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CRUISE SCOTLAND DESTINATIONS AGENT OPINION


Beryl Gibson, Northumbria Travel “Hebridean Princess is a special, unique


vessel, so it’s no wonder the Queen chartered her. Everything onboard is first-class quality and the staff are second to none.”


Tom O’Hara, Mundy Cruising “Sailing around the Scottish islands on the Princess is a real one-off


experience that you can’t get anywhere else, so it’s something every traveller should have on their bucket list, even if they don’t think of themselves as cruisers. It is an expensive product, so you are probably going to sell this to more affluent, luxury-oriented customers most of the time.”


Helen Moore, Bolsover Cruise Club


“This luxury small ship is ideal for passengers


who want to see ever-changing, stunning scenery, plus visit some wonderful, off-the-beaten track places. The ship is like a country house hotel and very friendly, so makes a perfect option for single passengers as it is impossible to lose yourself. The crew are as attentive as any I have come across.”


Fay Holian, Bluewater Holidays “I have recommended Hebridean Cruises


to so many customers, but mainly the over-65s and single travellers. The single cabins were excellent, spacious and comfortable, with the same facilities as other cabins. And there were so many of them for such a small ship.”


dinners to kippers or porridge with whisky for breakfast, it’s the little touches of old- school Scotland that make it unique. It has a special history, too. Not only


have royals slept onboard, but the ship dates back to 1964 – under its previous name, Columba – and for the first 25 years operated as a car ferry, carrying as many as 600 passengers and 50 vehicles. It was converted to a luxury ship with


what managing director Ken Charleson described as “posh cabins” in 1988, but was expanded in the 1990s to its current size. “She’s a working museum,” says Charleson, himself a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge of the brand and its history. The ship, which is undergoing


maintenance and upgrades this winter, was last overhauled in 2010 in a £1 million refit that saw it take on its current capacity. It has to have parts specially made, has no gears and uses a telegraph to link the captain to the engine room. But you still get all the mod cons in the cabins which, although small in size, are


designed so that they make the most of the space. Ironing boards fold out of the wall and coat hooks can be flattened to create space for more modern items such as a flat-screen television, minibar and plug sockets for all your devices. The delicate merging of tradition with modernity is one of the reasons people keep coming back, with 65% of customers repeat bookers.


Charleson admits the experience is far


from cheap, but says: “We know we charge a lot of money for the product, but we aim to please.” The cruise line backs itself so highly in its


BELOW: Agents on Hebridean Princess


delivery of the service that it knows once customers get a taste, they’ll return – or spread the word. That’s why they’re reaching out to travel agents this year, hoping the dozens they hosted on a two-day fam cruise will help spread the message to customers that fit the bill: affluent, classy and reserved but fun. Remind you of a period drama?


11 January 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 71


PICTURES: NICK ROBB


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