The Hebrides – Scotland

Gliding Through the Highlands and Islands

The drama of Scotland’s Hebrides (“islands at the edge of the sea”), created by earthquakes, volcanoes, and retreating glaciers, is topped only by the floating-country-manor luxury of the Hebridean Princess. This romantic five-star vessel carrying just fifty very cosseted passengers (with a crew of thirty-eight), glides through the 500-island archipelago, still rela­tively untrammeled by tourism, off the western coast of Scotland.

The atmosphere of a house party prevails, with the terribly respectable guests lounging in the handsome chintz-draped cabins (some with private balconies), dining on excellent smoked salmon and Champagne (with eighteen varieties of Scotch whisky for sampling), and making daily calls on remote towns and little-visited lochs. Small tenders bring passengers ashore to ancient distilleries for a wee dram, a bracing ride on the ship’s bicycles, or exhilarating treks through nature reserves without another soul in sight. One day may promise a visit to a long-abandoned castle sitting atop a lonely bluff or nothing more intense than an afternoon’s stroll on deserted beaches or antiques-store hopping in a somnolent, waterfront town.

Rum, Mull, Colonsay, Staffa, Barra, Lewis—for those not familiar with the pow­erful, sometimes bleak, and often eerie beauty of the Hebrides Islands, a “Hebridean Sampler” is an enchanting temptation, from the moment the bagpiper welcomes guests on board through to the wafting strains of Mendelssohns majestic “Hebrides Overture” that warm the blanketed, sunset-gazing pas­sengers as they linger on the deck.

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