Author: Graeme Jeal
My partner and I have just returned from a 31 night cruise on Black Watch, flying to Dubai and cruising back to Southampton. The first thing to say is that the cruise represented excellent value, and any criticisms need to be considered with this in mind. The itinerary was also very good and adventurous. I had looked at a similar cruise on Queen Victoria, but that did not stop at nearly as many different ports of call. Black Watch is an old ship, and does show its age. I did not find this a problem except on deck, where the sun-loungers are uncomfortable and could do with replacing and there is a problem with smuts from the funnel. The food was very good and plentiful; meals are well presented and there was always an extensive choice. Service in the bars and restaurant was good and drink prices fairly reasonable. The cabin was acceptable, particularly having regard to the price paid, and the service good. The entertainment was a bit disappointing overall. The in house troupe were generally good (one singer, James, was excellent) and the classical artistes giving daytime recitals were also very good. However, the evening entertainers were rather poor until the last leg of the cruise when we were joined by a group called the Rockafellas, who performed songs of the 50s and 60s, and who were really great - they certainly got the audiences going! The ship had been doing a round Africa cruise before calling in at Dubai, so some passengers had already been on board for 50 days when we joined. Unfortunately, some of these "all-rounders" seemed to think that put them in a class above those who joined in Dubai and there were a lot of snobbish remarks being made about the newcomers by a vocal minority. One comment overheard was that "the riff-raff got on board in Dubai" - rude and uncalled for. This did lead to bit of an atmosphere between groups of passengers. Quite frankly, Black Watch is not a ship to be snobbish about. Would I go on Black Watch again? Yes, but I probably would not want to join a cruise midway through because of the above. The itinerary, the food and the value for money are all compelling arguments to cruise again on this vessel.