Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines are always offering special cruise experiences for their guests and a long weekend cruise from Dover to Amsterdam sounded ideal – time to relax and enjoy life.
Fred.Olsen has a fleet of four cruise ships visiting fabulous destinations around the world plus a new European river ship (Brabant). This was the third Fred.Olsen cruise my wife and I have taken having previously sailed on Balmoral to the outstanding Norwegian Fjords and cruised down the River Seine on Braemar. We were eagerly looking forward to cruising on Black Watch and sailing away from Dover’s iconic white cliffs.
Dover is just a 30 minute car ride for us and with plenty of car parking space and a large and comfortable terminal lounge embarkation was a breeze. A lot of guests travelled from further afield by coach and the coaches are able to stop near the terminal entrance with porters unloading and taking care of luggage.
We had a balcony cabin booked on Lido Deck 7 so we quickly made our way to check it out. The cabin was extremely spacious, well appointed and very comfortable. Lots of hanging wardrobe space, tea and coffee making facilities and a separate bathroom with shower, plus the added bonus of a lovely balcony to watch the world go by. Cabin grades on Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines are available to suit most budgets varying from suites to balcony, outside, inside and single. Our suitcases had already arrived and after dropping off our carry-on luggage we made our way to the Brigadoon Restaurant for welcome aboard snacks and afternoon tea. Soon it was time for Sail away. With a glass of champagne in hand Black Watch gently pulled away from her berth. Gathering speed and heading out into the English Channel we stood and watched as the white cliffs faded slowly into the distance. Now time to unpack and change for pre-dinner drinks before making our way to the Orchid Room Restaurant.
Stylish & comfortable
Black Watch is how a ship should look, traditional design, elegant and stylish. She’s a firm favourite with many of Fred.Olsen’s regular cruisers. A small and intimate ship with plenty of lounges and public areas to relax in, fabulous food and all the facilities you would expect from a cruise line with over 160 years of history.
Black Watch is able to accommodate up to 804 guests providing ample space and everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable cruise. The spacious public areas feature polished wood, gleaming brass and subtle lighting. We soon discovered the inviting Morning Light Pub and the Observatory Lounge situated right at the front of the ship – an ideal spot for pre-dinner drinks! The cascading decks at the stern provide plenty of opportunity to sit and relax. Out on Lounge Deck 6 you’ll find the swimming pool area, plenty of seats and sun loungers and of course a poolside bar whilst Marquee Deck 9 hosts another pool and Jacuzzis. For a little extra indulgence head to the Atlantis Spa where professional therapists offer a wide range of invigorating and relaxing treatments at competitive prices.
From the moment we stepped on board we were welcomed by friendly, smiling, courteous staff who try to make your cruise as memorable as possible – this is a cruise line which is all about the people.
We all know that food is a high priority for cruisers and on Black Watch you can expect wonderful dining. The mouth-watering 5 course dinner menu was varied with many delicious dishes to choose from each night accompanied by a well stocked wine list.
The Glentanar is the main dining venue on board where up to 332 guests can dine and enjoy spectacular views through the restaurant’s large windows. Apart from one night my wife and I dined in the Orchid Room and a table for two next to a large window provided an intimate setting. Set adjacent to the Glantanar, it’s beautifully decorated in an enchanting Oriental style with stunning scenic views whilst cruising and of course outstanding service from the waiters.
One of the nights we booked a table in the speciality Steak and Seafood Restaurant in the Black Watch Room. This was another perfect evening enjoying a choice of succulent steaks or seafood complemented with a delicious choice of desserts. Our attentive waiters made this an evening to remember. There’s a cover charge of £20 per person for the Black Watch Room and do remember to book early to ensure a table.
More facilities & entertainment
In the evening, both before and after dinner, there are various places to enjoy lively entertainment and dancing, including the Neptune Lounge, Morning Light Pub, Observatory Lounge and the Lido Lounge. You could also try your luck on the gaming tables on deck 7 after 9.30pm, watch a movie or perhaps take a look at the on board Boutique and Port shop on deck 5 when not in port. There was a super collection of Mova Globes on display attracting a lot of attention.
Black Watch is big enough to offer you all the comforts and facilities expected on a cruise yet she is small enough for you to feel completely at home and able to access those smaller ports of call impossible for some of the larger liners.
Cruising to the Netherlands
After leaving Dover late afternoon we cruised the North Sea during the night and early morning until we arrived and turned into the North Sea Canal (Nordzeekanaal). The canal is Amsterdam’s direct link to the North Sea and therefore one of the country’s busiest and important shipping lanes. This 16 mile waterway winding through the countryside was an experience in itself as we made our way into the port of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is an historic and compact city easy to get around on foot or by public transport – or for the brave opt for a bicycle – thousands of locals do! In Amsterdam you can visit the famous museums, shop till you drop or just watch the world go by from a pavement café. With miles of scenic canals this city is often referred to as ‘Venice of the North’. The canals and bridges are famous the world over and a canal cruise is a good way to view the picturesque gabled houses, elegant merchants mansions and quirky houseboats.
Tours in Amsterdam
On this cruise three tours had been arranged:
Anne Frank’s House – In 1942 the Frank family went into hiding. The younger daughter Anne, kept a diary and this together with the Secret Annex where the family hid can be seen.
City & Canals – A coach drive through Amsterdam followed by an hour long and very comprehensive canal cruise. The boats have panoramic roofs and sliding windows so you’re sure of great views and good photos.
Evening Canal Cruise – This evening tour takes you cruising on the illuminated canals, a lovely way to spend an evening.
A tours office is situated near guest services on deck 5 and these tours could be booked on board or prior to the cruise (advisable). My wife and I took the City & Canals tour, which was very well organised, and a perfect way to see the sights followed by free time in the city.
Cruising with Fred.Olsen is a wonderful way to travel and all too soon we were heading back to Dover. We have had a long weekend of super cruising, fine dining, outstanding service and first class entertainment. Thank you Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, and Captain Henrik Mattsson, we absolutely loved Black Watch, your food, your staff and your itinerary – here’s to our next Fred adventure!
There are other short break cruises with Fred.Olsen and these can be seen on their website. For further information on Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines visit www.fredolsencruises.com or call reservations on 0800 0355 242.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.