Cruise Ship: Hebridean Princess
Cruise Destination: Western Islands of Scotland
Cruise Dates: March 20 - March 27, 2008
Guest Contributor: Know nowt
It was with some trepidation that we booked a cruise aboard this 5-star vessel. We perhaps thought that it would be full of 'stuffed shirts' full of their own importance and having read other reviews, it appeared that the ship rarely followed its published itinerary. The embarkation process at Oban harbor was not the best of starts. There was little help with luggage from the car park to the security office. There followed a cursory examination of the luggage which was opened in full view of other passengers. We were shown to a shabby room/office with a coffee vending machine. Not the best of starts.
I am pleased to say that was the only hiccup. The ship is advertised as being like a Country House Hotel, and in this regard it does not dissapoint. Our cabin (D category) was excellent with large picture windows and a full sized bathroom with bath and over bath shower. The cabin had a TV/video combo (rarely used) trouser press, tea coffee making facilities with china cups and saucers and good wardrobe facilities.
Being a small ship, there are no discos, spas, or casinos. The main areas of activity are the front facing Tiree Lounge complete with Inglenook fireplace and the Columba restaurant at the rear of the ship. The food is outstanding. All meals are waiter service with bright linen and shining glassware. Breakfast is either cooked or with specialties such as smoked haddock, pancakes, and other delicious items. Lunch is a full three course meal served around 1pm with afternoon tea served all afternoon in the Tiree Lounge (Excellent clotted cream scones, home made biscuits) The evening meal is generally a five course delight.
Our cruise had two Gala nights with seven courses. The Gala nights involved dressing up in full Tuxedo or kilts, although this was by no means compulsory. Two guests had dark suits which were perfectly acceptable. All drinks except premium brands are included. So all gin and tonics, blended Whisky, Beer, Lager and of course Champagne were free. It is possible to buy other wines from a list, but why bother? The house choices were excellent.
The itinerary was changed due to adverse weather, but this in no way detracted from the enjoyment. Being able to change the itinerary made it more of a magical mystery tour and enabled the Captain to avoid the roughest weather. So don't set your heart on going to any particular location as this can be changed and often is at short notice. The waiting staff are Eastern European and the service is charming and impeccable, whether in the Lounge or dining room. Housekeeping duties are carried out with the minimum of fuss. I only ever saw a vacuum cleaner being used once, and that was at 6am. Beds are turned down at night and most evenings are either spent in conversation or listening to the guide explaining the following days itinerary.
All in all a superb time, worth every penny. Disembarkation was more organized with help with luggage all the way. (Suitcases are removed from the cabin on the first day and returned on the last night) We drove to Oban, but connecting Coaches run from Glasgow airport or railway station. We had a marvelous time, and hope you do too.