4 Hebridean Princess Luxury Cruise Reviews

We'd always wanted to visit the Inner Hebrides & this seemed the most civilised way to do it, especially as the ship came with HM the Queen's recommendation. From the moment we first made contact with Reservations to ... Read More
We'd always wanted to visit the Inner Hebrides & this seemed the most civilised way to do it, especially as the ship came with HM the Queen's recommendation. From the moment we first made contact with Reservations to disembarkation day at the end of our chosen cruise, every member of staff we dealt with was courteous, helpful, friendly, thoughtful & consummately professional. We felt cossetted & secure throughout our dealings with them all. So many superlatives have been written about this wonderful experience (everything in the brochures is absolutely true), that I thought I'd write about the bits you don't discover until you arrive for your first cruise... The ships embarkation procedures were very civilised. We had driven ourselves to Oban &, on our early arrival at the Lighthouse Pier our luggage was checked by Security & put straight on board the ship, while we were directed to the delightful nearby Manor House Hotel & greeted by Hebridean representative Joe. After a brief spell of form-filling, Joe took our car keys & organised tea, coffee, scones, jam & clotted cream for us, while we relaxed, enjoyed the harbour view & awaited the arrival of those fellow passengers who were also making their way independently to Oban. By 4.30pm we were all assembled & David, the Chief Purser, arrived to introduce himself & lead us back down the hill to the ship. As we left the hotel, we noticed that our cars had already been collected by the garage who would be responsible for their storage & safety during the cruise. At the shipside, a random selection of us were body-checked through Security before we all trooped up the gangway to the skirl of bagpipes, apparently played by a crew member high up on the Boat Deck. The gangway led to the Reception Foyer on Princess Deck, where David introduced us each to the crew member assigned to show us to our cabin. Our cabin, Isle of Benbecula, is more fully described below, but it made a wonderful first impression on us. Non-slip leather 'sheets' had been laid onto our bed & our luggage placed on top to make unpacking easier while keeping the bed-cover clean. We were given full instructions on where to find everything & what time we must assemble in the Tiree Lounge for the safety demonstration & drill, then left to unpack at our leisure. Our first dinner on board was a wonderful precursor of the culinary delights ahead of us. At least two choices per course (3 for the main course: meat, fish or vegetarian), with coffee & petits fours served upstairs in the Tiree Lounge afterwards. We had chosen to have a table to ourselves: this proved to be by a large window on the port side & would be ours for the duration of our cruise. Our table steward, Sven, would also be serving us for the cruise & within 24 hours he had memorised our various likes & dislikes so we never had to ask for anything. One of the bar stewards from the Lounge circulated continually around the Restaurant tables, topping up wine glasses with a good quality wine appropriate for each diner's chosen meal. Breakfast was almost as sumptuous as dinner, with a gloriously displayed centrepiece of fresh fruit on the buffet table to choose from, plus the largest selection of marmalades we have ever been privileged to try. Not one item in the cooked breakfast selection could be faulted, either. What with all the inspired excursions ashore on most days, we only got a few chances to enjoy lunch on board, but these too were impressive, centred around something vast (fresh salmon or a ham) served by the multi-talented David, & a buffet selection of different salads & dressings to choose from. Official meal times were: breakfast 8 - 9,30am, lunch 1pm, dinner 7.30pm. However, these times were occasionally amended for operational reasons. We were very interested to see how smoothly the various shore excursions were run, whether we were moored up at a dock or being ferried ashore by the ship's delightful tenders or its semi-rigid inflatable speedboat (tremendous fun, that one!). We had all been issued with individual plastic ID pouches attached to lanyards on embarkation day. These were not only designed to identify us in case of emergency, but when going on a shore excursion, we added a large brass tag bearing our cabin's name to the visible contents of our ID pouch. These brass cabin tags were taken from a big display board close to our exit from the ship. Which meant that the crew could see at a glance who was still on board the ship & who had gone ashore. The tags had the additional bonus of helping staff at the various properties we visited ashore to identify those from the Hebridean Princess group - so our ID tags also became our entrance tickets in many cases. On our return aboard, we returned the brass tags to the appropriate hooks on the display board. The ship wouldn't depart until all the brass tags were accounted for. The icing on the cake, as far as good security was concerned, was the alternative use of our life-jackets when being ferried ashore by tender. As soon as we arrived ashore, our escort (the guide, or a member of the Purser's Office, always armed with radios connected to the ship & each other) would deposit a large blue canvas bag at the landward end of the pier, into which we deposited our life-jackets. On our return to the ship we collected our life-jackets again (not always the one we'd arrived in!) before boarding the tenders. Any life-jackets still unclaimed in the blue bag would precipitate a search for those passengers still wandering ashore, who could, if necessary, be identified by the absence of their brass cabin tag back on board. Although daily newspapers could not be routinely provided for every passenger for obvious reasons, whenever we moored anywhere near a shop which sold them, a member of the Purser's Office would dash ashore to collect armfuls of assorted papers, most of which were left in the Tiree Lounge for us to enjoy. The Daily Telegraph always seemed to be the first copies to disappear, however, so at my husband's suggestion the Purser's Office kindly arranged to leave several photocopies of its crosswords in the Lounge for the cruciverbalists among us to enjoy. It took us a day or so to get used to the routine of Kasia, our meticulously efficient cabin stewardess. She changed our bedding & towels while we were at breakfast, returned later in the morning to do the more serious cleaning & came back while we were at dinner to turn down our bed, close the blinds & curtains, empty the rubbish bins & change any towels we'd used since her last visit. Only when Doreen the Housekeeper came looking for us on our second evening, did we realise how helpful it would be if we signalled our absence from the cabin by placing the 'Please Service Cabin' sign on the outside of our door whenever we departed for meals or morning trips ashore. Nothing was too much trouble for the crew. My 'tipple' of choice (non-alcoholic fresh tomato juice with a dash of celery salt), once explained to the bar stewards, was produced daily for the rest of our cruise. My husband's request for a visit to the Bridge was granted twice, to his delight, as was a visit to the Engine Room & Generator Room. We're already planning next year's cruise on board this delightfully luxurious little ship! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We had been recommended to try the Hebridean Princess by some friends who had been half a dozen times. She is a small ship which carries 50 passengers and around 40 crew. All the cruises are all inclusive one can enjoy the best of ... Read More
We had been recommended to try the Hebridean Princess by some friends who had been half a dozen times. She is a small ship which carries 50 passengers and around 40 crew. All the cruises are all inclusive one can enjoy the best of everything at no extra cost. We chose a cruise entitled Secrets of the Western Isles which called at Colonsay, Iona, Mull, Staffa (Fingals Cave), Muck, Barra, Eriskay, Skye, Rum and finally Tobermory. The trips ashore were excellent, we were well chaperoned by the excellent staff and guide from the ship who brought champagne picnics etc ashore. At Fingals Cave the footpath was more than a little daunting but we all made it ably assisted by the wonderful staff. On board the meals were beyond compare, the chef and his team looked after us royally, he knew how to do that, as after the Queen chartered the ship she invited him to go to Buckingham Palace to cook for her for a week, not many chefs have that on their CV! I particularly enjoyed having a decanter of Malt Whisky in the cabin which was refilled every time it looked low. The arrival and departure experience was totally seamless our car was waiting for us at the dockside with the luggage stacked alongside All in all this was a trip of a lifetime and we will definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My husband and I just had the pleasure of sailing on Hebridean Princess on a back to back cruise through Argyll, Bute, and Kintyre. We were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and the two cruises together totaled ten nights onboard. ... Read More
My husband and I just had the pleasure of sailing on Hebridean Princess on a back to back cruise through Argyll, Bute, and Kintyre. We were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary and the two cruises together totaled ten nights onboard. Before we sailed on Hebridean Princess, my husband and I enjoyed two cruises with SeaDream Yacht Club. We like small vessels and Hebridean Princess certainly qualifies, as no more than 50 guests sail at a time. From the moment we were piped onboard to the moment we disembarked and got into an Edinburgh bound taxi arranged by the purser on the Princess, we felt wonderfully taken care of. Many luxury cruise lines promise all inclusiveness. Hebridean Princess actually delivers. It is literally possible to board this ship and not pay one more dime after you've paid the fare. We never even had to hand over a credit card! All excursions are included, right down to the entrance fees and stops at coffee shops. On turnaround day, Hebridean Princess booked and paid for a cab for me, my husband, and another lady doing a back to back cruise and sent us to a museum. They also paid for lunch. Wi-Fi is free. We were booked in Loch Torridon, one of the cheapest cabins because it has no windows or portholes. Nevertheless, the cabin was very comfortable and fairly spacious, with an excellent king sized bed, plenty of storage, and a tiny but very comfortable shower with plenty of hot water. The staff is superb, attentive and professional without being too formal. The captain and his staff were very accessible and friendly. Though weather made it impossible for us to disembark one day, the staff found activities to keep us busy to include a bridge tour, engine room tour, and whisky tasting. On the last night of each cruise, we were invited to see the galley as well. We felt very fortunate to be onboard for ten nights. Hebridean Princess seems to cater most to elderly Britons. On our first cruise, we were the youngest and only Americans onboard. However, we met some truly fascinating people. Most everyone was active physically and mentally and delightful to talk to. While alcoholic beverages are included in the fare, I never felt like it was pushed on me. Many people were happy to drink coffee or tea and save the cocktails for after the sun went down. Hebridean Princess lacks a spa, pool, hot tub, and casino. Most people seem to get their entertainment watching the spectacular scenery (spectacular even in mid to late November) and talking to each other. This is definitely not a party cruise, but an elegant experience in which passengers can truly just relax and enjoy being pampered. I would definitely sail on the Hebridean Princess again, even in November! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We have just returned from what for us has to have been the most perfect cruise ever on the Hebridean Princess around the Inner Hebrides. As a bit of background, we have cruised with Seabourn ten times, Silverseas twice and SeaDream ... Read More
We have just returned from what for us has to have been the most perfect cruise ever on the Hebridean Princess around the Inner Hebrides. As a bit of background, we have cruised with Seabourn ten times, Silverseas twice and SeaDream once. After the adventure of an overnight sleeper train from Euston to Glasgow, then a quick walk from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street, we caught the West Highland line which passes through beautiful scenery and past spectacular lochs to arrive at Oban. We were able to leave our bags with security at the ship's berth and complete our checking in (taking all of 30 seconds) before heading off to explore Oban and spend a few hours in a local spa hotel (£5 each). Boarding is relatively late at 4.30 pm, but by that time we had refreshed and showered ourselves at the spa, so were ready to be piped aboard the ship, shown our cabin and be in time for afternoon tea in the Tiree Lounge. After a short lifeboat drill and time to unpack (the cases had arrived within a few minutes of boarding), it was on to our first proper meal of the cruise and an opportunity to meet our fellow guests. The food on board is truly the best of British cuisine, with the finest local ingredients cooked to the highest standard. There wasn't a meal that I didn't enjoy thoroughly. All meals are taken in the Columba restaurant, there are no alternative dining options, apart from a small room service menu. The food is the hottest (temperature wise) I have ever had in a restaurant! Breakfasts are a buffet of cereals, cold meats, pastries and fruit along with a cooked to order hot breakfast. Every day there is the option of porridge with a wee dram of whisky and if you like, sweetened by honey from the comb. Lunch is a three course meal, plus a cheese course if you are still hungry, with complementary wine, beer or soft drinks There is the option of sandwiches if you want a lighter meal. The evening meal is four courses plus a cheese course again with complementary drinks. On the two Gala nights, there is a much larger, elaborate meal. I really couldn't fault it. After dinner, the only entertainment is provided by the ship's guide who gives a briefing on what is happening the following day along with an historical background and stories associated with the places to be visited. One night a local duo of musicians came aboard to play traditional Scottish music, this then transformed into a Ceilidh with everyone getting up to attempt various Scottish dances under the instruction of the excellent musicians. A truly fun night! Otherwise, the evening's entertainment is chatting to the new friends that you have made on board whilst sampling the free drinks. Out of interest, Cruise Critic's own Cruise Review of the Hebridean Princess is incorrect as all drinks, with the exception of a very few high end wines and champagnes, are included. So it is a good chance to sample the ship's excellent selection of Single Malts free of charge, maybe matching them up with the places you are visiting. During the day, the ship tries to visit two places of interest. During breakfast the ship sails to its first port of call, so that once people have finished eating they can make their way ashore using the two tenders (always referred to as the Hardys [the make of the boats]), Shona and Sanda or a very fast speedboat for the more adventurous. Instead of being swiped off and on the ship as with other cruise lines, you collect a life jacket, which must be used when on the boats, and then take a small brass engraved tag that corresponds to your cabin. This is then placed into your lanyard and taken ashore. At the end of the trip, there is a reconciliation of life jackets and brass tags to ensure that everyone is back on board. The ship then sails to its second port of call during lunch. The trips vary each day. We had a ride up to the top of the Ben Nevis Range by cable car, a visit to Glencoe, a very boggy and physically exhausting expedition to find a Broch (an ancient stone defensive structure) on the island of Lismore and a scenic coach journey to try to get to the Island of Iona. This proved impossible due to the sea state between Mull and Iona meaning that the ferry was in imminent danger of being cancelled, so stranding us on the island. Instead a hasty visit was arranged to a farm which makes designer knitwear from locally produced wool, or a long walk to be met later by the coach if one preferred. When we couldn't land on Jura, we diverted to the small harbour of Tayvallich at the top end of Loch Sween, where there was excellent walking along a beautiful wooded peninsular. Another day we had a close sail past Fingal's Cave on Staffa to musical accompaniment and tots of whisky. On the last day we walked along the Crinan Canal in the morning and we were then taken to have a look at the Arduaine Gardens in the afternoon. Hebridean must be unique in that they pay for all drinks and snacks on shore as well as entry to any house, gardens, cable cars, etc you are visiting! The trips are also accompanied by a hamper containing flasks of coffee, melt in the mouth homemade biscuits (cookies) and several bottles of whisky so everyone can have a wee (or not so wee) dram to fortify themselves! We had a lovely guide, Rita, who when she is not working on the ship, runs a farm in Perthshire. She was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining and kept everyone together on the walking trips. Whenever we were unable to make our intended destination for the day, Rita would come up with an excellent back-up plan. A very special mention must be made of David the Chief Purser, who not only ran the customer facing part of the ship, but also was the Master of Ceremonies at the Gala nights (including his "address to the Haggis"), comedian after dinner and also cut the wild salmon and mustard glazed ham at the two lunch buffets. David appeared to be everywhere at once and knew all the guests names and made sure that everyone was having a marvellous time. This was also the first ship where I have been on first name terms with the Captain! The ship itself is charming. Certainly the smallest ship I have ever been on. Only 49 passengers and 38 crew. On board it is more like staying at a house party at a Scottish Country House. It has the most relaxed ambiance, without a queue in sight. There are no set times to do things except for meal start times (there is only one sitting for each meal and you go and eat when you feel like it) and the first and last boats ashore. The cabins are relatively small (ours was just over 200 sq ft), but beautifully furnished and enough room to move around in. Most have a proper sized bath with overhead shower. The toiletries are Molton Brown. There is tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin along with a fridge containing milk and soft drinks. There is also a decanter of whisky or sherry that is constantly topped up. The air conditioning is a bit antiquated but works perfectly well and you can often open the windows. There is also a proper sized radiator which is ideal for drying wet boots and socks after a walk ashore. We met the most charming fellow guests, all of whom knew exactly how to behave in keeping with the ship. There were 10 guests in our age range (late 40s/early 50s) with the rest being older, but very active. We have never swapped so many e-mail addresses as on this cruise. The only downside I could spot was a lack of seating if you arrived early for embarkation, but provided you arrive after 4.30 pm, then you are taken straight on board the ship. Those passengers being met by the ship's coach at Glasgow Airport and Railway Station arrived at the dock at about 6.00 pm and so went straight on board. One of my most enduring memories is taking the last Hardy back to the ship as darkness was falling and a full moon rose above the Scottish mountains reflected in the loch. Magical!! All in all, it was the best cruise I have ever been on, and whilst it might not be for everyone (no bingo, art auctions, ship's photographers, constant sales pitches, etc), I can certainly see why the Hebridean Princess is a favourite of Her Majesty the Queen ..... and mine! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Hebridean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.8
Dining 5.0 5.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 1.0 4.2
Family 1.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.8
Enrichment 3.0 4.8
Service 5.0 5.0
Value For Money 5.0 5.0
Rates 5.0 4.3

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