Quirky Cruise
December 29, 2016

Small Ship Cruise Line Review: Hebrides Cruises

Hebrides Cruises

Hebrides Cruises is a small family-operated line that currently operates two vessels taking just 10 and 12 passengers on cruises to Scotland’s Western Isles, lochs and the Caledonian Canal that stretches 60 miles across Scotland.

The emphasis is on Scotland’s varied wildlife, in the sea, air and on land, particularly in the Western Isles; island hopping; visiting small isolated communities; and enjoying the rugged island and mountain scenery, plus Scottish lochs and the Caledonian Canal on certain itineraries. Both vessels are ideal for chartering to extended families and groups of friends. Note: This line should not be confused with Hebridean Island Cruises.

Cruise vessels don’t get much smaller than these two, and their rugged construction makes them ideal for cruising Scotland’s beautiful and wildlife-filled Western Isles.

Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers

ELIZABETH G (stabilized) was rebuilt in 1995 from a Norwegian rescue vessel and takes 10 passengers; 12 on a charter. EMMA JANE was purchased in 2016 and began sailing on May 13, 2017 as PROUD SEAHORSE renamed in 2018. She is a mini-cruise vessel and takes 10 passengers, therefore, doubling the line’s capacity.

Note: A calendar provides the availability of space for every sailing late April to early October.

Hebrides Cruises

The Elizabeth G. * Photo: Ted Scull

Passenger Decks

ELIZABETH G has 3 decks, and EMMA JANE 4 decks, and neither has elevators. This pair is not suitable for wheelchair passengers. Passengers with mobility issues are helped on and off the ships.

Hebrides Cruises

EMMA JANE. * Photo: Hebrides Cruises

Passenger Profile

Age range is roughly 30-65. Children under 12 are not accepted unless it is a full ship charter; same for pets. Crew numbers 4 — captain, bosun, chef and wildlife guide.


$$ to $$$ Expensive to Pricey. Full charter offers a 10% discount.

Included Features

All meals, morning coffee, afternoon tea, snacks, bottled water and house wine with dinner; guided shore trips by wildlife experts.

Hebrides Cruises

On deck at happy hour. * Photo: Ted Scull


4-, 6-, 8- and 10-night cruises operate between the end of April through to mid-October covering variously the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Caledonian Canal across Scotland and several lochs.

The shortest, 4 nights, visits Lochs Linnhe and Etive and the Isle of Lismore; 6 nights either the Caledonian Canal between Oban and Inverness or the Isles of Skye, Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna; while the 8-nighter adds the more remote Shiant Isles.

The longest, 10 nights, includes Mingulay, Barra, South and North Uist, Harris and the most remote and dramatic of the Outer Hebrides: St. Kilda and its raucous bird colonies. The website has a space available chart. Dates that list “0” are available for charters.

Why Go?

Scotland is a gorgeous sea, sky, and mountain country with lovely isles and lochs to visit that are home to hugely varied wildlife — birds, animals and sea creatures. The locals are friendly too.

When to Go?

Scotland is a fickle weather sort of country, with sudden changes in very short periods of time, so you take your chances at any time of the April to October cruising season. June tends to sell out first.

Hebrides Cruises

EMMA JANE cabin. * Photo: Hebrides Cruises

ELIZABETH G has six double cabins for 10 passengers, while up to 12 for a private charter. Three toilets and two shower rooms are shared, while every cabin has a sink.

Since a winter 2018/2019 fit, EMMA JANE now has 4 doubles or twin ensuite cabins and one cabin suite (separate bedroom and lounge) for 8 passengers, or a maximum of 10 passengers on charters. The fittings and finishes show great attention to detail. Single passengers may ask to share a double cabin on a per person basis, or if the ship is not full, have the cabin to themselves. Otherwise singles pay the full cabin rate.

Twin-berth cabin, ELIZABETRH G. * Photo: Hebrides Cruises

Twin-berth cabin, ELIZABETH G * Photo: Hebrides Cruises

Public Rooms

The lounge is adjacent to the dining section, while the wheelhouse and outer decks are additional public spaces with lounge seating.

Lounge, PROUD SEA HORSE, Hebridean Cruises

Lounge EMMA JANE. * Photo:  Hebridean Cruises


Everyone dines at the same time. Sample menus: Breakfast — porridge with fruit compote, smoked Scottish salmon and scrambled eggs, whole meal toast or biscuits.

Lunch — two courses with soup, salad or sandwiches on freshly baked bread.

Dinner is a set meal by candlelight — locally caught langoustines and scallops, chicken breasts stuffed with haggis, with potatoes and vegetables. Dessert: roasted figs with heather honey, Greek yoghurt. Finish up with cheese and biscuits and coffee.

If aboard, there’s a service of morning coffee, afternoon tea and homemade cakes or biscuits. Special diets catered to with advance notice.

Snacks in the dining saloon. * Photo: Hebrides Cruises

Snacks in the dining saloon, ELIZABETH G. * Photo: Hebrides Cruises

Activities & Entertainment

Organized trips ashore are led by a qualified wildlife guide for spotting at sea and when ashore. Trips might involve two hours to visit local villages and their attractions or longer hikes. Also, some hikes may be self-guided for those who prefer independent activities.

Wildlife often seen comprise whales, sharks, dolphins, many types of sea birds, white-tailed and golden eagles, and otters and red deer. On islands such as Hirta and far out St.Kilda, birding trips may last six hours and include a packed lunch. If feeling lazy, enjoy the ship and its observation deck and let the others mess about.

Special Notes

Scotland’s weather is highly fickle and temperatures may be cool even in summer. It is best to wear breathable waterproof jacket and trousers, and think layers rather than a heavy coat.

Walking boots are the best footwear, and a walking stick is a good steadying tool in rough and slippery terrain. Insect repellent should be taken for trips ashore or applied before.

Along the Same Lines

The Majestic Line, Magna Carta Steamship Company, Hebridean Island Cruises.

Contact: Hebrides Cruises, Craigard, Connel PA37 1 PT Scotland; +44 (0)1631 711 986;


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Posted In:

Coastal Ship & Line Reviews, Europe, Rivers Ship & Line Reviews, Scotland, Uncategorized

1 Comment

  1. Lynn brookes - 1 month ago

    Am interested for next year 2 persons

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