Black Watch
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Jean and Ken Rush
Cruise Critic Contributor

Black Watch Overview

Built in Finland as a six star vessel, this ship started life in 1972 as the Viking Star, and was regarded as one of the most luxurious cruise ships in the world at the time. After two more brief acquisitions by other cruise lines, she was bought by Fred. Olsen in 1996 and renamed the Black Watch. In common with the rest of the Olsen fleet, it has a devoted following of regular cruisers.

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About Black Watch


An elegant and friendly newly-refurbished ship with superb food, service and entertainment


Public announcements are difficult to hear in some places, and some seatsin the Neptune Lounge have interrupted views of the stage

Bottom Line

A traditionally styled ship with a country house ambience and luxurious seating in public rooms

Find a Black Watch Cruise

After its multi million pound refurbishment in November 2016, the Black Watch has an entirely new look. The public areas have been redesigned and refurbished with new layouts, furniture, carpets and curtains, and luxurious seating everywhere. The Morning Light Pub replaces the Braemar Lounge, covering a much larger area in common with the rest of the Olsen fleet. The former Morning Light Pub is now the Neptune Bar, and the former Braemar Courtyard is now a speciality dining area, with a fascinating and eclectic display of art chosen by Fred. Olsen. All 423 cabins across the ship have also been refurbished, and equipped with all the latest features, such as bedframes and mattresses, as well as very attractive new décor.

The Black Watch regularly welcomes special interest groups, and on our cruise of the Norwegian Fjords in June 2017 we had the Kirker Music Festival at Sea, with daily concerts by the Doric String Quartet and pianist Alasdair Beatson in the Marina Theatre for its members, and a special concert for everyone in the Neptune Lounge.

To sum up, we would say that an old friend has been rejuvenated without losing any of its traditional qualities.

Fellow Passengers

The ship attracts mostly mature British passengers, although children are welcome on most sailings and an activity programme is provided for them. There were no children on our cruise, but a number of younger people were on board, attracted by the onshore activities such as cycling and walking. Everyone mixed well, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Black Watch Dress Code

There are usually two formal nights and one themed night on a seven night cruise. Formal wear is defined as a dinner jacket or dark suit and tie for the men, and a cocktail or evening dress for the ladies. On the formal nights the majority of men were in dinner jackets and ladies in long dresses. Normal evening wear is defined as smart casual, open neck shirts with collars for gentlemen and casual separates or summer dresses for ladies. Our themed night was British, with quite a few passengers turning out in red, white and blue. Daytime wear is usually trousers or shorts and t-shirts. 

Black Watch Gratuity

A gratuity of £5 per person per day is normally added to the bill, but this can be removed or adjusted through Guest Services. Currency used on board is pounds sterling.

Black Watch Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Awards

2017 Best for Entertainment
2016 Best for Shore Excursions
2015 Best Overall
2015 Best for Cabins
2015 Best for Dining
2015 Best for Embarkation
2015 Best for Entertainment
2015 Best for Public Rooms
2015 Best for Service
2015 Best for Shore Excursions
2015 Best for Value
2014 Best Overall
2014 Best for Cabins
2014 Best for Dining
2014 Best for Embarkation
2014 Best for Entertainment
2014 Best for Fitness
2014 Best for Public Rooms
2014 Best for Service
2014 Best for Shore Excursions
2014 Best for Value

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Marina Deck
Atlantic Deck
Main Deck
Lounge Deck
Lido Deck
Bridge Deck
Marquee Deck
Sun Deck

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Black Watch Ship Stats

  • Crew: 388
  • Launched: 1972 (refurbed 2016)
  • Decks: 7
  • Passengers: 804
  • Registry: Bahamas
Black Watch Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0