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Hebridean Princess

Visit to MV Hebridean Princess on 12th November 2005


 

 

Previous ship visits

Van Gogh

Arion

Ocean Majesty

Arcadia

Hebridean Princess

Black Watch

Size Matters?

So some would have us believe! Economy of scale is everything. The cruise industry is in an never ending race to show bigger is better, with the title of 'largest vessel seemingly changing every couple of years. If there are smaller vessels around, they are typically older and often have been subject to character stripping refits over the years. How refreshing then to board a cruise vessel that is small, old, very well maintained and full of character. That ship was the Hebridean Princess at Tilbury.     

She was built in 1964 as a lifeline ferry, maintaining service through Scotland's highlands and islands for x years. To many she brought their first real vehicle ferry service, using a forward hoist which lifted vehicles up to pier level. After several extensive refits from 1988 onwards, the Princess now operates as one of the most exclusive ships in the world, with prices to match.
Onboard the accommodation has been extensively refurbished in country house style.  Our tour of the ship starts with a very civilised Coffee and Shortbread in the forward Tiree lounge. This lounge includes cosy nooks for two,
There is also a bar and a lovely fireplace. Furnished with the kind of sofas which sunday magazines are full of, this is where we get our first taste of floating country house.
Cabins onboard have names, rather than numbers. These have been sensitively created within the ship's original accommodation and include the Isle of Arran Suite (sitting room shown right).  
All the usual amenities from a higher end cruise can be found including fruit bowls, Molton Brown toiletries, Tv and CD players.
Throughout the ship there are numerous scottish touches including this >  
Some cabins have balconies, sensitively created within the ship's original decks. These 2 examples are from a single cabin and a double.
Dinner is taken in the Columba restaurant - a reminder of her former name and heritage, although from the layout and menu one suspects many things have changes since she was a Calmac ferry!  
There are tables large and small in the restaurant and just in case one overindulges, there is naturally a gym, created within the former car deck.
This ship doesn't offer simply your traditional cruise, sailing to shopping islands and doing little by the way of activity. Rather she comes across more as a sort of upmarket expedition ship. There are bikes on the vehicle deck, small boats in the former vehicle lift. All giving the impression of passengers who are much more active than one might initially expect.
Continuing the scottish theme, one can checkout the family tartan in one of the lower cabin corridors

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Then when going ashore to track down the remaining family members, don't forget to indicate you are ashore using your cabin name

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You are relatively free to wander around aboard the Hebridean Princess and although access to the bridge is restricted, looking in shows a ship from a different era....  
     
There is plenty of outside deck space with teak loungers all making this seem a delightful ship to sail on. It was all too soon when the visit was over and one had to say goodbye to this floating country house. Many thanks to the owners and crew of Hebridean Princess who made the Ocean Liner Society members extremely welcome on this visit.