Black Watch (ship)

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Black Watch in Funchal July 2nd 2016 (cropped).jpg
Black Watch in Funchal, Portugal
  • 1972–1991: Royal Viking Star
  • 1991–1994: Westward
  • 1994–1996: Star Odyssey
  • 1996–present: Black Watch
Port of registry:
Builder: Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard,  Finland
Yard number: 395
Laid down: 1 July 1970[1]
Launched: 1 May 1971[1]
Sponsored by: Mrs Thor Heyerdahl[2]
Completed: 1 June 1972[1]
In service: 26 June 1972
Status: In service
General characteristics (as built)
Type: Cruise ship
Length: 177.70 m (583 ft 0 in)
Beam: 25.19 m (82 ft 8 in)
Draught: 7.30 m (23 ft 11 in)
Installed power:
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Capacity: 539 passengers
General characteristics (after 1981 refit)
Length: 205.47 m (674 ft 1 in)[2]
Beam: 25.20 m (82 ft 8 in)[2]
Draught: 7.55 m (24 ft 9 in)[2]
Capacity: 758 passengers
Notes: Otherwise same as built
General characteristics (after 2005 refit)[1]
Installed power:
  • 4 × MAN 7L32/40
  • 14,000 kW (combined)
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Capacity: 820 passengers
Notes: Otherwise same as after 1981 refit

MS Black Watch is a cruise ship, currently owned and operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. She was built by Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard, Finland for Royal Viking Line as Royal Viking Star, entering service in 1972. She has also sailed for Norwegian Cruise Lines as Westward and Royal Cruise Line as Star Odyssey.


Royal Viking Star[edit]

Royal Viking Star in Bermuda in 1989.

Royal Viking Line was established in 1970 as a joint project between the American businessman Warren Titus and three Norwegian shipping companies (including Kloster Cruises,[3] the owner of Norwegian Cruise Line). The aim of the new company was to offer luxury cruises to destinations around the world as an alternative to Caribbean cruising. For this end the company ordered three purpose-built luxury cruise ships from Wärtsilä Helsinki New Shipyard in Finland.[4]

The first of the new ships, named Royal Viking Star, was launched on May 12, 1971 and entered service on June 26, 1972.[5] Her sisters, Royal Viking Sky and Royal Viking Sea, followed in 1973.[6] The Royal Viking Line brand was clearly a success and the elegantly furnished ships were considered to be amongst the five most luxurious cruise ships in the world at the time, alongside Norwegian America Line's Sagafjord and Vistafjord.[4] In 1981 the Royal Viking Star was lengthened by 27.77 metres at Seebeckwerft, Bremerhaven, Germany.[5]

As the 1980s progressed it became clear that the luxury cruise lines such as Royal Viking could not survive without the support of a larger company, with the operating costs of a handful of luxury ships being too high to be truly profitable.[7] Royal Viking Line was acquired by Kloster Cruises in 1984, but its operations were initially kept separate from those of Norwegian Cruise Line.[6]

Westward / Star Odyssey / Black Watch[edit]

Black Watch in Liverpool in 2015.

In April 1991 the Royal Viking Star was transferred from the Royal Viking Line to the Norwegian Cruise Line and renamed Westward.[5] With NCL the ship was used for cruising from New York City to Bermuda and on to the Caribbean.[8] In April 1994, the ship was transferred to the fleet of NCL's subsidiary Royal Cruise Line, renamed Star Odyssey and used for cruising around the Mediterranean.[5] Here the ship joined her sister Royal Viking Sea that had sailed as Royal Odyssey since 1991.[9] The career of the Star Odyssey was to prove short however, as Norwegian Cruise Line was facing financial difficulties in the mid-1990s and were forced to sell off various assets.[10] In October 1996 the ship was sold to Fred Olsen.

The ship was renamed Black Watch (a traditional name in Fred Olsen fleet) and entered service for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines on 15 November 1996. In February 1997 the ship suffered engine problems while outside Marmaris, Turkey, and had to be docked for two weeks at Valletta, Malta for repairs.[5] From April 2005 onwards, the ship was docked for two months at Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, Germany. During this time her engines were upgraded and interiors refurbished.[5] In July 2007, the ship was the subject of a Legionnaires Disease outbreak which affected a number of passengers in their seventies and eighties.[11] A norovirus outbreak infected 130 passengers and crew during a cruise to Scandinavia in September 2013.[12]


Black Watch has ten decks with eight of them being accessible to passengers.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d "Black Watch (07819)". DNV GL Vessel Register. Det Norske Veritas. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  2. ^ a b c d Ward, Douglas (1995). Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. Oxford: Berlitz. ISBN 2-8315-1327-8.
  3. ^ (in Swedish) Fakta om Fartyg: M/S Royal Viking Sky (1973), retrieved 27. 9. 2007
  4. ^ a b Ulrich, Kurt: Monarchs of the Sea - the Great Ocean Liners, pages 209-210. Tauris Parke, year of publishing not stated. ISBN 1-86064-373-6
  5. ^ a b c d e f (in Swedish) Fakta om Fartyg: M/S Royal Viking Star (1972), retrieved 27. 9. 2007
  6. ^ a b Simplon Postcards: Royal Viking Star, retrieved 27. 9. 2007
  7. ^ Ulrich, Kurt: Monarchs of the Sea - the Great Ocean Liners, page 218. Tauris Parke, year of publishing not stated. ISBN 1-86064-373-6
  8. ^ Miller, William H. Jr: Pictorial Encyclopedia of Ocean Liners, 1860-1994, page 112. Dover Publications, New York, 1995. ISBN 0-486-28137-X
  9. ^ (in Swedish) Fakta om Fartyg: M/S Royal Viking Sea (1973), retrieved 27. 9. 2007
  10. ^ Simplon Postcards: Royal Cruise Line, retrieved 27. 9. 2007
  11. ^ Smith, Oliver (17 March 2010). "Cruise line pays out over Legionnaires' disease death". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  12. ^ Sulieman, Carla (20 September 2013). "Sickness bug contracted by 130 passengers on board cruise ship". Daily Record. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  13. ^ Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: deck plans for Black Watch, retrieved 27. 9. 2007

External links[edit]