The Majestic Line

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The Majestic Line Highlights

  • Explores Scotland's sea lochs around Argyll and the Hebrides
  • Sails two classic wooden fishing boats and a newly-constructed steel vessel
  • Offers superbly cooked fare showcasing the Scottish larder
  • Visit castles, gardens and villages, plus invigorating walks and wildlife spotting

The Majestic Line Fleet (1)

Finished in traditional wood and brass, Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan are 85ft in length. They were originally built in Baltimore, County Cork by the Irish Government to assist the fishing industry. At separate times they were saved from the scrap-yard and acquired by two Scottish sailing enthusiasts Andy Thoms and Ken Grant. Both these wooden boats were ingeniously refurbished and entered service in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Each has six cabins, however two double cabins are reserved for single occupancy at no supplement; hence the maximum number of passengers is 11 on any cruise.

In April 2016 a third vessel was constructed at the Ardmaleish Boatyard on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Given the name Glen Etive, this boat is also 85ft in length but more spacious internally due to the steel exterior, and accommodates 12 guests in seven double cabins. These three boats are tiny by the standards of most cruise ships, which is why they can go where other cruise ships that ply Scotland’s Western Isles can't.

About The Majestic Line

The Majestic Line gets its name from the "Tales of Para Handy" by Neil Munro, about the “puffers” that sailed the Western Isles in the 1930s. They narrate the amusing exploits of their crews and in one chapter the out-of-work engineer claimed to have found work on the fictitious Majestic Line, whose ships, he said had “gold funnels”. Glen Massan, Glen Tarsan and Glen Etive have gold-painted funnels.

The Majestic Line cruises are designed to reveal the hidden beauty of the sheltered lochs and islands of Argyll and the Hebrides, which are often undiscovered by visitors to the area, but well known to company’s founders, who live and sail there. The Majestic Line has helped establish a vibrant small-ship cruising sector in Argyll and the Hebrides. It is the only company in Scotland with a fleet of three vessels with ensuite accommodation.

Each cruise provides passengers with the opportunity to get to places no other cruise ship can access with itineraries around Argyle's coastline, the Inner Hebrides and the Western Isles. Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan undertake three- and six-night sailings to the Inner Hebrides and Argyll; Glen Etive offers 10-day voyages to Islay, Skye, the Outer Hebrides as well as the remote island of St Kilda. At the beginning and end of each season there are 6-day cruises to Skye and the Small Isles. All three boats sail from the port of Oban on Scotland’s Argyll coast and the season lasts from early April to late October.

Onboard

There's a truly Scottish flavour to this family-and-friends-run company, which won the Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 2012 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards. A Scottish piper may well pipe you onboard Glen Massan, Glen Tarsan or Glen Etive, each with a painted wooden hull and deckhouse topped by a varnished wooden wheelhouse.

These classic fishing boats are the sailing equivalent of lovingly restored steam trains. The decor is country house and offers a truly relaxing experience, so don’t expect top-notch luxury or hotel-style suites. The epicentre of life on Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan is the saloon -- a bar-cum-lounge-cum-dining room. Glen Etive has a separate dining salon at the stern of the boat and a lounge/bar and library at the bow. Guests dine communally at a long table. The crew of four will do almost anything to make your holiday enjoyable, such as buying you a replacement toothbrush or razor when they stock up each day at local shops and fetch the morning newspapers.

Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan have a similar layout. There are two cabins on Main Deck (the same deck as the saloon) as well as four cabins on Lower Deck. Glen Etive has one cabin on the main deck and six on the deck below.

However, most of the time passengers are either off the boat walking in beautiful countryside, visiting quirky villages or exploring castles and the Gulf stream-warmed gardens the area is famous for. The rest of the time they are out on deck watching for passing porpoises and birds or sitting in the saloon, swapping stories with fellow passengers, reading or eating.

Fellow Passengers

Most passengers are British, largely older than 40, with an interest in the countryside and wildlife. Children aged under 12 are not allowed on board, except for whole boat group charter. Australians, Canadians and Americans are well represented, as is any English-speaking traveller with an interest in Scottish heritage and the unique beauty of Scotland's west coast. Many of the passengers have previously sailed on Star Clippers' vessels, joined expedition-style vessels sailing to remote destinations in Alaska, or have owned a yacht.

A Majestic Line cruise is not a glitzy yachting experience but is ideal for passengers who prefer their cruises to be experiential rather than predictable, sociable rather than rowdy.

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