Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are investing millions of pounds in a 26-day dry-dock to keep Black Watch as fresh as the day she was launched in 1972.
The company’s pride and joy – and the first ship that I ever cruised on – will be fitted with new restaurants and bars, and gains an interactive TV system, during an extensive refit to be carried out at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, next month.
Managing director Mike Rodwell said: “It is important that Black Watch always looks her best. We will be undertaking major upgrades to the cabins and public areas throughout the ship to ensure 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.”
Key changes include the conversion of the Braemar Garden Café on Deck 6 into a new restaurant called Brigadoon seating up to 54 guests.
The nearby Braemar Courtyard will be converted into a separate speciality dining area called The Black Watch Room, a steakhouse seating 46 and with a la carte pricing. The ship’s existing Grill restaurant, on Deck 6 aft, will be redesigned and rebranded as a Mediterranean-themed dining experience.
The ship’s main restaurant, the 340-seat Glentanar, will be redesigned and fitted with new furniture and carpets.
The Braemar Lounge is to be converted into the Morning Light Pub, and the area currently occupied by the pub will be re-styled and renamed as the Neptune Bar. When I sailed on Black Watch in 1997, the same area was known as Pipers’ Bar. Both the Lido Lounge on Deck 7 and the Observatory Bar on Deck 9 also get facelifts.
All 423 cabins will be fitted with the interactive TV system, and they will also get minibars and safes. The cinema on Deck 3 will be equipped to show 3D films.
Similar refurbishments are planned for the remainder of the Fred. Olsen fleet – Boudicca, Braemar and Balmoral – over the next few years.
Black Watch leaves Tilbury for Hamburg on November 18 and returns to service with a seven-night Christmas Markets cruise departing from Tilbury on December 15.