A Cruise Ship History: Black Watch

Black Watch

After nearly 25 years sailing for Fred. Olsen, the Black Watch is set to be retired soon.

Built in the 1970, it was one of the oldest cruise ships currently in service and now faces an uncertain future.

Replaced by a newer and larger vessel, the former Royal Viking Star is now waiting for the next chapter of its long cruise career:

1970: Royal Viking Line is established as a luxury cruise brand. The newly formed company orders three ships at the Wartsila Helsinki Shipyard.

1972: At 21,847 tons, the Royal Viking Star enters service as Royal Viking Line’s first ship.

The 539-guest vessel is also the first on a series of three ships that later included the Royal Viking Sky and the Royal Viking Sea. 

1981: The Royal Viking Star enters a drydock in West Germany to be enlarged. The vessel is lengthened by nearly 28 meters, receiving new public areas and also 200 additional berths.

1984: Royal Viking Line is acquired by Kloster but remains a separated brand with independent management.  

Royal Viking Star

1988: After a corporate restructuring, the ship is now managed directly by Kloster Cruise. Flag is changed from Norway to Bahamas.

1990: After yet another reorganization, the Royal Viking Star is transferred to Norwegian Cruise Line, Kloster’s contemporary brand. The vessel is renamed the Westward and deployed in the Caribbean.

1993: From May, the Westward sails a program of short cruises from Miami to the Bahamas, replacing the Sunward.

Star Odyssey

1994: The Westward is renamed Star Odyssey and transferred to Royal Cruise Line after a $30 million refurbishment. The ship’s deployment includes cruises in the Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal and Canada and New England.

1996: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines buys the Star Odyssey for $55 million. Renamed the Black Watch, the ship starts service for its new owners in November.

Black Watch

2001: After a few years sailing with Norwegian registry, the Black Watch’s flag is reverted back to the Bahamas.

2005: Fred. Olsen sends the ship to the Blohm + Voss shipyard for a major refurbishment. On the technical side, the vessel is modernized, receiving new engines and other upgrades.  

2006: The former Royal Viking Sky is bought by Fred. Olsen and renamed the Boudicca. After ten years sailing for Fred. Olsen, the Black Watch is now reunited with one of its sister-ships.

Black Watch

2016: The Black Watch receives Fred. Olsen’s new livery, with a gray hull, and goes through a major refit. The ship spends 26 days at the Blohm + Voss shipyard to receive new restaurants and various other features, upgraded cabins and more.  

Fred. Olsen Fleet in Cadiz

2018: The Black Watch joins its three fleet mates for an event in Cádiz, Spain. Along with the Boudicca, Balmoral and Braemar, the vessel was part of a program of festivities and activities. 

Black Watch

2020: Fred. Olsen announces the retirement of the ship. After 24 years, Black Watch is to be replaced by a newer and larger vessel once cruising resumes.

2021: Renamed Borealis, Holland America’s former Rotterdam will take on the Black Watch’s existing itineraries from March 2021.

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