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Black Watch

Words and photos by Patricia Dempsey

 

 

 

Previous ship visits

Van Gogh

Arion

Ocean Majesty

Arcadia

Hebridean Princess

Black Watch

Several members of the Ocean Liner Society gathered to tour the Fred. Olsen Cruise Line ship, M/V Black Watch at Southampton's City Cruise Terminal on the 3rd December 2005.  This 28,338grt ship originally began her cruising life as Royal Viking Star in 1972 (one of 3 sisters - Fred. Olsen recently purchased the former Royal Viking Sky which is currently undergoing a refit before emerging in 2006 as Boudicca) for the Royal Viking Line.  In 1990 she became Westward for NCL, who acquired Royal Viking Line in 1984, then in 1993 was transferred to Royal Cruises, renaming her Star Odyssey before being sold to Fred. Olsen Cruise Line in 1996 and is currently registered in Nassau, having had her latest refit earlier this year which included adding a few more balconies.  Things didn't get off to a very good start with the tour as the ship, originally due to dock at 7am, arrived 2 hours late because of bad weather.  Personally I wouldn't have been surprised if Fred. Olsen Line decided to reschedule the tour for another day but they didn't.  In fact, despite a few grumbles from non-society members in departures, the seemed to enjoy it once we finally got going around noon.  

After going through security on Marina Deck (3), we all congregated in The Marina Theatre (below) on the same level.  It's a nice little room used for music or showing films.  We were told we would have seen a Fred. Olsen 20-minute film but there wasn't the time.  After being separated into 2 groups, the one we were in started by looking at Outside Cabin 3053 and Inside Cabin 3057.  Instead of one being open to all get crushed in, many were open for us to see.  Sadly there was no time to take our time as it was in and out then onto the next.  But they were quite spacious for their size and very cosy.  The next stop was Marquee Deck (9), missing out the Sun Deck (10).  Again, numerous cabins were open to view.  I went into the Waterford Suite (9009), which is one their Marquee Suites.  This had a balcony, sofa, chairs in a lounge with the bedroom separated by doors and double bed.  The balcony view is of the top of the lifeboats.  This is almost the top end of the price scale but well worth the money if you can afford it.  The Windsor Suite (9008) was similar with a slightly different layout in the lounge as well as decor.  I managed to catch a brief glimpse of cabin Balcony Suite 9906 as we headed towards The Observatory but also liked what I saw.  The Observatory is what most ships call The Crow's Nest.  This is one of my favourite public rooms we saw.  The carpet and chairs were blue, the carpet decorated in a nautical theme including old-style ship wheels.  There was also a piano on one side with an enormous painting of a flock of seagulls behind it.  It looked like somewhere you could easily relax in.  Next it was down to the Bridge Deck (8).  I had a look around Balcony Suite 8805 which was again very spacious.  This one had twin beds which could have taken up a lot of the room but didn't.  There was still space for a sofa, chairs, table and the usual furniture.  These cabins have names like Knock Clune or Knock Davie.  The last cabin on that deck was the Balcony Cabin grades.  Smaller than what we had seen on his deck and the previous one but was still spacious for the size.  Down to the Lido Deck (7) and even more cabins.  This may sound boring but it wasn't as it gave you an opportunity to see the majority if you were considering a cruise.  I decided to look at Superior Outside Cabin 7041.  By now we'd come to the end of the balconies and had just windows but this one has a partially restricted view.  Junior Suite 7036 followed.  This is a 3 berth cabin (2 single beds and a sofa that converts to the 3rd) and again, for the amount of furniture, it isn't cramped as you would expect.  Superior Outside Cabin 7031 is a twin berth which has been adapted for wheelchair users.  There are only 4 cabins in that grade that have been.  The Gran Canaria Suite (7026) is one of the Deluxe Suites.  The bedroom, with twin beds, are separated from the rest of the suite by a curtain.  Deluxe Suite 7063 is similar only with a double bed.  We moved along to have a quick look at the card room, library and casino before going to the Lido Lounge.  This was our one and only time outside on the ship where we looked down on the main pool and smaller exercise pools on the Lounge Deck (6).  From there we went down the stairs to the Lounge Deck and headed for the Neptune Lounge.  This is where the main entertainment is and all on one level, with slight ramps you have to be careful not to lose your footing on.  On leaving we went through Piper's Bar, a very Scottish-themed bar with bagpipes on the wall.  After passing large pictures of King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway by the stairs/lifts, we went down to Main Deck (5) and through the shops and reception area to another Superior Outside Cabin (5016 - shown below).  Down again to Atlantic Deck (4) for the last of the cabins on the visit.  Outside Cabin 4034, adjoining identical Outside Cabins 4048 and 4050 which do have their own doors but you enter through a main one from the corridor.  Finally Inside Cabin 4058.  We returned to the Lounge Deck about an hour later and went through the Braemar Room (below right) to the Glentanar Restaurant (below left) and before going in, they squirted antiseptic gel on our hands which is a good idea as it was a buffet restaurant. There were already some passengers in there and we were kept separate from them. Now what can I say about that food? Only one word for it - fabulous!  It was very crowded so I grabbed something as a starter before the main course. There was quite a selection to choose from for each course and the service was absolutely first class.  Even though we were just visiting, you didn't feel like you were not a paying passenger.  Then we left after 2pm and once we were off, there was no ushering us away from the dock. I was with some fellow guests and we were there a good 10 minutes chatting, having our photos taken and looking at the flowers and baskets of fruit on the dockside waiting to be loaded.  So my verdict?  A marvelous ship.  The colours are warm and vibrant, crew and staff really friendly, food fantastic.  She is a very nice ship and I'm sure the overwhelming Scottish theme shouldn't put people off sailing on her who haven't before.  The cabins make much of the available space, a bed being converted to a sofa in some twins and in the Junior Suites.  A very big thank you to Fred. Olsen's tour guides.  It hadn't been an easy job for them placating grumbling guests over the reduced tour.  But they managed to get in a lot for us to see in the time so we all got a good idea about the ship and it made for a very enjoyable day.  Further photos show the Card Room (left) and library (right).                                        

 

 

 

 

 

The Lido Lounge (left) and Neptune lounge (right)

 

 

 

 

 

The Pipers Bar (left) and Observatory (right).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Fred Olsen for hosting the visit and Malcolm Oliver of the OLS for setting it up.