Hebridean Islands Cruises
Travel writer Vivien Devlin takes us on board the Hebridean Princess, which offers a range of very unique cruises - around the Western Isles, the Outer Hebrides, the smaller islands of Scotland and Ireland with the standard, quality and exclusivity offered on their small-scale, "yacht-style" ships. There is also a preview of the Hebridean Spirit - which is going further afield.
Hebridean Island Cruises began in 1988, launching their first small ship, the Hebridean Princess the following year, initially carrying just 46 passengers. The Princess now accommodates a maximum of 49 passengers tended by a crew of around 38. There are 30 Staterooms all named after West Coast Scottish islands, castles, lochs and bays. Eleven of the bedrooms are for single occupancy for which there is no extra charge.
When you realise that some of the giant ocean going ships and Caribbean cruise lines may accommodate anything up to 3,000 people or more, you can appreciate the privacy, relaxing atmosphere, gracious living and personal service on board. It is the smallest luxury cruise ship in the world.
The Hebridean Princess and her sister ship, the Hebridean Spirit have been given a five star rating by the latest Berlitz Guide to Cruising - regarded as the world's Bible on cruise lines - and Hebridean Princess was winner of the best deluxe ship in the Daily Express Cruise awards of 2000."We were looking for a ship that delivers a four star plus experience in terms of onboard quality, service and cuisine. Eight ships were nominated in this category and we placed the Hebridean Princess first, ahead of Seabourn Goddess II. Winning such a wide-ranging category with competition from ships as diverse as Grand Princess and QE2 is a tribute to the all round quality and originality of the Hebridean Island cruises operation."
Simon Veness, Co-ordinator of Cruise Awards
The ship offers the atmosphere of a private Scottish Country House party, except that it is afloat and cruises around some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery in Scotland. As the ship has a relatively shallow draught, she can anchor off isolated and inaccessible islands and coastlines. Guests usually go ashore twice a day often by small boat or by beach landing craft.
Hebridean Princess - Cruise Directory
With tempting and mysterious names such as An Inner Hebridean Odyssey, Scottish Temptations and Secrets of the Western Isles, the choice of itineraries around the West Coast of Scotland and beyond offers a destination for everyone.
Visit the tiny islands of Eigg, Berneray and Muck, or the sacred Holy island of Iona with its beautiful ancient Abbey. This is regarded as the seat of Christianity in Scotland and the home of St. Columba. On Iona you can take a walk to the wild and beautiful, "Bay at the Back of the Ocean". The dramatic islands of Colonsay and Islay, famous for its malt whiskies is also the home of a rich birdlife community, with 180 recorded species. The ship heads south to the North East of Ireland, past the spectacular geological creation, the Giant's Causeway and Rathlin Island - and its cave reputedly where Robert the Bruce encountered his spider - and then following the coast down to the city of Dublin.
A selection of new cruises has been developed for the coming season, including Outposts of the English Channel which visits Wales for the first time en route to the Scillies, Channel Islands and France from Oban. This itinerary ends with a spectacular steam up the Thames to the Pool of London. Two new "Footloose" cruises, Footloose Around the Isles and Footloose over the Minch, have been created for guests who in the pure Scottish air would welcome a slightly more active holiday, with options catering for all abilities and tastes. Footloose over the Minch concentrates on the lovely Inner and Outer Hebrides, from Eigg, Upper Loch Torridon, Shieldaig, Gairloch, Skye, the island of Ulva and Tobermory on Mull. Footloose Around the Isles includes Skye, North Uist, Eriskay, and tiny Mingulay, an afternoon visit to Barra, Muck, Iona and a walk to the Bay at the Back of the Ocean. Both of these itineraries are ideal too for those interested in wildlife, bird watching and unspoilt land and seascapes.
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