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An interview with Ken Charleson of Hebridean Island Cruises

Meet the Experts

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we've been catching up with friends at some of our favourite small ship cruise lines.

Ken Charleson is Managing Director at Hebridean Island Cruises, where he began as a non-executive director 17 years ago, and we spoke to him at an exciting time for the company.

Q: Describe your company in no more than 50 words...

A: We are a proudly independent British cruise company operating a single tiny ocean ship, Hebridean Princess (50 guests), out of Oban, as well as a selection of river cruises. We have a loyal clientele and enjoy an extraordinary 74% repeat rate.

Q: What is your proudest moment as it relates to your company?

A: When Her Majesty the Queen chartered us FOR THE SECOND TIME! We were originally recommended by another family member (Princess Anne!), and she chartered Hebridean Princess for her 80th birthday, which was amazing. When she came back for a second time, that was a true accolade, it showed us we had done something (everything?) right first time around…

Hebridean Princess - Tiree Lounge

Q: Tell me something about yourself that most people don't know...

A: I've run two marathons (Glasgow). My time was 3 hours and 17 minutes. Actually, finishing it was a mistake - I just meant to do the first ten miles to support a friend.

Q: Tell me what, in your opinion, is the one most significant thing that makes your cruise line different from its competitors?

A: Attention to detail. This is not just something we say. We take our relationship with our customers extremely personally, we respond immediately, and we know their preferences inside out. That's why 74% return… and that's how we get to know them so well!

Q: What is the next big thing to come from your company?

A: Lord of the Glens. We just bought it! I can't tell you any more at this stage, but watch this space…

Hebridean Island Cruises - Lord of the Glens

Q: Why do you love Mundy Cruising and what do you think is the secret of our 50 years of success?

A: The Mundy team has the same ethos and service levels as ours. They take care of clients, with lots of attention to detail. Like us, they don't try to be all things to all people - they are specialists in what they do. At Mundy, they don't bother with mainstream cruising and big ships. They focus on top quality products, and they understand them inside out.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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