Fred Olsen Black WatchAccording to the Cruise Capital website in the U.K., "a fire broke out aboard Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Black Watch this morning as the ship made its way to Madeira."

The fire, which started in the auxiliary engine room reportedly damaged three engines used to generate power onboard the cruise ship.

Cruise Capital said that the fire was extinguished by the crew. The site stated that "the four main engines are undamaged by the fire, but further investigations will need to be undertaken, before an attempt to restart them later today. Repairs are expected to be made en-route to Madeira."

The Fred Olsen line issued a press statement: “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines can confirm that there was a fire on board its cruise ship, Black Watch, this morning, in the Auxiliary Engine Room, which was extinguished by the crew. There have been no injuries to guests or crew. The Captain is keeping guests fully informed at all times."

A few hours ago, the cruise line provided an update on Twitter stating claiming that the Black Watch’s "two main engines are now fully operational, and the ship is en-route to Funchal, Madeira."  

The Black Watch is an old ship, built in 1970-1971. It carries 820 passengers after it was refitted several times. It was formerly Royal Viking Line’s Viking Star, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Westward, and Royal Cruise Line’s Star Odyssey.

Hat Tip to Cruise Hive for reporting on the fire.

July 2 2016 Update: According to Cruise Hive, cruise passengers are flying home.  "After assessing the impact, the cruise line stated ‘cabling damage has prevented the other two main engines from running, and it is anticipated that the repairs will cause disruption to guests during the recabling. Therefore, we have made the decision – in the best interests of guests’ comfort and enjoyment – to fly them home from Funchal. Our intention is to charter a private aircraft for our guests back to the UK over the next few days, at Fred. Olsen’s expense.’”

July 3 2016 Update:  "A Huge Fire."  The first comments from a family on the fire-stricken cruise ship according a U.K. newspaper. Passengers on the Fred.Olsen Black Watch cruise ship were 30 minutes from using lifeboats.

July 5 2016 Update:  Fred Olsen cancels the nine-night Norwegian Fjords cruise from Tilbury on July 8, according to Cruise Critic.

An unhappy passenger says: (on our Facebook page)  "Fred Olsen public relations…telling lies.
There were no free phone calls home, we were treated like cattle…420 old and infirm passengers had to pack one small case in the dark after 4 days of no electricity, no water for 12 hours, then cold water only, camping style food etc. etc.
The journey took from 6:30 am until 11 pm via coach, 3 hour ferry, coach, 3 hours standing queuing in a tiny airport, then plane, coach…
No senior execs at airport just 2 young women who usually sell excursions doing their best,, no wheelchairs or assistance provided.
I could go on.
It was horrendous.
I tried desperately to care for a disabled husband with the help of a friend with the endless on and off transport, queuing for hours, travelling on coaches with no air conditioning, no access to water or food for 8 hours..
What else have they lied about?
Wonder if I will ever see my luggage again or receive compensation.
And how did a fuel pipe leak unnoticed for so long that a huge fire had to be tackled for 5 hours by heroic young waiters and other staff?
Never again."

Photo Credit:  By Ra Boe – selbst fotografiert DigiCam C2100UZ, CC BY-SA 2.5,

  • Jen Maryon

    Due out of Tilbury on Friday 8th July to Norwegian Fjords , will be very nervous if it runs!!!!!

  • k.roberts

    was there no fire suppression system for the engine or generate room there certainly was when I was at sea, fire should have been out well under the 8 hours stated

  • John Goldsmith

    I believe they have cancelled a few cruises until further notice. You can check their site though.

  • Gordon Grout

    I was one of the passengers on Black Watch flown home after the fire — It was heavy going but the arrangements made in space of 24 hrs worked quite well — I have today recieved full refund of the cruise cost and a 50% discount voucher off next cruise booked — Thank You Olsen’s. I am one of 700 plus passengers….

  • Valerie Goldthorp

    My disabled husband says he will never cruise again…the horror of the fire, the days without electricity etc and the horrific 17 hour journey to Dover left him distressed, ill and exhausted.
    We will not be able to use the discount and would like the money to spend on a holiday in England.
    Watch this space….

  • Paul Lewis

    I am just an ordinary holiday maker who from time to time has holidays with the FOL. I have used all the ships and have clocked up between 125 and 150 nights with the company. This makes me almost a newcomer by comparison with many other passengers. I would never travel with any other line.Nothing that has happened to the Black Watch and its passengers has changed my mind. Unfortunately the brilliance of the service we get on board – from the captain to whatever the lowest rank – is not found at their Ipswich Offices. The land management is awful and the Board should take immediate steps to do something about it.

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  • Pauline Kenward
  • Patricia Stephenson

    Just reading through these comments we think some are so unfair. We were on this cruise and had a lovely time. Have already rebooked a cruise for next year on the Black Watch. We think under the circumstances we were well looked after on board. My worst nightmare was actually flying home having never flown before and never wanting to but even the flight was spot on. We were provided with a packed lunch too and they offered hotel at Dover if you wanted so perhaps the moaners should have asked a few questions instead of moaning but it was made known there was accomadation for those who wanted it. Only complaint not enough people at airport but all in all a great cruise which we enjoyed and would definitely stick with Fred in future

  • James Bolton

    My wife, who is registered Blind and I were passengers on the Black Watch when the fire, which was, we were told in the Auxilliary engine room caused the ship to be adrift in mid Atlantic for approximately nine hours Whilr what we were originally informed was a MINOR fire was extinguished. we endured three days of no lights. no hot water, and indeed for long periods no water at all. We also endured the horrendous journey back to Dover which tlook from 0630 until 2200 on Monday 04 July which has been very well described by others as HORRENDOUS.
    Not being in a fit state to drive back home to Stratford upon Avon at that time of night we were fortunate to obtain B & B in a Premier Inn in Dover, thanks to my step daughter, and drove home the next day.

    On 07 July, I wrotd a letter of complaint to the Managing Director of Fred Olsen Cruises at their Ipswich Address to which up to the present time I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement, never mind a reply. I feel strongly that a cocerted effort by as many as possible who share my feelings of disgust at the treatment we received should be made, and I ask that we get togrther and take the necessary action.
    Yours hopefully,

    James Bolton.