Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Scotland's Magical West Coast by Richard A Baines of Logan Botanic Gardens

Richard Baines with Gardener's World presenter Carol Klein.
There are few horticultural spectacles that can compete with the beauty and splendour of gardens along the West Coast of Scotland in early Summer. 

Gardens along the western seaboard are famous for their impressive displays of Himalayan plants such as Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Blue Poppies and Camellias and May will be the ideal period for viewing them at their very best. 

Most of the gardens are located very close to the coast and have idyllic views across the western seaboard. This has the advantage of not being hit by late frosts and also having an earlier growing season than gardens inland.

Inverewe in Wester Ross has a wonderful collection of tender Rhododendrons such as Rhododendron Edgeworthii and some magnificent Asiatic Magnolias such as Magnolia Wilsonii with its pure white petals and clusters of red stamens. The view from the walled garden across Loch Ewe is to die for!

Spring fragrance is an integral part of visiting Attadale Gardens which have numerous specimens of the Yellow Azalea, Rhododendron Luteum. It also has an oriental garden from Japan plus a sunken fern garden.

Dundonnell Estate Garden hosts a fine collection of Camellias, Magnolias and Rhododendrons and has an impressive laburnum walk in this ancient walled garden.  Exciting planting in new borders provides all year colour centred around one of the oldest yew trees in Scotland.

Durnamuck Garden situated on the edge of Loch Broom with stunning views is a real plantsman’s garden. With a rich mix of herbaceous borders, trees and shrubs, Mediterranean plants and plants originating from South Africa one will observe plants that are seldom seen in the U.K.

Dunvegan Castle and Gardens has over five acres of formal gardens which will be at their prime in mid - May. Included in the garden is a water garden with its ornate bridges and islands complemented by its rich plant collection. The castle’s former vegetable garden is now elegantly landscaped and houses a diverse range of plants and features such as a glasshouse, garden museum, pond and larch pergola. A lot of restoration work has been carried out in the last thirty years to restore the garden.

Lip na Cloiche Garden is beautifully situated close to the shoreline on the Isle of Mull, and has stunning views of Loch Tuath and the Isle of Ulva. For the avant collector you will be delighted to hear that the garden has an unusual range of plants for sale!

One of Scotland’s national treasures are its castles. Glengorm Castle is an impressive 19th century country house commanding fine views across the surrounding landscapes.

Many of the gardens that we will visit have developed as a result of personal passion for plants and hard work and Ard Daraich Garden is no exception. here a rock garden has been created on a granite hillside creating small pockets in the thin peat layer for planting.

Scottish gardens host some of the finest displays of Himalayan Blue Poppies on the planet and this will be the ideal time of year to view them at Ardtornish Estate Gardens. Why not take this opportunity to view some of Scotland’s finest gardens in the comfort and homeliness of this fabulous cruise ship.

Himalayan Blue Poppies
Richard Baines will accompany our Secret Gardens of the Western Seaboard cruise commencing 15th May 2018 for 7 nights.

A day in the life: David Indge

Hebridean Princess Chief Purser David Indge, tells Ben Ireland from Travel Weekly how life at sea on the 50-berth luxury cruise ship enables him to combine his love of travel and people.

David was born in Bristol and lived at Keynsham.  After attending Weston-Super-Mare catering college for two years, with a love for travel, he joined P&O as a steward in 1974.

After two years sailing on the Canberra, he was transferred to Princess cruises, where he met his wife Pat on board the Sun Princess in 1979.  Following their marriage in 1982, he moved to P&O ferries across the channel and Bay of Biscay.  He seized the opportunity to join Hebridean Islansd Cruises in 2005.

David says he has not looked back since, enjoying all aspects of working for Hebridean and meeting so many friends and interesting guests.

>> Read Ben Ireland's full article in Travel Weekly here

Thursday, 4 January 2018

30 Years Cheers by Graham Clarke

Now that 2018 has arrived, here at Hebridean Island Cruises we are excitedly looking forward to celebrating the 30th cruising season of Hebridean Princess. Guest speaker Graham Clarke has kindly penned a 30th anniversary poem titled "30 Year's Cheers".

Our 30th anniversary season will not go unmarked and therefore we will be replicating itineraries from our inaugural year of 1989, along with cruises from our tenth season of 1998 and the twentieth season of 2008:

>> Original cruise from 1989 - Islands of the Inner & Outer Hebrides 22 - 29 May 2018

>> Original cruise from 1998 - The Hebridean Isles 19 - 26 June 2018

>> Original cruise from 2008 - Secrets of the Western Isles 25 Sept - 2 Oct 2018

30 Years Cheers - by Graham Clarke

A nice glass of whisky with one cube of ice
And a portion of haggis would also be nice

Such pleasures enhance this marvellous trip
On this our most excellent wee Scottish ship

So here's to our Captain and his noble Crew
Our wonderful chefs just cooking for you

Preparers of dishes and bakers of breads
Cleaners of cabins and makers of beds

Here's to our Purser and Chief Engineer
And blokes on the bridge who know how to steer

And men on the deck we call seamen able
And those lovely people who wait at our table

Ensuring our comfort as we sit to dine
And ever attentive at pouring the wine

This ship's been cruising for thirty great years
A Princess deserving of three hearty cheers

So one for our Captain one for his Crew
And might I suggest the third one for you!

© Graham Clarke 2017

Graham Clarke will accompany the Isles of Scilly and Celtic Coasts cruise commencing 10th July 2018 as guest speaker.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Land of Waterways and Windmills on board Royal Crown

This captivating cruise explores the history, heritage and art of The Netherlands with a variety of intriguing visits along the scenic Dutch waterways. After uncovering a hidden gem right in the heart of the capital Amsterdam, the Hortus Botanicus, we sail through some of the smaller and lesser visited canals and rivers to discover more secrets of this fascinating landscape.

Amsterdam has one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, the Hortus Botanicus. It was established in 1638 by the city municipality as Hortus Medicus, a herb garden with
medical plants for Amsterdam doctors and pharmacists.

In the second half of the 17th century, the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus garden had a rich collection of plants completely unknown in Europe. They were brought here from all over the world by the traders of the Dutch East India Company.

Today, Hortus Botanicus is an attractive oasis, with more than 6,000 different plants with some unique species. The new hothouse creates conditions for three different tropical climates.

We take a glass-topped canal boat to the gardens for a peaceful and relaxing visit and enjoy an exclusive afternoon tea in the recently renovated Orangery.

After sailing through what Royal Crown Captain Hans de Gelder describes as a ‘very beautiful area’ of his beloved home nation, we arrive at the fortified town of Naarden. An example of a Spanish Star Fort, it is one of the best preserved fortified towns in Europe, complete with fortified Naarden was one of the most important defence works of the New Dutch Waterline and is breathtaking. At the Fortress Museum we can observe the underground casemates and learn more about the fortressed garrison town. A stroll through the town will allow you to observe many historical buildings and monuments, such as the St. Vitus Church, a large gothic basilica from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Holland and water are inextricably linked. Behind its coast lies an intricate network of ditches, waterways, canals, lakes and rivers. The nations windmills, pumping stations, polders and dykes are world-famous and almost a third of the land lies below sea level. Without the large water engineering works of the past centuries, culminating in the Delta Works, half of Holland would be submerged.

The Woudagemaal in Lemmer is the largest steampowered pumping station ever constructed and the only steam-powered pumping station in the world that is still in use. In a beautiful building, inspired by the Amsterdam School style, The Woudagemaal was built in 1920 to pump away the excess water in Friesland. Until that time, large parts of the region were submerged during the winter. The pumping station, which can pump away over 4000 cubic meters of water per minute, or 6 million cubic meters per day, changed that.

Weerribben-Wieden is a cultural landscape that was created in the 14th century through peat cutting. This peat was highly valuable as a fuel when dried, and was cut from the areas known as ‘weren’. The peat was then laid out to dry on long strips of lands, known as ‘ribben’, thus creating these unique wetlands.

The best way to explore the Weerribben-Wieden National Park is on the water. We take a boat tour through this gorgeous area, known as ‘the Venice of Holland’, where we hope to see many kinds of waterfowl and insects, and maybe even spot an otter among the vegetation in the water and on the banks.

In the 17th century, Enkhuizen was one of the wealthiest cities of Holland. It gained power and influence as a member of the Dutch East India Company. Enkhuizen’s rich history is still noticeable today as you walk through the old inner city with its numerous state mansions, canals, churches, city walls and harbours.

Following our walking tour of Enkhuisen we travel back in time to see how people lived centuries ago at the open-air Zuiderzee Museum which depicts a typical Dutch town and everyday life from the period between 1700 and 1900. People dressed in traditional Dutch clothing help bring the past in this little town to life. The museum is housed in more than a hundred and thirty authentic houses, shops and workshops, illustrating the history and culture of this unique region.

Alkmaar is known as the city of cheese in Holland, but has many other attractions including a beautiful old centre with many historic monuments and a range of interesting museums. Like many old cities in Holland, Alkmaar is a real ‘canal town’. In the past these canals were used as waterways, as a sewer system and to defend the city, but today they are mainly decorative.

The Alkmaar Cheese Market is a fascinating spectacle. This colourful, folkloric spectacle takes place at the picturesque Waagplein and here you can discover how cheese is traded according to a tradition that began in 1365. The 'kaasdragers' (cheese porters), 'zetters' (loaders), 'ingooiers' (cheese tossers) and 'waagmeesters' (weighers) all play defining roles at the market and belong to a guild with many traditions.

The area around IJsselmeer lake is dotted with beautiful old Dutch villages and towns. Together, they form one of the most gorgeous and authentic parts of Holland. Hoorn’s heyday was in the 17th century, when it was one of the main cities of the Dutch East India Company. Like Amsterdam and Enkhuizen, Hoorn became a very wealthy city. A walking tour of the old quarter and harbour will uncover dozens of monuments and churches which will allow you to experience the atmosphere of those historic times.

With its many historic buildings and beautiful old squares, Haarlem lies near the beach on the banks of the Spaarne river. Narrow streets are lined with monumental buildings built by the master Lieven de Key.

The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem has many artworks of masters from the 16th and 17th century and is home to the world’s biggest Frans Hals collection. Counted among the greatest of the Dutch masters, Frans Hals became known as the best portrait painter in the country. Great masters of impressionism, like Monet, Corbet and Manet, visited the Frans Hals Museum to admire his art.

During the 17th century, more than 600 windmills were constructed in the area around the Zaanse Schans, creating the first industrial zone. The windmills were used, among others, to grind spices, produce paint, saw wood, and make oil. A number of these windmills still exist and can be visited to discover how these wind-powered machines work, inside and out.

There are various museums you can visit at the Zaanse Schans to get an accurate impression of life in Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries including authentic wooden houses, a bakery museum, a chocolate factory, a cheese and dairy factory and a warehouse where clogs are still made today.

We hope you can join the Hebridean River Cruises team, including host David Indge, on this enchanting voyage which will reveal many of Holland’s hidden treasures.


20th May to 27th May 2018
Genuinely Fully-Inclusive Fares from £2,835 per person

based on 2 people sharing a deluxe twin cabin

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Christmas and New Year Opening Times

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a most enjoyable festive season and a prosperous new year.


22nd December
9am - 12pm
23rd December
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
Boxing Day
27th December
9am - 6pm
28th December
9am - 6pm
29th December
9am - 12pm
30th December
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Day
2nd January
9am - 6pm

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Photography Competition

We would like to invite you to submit your favourite photographs, taken from on board Hebridean Princess or in and around the waters in which she sails, for a 2019 calendar which will be available to purchase on board during next season, or ordered from our office in Skipton by telephone or email.  The closing date for entries is 30th January 2018.

Photographs should be digital files of at least 300 dpi and a minimum of 3mb.  Please submit your entries by email to louise.pratt@hebridean.co.uk with information on the location or subject of each image.  Entries are submitted on the basis that copyright is released and any images used in the calendar or any future publications will be acknowledged. We welcome images of the ship, Scottish wildlife, Hebridean land or seascapes or any destination visited during a Hebridean Princess cruise.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Hebridean shortlisted for more prestigious awards

The shortlist for The Wave Awards 2018 – the most prestigious awards event in the cruise industry – has been revealed.

We are delighted to announce that Hebridean Island Cruises has been shortlisted in the following categories:

  • Best for Solo Travellers
  • Best Luxury Cruise Line
  • Best Luxury River Cruise

The hotly anticipated line up features top cruise lines, agents and destinations who represent the best of the best of the industry.

Wave Awards chair and World of Cruising editor, Louise Robinson, said: “The Wave Awards celebrates excellence in the cruise industry both from a consumer and trade perspective. I’m proud to say we have been inundated with entries – up by 50 per cent on last year. The standard was so high our expert panel found it really hard to whittle each category down, but I’m extremely happy with our final shortlist. “

The winners will be announced at the awards, which will be held at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London’s Covent Garden on 1 March.