Our new “Big 5” cruise was in response to suggestions from our guests for a focus on finding the major Scottish wildlife icons. Autumn is one of the best times of the year to get close sightings of wildlife so we established an end-of-season Inner Hebrides “Big 5” wildlife short cruise which would “bag” five rare species in our cruising area. Our specialist Wildlife Guide Lyndsey was aboard Proud Seahorse and was set the challenge to find otters, eagles, red deer stags, harbour porpoise and common seals during our first “Big 5” five-day cruise.

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Wildlife Encounters 2017

Friday, 13 October 2017

We are delighted to report that our wildlife sightings have been the best ever this season, not just in numbers but in the amazing nature of the encounters. We don’t think there is any more wildlife around than normal, although species do fluctuate; the winning factor is the combined experience and knowledge of our crews.

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A great season for cetacean sightings

Saturday, 16 September 2017

With only a few weeks left of the 2017 season, it is clear that it has been a very good year in terms of wildlife sightings, especially of whales, dolphins and porpoise. Minke whales have been spotted on every single trip I have been on this season so far. The best sighting of the season took place just north of Ardnamurchan point on September 2nd. Over 300 common dolphins, 3 minke whales and hundreds of Manx shearwater and gannets, gathered together in one area of the sea, feeding on shoals of mackerel.

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We still have good availability on our Caledonian Canal Explorer 6-night cruises on September 30th(Oban to Inverness) and October 7th (Inverness to Oban) aboard Elizabeth G at £1055 per person. The variety of different environments to be experienced on this cruise is outstanding, from the magnificent sea lochs on the west coast, the backdrop of the Glen Nevis Mountain range, through the heart of Scotland via canals and freshwater lochs, fringed with forests and of course the amazing engineering of the Canal locks.  The Caledonian Canal Explorer is one-way - every day, wake up to a brand new part of Scotland as you travel from coast to coast. View the itinerary here> If you arrive to your cruise by car, we can transfer you back, otherwise there are excellent public transport links.

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The first steam aboard Elizabeth G gave us some dramatic skies, wonderful scenery and impressive seabirds. Guillemots, razorbills and common gull accompanied us up the Sound of Mull and a handful of majestic gannets were spotted. On approaching our anchorage for the evening, we spotted a couple of harbour porpoises, the smallest cetacean found in the Hebrides. We anchored in Loch na Droma Buidhe and enjoyed our first fantastic meal from chef Stevie. 

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I for one, can say that this trip was a delight from start to finish. To reach St Kilda is always an honour and to enjoy sunshine and a calm and glassy sea in the Hebrides is a real treat. Many laughs were had during the 10 days and the wildlife did not disappoint! We had good views of 6 different species of cetacean, both white-tailed eagle and golden eagles and many other bird species, including thousands of gannets around the sea stacks of St Kilda.

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In July 2017, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) is launching a new sightings app, thanks to an award of more than £79,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The app will enable everyone (boat operators and wildlife enthusiast alike) to record and submit their sightings of marine megafauna such as whales, dolphins and porpoises from all across the Hebrides. We are very pleased that Hebrides Cruises is playing a vital part in the development of the app.

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There was a real buzz at Oban Harbour on Saturday 13th May, the first cruise for our new vessel Proud Seahorse.  During the few days prior to departure, the weather forecast, along with the wind speeds and direction was giving some thought as to the best itinerary; but both guests and crew were anticipating with great excitement the prospect of the first week of cruising for Proud Seahorse.  The Crew of four were; James the Skipper, Maddy the Bosun, Peter the Chef and myself, Nigel the Guide, hoping to bring my wildlife, photographic, and Hebrides knowledge for the enjoyment of the guests.

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My first steam aboard Proud Seahorse started off pretty damp leaving Oban but as we got further north up the Sound of Mull the sky cleared, we got ourselves outside on deck and started to see some wildlife! Black guillemots, common guillemots, razorbills and common gull accompanied us and a handful of majestic gannets were spotted. We also spotted a number of harbour porpoise close to Duart Castle – great start to our trip! We anchored in Loch na Droma Buidhe for the evening and were treated to a delicious dinner prepared by our amazing chef, Ross.

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Hello all! Lynsey here for my first trip with Hebrides Cruises as a Wildlife Guide and I can’t tell you how excited I am to get underway!

The first steam aboard Elizabeth G gave us some dramatic skies and wonderful scenery. Black guillemots were seen before we had even left Oban- to the delight of many of the guests.

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Elizabeth G feels like our home from home - this year is my tenth year holidaying on the boat.  Well we don’t see it as a holiday - more of a yearly adventure!  Rob the skipper and the rest of the crew greeted us in Oban;  we were determined to make the best of things after a forecast warning of high winds, however we left Oban under leaden skies and cruised to Loch Sunart where we spent the first night at anchor. 

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Our first cruise of the season exploring the Islands of Mull, Coll and Iona was amazing with almost perfect weather and a fantastic array of rare species.  Having a dedicated Wildlife Guide on board our cruises is what makes our cruises a true wildlife experience.  Nigel Spencer was our Wildlife Guide on board and provided lots of information, spotted lots of species and took some amazing photos as well as providing a detailed report of the cruise.

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Hebrides Cruises is a proper family business.  Rob Barlow is Owner and Skipper; daughter Emma is Sales, Marketing and Shore Manager, her husband Peter works on the cruises in a variety of roles, including Skipper and Engineer. Not to be forgotten is Granny Mary, a vital person in the business, providing the scones for the guests arriving on the boat for their cruise which are always much appreciated!  Here is the recipe - with a few extra tips.

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Small-ship cruising in the Hebrides and west coast of Scotland is a growing phenomenon.  More and more people want to try a small-ship cruise therefore we are having an Open Day on April 22nd to show the public our vessels and answer any queries they might have.  In the meantime here are five good reasons to take a small-ship cruise with Hebrides Cruises, especially if wildlife is your interest.

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Hebrides Cruises Open Day April 22nd

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Come aboard and meet the crews to find out more about the vessels and the pleasures of a small-ship holiday. Our new luxury vessel, Proud Seahorse, is ready for her first wildlife adventures and our original vessel, Elizabeth G has been refurbished, offering comfortable accommodation at very good value for exploring the Hebrides and St Kilda.  Come aboard and meet the crews to find out more about the vessels and the pleasures of a small-ship holiday.

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