Black Watch

Black Watch Review and Specifications

Specifications of Black Watch

Year built1972  /  Age : 47
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 Refurbishment2018
Former namesRoyal Viking Star

Current itinerary of Black Watch

Black Watch current cruise is 18 days, round-trip Exploring Cape Verde & the Canaries. The itinerary starts on 14 Mar, 2019 and ends on 01 Apr, 2019.

Date / TimePort
14 Mar      Departing from Southampton, England   
16 Mar     La Coruna, Spain   
19 Mar     Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal   
22 Mar     Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island, Cape Verde   
23 Mar     Praia, Santiago Island, Cape Verde   
26 Mar     Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands   
27 Mar     Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands   
29 Mar     Lisbon, Portugal   
01 Apr      Arriving in Southampton, England   

Review of Black Watch

Launched in 1972 as Royal Viking Star, Black Watch is the oldest of the Fred Olsen ships, with fleetmates BoudiccaBalmoral and Braemar. The ship cost US $50 million to build and was last refurbished in 2014.

History - construction & ownership

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is a Norwegian-owned, UK-based cruise shipping line with four ships, part of the Fred. Olsen Group. The headquarters of the company are in Ipswich, Suffolk, the UK, and it is owned by Bonheur and Ganger Rolf. The company of Fred Olsen originated in 1848 in Hvitsten, a little town on Oslofjord, Norway, by three Olsen brothers, Petter, Andras and Fredrik Christian, who bought their first ships and established an international shipping company. Today the line is into the 5th generation of the family and operates companies skilled within cruise and passenger shipping trade, ships' crewing, ship building, aviation and offshore industries.

MS Black Watch cruise ship (Fred Olsen)

The 28,613-ton, 807-passenger cruise ship Black Watch was acquired in 1996 by Fred. Olsen Cruise Line. The cruise ship was renamed the 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 travelers the U.K. 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) 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 fleetmates 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

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 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 are the Superior Suites (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, alternative, buffet-style venue for breakfast and lunch; offers al-fesco 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 & 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 wiki

On May 12, 1971, the cruise ship was launched as Royal Viking Star, and on June 26, 1972, entered service for the Royal Viking Line. The vessel has also sailed as "ms Westward" for NCL Norwegian and as "Star Odyssey" for the Royal Cruise Line. On 15 November 1996, the ship entered service for Fred Olsen under its current name.

Since ms Black Watch caters primarily to British travelers (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 cruise line also offers an all-inclusive cruise package upgrade (additional fixed price PP per day) and UK fly cruise deals to Canary Islands (year-round discounted airfare from Southampton, England).

Black Watch - user reviews and comments

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Black Watch Itineraries

The below listed Black Watch cruise prices on itineraries are only indicative and Per Person (in US dollars, based on double occupancy). These are the cheapest Fred Olsen fares on the ship’s lowest category cabins available for booking. Cruise fares typically change with departure dates approaching, last minute deals, discounts, promotions, independent travel agency offers.

DateCruise NameDeparture PortPrice from
2019 Feb 28 14 days, round-trip Carnival in the Canary Islands Southampton
2019 Mar 14 18 days, round-trip Exploring Cape Verde & the Canaries Southampton
2019 Apr 01 10 days, round-trip French River Cruising with Bordeaux Southampton
2019 Apr 11 2 days, one-way from Southampton to Liverpool Southampton
2019 Apr 13 28 days, round-trip Discovering the Adriatic & Dalmatian Coast Liverpool
2019 May 11 13 days, round-trip Islands of the Azores & Cities of Portugal Liverpool
2019 May 24 5 days, round-trip Scottish Islands & Lochs in Five Liverpool
2019 May 29 9 days, round-trip Scenic Scottish Islands Liverpool
2019 Jun 07 13 days, round-trip Crossing the Arctic Circle with Midnight Sun Liverpool
2019 Jun 20 8 days, round-trip Isles of Scotland Liverpool
2019 Jun 28 9 days, round-trip A Taste of Iceland Liverpool
2019 Jul 07 8 days, round-trip Fjords, Mountains & Glaciers Liverpool
2019 Jul 15 15 days, round-trip Exploring the Beautiful Baltic Liverpool
2019 Jul 30 14 days, round-trip The Fjords of Greenland Liverpool
2019 Aug 13 8 days, round-trip Scotland & the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Liverpool
2019 Aug 21 5 days, round-trip Scottish Islands & Lochs in Five Liverpool
2019 Aug 26 8 days, round-trip Fjords, Mountains & Glaciers Liverpool
2019 Sep 03 7 days, round-trip Sailing Around Iconic Ireland Liverpool
2019 Sep 10 10 days, round-trip French River Cruising with Bordeaux Liverpool
2019 Sep 20 13 days, round-trip Scenic Islands of Northern Norway Liverpool
2019 Oct 03 9 days, round-trip Exploring Portugal’s Highlights Liverpool
2019 Oct 12 16 days, round-trip Western Med with the French Riviera Liverpool
2019 Oct 28 14 days, round-trip The Canary Islands with Madeira Liverpool
2019 Nov 11 15 days, round-trip You Choose Your Cruise Liverpool
2019 Nov 26 11 days, round-trip Spain, Portugal & Morocco Liverpool
2019 Dec 21 1 day, round-trip Party Southampton
2019 Dec 22 15 days, round-trip Christmas & New Year Canaries Cruise Southampton
2020 Jan 06 11 days, round-trip Spain, Portugal & Madeira Southampton
2020 Jan 17 14 days, round-trip Islands of the Canaries Southampton
2020 Jan 31 14 days, round-trip Northern Norway with Sami National Day Southampton
2020 Feb 14 5 days, round-trip City Break in the Netherlands & Belgium Southampton
2020 Feb 19 13 days, round-trip Authentic Andalusia with the Cádiz Carnival Southampton
2020 Mar 03 14 days, round-trip Fred. Olsen’s Canary Island History Southampton
2020 Mar 17 7 days, round-trip Highlights of the Low Countries Southampton
2020 Mar 24 2 days, one-way from Southampton to Liverpool Southampton
2020 Mar 26 14 days, round-trip Four Fred's in Funchal with the Azores Liverpool