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Black Watch refit


Black Watch berthed at Rouen

And after all too long a break…..

I’ve received an email from Fred. Olsen saying that Black Watch is going into Blohm+Voss for a refit. She’ll leave Tilbury on 18 November and work will start on 20 November.

The email is unusually informative on the changes that will be made. In addition to “the usual maritime inspections and maintenance work” there will also be major upgrades to various parts of the ship. First, the simple refurbishments:

  • all of the cabins will be refurbished. They’ll get a new inter-active TV system, bathrooms will be refurbished, and all cabins will have safes and mini-bars;
  • the main restaurant (The Glentanar) will be extensively refurnished, with a new layout and a new look featuring new furniture, carpets and curtains;
  • the Observatory Lounge on deck 9 will be refurbished, as will the Lido Lounge on deck 7. The latter will get new furniture, fabrics, carpets and a new “full-width sliding door to the aft”, while the changes to the Observatory lounge are described simply as a “refresh”.

Next, the changes:

  • The Braemar Courtyard on deck 6 will converted into a speciality dining area, “Brigadoon”. Up to 54 passengers will be able to use this and it will offer a “stylish, intimate dining experience”. No mention about menus, and my assumption is that this is an extra-cost facility;
  • The Braemar Courtyard, also on deck 6, will become another restaurant, “The Club”, which will seat 46. It will offer an a la carte dining experience including “expertly-prepared steaks cooked to order” (Update – a further email on 25 October says that this restaurant will actually be called “The Black Watch Room”);
  • The existing Grill restaurant, by the aft pool on deck 6, will be rebranded and redesigned “to offer a new Mediterranean-themed dining experience”;
  • The Morning Light pub will be moved, from where it is to a position more forward on the same deck. it will take the place of the Braemar lounge, and it will be more spacious than the existing pub. The old Morning Light will be converted into a new bar to be called the Neptune Bar;
  • the Marina cinema on deck 5 will be upgraded with the 3D technology…. sorry,, I may be being age-ist here but I really can’t see Fred. Olsen’s usual passengers being entranced by something like ‘Avengers Assemble (3D)’… I know I’m not!

The email says that over the coming years the other ships in the Fred. Olsen fleet will receive similar refurbishments and upgrades.

Black Watch will re-enter service on 15 December.

Comment: I’m quite struck by all of this, which is a lot of money to spend on a ship that’s already more than 40 years old. But if it keeps her fresh and entertaining, it’s all to the good. Fred. Olsen have a very loyal customer base, and perhaps they are also attracting customers from P&O, especially with the latter line’s focus on ever-larger ships. The departure of Adonia was a blow to many of the P&O faithful, I know.

One thing does strike me, however. I think that one overall result of the changes on deck 6 is that there might be a rather less lounge space – where there was once a lounge and a pub, now there will be a pub and bar, and the bar (which could be used as a lounge) is smaller than the old lounge. There’s also the conversion of the Braemar Courtyard – was that a lounge? – I can’t remember from our (short) cruise on her. But there’s clearly a push to generate more revenue from these spaces.

(By the way, the principal reason for the paucity of posts has been a holiday – we had a week and a half in the US, in Washington DC and Virginia. You can read about it in my other blog, Tom’s Travel Blog.)

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