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Annabelle Thorpe

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Cruise the Hebrides

Our verdict:

Scotland's Western Isles are some of the most amazing places in Britain – part fantasy movie backdrop, part Robinson Crusoe paradise. I can't imagine a better way to explore them than on an informal small-ship cruise - fishing, wildlife spotting, kayaking, beach-combing and gazing at the wide seas and skies from the deck.

Recommended company: St Hilda Sea Adventures

St Hilda Sea Adventures says

Our unique Scottish small ship cruising and wildlife holidays around the most beautiful islands, sea lochs and mountains of the Inner and Outer Hebrides are truly unforgettable adventures for all ages, from wildlife encounters to (free) whisky tours.

  • adventure for all ages
  • private charter available
  • wildlife encounters

Our three small cruise ships are St Hilda (maximum 6 passengers), Seahorse II (maximum 11 passengers) and Gemini Explorer (maximum 8 passengers). St Hilda is a traditional, wooden ex-Tall Ship. Seahorse II is an ex-Norwegian Ferry and our newest addition to the fleet, Gemini Explorer, is an ex-cruising lifeboat. All three ships have been converted to cruise the western islands of Scotland in comfort and style.

You can charter one of our small ships for your family or a group of friends (maximum 11) or  join others (solo travellers, couples, small groups) for a relaxed, sociable and fun adventure.

Cruises range from four nights up to eleven nights with some which are themed – photography, wildlife, whisky and art for example. Our five-night Inner Hebrides Wildlife Cruise has sailings throughout our season, April to October, and includes the chance to spot otters, sea eagles, dolphins and seals.

One of the secrets to the magic of our voyages is that our small ships let you explore places most cruise ships can’t access. We anchor in sheltered bays and small harbours from where you can explore remote Scottish islands such as Mull, Jura, St Kilda, Staffa, Iona and Skye.

Each day is as action packed or relaxing as you want it to be. You can fish, swim, dive, set lobster pots and sail the sea and lochs with the chance to spot dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks, otters, sea eagles, puffins, minke whales and the occasional orca or humpback whale. The ships’ tenders can also take you ashore for some challenging coastal and cliff walks or simply some peaceful beachcombing.

The atmosphere is relaxed and informal on board, with a skipper and chef to take care of the hard work. All meals and snacks are included in the price (great value, too, with prices from £800 for five nights). Delicious meals, generally based on fresh local produce, are social events enjoyed in the deck saloon at anchor.

Visit St Hilda Sea Adventures to see details of our itineraries and to check our calendar for berth availability.

Note: All the travel companies featured on this site are personally recommended by our editors. Companies pay us a flat annual fee; we don’t get any additional payments if you click on their sites or make a booking. Those fees pay for the upkeep of our site, so we can keep it current and reliable. See more about how we work.