Black Watch

Former name: Royal Viking Star

Black Watch current position

Black Watch current location is at North Sea (coordinates 56.02366 N / -3.45022 W) cruising en route to ROSYTH. The AIS position was reported 33 minutes ago.

All Itineraries Current Position

Specifications of Black Watch

Year built1972  /  Age: 48
Flag state Bahamas
BuilderWartsila Hietalahti shipyard (Helsinki, Finland)
Building costUSD 50 million
OwnerBlack Watch Cruise Ltd
OperatorFred Olsen Cruise Lines
Speed19 kn / 35 kph / 22 mph
Length (LOA)205 m / 673 ft
Beam (width)25 m / 82 ft
Gross Tonnage28613 gt
Passengers804 - 846
Passengers-to-space ratio33
Decks with cabins8
Last Refurbishment2019
Former namesRoyal Viking Star

Black Watch Itineraries

DateItineraryDeparture PortPrice from
2020 Nov 06 32 days, round-trip Idyllic Islands of the Caribbean Liverpool
2020 Dec 08 14 days, round-trip Canaries Portugal with Madeira Meteor Shower Liverpool
2020 Dec 22 15 days, round-trip Canaries Christmas Funchal Fireworks Liverpool
2021 Jan 06 2 days, one-way from Liverpool to Southampton Liverpool
2021 Jan 08 21 days, one-way from Southampton to Havana Southampton
2021 Jan 08 57 days, one-way from Southampton to Sydney Southampton
2021 Jan 08 80 days, one-way from Southampton to Colombo Southampton
2021 Jan 08 109 days, round-trip Around the World Southampton
2021 Jan 29 35 days, one-way from Havana to Sydney Havana
2021 Jan 29 59 days, one-way from Havana to Colombo Havana
2021 Jan 29 88 days, one-way from Havana to Southampton Havana
2021 Mar 05 24 days, one-way from Sydney to Colombo Sydney
2021 Mar 05 53 days, one-way from Sydney to Southampton Sydney
2021 Mar 29 29 days, one-way from Colombo to Southampton Colombo
2021 Apr 27 2 days, one-way from Southampton to Liverpool Southampton
2021 Apr 29 5 days, round-trip Irish Highlights Scottish Scenery Liverpool
2021 May 04 18 days, round-trip Islands of the Mediterranean Liverpool
2021 May 22 7 days, round-trip Sailing Around Iconic Ireland Liverpool
2021 May 29 5 days, round-trip Five Celtic Cruise Liverpool
2021 Jun 03 12 days, round-trip Islands of Northern Norway with the Midnight Sun Liverpool
2021 Jun 15 17 days, round-trip Balearic Island Discovery Liverpool
2021 Jul 02 9 days, round-trip The Natural Wonders of Iceland Liverpool
2021 Jul 11 8 days, round-trip Spectacular Fjordland Adventure Liverpool
2021 Jul 19 10 days, round-trip Flavours of France Spain Liverpool
2021 Jul 29 8 days, round-trip Lochs Legends of Scotland Liverpool
2021 Aug 06 8 days, round-trip Spellbinding Fjords of Norway Liverpool
2021 Aug 14 14 days, round-trip Fjords Icebergs of Remote Greenland Liverpool
2021 Aug 28 5 days, round-trip Scenic Scotland in Five Liverpool
2021 Sep 02 24 days, round-trip Amalfi Coast, Tuscany Italian Riviera Liverpool
2021 Sep 26 11 days, round-trip French Cities with Spain the Seine Liverpool
2021 Oct 07 11 days, round-trip Andalusia, Portugal the Algarve Liverpool
2021 Oct 18 15 days, round-trip Exploring the Azores and Portugal Liverpool
2021 Nov 02 14 days, round-trip Authentic Culture of Morocco Liverpool
2021 Dec 03 3 days, round-trip Adventure to Antwerp Southampton
2021 Dec 06 14 days, round-trip Landscapes of the Canary Islands Southampton
2021 Dec 20 15 days, round-trip Norwegian White Christmas Southampton
2022 Jan 04 49 days, one-way from Southampton to Callao Southampton
2022 Jan 04 79 days, round-trip Latin America with the Chilean Fjords Southampton
2022 Jan 04 25 days, one-way from Southampton to Buenos Aires Southampton
2022 Jan 28 55 days, one-way from Buenos Aires to Southampton Buenos Aires
2022 Jan 28 25 days, one-way from Buenos Aires to Callao Buenos Aires
2022 Feb 22 30 days, one-way from Callao to Southampton Callao
2022 Mar 26 10 days, round-trip Uncrowded Iceland Liverpool
2022 Apr 19 17 days, round-trip Whales, Waterfalls Volcanic Islands Liverpool

Black Watch Review

Review of Black Watch

Launched in 1972 as Royal Viking Star, MS Black Watch is the oldest of the Fred Olsen ships, with fleetmates Boudicca, Balmoral and Braemar. The cruise ship cost to build was USD 50 million. The vessel was last refurbished in 2019 December.

IMPORTANT: On August 21, 2020, Fred Olsen confirmed the retirement (scrapping?) of its cruise ships Boudicca (1973-built, 47-years-old) and Black Watch (1972-built, 48-years-old). All bookings on Boudicca and Black Watch were automatically transferred onto the new ships (acquired from Holland America Line in July 2020) MS Bolette (fka Amsterdam) and MS Borealis (fka Rotterdam). After joining the fleet in September 2020, Bolette and Borealis will increase the company’s passenger capacity by ~30%.

In late-September was announced that Boudicca and Black Watch are both sold (to a still unknown buyer) and not to be scrapped but to serve the new owner as hotel ships.

History - construction and ownership

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd is a Norwegian-owned and UK-based cruise shipping company, part of the Fred Olsen Group (Fred Olsen & Co / shipowner, headquartered in Oslo, Norway). The company is headquartered in Ipswich (Suffolk England) and is owned by Bonheur and Ganger Rolf. The company was founded in 1848 (in Hvitsten, Norway) by the three Olsen brothers (Petter, Andras, Fredrik Christian) who bought their first ships and established an international shipping company. Today Fred Olsen Group is into its 5th family generation and operates subsidiary companies specializing in cruise passenger shipping, trade, shipbuilding, aviation, offshore industries.

MS Black Watch cruise ship (Fred Olsen)

Fred Olsen Group wholly owns the companies Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd, Fred Olsen Travel Ltd (worldwide tours and vacations via independent operators), Fred Olsen Marine Services AS (shipowner and vessel management), First Olsen Ltd (tanker ships), Dolphin Drilling Holdings Ltd (offshore drilling rigs), Fred Olsen Express (Canary Islands-based fast ferries / catamarans), Fred Olsen Freight Ltd (cargo shipping and air freight), Fred Olsen Windcarrier AS (transport and installation of offshore wind turbines), Fred Olsen Production AS (offshore petroleum production), Fred Olsen Renewables AS, SeaRoc Group Ltd (offshore and marine consultancy and contracting services), ZephIR Lidar UK (wind measurement devices), Ganger Rolf ASA (energy and shipping). Also part of Fred Olsen Group, the company Bonheur ASA manages several fully-owned companies, among which are NHST Media Group AS (newspapers and online media) and the real estate companies Stavenes Byggeselskap, Koksa Eiendom, Fred Olsens gate 2. Part of Fred Olsen Group is also Timex Group BV - parent of several watchmaking companies, including the subsidiaries in the USA, India and Philippines).

The 807-passenger cruise ship Black Watch was acquired by Fred Olsen in 1996. The cruise ship was renamed "Black Watch" after a Scottish Regiment and nowadays is best known for its innovative worldwide voyages, outstanding service, and affordable rates. Since Black Watch cruise ship carries mainly British travellers the UK influence is apparent in everything from onboard amenities and lectures to cuisine and currency (all charges are assessed in British pounds). The cruise vessel inspires extreme loyalty between past cruisers as on a typical cruise upwards of 50 % may be repeaters.

In 1981, the vessel (under the Royal Viking Line's ownership) was stretched by adding a 91 ft / 28 m long prefabricated middle-section. The refit resulted in an increased gross tonnage (from 28,220 to 28,610 GT tons) and passenger capacity (from 758 to 820). During the ship's stretching (done in Germany, at the Seebeckwerft AG's shipyard in Bremerhaven) were built new cabins (including 9 balcony suites - the industry's first), 2 lounges, the dining room's size was doubled.

The list of other stretched (elongated) cruise ships includes the fleet mates Balmoral, Boudicca, and Braemar, also the MSC Cruises ships Armonia, Lirica, Opera, the Phoenix Reisen's Albatros and the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of The Seas.

During the 2018 drydock at Blohm+Voss (Hamburg), to the ship were added two fibreglass-bottomed boats, each with capacity 12 passengers.

Cruise itinerary program

Fred Olsen Black Watch itinerary program is exclusively based on UK departures from Bristol, Glasgow, Southampton, Liverpool, with round-trip itineraries. The list of feature destinations includes South America and the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Canary Islands, British Isles. Black Watch also offers World Cruise deals to ports in Australia, Asia, South Pacific.


Black Watch has a total of 423 cabins (of which 79 Suites, 37 Balcony rooms, 48 Inside) in 21 grades. Most Black Watch staterooms are 160-200-sq.foot Oceanview rooms (225). 4 are the wheelchair accessible cabins. The largest aboard Black Watch is the Superior Suite (550 ft2).

Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks

Breakfast and lunch in the MDR of the Glentanar Restaurant, as well as in a smaller annex, are generally open seating. Dinner is served in 2 assigned seatings. The nice Orchid Room features an Asian theme and serves as an alternative formal dining area. Braemar Garden is the casual buffet option onboard for meals and late-night snacks. Snacking options are also offered near the pools. Room service light meals are complimentary during limited hours.

MS Black Watch cruise ship (Fred Olsen)

Follows the complete list of Black Watch restaurants and food bars.

  • Glentanar Restaurant (main dining room; hosts the formal Gala Dinner; with 2 fixed dinner seatings at 6:15 pm and 8:30 pm, open-seating buffet-style Breakfast 8:00 - 10:00 am and Lunch 12:00 - 2:30 pm)
  • Orchid Room (annex to the MDR)
  • Garden Cafe (alternative buffet-style restaurant, open-seating; offers Breakfast 7:00 - 9:30 am, Brunch 10:30 - 11:30 am, Lunch 12:30 - 2:30 pm, Afternoon Tea 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Dinner 6:30 - 9 pm and Supper Club 11:30 pm - 12:30 am; also features a 24-hour open tea-coffee station)
  • The Grill restaurant (former Poolside Cafe, an alternative, buffet-style venue for breakfast and lunch; offers al-fresco dining)
  • Marquee Bar (casual restaurant for lunch; al-fresco dining, with large, floor-ceiling panoramic windows; serves the pool area with alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks).

Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport

The continuing renovation project on Black Watch cruise ship means she is an attractive cruise liner and an appealing option, particularly for the older set looking for a relaxing and authentic cruising experience.

MS Black Watch cruise ship (Fred Olsen)

Follows the complete list of Black Watch lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens, and adults.

  • Marina Theatre (150-seat cinema room)
  • Port Shop (duty-paid, sells essentials, hats, swimwear, toiletries, beachwear, sweets, books, snacks)
  • Photo Gallery & Shop (offers digital images printing/transferring; personal video making; sells photo and video equipment at duty-free prices)
  • Neptune Lounge (ship's theater lounge/main entertainment venue for grand-style show productions in the evenings at 8:45 pm and 10:45 pm; during the day serves the Fred Olsen enrichment program, with various lectures and seminars, multimedia presentations, dance classes, workshops, bridge lectures, cards playing tournaments)
  • Boutique Shops (duty-free luxury gifts, perfumes, cosmetics, fashion clothing, watches, fine jewelry, Fred Olsen logo merchandise)
  • Explorers' Library; Internet Room; Dalreoch Card Room (bridge-playing club lounge)
  • Bookmark Cafe (a la carte priced patisserie; offers luxury chocolates, specialty coffees, hand-made chocolates); Cafe Venus
  • The Braemar Garden (adjoins the Glentanar Restaurant); Braemar Lounge (relaxation place; offers live music performances; served by the Braemar Garden's Bar; also serves Afternoon Tea); Casino
  • Morning Light Pub (features stand-up comedy acts, live music performances)
  • Lido Lounge & Bar (live piano performances; transforms into a disco in the late hours)
  • Pool Deck area (swimming pool, whirlpool, 2 exercise pools, sunbathing area)
  • Fitness Centre (Wellness complex; there is no Spa, but the ship offers Sauna Rooms and Treatment Rooms for massages)
  • The Gymnasium (gym room, with floor-ceiling windows, modern equipment; hosts various exercise and dance classes)
  • Beauty Salon (part of the Wellness Centre; offers hairdresser/barber services, facial/body treatments, manicure/pedicure, massages)
  • Observatory Lounge (indoor observation lounge with piano, glass dancefloor, panoramic windows for 270-degree views; serves Afternoon Tea)
  • Golf Nets; Tennis Court; Deck Games area (shuffleboard, quoits, darts, tennis tables, board games, jigsaw puzzles); Walking Track.

Black Watch - user reviews and comments

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Black Watch Wiki

On May 12, 1971, the cruise ship was launched (floated out from drydock) as "Royal Viking Star", and on June 26, 1972, entered service for the Royal Viking Line (1972-founded, 1998-defunct). The vessel has also sailed as "MS Westward" for NCL-Norwegian and as "Star Odyssey" for Royal Cruise Line. On November 15, 1996, the ship entered service for Fred Olsen under the name "MS Black Watch".

Since Black Watch caters primarily to British travellers (from the UK), influence is evident in all the onboard activities, enrichment programming, cuisine, even currency (charges are valued in GBP /pounds). All Fred Olsen ships inspire extreme loyalty among past guests. On a typical Black Watch cruise, over 50% are repeaters.

Fred Olsen also offers an all-inclusive cruise package upgrade (additional fixed price PP per day) and the UK fly-cruise deals to Canary Islands (year-round discounted airfare from Southampton, England).

Black Watch ship's last drydock 2019 (December 11-20, at Blohm+Voss Hamburg) was mainly for general maintenance and engineering works, interior renovations (public areas) and stateroom refurbishments (including bathroom upgrades).

Royal Viking Star became Royal Viking Line’s first cruise ship, having originally GT tonnage 21847 tons and max passenger capacity 539. In 1981, the vessel was drydock enlarged (lengthened by 28 m / 92 ft). The refit included adding new public venues and spaces, as well as new cabins with 200 more berths (beds).

In 1984, Royal Viking Line was acquired by Kloster Group but continued operations as a separated brand. In 1988, the vessel became under Kloster Cruise's management and was reflagged from Norway (Oslo) to Bahamas (Nassau). In 1990, the Royal Viking Star was transferred to the Kloster-owned Norwegian Cruise Line and renamed "MS Westward". In May 1993, Westward started short Bahamas cruises out of homeport Miami (Florida USA).

In 1994, the boat underwent a USD 30 million drydock refurbishment, renamed to "Star Odyssey", transferred to Royal Cruise Line (Royal Caribbean Cruises) and scheduled for cruises in Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Canada-New England.

In 1996, Star Odyssey was purchased by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (USD 55 million), renamed to "MS Black Watch" and started service in November. In 2001, vessel's flag-state was changed from Norway to Bahamas. The drydock 2005 (at Blohm und Voss Hamburg) resulted in major technical upgrades, including new engines. During drydock 2016 (26-day project), Black Watch received new restaurants, upgraded cabins, Fred Olsen’s new livery (gray hull-white superstructure). In 2020, the 48-years-old liner was retired. Black Watch's 2021 schedule was taken by MS Borealis (fka Rotterdam).

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