Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Cruise of the Week - Celtic Panorama

From galleries and museums to castles and coastlines, get a true taste of Scottish and Northern Irish culture on a stunning Celtic Panorama cruise.


The wild landscapes and rugged coasts of western Scotland and Northern Ireland have inspired many an artistic soul – now let them inspire you, too, on a cruise that delivers a fascinating insight into both cultures. Arts Society Accredited Lecturer Stella Grace Lyons will be joining the trip to share her knowledge. ‘I’ve always been interested in how artists interpret their homeland,’ she says. ‘Scotland has produced some remarkable artists, particularly during the second half of the 19th century, and early 20th century.

Guests will be able to make direct comparisons between the paintings I’ll be talking about, and the magical landscapes that inspired them – right there through the cabin windows.’ 

Departing from Oban, the cruise criss-crosses the North Channel and Sound of Jura, enabling guests to enjoy breathtaking coastal scenery in between exploring the cultural gems ashore. The Larne-Belfast leg of the journey takes in some of Ulster’s top attractions – from the state-of-the-art Titanic museum to the 17th-century Glenarm Castle, where guests will view Viscount Dunluce’s private collection of paintings. 

Scottish highlights include cruising around the famous Mull of Kintyre, taking the air at the beautiful fishing village of Tayvallich and sampling the superb rich malt whisky at the Laphroaig Distillery.



As Stella notes, guests can expect ‘dramatic landscapes, luxurious objects, rich and striking paintings – and some of the best food and drink you will ever taste’.

Cruising holidays don’t always ensure an intimate, truly local travel experience, but a trip with Hebridean is different. Hebridean Princess, celebrating 31 seasons of memorable voyages in 2019, carries just 50 guests, allowing for relaxed, uncrowded tours to destinations that many larger vessels simply could not reach. The Hebridean team prides itself on immersing guests in local character and culture – as exemplified by the finale of the tour, a champagne reception in the splendour of Duart Castle, personally hosted by clan chief Sir Lachlan Maclean. It’s a truly spectacular way to end this unforgettable voyage.




An Art Lovers Highlights

Don’t miss these three top cultural gems of the cruise:

Crinan Hotel and Gallery, Argyll
Situated on Scotland’s rugged west coast where Loch Fyne meets the Atlantic, the Crinan Hotel is the ideal artist’s hideaway. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, to find one actually running the property; contemporary painter Frances Macdonald, whose landscapes deftly capture the drama of Argyll and the Western Isles. Her work, as well as that of her talented son, Ross Ryan, is regularly exhibited in Crinan’s on-site gallery.




Ulster Museum, Belfast
A treasure house of Irish art set in Belfast’s tranquil Botanic Gardens, the museum includes works by William Conor, chronicler of working-class life in Ulster; Jack Butler Yeats, Expressionist painter and younger brother of the poet William; and Sir John Lavery, World War I artist and acclaimed portraitist, whose allegorical figure of Ireland, modelled by his wife, long graced Irish banknotes.

Stella’s pick: Dumfries House, Ayrshire

Dumfries House is the highlight of the trip for me – it houses such an eclectic mix of treasures from across the world. The Pink Dining Room is a hedonistic explosion of colour and luxury; I’m particularly interested in its links to Venice, where I lived and studied. The Palladian inspired chimney, the painting by Venetian master Jacopo Bassano,
and the stunning Murano glass chandelier make this, I believe, the jewel in the crown.’





To learn more about the Celtic Panorama cruise and for all cabin prices please click here

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What's in Store for 2020?

Earlier than ever before, the Hebridean Princess 2020 Cruise Directory has been sent to the printers in order to be released during April.  
Next year Hebridean Princess will return to Norway for a series of four fascinating cruises.  We will explore the lesser known Hardangerfjord and the almost undiscovered Lysefjord, discover the delights of Sognefjord and the deep blue UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord, and reveal the awe-inspiring inlets and islands between Bergen and Stavanger.  

We have introduced a variety of new Scottish cruises, including four new ‘Footloose’ walking itineraries, plus there will be many other familiar favourites.  Themed cruises involving cycling, food and drink, gardens, nature and wildlife, arts and architecture, history and heritage will also appear in the 2020 cruising schedule.

The success of our Guest Speaker programme will continue to enrich selected departures and our knowledgeable on board guides will accompany every itinerary to bring each one to life.

Your new brochure should be with you from mid to end of April, but if you would like to advance register for any of our 2020 cruises please call us on 01756 704704 or email reservations@hebridean.co.uk 



Friday, 8 March 2019

Hebridean Princess Starts Season with Refurbished Cabins and Restaurant

Sumptuously refurbished cabins, marble-style bathrooms and a new look Columba Restaurant have been order of the day during the latest winter re-fit of Hebridean Princess.  

The renowned Glaswegian interior designers, John Dick and Son, were once again commissioned to complete our programme of cabin refurbishment and we are sure you will agree that the results are particularly impressive.

Sound of Islay

Loch Crinan
Cabins have benefited from richly coloured fabrics reflecting the colourful seasons of Scotland with bathrooms extensively re-modelled including 2 being fitted with separate walk-in shower cubicles in addition to new bathtubs.

Kinloch Castle bathroom
The Columba Restaurant has undergone a transformation with new seating for guests comfort.  
Columba Restaurant

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Cruise of the Week - Westering Home and Whisky Galore


 
This summer, Hebridean Princess will voyage to the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland for a series of four extended cruises to uncover some of the best secrets of these remote outposts with a distinctly Nordic feel.

As we return to our home port of Oban, we tour some of the finest distilleries in the Northern and Western Isles to taste some of the finest whiskies for which Scotland is world renowned. However, you do not need to be a whisky connoisseur, or even a whisky lover, to enjoy this cruise of varied adventure as in every port of call alternative visits are available – there is something to appeal to everyone.

Embarking in the east coast port of Invergordon could not be simpler with our rail or air packages, our experienced reservations staff will assist with travel arrangements to Inverness to connect with our onward coach transfer to the port. alternatively you can park your car in Oban and join our transfer to Invergordon at the start of the cruise.

Our first port of call is the historic town of Wick which has been a Royal Burgh since the 16th century. At the Wick Heritage Museum, located in the heart of the Thomas Telford designed Pulteneytown, we discover the many aspects of life during the heyday of the herring fishing industry. alternatively, we can enjoy our first tasting of the maritime malt at old Pulteney, the most northerly distillery on the British mainland.

Arriving in Orkney, we go ashore in the capital, Kirkwall, which was granted royal Burgh status by James III of scotland in 1486. Kirkwall's skyline is dominated by the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, known as The Light of the North, where we can enjoy a guided tour. The cathedral was commissioned by Earl Rognvald Kali in the 12th century and took 100 years to complete, using locally quarried red and yellow sandstone. Most unusually, the cathedral is not the property of any particular church, but belongs to the people of Kirkwall.

Or perhaps travel to Highland Park, standing proud in Orkney’s remote and remarkable landscape, where whisky has been distilled since 1798. here we meet the modern day Viking descendants, whose passion and skill continue the centuries old traditions to ensure the whisky stands apart.

Scapa Flow, an excellent natural harbour, was a major royal navy base during both world wars. In the early months of World War II, a German submarine slipped into Scapa Flow and sank the HMS Royal Oak, killing 833 men out of its crew of 1,400. Winston Churchill, first Lord of the Admiralty at the time, ordered that causeways be constructed to block most of the eastern approaches. These causeways came to be called the Churchill Barriers, and today they provide road links connecting several islands. We travel along the causeway to Lamb Holm to wonder at the beautiful and unique Italian Chapel, built by the Italian prisoners of war who helped to construct the barriers.


The distillery at Scapa sits in a beautiful location overlooking Scapa Flow, a wonderful backdrop to taste this artisanal single malt forged by the extreme elements of Orkney.

Leaving Orcadia in our wake, we plot a south-westerly course, round Cape Wrath and head for the Western Isle of Lewis, where the magnificent neolithic standing stones of Callanish were erected some 5,000 years ago. At Dun Carloway we discover the ruins of a well-preserved broch, an iron age structure designed to impress and defend. At 9 metres tall, it still stands close to its impressive full height and we can observe an excellent cross-section of a broch which was probably constructed around 200 BC.

Sailing south to Harris, we arrive in Tarbert where we can partake in a tour of the island with its stunning scenery and the rich history which has shaped its identity across the centuries, with norse and Gaelic influences evident. The recently opened Isle of Harris distillery produces an award-winning gin, which has become a firm favourite on board Hebridean Princess.

Crossing The Minch to the inner sound, we make landfall on the Isle of Raasay to discover the island’s first legal distillery. During our tour we learn of their innovative whisky making process and philosophy and catch sight of the incredible view across to Skye.  Otherwise, you may choose to explore the island on foot before enjoying well earned refreshments at Raasay house, where Johnson and Boswell were guests of the Macleod chief in 1773. 

On Skye, we head to Armadale and the romantic ruins of the castle, spiritual home of Clan Donald, and the Museum of the Isles which charts 1,500 years of highland history, or visit the distillery at Torabhaig, the second ever licenced single malt scotch Whisky distillery on the island.

The Ardnamurchan peninsula is home to Scotland’s greenest distillery. sitting in a spectacular location on the shores of Loch Sunart, the Ardnamurchan distillery opened in July 2014 to begin the process of producing what will eventually become world-class single malts.

Our final port of call is the Georgian capital of Mull, Tobermory, where there is the opportunity for a little retail therapy or refreshing strolls in the colourful harbour town. Established in 1798, Tobermory distillery is one of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland. Here we can compare two different, but equally alluring, single malts: the fruity, unpeated Tobermory and the more robust and smoky Ledaig.

We hope you will join us on this voyage of discovery.



Guest speaker: Charles MacLean
Charles MacLean has been writing about scotch whisky for thirty-six years, and has published seventeen books on the subject. he sits on several judging panels, including that of the international Wine & Spirits Competition, has chaired the nosing panel of the scotch malt Whisky society since 1992, and advises many whisky companies on cask selection and flavour profiling. he was the founding editor of  Whisky magazine, writes regularly for several international magazines and websites and is a frequent commentator on TV and radio.



>> Click here for more information and fares

M.V Hebridean Princess - The History of the Ship by John Noorani

Regular guest John Noorani has always been interested in the history of transportation, but he has a special interest, and indeed love, for Hebridean Princess.  This is clear from the detail of his research into his recently written book, M.V Hebridean Princess - The History of the Ship.

John's 28 page chronological composition is illustrated with a wealth of photographs from the launch of M.V Columba in 1964 right through to the present day.

The book costs just £5.00, plus postage and packaging, with all proceeds in aid of the International Otter Survival Fund (a charity supported by the author) and will be fund matched by Hebridean Island Cruises.  Copies are available to purchase on board or by contacting our Skipton office on 01756 704704, or by email reservations@hebridean.co.uk


Friday, 25 January 2019

Eagerly Anticipated Hebridean Princess Video - Watch Now

You may have read in issue 29 of our newsletter, The Hebridean Times, the article about capturing the World of Hebridean Princess on video.


During last year, Upfront Photography from Glasgow, were invited to film on board Hebridean Princess to produce a video that would capture everything typical about a Hebridean Princess cruise.

We hope you enjoy watching the final video below.

>> The World of Hebridean Princess on Video

Alternatively, visit our home page:

>> Hebridean Home Page

Hebridean Island Cruises Increases its Support for UK Marine Conservation

https://www.sea-changers.org.uk/
Hebridean Island Cruises has been working with its customers to raise funds for Sea-Changers, the UK marine conservation charity, since 2012 and during this time their guests have donated nearly £30,000. Up until now donations have been made as an optional addition by Hebridean’s guests when they book their cruise aboard the Hebridean Princess. From now on the company itself will match-fund every donation made by its guests, effectively doubling the contributions. 100% of the money that guests donate will continue to fund marine conservation projects; whilst the company’s donations will help to fund Sea-Changer’s first employee post – since the charity has grown considerably, they now need a paid worker to administer the grant fund.


The combined funds will allow Sea-Changers to award more marine conservation grants across the UK. Over the years Sea-Changers has enabled a vast range of vital marine conservation activity, much of it in Scotland and including around the beautiful Hebrides themselves.
 

Some examples of such projects are:

• Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust – funding to purchase much needed computer equipment for their dedicated research vessel, Silurian.

• Marine Conservation Society - purchasing beach cleaning equipment for Scotland enabling MCS to clean and survey 240 Scottish beaches, engaging over 3,000 volunteers, and collecting data on key types of litter polluting Scottish seas and beaches.

• Beach Watch Bute – Funding for storage benches throughout the island in key areas affected by marine litter. The benches will contain handy grabbers, bags, and gloves.

• Basking Shark Scotland - running a series of clean ups in the remote islands of Argyll transporting their volunteers via ribs and an inflatable dinghy.

• Shetland Amenity Trust - funding to produce a film about the UK’s most successful voluntary litter pick which involves 20% of Shetland’s population volunteering to clean its beaches and coastlines annually.

• Craignish Restoration of Marine and Coastal Habitat (CROMACH) – for a pilot re-introduction of the native oyster to Loch Craignish, in order to improve water quality and increase biodiversity while exploring the potential for greater community-led regeneration of the loch using a keystone species.

• Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery - funding to help the hatchery's economic cycle and enhance breeding stocks by allowing the hatchery to pay fishermen and release even more lobsters back to sea.


Helen Webb, Co-Founder of Sea-Changers said, “2018 has been the year when the UK really began to wake up to the problem of plastic pollution and its impact on our seas and wildlife. This and other marine problems can be tackled and with the support of caring marine-based businesses like Hebridean Island Cruises we can make a real difference. We are delighted that the company is going to match every guest’s donation in this way – the increased funds will make a huge difference to our work.”

About Sea-Changers
1. Sea-Changers is a charity with the mission of raising substantial funds for marine conservation charities and projects, primarily in the UK. Registered Charity No. England and Wales No. 1142119 and in Scotland SC043922
www.sea-changers.org.uk

2. They exist in order to harness the energy, good will and resources of those who love the sea, particularly those who use it for leisure activities such as diving, sailing, boating and cruising holidays.

3. Sea-Changers works through partnerships with commercial organisations that serve consumers who are accessing, enjoying or travelling via the sea.
About Hebridean Island Cruises
1. Featuring some fine tours ashore, the luxurious Hebridean Princess offers the highest standards of 5* accommodation, together with a level of service from an almost forgotten era. 

2. Carrying just 50 guests and a dedicated crew of 38, Hebridean Princess has an enviable reputation for exceptional service. She has 30 spacious, elegant and well-appointed cabins, 10 designated especially for the single traveller.

3. For more information and to book visit www.hebridean.co.uk or call 01756 704704.