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Secrets of St Kilda: Hebridean Princess Review

Trip Reports

Having only explored Edinburgh, I jumped at the opportunity to sail around Scotland's Hebrides on the unique small luxury cruise ship that is Hebridean Princess. Read my Hebridean Island Cruises review below.

My travel companion and I started our journey for the seven-night voyage with a four-hour train ride from London Euston to Glasgow, where we were met at the station by the friendly team from Hebridean Island Cruises and our guide for the week, Bryan.

We had a two-hour coach transfer to the ship's home dock of Oban, stopping at the airport for guests who had arrived by plane before travelling to the port to embark the ship. Hebridean Princess holds a maximum of 48 guests with the refined service of a floating country house, individually designed cabins, and a lounge and restaurant.

iona cabin on hebridean princess

We were led to our large cabin, Iona, with picture windows, a twin bed (which can be converted to a king-size bed), spacious bathroom with a bath and overhead shower. There is plenty of storage here with two wardrobes, drawers, safe, fully stocked fridge with soft drinks, water and tea/coffee making facilities.


A decanter with whisky was waiting for us, but if this is not your tipple of choice, then you can request something else - we asked for gin - and refillable water bottles are provided to take with you on your shore excursions. Toiletries on board are Molton Brown, and as the cruise line lessens their reliance on single use plastics, these are refillable, wall-mounted glass bottles. Dressing gowns and slippers are also provided, so even less to pack!

The TV shows all the main channels and a film is shown every night at 10pm as well as radio channels. Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the voyage, and there is a small area with rowing machine, running machine and weights. There is also a small library on board with books, DVDs and a few games, so plenty to keep you entertained on board!


The first night was very casual in the restaurant, but this is standard throughout the voyage. There are Welcome Gala and Farewell Gala evenings on the second and last night, so this is where we enjoyed the chance to dress up.

Our first port of call was windy St Kilda on the isle of Hirta - this was supposed to be on day two but due to weather forecast changes the Captain decided to deviate from the itinerary and swap our port of calls - this is the advantage of being on a smaller ship, which can change itineraries at short notice.

Hebridean Princess Review

The next day saw us cruise towards Barra, where we enjoyed walks on Vatersay before sailing on to Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis.

Here we explored the site of the Callanish Stones which were erected 5,000 years ago and predate Stonehenge, and Dun Carloway Broch, the best-preserved broch (stone tower) in the Outer Hebrides. Guests interested in wildlife can see birds, seals (we saw two laying on the rocks), puffins and whales at certain times of year.

Hebridean Princess Review

Our next port of call the following morning was at Loch Ewe where we were greeted by a lone bagpiper and visited the pretty Inverewe Garden.

This benefits from the effects of the Gulf Stream as it is on the same latitude as Moscow and Hudson's Bay, so a landscape with unusual, rare and wonderful plants from across the globe - it reminded me very much of the Botanical Gardens at Kew. In the afternoon, there was a visit to the pretty Corrieshalloch Gorge in Ullapool which my travel companion Kati went to - I chose to stay onboard and watch the FA Cup Final!

Hebridean Princess Review

On our way to Plockton, cruising the coast of Wester Ross and passing by the Isle of Skye, we spent the morning relaxing in the lounge before heading off to the Attadale Gardens, a privately-owned garden of 20 acres which was started in the late 19th century by Baron Schroder.

Now owned by the Macpherson family, it has waterfalls, a sunken garden, Japanese garden and a fern collection in the purpose-built dome. We had the pleasure of being hosted by the family and after the walk, a delicious afternoon tea served in their home.

Hebridean Princess Review

Our final day took us to the Kyle of Lochalsh where we visited Eilean Donan Castle, with two very informative Scottish guides - do arrive early, as it got very busy as we were leaving.

The Captain's Farewell Dinner took place this evening with Captain Richard and Chief Purser - Andy - wearing the traditional tartan attire to perform the ceremony of Addressing the Haggis. We had one evening of traditional entertainment - accordion and bagpipes - during the cruise, otherwise it is fairly low-key with the Chief Purser's Tales every evening prior to dinner along with our planned activities for the next day read out by Bryan.

Throughout our voyage we dined in the restaurant which served full breakfast, lunch (light bites are available if you do not want the full four courses) and dinner. Every day in addition to the main menu there was a choice of fish and a vegetarian option. Seafood was a speciality and featured a huge buffet twice at lunch - and if you have space for yet more food, the traditional Afternoon Tea was served at 4pm (before dinner at 7pm!).

Drinks - wines, Champagne and spirits included - are complimentary throughout the stay, and there is a good choice of non-alcoholic beers, wines and Champagne. There is a 24-hour tea/coffee station, and on some excursions, a hamper is taken ashore with hot drinks and freshly baked cookies served by the crew to guests.

Our final day arrived which sadly meant we had to disembark the ship - all very seamless as your luggage is placed outside the stateroom on the morning of departure. A coach transfer from Oban to Glasgow airport for our return flight took about two hours, again with a 'comfort' stop, and then went on to the station for guests returning by train - another fantastic aspect of an easy UK departure.

Both Kati and I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, made many new friends - which included solo travellers - and hope to return for a future trip on one of the many itineraries Hebridean Island Cruises have to offer. Our only complaints were that we had to get off the ship, and that we both had to go on a diet!

Meet the author

Cathy is a Cruise Consultant at Mundy Cruising, having worked with the company for 5 years and in travel for over 22 years. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Crystal, Regent Seven Seas, Paul Gauguin, Ponant, Seabourn, Cunard, AmaWaterways, Viking River Cruises, Tauck and Pandaw. Her favourite destination is Bermuda however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean, Adriatic, Myanmar, South Pacific and Antarctica. When she’s not travelling she loves going to the theatre.

More about Cathy

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