Hebridean Princess

A cruise ship fit for a Queen

When thinking about what a luxury cruise ship looks like, perhaps the image of a converted Cal Mac car ferry is not what springs to mind.

Hebridean Princess But looks deceive, and I’m reminded of the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Twice chartered by Her Majesty the Queen following the decommissioning of the royal yacht Britannia, Hebridean Princess knocks the socks off its competitors when it comes to delivering a top-of-the-range luxury cruise experience.

Once you negotiate the gangway and board the ship, you begin to realise just why the Queen chose it. Hebridean Princess provides a luxurious yet relaxed and intimate atmosphere for just fifty passengers and thirty-eight crew. Eleven cabins are appointed for single guests, and this must surely be the most sociable cruise ship there is. Someone described it as a country house party at sea and this seems an accurate description, not just of the size and ambience but also the accommodation, catering and service; top class certainly, but definitely not formal, stuffy or intimidating.

Bathroom The first thing we noticed on reaching our stateroom was the size of the bathroom. On most cruise ships, you might have only a shower; any baths tend to be modest in size. We, on the other hand, had a full-size bath in a vast bathroom gleaming with polished brass and big enough to accommodate a cocktail party.

The bedroom too gave an atmosphere of a top class hotel, furnished in luxurious Scottish style.

Cabin Soon it was time for pre-dinner drinks and guests began arriving in the Tiree lounge. The public rooms continue the country house feel. The chairs and tables in the lounge are just like ones you might find in someone’s comfortably-furnished home. Binoculars for passenger use were dotted about on various window ledges. This must be the only cruise ship afloat with a hearth and fireplace, not that the crew are allowed to light a fire of course, but retaining it simply underlines just how different this ship is.

As we entered the lounge, a waitress appeared with two glasses of champagne on a silver tray, and we remembered that it is an all-inclusive cruise ship; tipping is actively discouraged. There is no compromise on quality or quantity, even the nibbles and hors d’oeuvres were remarkable. We chatted amiably to the other guests, the flow of conversation aided by the flow of drinks, our glasses regularly topped up by discrete but attentive staff.

It seemed a shame to move on, but dinner was ready, and we all trooped off to the elegant dining room for a five-course meal with a different wine available for each course. The food was top class and beautifully served.

Tiree Lounge Being a Scottish ship, it was hardly surprising that one course was dedicated to haggis. It was led in by a piper, and the ship’s Master made the time-honoured formal address to the haggis before stabbing it in the traditional manner. Although most of the guests were not familiar with this Scottish dish, they gave it a try and were instant converts; it was certainly the best haggis I have tasted. I think a few English hearts and minds were won over that night. After dinner, we returned to the lounge for coffee, liqueurs and to continue the many conversations that had been started earlier.

It was rumoured that the piper was on deck. Now I admit I was a keen musician in my younger days and had always wanted to try playing the bagpipes, so I grabbed the opportunity to give it a go. Apparently, I did well for a first-timer, not only getting the drones going but also some notes from the chanter. However, out or respect for those within earshot who were perhaps trying to get some sleep, I called it a day after this one attempt.

So, food drink and accommodation are great, but are there restrictions to being on a small ship rather than a large cruiser? Well there is no spa, but there is gym equipment and with so few people on board there is unlikely to be a queue to use it. However, if there are any drawbacks, the benefits of this luxurious and highly sociable ship far outweigh them.

Sandray Beach landing The ship’s itinerary covers the west of Scotland and its stunning islands. Walking guides are provided where appropriate, and there are plenty of bicycles aboard for those who want to explore further afield on the ports of call. If you want to walk or cycle across an island, Hebridean Princess will sail round and meet you at your journey’s end. Wherever you go you know that you have a welcoming and comfortable base to go back to and yet another glorious meal to enjoy.

Of course, luxury and personal service at this level do not come cheap but you need to bear in mind that everything is included in the price, except the bagpipe lessons. But then I’ll not argue about that.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Hebridean Island Cruises.


232 people found this helpful
19291

Share Article:

Mike Pickup

Award-winning travel writer & photographer

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Mark Nicholls visits Austria’s snowiest ski resort and stumbles across a chapter of pop history….

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.