In a statement today, All Leisure Group announced that it has acquired the cruise line's assets for £1.4 million. The company will continue to operate from its head office in Skipton -- but under its former name, Hebridean Island Cruises. It was changed to Hebridean International in 2006 to represent a more global reach, but, with the recent sale of Hebridean Spirit, the line is once again focusing on its core product in and around the Scottish islands.
All Leisure Group has said that there will be no change to the Hebridean Princess experience and all booked passengers will sail as planned. In fact, the first cruise under the new regime departs today. The name and branding will remain in place, as will all published itineraries (through end of summer 2010) -- the 2,212-ton, 49-passenger ship will continue to offer cruises around Scotland and the Norwegian fjords. Guests and travel agents will be contacted during the next few days with further information.
Swan Hellenic's chairman, Lord Sterling, has been named chairman of Hebridean Island Cruises. Interestingly, back in 2007, All Leisure Group stepped in to rescue Swan Hellenic (which had been sold by the Carnival Corporation), which returned to cruising last year with its ship, Minerva.
Lord Sterling is quoted as saying in the statement: "I have for many years admired this highly respected small cruise ship and know that it has a tremendous following with people who enjoy exploring our beautiful coastline. I am delighted to have been invited to become Chairman of this highly respected brand, and am pleased to confirm that these cruises will continue to operate as in the past."
At this point there is no word on the owner of line's former ship, Hebridean Spirit, which was sold back in March, prior to the company going into administration. At the time, Hebridean said the increasing costs of operating a ship in international waters and the weakening of the pound against the euro and dollar forced the line to sell its second ship.
Those travellers formerly booked on Hebridean Spirit still have the option to switch over to Hebridean Princess. All Leisure will also provide a new, alternative option -- to switch over to a cruise with either Swan Hellenic or Voyages of Discovery.
Hebridean is known for offering country-house style, luxury cruises; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II chartered Hebridean Princess for her 80th birthday.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
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