We’d been thinking about going on a cruise for some time, and couldn’t really make our minds up about where to, or for how long. We settled on this Fred Olsen cruise because it wasn’t too long (10 nights), didn’t go too far (Germany, Denmark, Norway), and was in a small ship, the Black Watch. Furthermore, we booked through Saga as there were several things included – transport door-to-door, a drinks package, and gratuities. On reflection, this was a very good deal and is something I would recommend.
Our initial experience of the ship was very good. We liked our cabin (a junior suite) as it had a window looking forward out to sea. We wouldn’t want an inside cabin should we go cruising in the future! The dining arrangements were very good and the food excellent. We couldn’t fault the restaurant staff (or indeed any of the others) as they made the whole experience most pleasurable. There was entertainment in several areas of the ship which was all really good, especially the main shows in the evenings put on by the ship’s company. We hadn’t expected such a high standard, and were pleasantly surprised! Best of all, the weather on the North Sea was fine and sunny and the sea was calm! We were able to enjoy sitting outside enjoying the warmth and making the most of the pool and jacuzzi! There was also a variety of other activities throughout the day, all detailed in the daily news sheet, delivered to our cabin each evening.
As far as ports of call were concerned, there was slight disappointment prior to departure when one was changed – from Gothenburg to Hamburg. We had been looking forward to visiting Sweden, but heard from more experienced cruisers that Gothenburg wasn’t particularly special, and Hamburg a good substitute. This proved even better as we arrived in Hamburg during the annual harbour birthday celebrations – a great parade of boats, ships of all shapes and sizes, of which we had a first-hand view and were almost a part of! Further, on leaving Hamburg for Copenhagen, we were treated to a trip along the Kiel Canal, which again made the alteration in the schedule very favourable!
Being first-timers, we had booked our shore excursions prior to departure. These were quite expensive, however, and had we known how close to the town centre in both Copenhagen and Oslo we were to dock, we would’ve ventured out more on our own. Of the three ports of call, Copenhagen was our favourite, especially the harbour cruise. We’d like to spend more time there. The problem with the organised excursions was that we didn’t get enough time to see and do the things we would’ve liked to. Next time, we’ll be better prepared.
After leaving Oslo, our third port of call, we cruised the fjords under beautiful sunshine – a perfect way to round off the trip before we turned for home. We returned having had an excellent first time experience and will definitely take another cruise in the future. The only problem will be choosing from the vast range of trips that are available!