Friday, 27 October 2017

The Delights of Ardgowan House

Ardgowan is a beautiful late 18th century house which stands at the mouth of the River Clyde, looking across to the hills of Argyll, and south-west to the islands of Bute and Arran. Its predecessor, an ancient keep - now a romantic roofless ruin in the garden - stands testament to the strategic importance of the site, which was much fought over during Viking invasions and later during Scotland’s Wars of Independence.



The house in the early 14th century, once taken by Robert the Bruce, became one of a string of west coast royal fortresses until in 1403 it was given by King Robert III to his natural son, John, whose descendants have lived there ever since.

In the late Georgian period the family (now called Shaw Stewart) decided to build a new neo-classical house here which a follower of Robert Adam, named Hugh Cairncross, designed for them. It consists of a pedimented main block, which originally centred on an elegant curved double flight of steps, with wings linking to Venetian-windowed pavilions. The sea-facing garden fa├žade is configured differently, with a central bow rising into the roofline. The main reception rooms are on the first floor and retain their original contents - Gillow furniture supplied when the house was completed in 1801, family portraits of its successive owners, including a run of pictures by Henry Raeburn, paintings and sculptures collected on various Grand Tours and some curious Napoleonic relics including the Emperor’s hat. In the library with its tall well-stocked Gillow bookcases there survives an extensive archive of material relating to the completion and furnishing of the house and a large assembly of family letters and journals. These reflect the boisterous happy life lived within these walls by generations of Shaw Stewarts which has given Ardgowan the distinctive family atmosphere much commented on by visitors today.


The 350 acre policies were laid out in the same year that the house was built. The River Kip was re-routed to flow in a new paved course through the park, groves of trees were planted and winding picturesque walks were devised through the woods to the shoreline to take advantage of the spectacular scenery. The mild Gulf Stream climate encouraged the growth of tender trees and plants in both parkland and the garden which was designed in the 19th century. The house is positioned at one end of an extensive estate which stretches from the hills behind Inverkip to the high ground to the back of Greenock and Port Glasgow. The farming operation is carried out on a number of tenanted farms; there are also forestry and livery businesses run on the estate. Lucinda Chetwode (formerly Lady Shaw Stewart) runs residential educational courses from Ardgowan too, studying the art collections of Scotland and using her own archive and collection to analyse the social history of the 18th century country house. She also runs her antiques business - Ardgowan Antiques - from here.

She, her second husband Christopher, and her son Ludovic are always delighted to have Hebridean Princess groups visit the house.

Hebridean Princess is due to visit Ardgowan House on the following cruises in 2018:

>> Argyll's Secret Coast commencing 1st March 2018

>> Treasures of Argyll and Bute commencing 13th March 2018

>> Architectural Gems of Argyll and the Isles commencing 30th October 2018

>> Argyll's Secret Coast commencing 6th November 2018

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Hebridean's Rising Star

The Cruise Trade News’ Rising Star awards shine a spotlight on the brightest and best talent in the cruise holiday sector and celebrate the achievements of outstanding younger members working within the industry.



The awards are open to employees who are 35 years and under on 15th September 2017.  Some join the Cruise industry a little later than others and then make a real and significant impact, so for 2017 a new category that covers over 35s who have under 5 years’ experience in the sector as of 15th September 2017 has been added.

Earlier this week Cruise Trade News announced the shortlist for this year’s Rising Star Awards.

Hebridean was delighted to receive the news that, in the Cruise Line Sales Rising Star, its newest member of the Skipton shore based team, Abigail Stevens has been shortlisted for the award.

You may recall reading about Abbie earlier this year in both The Hebridean Times and our online news hub.

>> Click here to learn more about Abbie

On hearing the news Abbie commented:

"I am absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted in the 2017 Rising Star Awards - it is so exciting and I am so much looking forward to travelling to London in November to discover who the overall winners will be.  I shall keep my fingers crossed!"

Sales and Marketing Manager for Hebridean, Jonathan Moffatt remarked:

"Abbie is a talented, enthusiastic and enchanting individual that always gives 101% in everything she does.  Since becoming part of the Hebridean team 18 months ago, she built strong relationships with guests and colleagues alike and has created systems for varying administrative procedures that have benefitted all our small team in Yorkshire.

The Rising Star Awards was an ideal way to recognise her dedication outside of the office and therefore a nomination was inevitable!  Everyone at Hebridean is rooting for her."

The full shortlist can be seen below and the winners will be announced at the Rising Star Awards lunch on November 17th at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, London, where of our shortlisted Stars are invited as our VIP guests.

>> The Rising Star Awards Shortlist 2017

Friday, 6 October 2017

Hebridean Road Show

Over the next few weeks, Hebridean will be exhibiting in conjunction with a select number of its travel agency partners. 

If you're in the area, we'd love to see you.

Cruise Select Cruise Show - Sunday 15th October - Sharnbrook Hotel, Bedford


October is National Cruise Month, and Cruise Select is holding its annual Cruise Show on 15 October 2017 at the  Sharnbrook Hotel. During the day, you will be able to meet with Hebridean Island Cruises and travel professionals from various cruise and river lines.

Cruise Select says the top reasons to come along are:

1) Your chance to discover various styles of cruising including river, small ships, expedition and luxury

2) Take advantage of National Cruise Month special offers

3) Exclusive offers only available to Cruise Select

Doors open at 10:30 am until 3:00pm.

>> Click here to register for your FREE places


Northumbria Travel Cruise Show - Wednesday 18th October - Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham

Northumbria Travel is hosting a Cruise Show supported and attended by 12 Cruise Lines, including Hebridean Island Cruises, all showcasing their ships and itineraries on the day. There will be an opportunity to attend a short presentation by each cruise line in addition to talking to the representatives from each company throughout the day.

Exclusive Offers will be available on the day.

This event is on Wednesday 18th October at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham and starts at 10am and will run until 4.30pm

Parking is free of charge.

Call Northumbria Travel on 01670 829922 to secure your complimentary tickets or email info@northumbriatravel.com

Please note spaces are strictly limited and subject to availability.


Ponders Travel Cruise Show - Sunday 22nd October - Hallmark Hotel Bar Hill, Cambridge

October is National Cruise Month, so Ponders have invited the big names in cruising and river cruising, including Hebridean Island Cruises, to join them under one roof to showcase the very best of their National Cruise Month Offers.

You will have a chance to discuss your holiday ideas with an array of travel professionals.

With a luxury prize draw on the day and exclusive holiday offers you really need to put this event in your diary.

When: Sunday October 22nd 2017
Where: Hallmark Hotel Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8EU
Time: 11am to 3pm

>> Click here to register for your FREE places



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Richard Wilson’s Highland Fling - Broadcast date announced - More4 19 October 9pm




During June of this year Hebridean Princess welcomed a small film crew on board for the filming of a special documentary. 

STV Productions were commissioned to make a documentary for More4 following actor, director and broadcaster Richard Wilson as he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to explore the Highlands and Islands of his native Scotland.

The sixty minute programme followed Richard as he returned to Scotland to embark on a once in a lifetime tour of the north of the country. At 80, the voyage proved a fascinating journey of discovery and personal reflection. The one-off documentary captured Scotland’s hidden gems as Richard travelled in style from Edinburgh to Mull – first by train on the iconic Royal Scotsman, before taking to the water on Hebridean Princess with visits to Oban, Iona, Rum and Skye.


The STV programme titled ‘Richard Wilson’s Highland Fling’ will be aired on More4 on 19th October at 9pm.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Meet our newest sales team member

Abigail Stevens - Sales Consultant



Abigail is the newest member of the reservations team. Born and bred in Yorkshire, she studied Travel and Tourism at Craven College in Skipton. Abigail originally joined Hebridean as maternity cover in February 2016 and was offered a permanent position later the same year.

Since joining the team Abigail has become one of our travel experts, booking flights, trains, hotels and chauffeur cars on behalf of guests, as well as taking cruise reservations and completing many of the administrative tasks within the sales department.

Abigail has a close family connection with Hebridean as our Reservations Manager Lisa White is her auntie! Abigail has previous experience in a customer service environment having worked in a number of local restaurants whilst studying at school and college.

What have been the most enjoyable aspects of the job so far?

I enjoy talking to guests on the telephone and also the opportunity of meeting as many guests as possible at events such as the Ilkley Literature Festival and cruise shows.

I also greatly enjoyed the opportunity to visit Hebridean Princess last year, it makes the job much easier when you have experienced the product. I took great pleasure from the atmosphere and ambience of the ship, the delicious cuisine and meeting all the crew, in particular Chief Purser Dave Indge and his bad jokes!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to keep fit at the local gym after work and also enjoy travelling abroad, dining out
and music festivals. I have recently passed my driving test and love driving my new car around the scenic Yorkshire roads.

What do you think are the most rewarding aspects of the job?
The most satisfying part of the job for me is building a rapport with the guests and helping to ensure that they have a truly memorable holiday and return to cruise with us time after time.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Acclaimed British Actor On Board Hebridean Princess

During June of this year Hebridean Princess welcomed a small film crew on board for the filming of a special documentary to be shown on More4. We were approached by STV Productions seeking a unique filming opportunity that would showcase some of Scotland’s beautiful highland attractions, whilst at the same time focussing on a well-known television personality fulfilling a long-held ambition to explore his native Scotland.




Just like the audiences of fly on the wall documentaries, we were intrigued by the proposal put forward by STV Productions and after a series of meetings and ship visits in Oban the cruise chosen for the shoot was 20th June – Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens.



We were asked to keep the identity of the personality close to our chests until filming had ended, but can now reveal that this was Greenock born Richard Wilson, best known for his role as Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave and Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, in the BBC drama Merlin. During the cruise, Richard visited gardens, historic castles and the holy Isle of Iona, with the cruise culminating in a Champagne farewell reception at Duart Castle on the island of Mull.

Finally, our grateful thanks go to all our guests who gave their kind permission to be filmed as part of the documentary, as well as all the crew on board Hebridean Princess.

The STV programme titled ‘Richard Wilson’s Highland Fling’ will be aired on More4 on 19th October at 9pm.

--PRESS RELEASE--

STV Productions were commissioned to make a documentary for More4 following actor, director and broadcaster Richard Wilson as he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to explore the Highlands and Islands of his native Scotland.

The sixty minute programme, 'Highland Odyssey with Richard Wilson', followed Richard as he returned to Scotland to embark on a once in a lifetime tour of the north of the country. At 80, the voyage proved a fascinating journey of discovery and personal reflection. The one-off documentary captured Scotland’s hidden gems as Richard travelled in style from Edinburgh to Mull – first by train on the iconic Royal Scotsman, before taking to the water on Hebridean Princess with visits to Oban, Iona, Rum and Skye.



Mick McAvoy, head of documentaries at STV Productions, said: “Richard is one of Britain’s most recognised actors with a successful career spanning several decades. This documentary for More4 gave him the opportunity to explore a part of the world where he has always wanted to spend time, while giving the viewer an insight into the unique history and stunning scenery, all through the eyes of the iconic actor.”



Lizi Wootton, Commissioning editor for Features at Channel 4 adds: “It’s wonderful to have Richard back on our screens, with a project that’s especially personal to him. This promises to be a loving exploration of one of the most captivating expanses of the British Isles.”


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Boutique Cruise Line of the Year - WINNERS

On Monday evening (18th September 2017), Food & Travel Magazine held its annual Reader Awards ceremony in the elegant surroundings of the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London.

It was a great night for Hebridean Island Cruises as we scooped the accolade of Boutique Cruise Line of the Year.


We were up against strong competition, but every vote from the Food & Travel Magazine readers counted and we would like to thank every one of them for casting their vote, helping us to secure this prestigious award.

Ken Charleson, Managing Director for Hebridean Island Cruises commented:

"We are delighted to win this fantastic award at such a respected event - this really does illustrate our commitment to providing the best cruise holidays in a truly unique and elegant way and is testament to our officers, crew and staff both on board and ashore."

Pictured: Jonathan Moffatt (Sales & Marketing Manager), Lisa White (Reservations Manager) and Louise Pratt (Sales & Marketing Consultant).