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Review of the Black Watch
Cruise Date: August 2010
Booking: Cruise Line
Embarkation: Harwich International Port
Destination: United Kingdom
Cabin number: N/A
Cabin category: N/A
Black Watch VIP Visit August 24th 2010 - Harwich International Port
Maiden Call Harwich Internation Port
President & Managing Director Dream Designs Colchester
Tuesday 24th August 2010
You can view some of the photos from the day here
Yesterday (Tuesday 24th August 2010) Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines? vessel Black Watch visited Harwich International Port for the first time. A selected group of VIPs from across Suffolk and Essex were invited to tour the ship and to enjoy traditional afternoon tea in The Observatory.
My parents and I left our home in Colchester at around 13:30, we had to be at the Port for 14:30 but wanted to get there a little earlier to watch the activity. Black Watch was due to berth alongside at Harwich International Port at 12:30. Due to fog the pervious day the vessel was unable to call at Guernsey. The staff at Harwich International Port kindly approved for the ship to dock at little earlier than planed which gave passengers more time to enjoy the local attractions within Essex and Suffolk.
When we arrived at Harwich International Port we went into the Cruise Terminal to check in. We were immediately meet by Rachael Jackson (Public Relations Manager, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines). She was very pleased to see my parents and I am also very happy to see I had brought my drawing of the Black Watch with me to present to the Captain. Rachael then introduced us to the other members of staff from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. They were all so very friendly.
We then had a little wait while some of the other guests arrived. We spoke with some of the local port authorities representatives while we waited. I think it shocked them to see I was there and obviously had to find out more. (Normally they wouldn?t bother speaking). We were then told to make our way into the Cafe? area next to the Cruise Terminal. We had to wait a little longer than expected. We were due to board the ship at 15:00 but the speeches didn?t start until around 15:00. The reason for this was that "The ship had moved a little further away from the Gangway than it was suppose to". As one of the gentleman quoted in his speech. It was quite windy, the wind had obviously picked up and the ship started to move away from the dock. Lucky the staff at Harwich International Port managed to get it back alongside by tightening the mooring lines. Darren Taylor (General Manager, Harwich International Port) and George Kieffer (Chariman, Haven Gateway Partnership) said a few words along with Matt Grimes (Operations Director, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
After the speeches we were then escorted upstairs to pass through the security area. While we were waiting in the queue a lady spoke to us from RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution). She was very surprised to hear what I was doing there along with my parents. A friend of our who works at Harwich International Port as Customer Services then came over. He had seen my last small article in the local newspaper cut it out and ask me to sign it for him! He was very interested to hear what I had been up to.
Soon after we were taken onto Black Watch. We were taken through the shopping promenade (Main Deck 5) and then had a nice long walk up the stairwell to The Observatory (Marquee Deck 9). We were then seated to have our traditional afternoon tea. The waiter then handed us a menu to order our tea. I don?t drink tea myself so had a fizzy drink. Rachael joined us, but was very busy sorting other things out and getting the Captain ready. The Captain soon arrived to oversee a small presentation. Darren Talyor (General Manager, Harwich International Port) presented a photograph of the ship which was taken earlier that morning as the ship came alongside. A small plague was also presented to the Captain. Rachael the sat with us to enjoy the tea and sandwiches and variety of lovely cakes. The Captain soon came back and came over to our table to introduce himself to both myself and my parents too. I handed him the drawing and reveled my master piece. It was quite challenging, as I didn?t want to still the drinks or tea over the drawing. Rachael was quite overwhelmed by the size of the drawing and said "It didn?t look quite that big on the website, Harry!" Quite a few of the other guests were very impressed with the drawing too. The Captain then had to make his way to the bridge to get some photographs taken by the professional photograph who was with us during the day. Matt Grimes (Operations Director, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines) also sat with us for a bit and asked to see the drawing. They were all so very friendly. Rachael then came back and really surprised me. They had my drawing of Balmoral, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines? largest vessel, which I had sent to their Managing Director, Mike Rodwell previously when I asked about visiting Black Watch. Rachael pass me the drawing from behind the bar to tell me that Balmoral is due to call at Harwich International Port next August 2011 and that I can come aboard to present my drawing to the Captain of this vessel too!
Before long the Captain came back to invite my parents and I do the bridge. He was ever so friendly and very interested to hear about my passion for ships. He then asked me to unroll the drawing again to show some of the officers on the bridge. They too were very impressed, I stood speaking with them for quite sometime and my parents took themselves around the bridge. The photographer then came to take some shots of the drawing on the chart board, with the Captain and I, some officers too looking at the drawing. The Captain, my parents and I then went onto the portside bridge wing to get some photos together. It was quite difficult with the sunlight and the white superstructure of the ship. The photographer had to hang over the bridge wing, being very careful not to go overboard! The strong wind didn?t make it too easy either. So we got back inside for some other shots.
Time was really going fast so we had to exit the bridge to join the group for the tour of Black Watch. My parents and I were given permission to tour the ship ourselves as I knew were I was going and had a copy of the deck plan with me. That way I could take photos at my leisure of the passenger amenities aboard. I was very impressed with the ship and she really surpassed my expectations. She is a grand old lady at the age of 38 but is in great shape! She has such a friendly and intimate atmosphere, you feel at home as soon as you step aboard. As she is a much small vessel than some I have visited, with a gross tonnage of just 28,613 tonnes she had a very different feel. Although she has plenty of wonderful amenities to keep even the most adventurous passengers pleased. Are tour of the ship was very brief, we really had to move quickly as we only had around 25 minutes left before we were due to disembark. We visited most of what the ship had to offer apart from one of the restaurants, the library and the card room. (I shall post some photos of the amenities later)
At just after 17:00 we made our way to reception and disembarked the ship. Our friend at Harwich International Port was standing on the gangway watching the mooring lines as the ship was moving again, so we got off rather quick! (Especially mum!). Rachael caught up with us on the gangway along with the other staff members from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. I then got some photographs with Rachael outside with the Black Watch behind us. They then said goodbye and had to be off, lots of work for them to sort out I am sure. The Mayoress of Harwich and another lady also spoke with us, I think they also really enjoyed their time aboard and were very pleased with the ship.
The pipers then arrived to play music as the passengers arrived back on the coaches. The ship was due to sail at 20:00 so we planned to sit and watch the ship sail. The last coach arrived just after 19:30 but there were still a few passengers to arrive. The pipers then left so did everyone else. So we made our way to Halfpenny Pier. The Stena Britannica ferry was coming in to the Harbour so we watched that pass and then made our way home.
Overall we had a wonderful experience and we very impressed with Black Watch and what Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines had to offer!
I would like to thank Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, especially Rachael Jackson for making us feel so welcome and for allowing us to be part of this very memorable day!
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