Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens

Star of the BBC Scotland series Lady Lairds, Joanna Macpherson, will be joining Hebridean Island Cruises’ (www.hebridean.co.uk / 01756 704 704) luxury cruise ship, Hebridean Princess, on the Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens cruise commencing on 20 June 2017.

The rich history of the deeply rooted region of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland is unwrapped with this seven-night cruise of stunning ancient castles and breath-taking, early summer gardens carried out in true Hebridean Princess style.  This spectacular itinerary culminates with a Champagne reception at Duart Castle, Isle of Mull, hosted by Sir Lachlan MacLean, Chieftain of the Clan MacLean.

Other highlights include one of the finest rhododendron gardens in Scotland at Colonsay House, the Benedictine Abbey on Iona and the subtropical garden at Inverewe.

Attadale Gardens will also be visited, where Joanna Macpherson moved almost 5 years ago with her husband Alec.  Attadale had belonged to her grandfather so she has always spent holidays there since a baby.

Joanna will give us an insight into the running of the Attadale Estate, the making of the Lady Lairds documentary and the organisation ‘Discover Scottish Gardens’, a network of gardens which have come together to promote their rich diversity, a number of which we will visit on this cruise.

The Historic Castles and Glorious Gardens cruise starts from £3,875 per person and departs from Oban (Scotland) on 20th June 2017 for 7 nights.

Prices includes transfers between Glasgow and the ship or free valet car parking in Oban, all meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, shore excursions and gratuities and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.

For more information and to book visit www.hebridean.co.uk or call 01756 704 704.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Hebridean Princess starts new season with new cabins

In 2015 Hebridean unveiled the newly refurbished public rooms on board Hebridean Princess which were designed by John Dick and Son using bespoke furniture and richly textured, locally manufactured fabrics to create a subtle Scottish feel. Universally admired, the results were stunning, comfortable and luxurious.

During the recent winter refit of 2016/17, John Dick and Sons have once again been working hard to transform over a third of the guest cabins on board.

Managing Director, Bruce Dick, commented: "We have used a contemporary woollen plaid
from Mulberry as a base fabric which gives continuity throughout the cabins. Inspired by the plaid we specified various complementary colours and textures as accent fabrics to give each cabin its own identity. Respecting the age of the ship and working with luxurious linens and weaves we
have brought the cabins up to date with a comfortable contemporary twist."

Ken Charleson, Managing Director for Hebridean Island Cruises added: "We are delighted with the the work carried out on 11 of our cabins by John Dick and Son.  The designers have really embraced our brief to create cabins with a true Scottish feel which I am certain will be enjoyed by our guests during the 2017 cruising season and beyond".

Friday, 3 March 2017

New season sees the return of our popular Cruise Log

On Wednesday 1st March we left the refit yard at James Watt Dock and sailed the short distance down the Clyde to Greenock Ocean Cruise Terminal to embark our first complement of guests in 2017.

Over one third of the guest cabins have been refurbished this winter and the essential maintenance of the ships engines and machinery have kept our crew and contractors busy for the last few months.

With everything shipshape the guests were welcomed on board by Captain Heaton, his officers and crew, to the sound of bagpipes.  We set sail on our Clyde Island Explorer as guests settled in to their cabins and enjoyed their first taste of Hebridean hospitality at dinner.  We spent the first night at anchor in Rothesay Bay off the Isle of Bute in readiness for the visit to Mount Stuart House the following morning.

As the new season is now up and running, so too is our online Cruise Log.  This is an illustrated daily diary of each cruise as it unfolds to help bring each itinerary to life.    You can read the story so far here and also look back on any of last years voyages in our 2016 archive.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Spotlight on the Isle of Arran

Often referred to as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ due to the remarkable diversity of its landscapes, the Isle of Arran is the seventh largest, and one of the most southerly Scottish islands, lying in the Firth of Clyde.
Although culturally and physically similar to the Hebrides, Arran is separated from them by the Kintyre peninsula. The Highland Boundary Fault between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland divides the island almost exactly in two; the north is ruggedly mountainous and sparsely populated, the south is softer, more undulating and home to the majority of the population. The highest point on the island is Goat Fell and the profile of the northern hills viewed from the Ayrshire coast is known as the ‘Sleeping Warrior’ due to its resemblance to a resting human figure.

Holy Isle
Arran has two smaller satellite islands; Holy Isle is a two mile spine almost blocking the entrance to Lamlash Bay, creating a natural sheltered harbour, which houses a retreat and meditation centre for Buddhist monks from Samye Ling in Eskdalemuir. Pladda island lies a mile off Kildonan and is the haunt of seals, seabirds and some rarer migrant commuters.

Holy Isle
Arran has been continuously inhabited since the early Neolithic period and the fascinating Bronze Age remnants of the Machrie Moor Stone Circles and surrounding prehistoric burial cairns can be explored on the west coast of the island. From the 6th century onwards, the Irish Scots colonised the island and it became part of the Kingdom of Dalriada. During the troubled Viking Age, Arran became the property of the Norwegian crown before becoming formally absorbed by the kingdom of Scotland in the 13th century. The 19th century clearances led to significant depopulation and the end of the Gaelic language and way of life.
King’s Cave is a seafront cave near Blackwaterfoot which was formed where isostatic change resulted in a raised beach. Robert the Bruce is said to have sheltered here when returning to free Scotland from the English; the cave is also said to have been occupied by Fingal, Fionn MacCaul.

Brodick Castle
Brodick Castle played a prominent part in the island’s medieval history and is one of Scotland’s most battlescarred castles which has been rebuilt many times. The site of the ancestral seat of the Duke of Hamilton was a fortress even in Viking times. It was captured by English forces during the Wars of Independence before being taken back by Scottish troops in 1307. It was badly damaged by action from English ships in 1406 and sustained an attack by John of Islay, the Lord of the Isles in 1455. Originally a seat of the Clan Stewart of Menteith, ownership of the castle passed through various hands before it came into the possession of the Hamilton family in 1503. The castle is said to have several ghosts, the most benign figure usually seen in the library wearing breeches, a long green jacket and a powdered wig!
The walled garden at Brodick Castle dates from 1710 and has been restored as a Victorian garden; the woodland garden contains one of Europe’s finest collections of Rhododendrons. In the Country Park you can explore the 11 miles of waymarked trails among waterfalls, gorges and wildlife ponds. The castle and grounds, together with nearby Goat Fell are owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
Lochranza lies 2 miles southwest of the northern headland, the Cock of Arran, and is the largest settlement in the north of the island. Lochranza Castle is a romantic ruin on the tidal flats dating from the 13th century and is reputedly where Robert the Bruce landed on his return from Rathlin Island. Lochranza is also home to the only working distillery on Arran where you can enjoy a tour of the visitor centre and tasting of a wee dram.
Arran is renowned for its wildlife and many species are a common sight. Red deer are numerous on northern hills and there are populations of otter, red squirrels and badger. Offshore there are common seals, harbour porpoises, basking sharks and various species of dolphin. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded on the island including black guillemot, eider, peregrine falcon and golden eagle. The warm Gulf Stream gives Arran a rich and unusual plant life and nothing indicates the mild climate more than palm trees thriving outdoors.
Hebridean Princess is due to visit the Isle of Arran on the following cruises in 2017:
Prices from £1090 per person based on 2 people sharing an inside double/twin cabin.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Hebridean Looks Forward to 2017

Hebridean Island Cruises Limited, having just completed a successful management buyout, is once again an independently owned British cruise company and looking forward to a successful season ahead with the company’s flagship vessel, Hebridean Princess, returning to service in March after her annual refit.

Having successfully completed her dry dock during December, Hebridean Princess is now enjoying work being carried out on the upgrading of around one third of her cabins.

The first cruise of the 2017 season commences on 1st March when guests embark on the Clyde Island Explorer itinerary which includes some of the finest houses on the Clyde as well as Britain’s smallest cathedral and a mountainside botanic garden.

During 2017 Hebridean Princess will make a welcome return to Norway to explore the awe-inspiring fjords and islands between Stavanger and Bergen in a series of three stunning itineraries.  Hebridean has introduced a variety of new cruises in familiar cruising grounds off the west coast of Scotland, together with visits to the Gaelic neighbours of Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man and its 2017 calendar includes four fresh ‘Footloose’ walking itineraries. Further themed cruises have been specially designed for lovers of food and drink, history and heritage, golf, gardens, nature and wildlife.

Hebridean’s European River cruise programme includes new and exciting destinations all discovered from the comfort of Royal Crown and enriched by renowned guest speakers to bring each itinerary and the company will reveal the musical highlights of the Rhine, the flavours of the Danube and the architectural delights of the Main and Rhine.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Renowned Travel Writer Gary Buchanan Reviews Hebridean Princess for Cruise International Magazine

Renowned journalist Gary Buchanan has been a travel writer for over 22 years.  He is a specialist writer on cruise travel and has won several writing awards.  Gary is the author of 7 maritime books and former chairman of the British Guild of Travel Writers.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and Fellow of the Institute of Tourism.
Hebridean Princess welcomed Gary on board during September 2016.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Melodies of the Rhine – Musical Highlights

Each of our genuinely fully-inclusive European River Cruises, on board Royal Crown, is accompanied by a renowned Guest Speaker chosen because they are passionate about their subject. 

Adrian Finnerty is a versatile musician and educator and as one of Hebridean's Guest Speakers he will explore a range of composers, musicians and musical works relating to the Rhine, and in particular, the cities we will visit on the Melodies of the Rhine cruise.

Adrian writes:

"The areas around the Rhine have been a veritable goldmine of musical inspiration throughout the centuries. It was home to one of the earliest known figures in the history of music, Hildegard of Bingen.  Abbess, author, mystic, writer, musician and medic, Hildegard was also one of the most influential medieval composers and one of the earliest named composers whose music has been preserved and is performed today.

During the eighteenth century, Mannheim was home to the Mannheim School of Composers, of which the leading figure was Johann Stamitz.  Introducing musical features, such as the Mannheim Crescendo and the Mannheim Rocket, Stamitz and his contemporaries exerted a huge influence on the development of the symphony.

One of the greatest composers of all time, Beethoven, was born in Bonn, making his first public appearance as a pianist there at the age of seven.  His grandfather was the Archbishop’s Kapellmeister and his father was a singer in the Kapelle of the Archbishop Elector of Cologne.  The young Beethoven became involved in the flourishing musical life of the court, playing the organ and the viola as well as teaching and composing.  Throughout his life Beethoven associated himself with the aristocracy, including Count Ferdinand von Waldstein to whom he later dedicated his ‘Waldstein’ Sonata.

Following in the musical footsteps of Beethoven, Brahms seemed to be the natural heir to the Classical tradition.  However, while his music does follow very much in the orderliness and discipline of the Classical style, it is essentially lyrical and Romantic in feeling.  During stays at his summer house in Baden-Baden Brahms worked on some of his most important compositions, including the first two Symphonies and the ‘German Requiem’.

Schumann composed his third Symphony, ‘Rhenish’, after a trip to the Rhineland with his wife, Clara. The solemn fourth movement was inspired by the installation of a cardinal at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Cologne.

Renowned as a highly respected seat of learning, Heidelberg university, founded in the 14th century, was also the setting for Sigmund Romberg’s operetta ‘The Student Prince’, immortalised in the 1954 film featuring the voice of Mario Lanza.

The Lorelei, a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine, is associated with several legendary tales, poems and songs. Philipp Friedrich Silcher, a folksong collector and composer, wrote many songs of which his best-known is ‘Die Lorelei’. Several other composers were inspired to write songs based on the Lorelei legend, including Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt and even Gershwin.

The Rhine is also one of the settings for Wagner’s ‘Das Rheingold’, the first opera of his epic ‘Ring’ cylce. The story opens and ends underneath the Rhine, where three Rhinemaidens swim and protect a hoard of gold. The Rhine is indeed a musical goldmine flowing with melodies."

by Adrian Finnerty Royal Crown Guest Speaker

Prices from £2,880 per person

>> To read more about our Melodies of the Rhine click here.