool has a shelf or platform that runs along both its sides. This ‘shelf' is covered with water so you must wade in a few inches of water before getting into the pool. A Jacuzzi is situated a few feet away sharing the same platform and the entire pool area has a surplus of sun loungers. Marquee Deck 9 has a small pool and two Jacuzzis and more sun loungers.

 

There are other recreational options such as a Games Room on Deck 6 behind the Neptune Lounge with table tennis and board games.

 

Black Watch also has three golf nets which can be used by passengers. They are often used on cruises that feature Fred. Olsen's Flagship Golf package (additional cost to the cruise).

Food & Dining

The Glenentar is the main dining room on the Black Watch and features traditional dining with both buffet service (with two identical set ups on either side of the restaurant) and waiter service. Simply decorated in brown and orange autumnal colours, the Glentanar Restaurant serves open-seating breakfast and lunch buffets daily (there are also a la carte items that can be ordered from a menu for both meals) as well as early and late assigned-seating dinners. The listed times for breakfast in Glenentar vary depending on whether it is a sea day or an excursion day. Evening meal times are fixed with two seatings: 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. During meal times, especially breakfast and lunchtime, expect this restaurant it be extremely busy. The seating configuration consists of tables for two, four, six and eight and couples will frequently be seated with other passengers though there are a fair number of tables for two if a couple prefers to dine on their own. A small adjoining room with Asian decor and flower beds with orchids called the Orchid Room, is also available for dining. As it is slightly set apart, it is private but it is not sectioned off. You can request to be seated in the Orchid Room but there is no additional charge. The menu is the same.

 

Adjoining the Glenentar is a large lounge with bright gold and pink floral décor with a striking patterned carpet and is called the Braemar Room. French doors separate the Braemar Room from a bar called the Braemar Lounge and this adjoins the casual, buffet style Garden Café, where ethnic-themed nights might include Indian, Thai or Chinese cuisine. Decorated with fresh flowers and potted plants, the cafe's tables seat two, four and six persons, with tables for two closest to the windows. Open-seating breakfast and lunch buffets are also available daily in either the Garden Cafe or, weather permitting, outside at the Poolside Café on Lounge Deck.

 

At all buffets you carry your own tray -- although waiters are very attentive and will assist if requested. In warm weather, light lunches with dishes such as hamburgers, excellent fish and chips, salads and ice cream are available at the Marquee Grill near the pool on Marquee Deck. Poolside Café6 near the main pool on the Lounge Deck, serves buffet breakfast and lunch, depending on the weather.

 

High tea with white glove service is offered on sea days in the Observatory Lounge with an esoteric selection of tea: China Petal, Imperial Gunpowder and Earl Grey teas are just a few.

 

At midnight, the Supper Club offers burgers, sandwiches and sweets as well as tea and coffee in the Garden Cafe.

 

Quality of service in all dining venues is excellent with food delivered promptly and tables cleared rapidly. Several items available at the breakfast buffet everyday appeal to British tastes such as kippers, baked beans, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. Overall food quality is average with meat dishes more popular among passengers than fish entrees; dinner menus offer a good variety of choices including two appetisers, three soups, two salads, four entrees and a vegetarian entree plus cheeses and several desserts including a sugar-free option. Most food items are purchased in the U.K.


Fellow Passengers

Fred. Olsen passengers are English, by and large, with the majority being from the Midlands and the North. There is a sprinkling of other nationalities but they speak English. The livelier passengers will end up in the Lido Lounge after the evening's entertainment but most turn in early. On ship days, passengers will often be found in the library or one of the lounges with a good book to keep them company. Fred. Olsen's Baltic and World itineraries attract an older age group, probably averaging 70, while on the Norwegian fjords or any other adventure cruises, the median age goes down.


Tipping

Allow up to £4 per day (£2 each for your cabin steward and waiter) per passenger.


Our recommendation

Our Ship in Torquay is only a short walk from the town centre and some of the many excellent attractions this devon sea side resort has. We serve dinner bed and breakfast or bed and breakfast only hotel breaks. Check our recent customer reviews on our site or on tripadvisor and see other customers comments about our fantastic food and hospitality in Torquay.With two sun decks, there is an abundance of space to relax inside and out. There is a pleasant shaded area, as well as a sunning area with a spa pool available for relaxing in whilst cruising through the stunning countryside.

Shannon Princess's professional crew of five is comprised of Master Chef, Tour Guide, Deck-Hand and Hostess, led by a knowledgeable and experienced Captain who will ensure your cruise is highly enjoyable and memorable. Their knowledge of the region, combined with the 8 bicycles provided, will allow you to explore the areas you cruise through, in as much detail as you desire.