Boudicca, Black Watch’s identical sister
Good news for small ship lovers:
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 804-guest Black Watch will be entering dry dock at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in November 2016, in preparation for the forthcoming 2017/18 cruise season. The ship will undergo various engineering works, general maintenance and refurbishment during the dry dock, as well as the creation of several new public areas and guest facilities, as part of a multi-million Pound investment.
Black Watch will depart from Tilbury, UK for Hamburg on 18th November 2016, following a seven-night ‘European Cities & Waterways’ cruise. Work on the dry dock is expected to start at Blohm + Voss on 20th November 2016.
Mike Rodwell, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “Black Watch is one of Fred. Olsen’s most popular cruise ships, and it is important that she always looks her best. During her 26-day dry dock in Hamburg, as well as the usual maritime inspections and maintenance work, we will also be undertaking major upgrades to the cabins and public areas throughout the ship, to ensure that we continue to provide the best facilities possible to meet our guests’ expectations.
“Our significant investment in refurbishing and upgrading Black Watch will ensure that our guests will be able to enjoy her classic looks and unique, intimate ambience for many years to come.”
A key focus of Black Watch’s refurbishment will be the 423 cabins across the ship, on Marquee Deck 9, Bridge Deck 8, Lido Deck 7, Main Deck 5, Atlantic Deck 4, and Marina Deck 3. A new interactive in-cabin TV system will be installed across the ship, equipped with all the latest features and connectivity. Bathrooms will be refurbished, and all cabins will feature safes and mini-bars, as standard.
During the dry dock, Black Watch’s Braemar Garden Café, on Lounge Deck 6, will be converted into a new restaurant, to be called ‘Brigadoon’, in keeping with Fred. Olsen’s close Scottish connections. The new restaurant will feature modern new décor and will offer a stylish, intimate dining experience, for up to 54 guests – continuing to serve the wide range of British and international cuisine for which Fred. Olsen is renowned.
The Braemar Courtyard, on Lounge Deck 6, will be converted into a separate speciality dining area, called ‘The Black Watch Room’, offering an à la carte dining experience, including expertly-prepared steaks cooked to order, with seating for up to 46 guests. A new dedicated Galley will be created to service this new dining facility. The existing Grill restaurant, situated on Lounge Deck 6 aft, by the main pool area, will be rebranded and redesigned, to offer a new Mediterranean-themed dining experience.
Black Watch’s main 340-guest restaurant, The Glentanar, on Lounge Deck 6, will undergo extensive refurbishment, with a spacious new layout and ‘new look’, featuring new furniture, carpet and curtains.
Considerable attention will also be given to the various bar areas on board Black Watch during the dry dock. The Observatory Lounge, on Marquee Deck 9, will receive a refresh to the décor and fittings, and the Lido Lounge, on Lido Deck 7, will receive an extensive overhaul, with new furniture, fabrics and carpets being fitted throughout, as well as the installation of a full-width sliding door to the aft.
The Morning Light Pub – an iconic feature across the whole Fred. Olsen fleet – will be moved to the area currently occupied by the Braemar Lounge, on Lounge Deck 6, replacing the existing Pub next to the Neptune Show Lounge. New furniture and fabrics will be a key feature of the larger, more spacious Pub, along with a new bar. The area vacated by the existing Morning Light Pub will be renamed the ‘Neptune Bar’.
To enhance the on-board experience for guests, the Marina Cinema on Marina Deck 3 will be upgraded with the latest ‘3D’ technology, enabling the Black Watch team to show 3D films and other programmes.
Black Watch’s Guest Services area, on Main Deck 5 – the focal point and ‘hub’ of the ship – will also be renewed, making it more inviting and user-friendly for guests.
Similar refurbishments and upgrades are expected to the rest of the Fred. Olsen fleet – Balmoral, Braemar and Boudicca – in the coming years.
Following Black Watch’s dry dock, the ship will recommence her cruise season from Tilbury, UK, with a seven-night ‘German & Danish Christmas Markets’ cruise, departing on 15th December 2016.
During the 2017/18 cruise season, Fred. Olsen’s fleet of four smaller, more intimate ships will be visiting no fewer than 220 destinations in 70 countries around the globe.
Malcolm says: It’s great to see a ship that was built in 1972, undergoing a major investment. If you are wondering ‘why’ they are spending so much money on such an old ship, it’s because she and her fleet mates offer a friendly and intimate experience that today’s mega-ships simply cannot match.
Black watch is one of my favourites. She is of course a dying bread of small ship (28,613 gt) operating form UK ports. As P&O and others have shed their smaller tonnage, to be replaced by mega-ships, Olsen continues to offer an experience on a human-scale, at a reasonable price.
I assume the new lounges and bars are designed to increase the on-board food and drink sales. However that’s the name of the game, as cruise fares remain constant or even fall in an ever competitive market place.
The out-dated cabins are often the weak point of older ships. It will be interesting to see exactly what Fred does to them.
I am really pleased that they are retaining the ‘Marina Cinema’ and upgrading it to 3D. Most older ships originally had dedicated Cinemas, but they were often converted in to bars/lounges or cabins. In fact there was once plans to covert Black Watch’s into six inside cabins. I’m pleased that Fred changed his mind.
Black Watch Review HERE