Here is our latest Green Report from our Green Initiative Crew Member Lynsey Bland. Lynsey understands every aspect of our business, from cruising with us as one of our expert Wildlife Guides, to helping maintain our vessels over the winter period.  The 2024 season will be Lynsey’s 7th year working with us and we have benefited so much from her determination and advice on green issues.  As a business, our own commitment to the natural environment continues and we believe there is always more that can still be done in so many different ways to become a fully sustainable business.  We are grateful to Lynsey who continues to identify new measures and initiatives to ensure that our activities do not result in any damage to the idyllic places we visit and the planet we inhabit.  Lynsey has high standards in expecting Hebrides Cruises to leave no stone unturned in implementing green measures and she continues to highlight ways to improve.

Green Initiative Report February 2024: Lynsey Bland

Tackling carbon emissions

Hebrides Cruises continues to actively assess and keep our carbon emissions as low as possible and they have dramatically reduced on both Emma Jane and Elizabeth G, as new, more efficient generators were installed in 2023. These not only reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, but also have the added benefit of running much quieter.  This adds to the overall comfort of guests and surrounding boat users and, very importantly, wildlife. All of our vessels have the capability to lift our tenders out of the water whilst cruising to further save fuel. Our third vessel, Lucy Mary joined the fleet in June 2023 and on board we installed a low power water maker which will reduce water consumption by converting salt water into fresh water.   Our vessels continually run at 65% of the full power capacity to further reduce carbon emissions. Prior to the 2024 cruising season all engines and generators will be serviced to ensure that our vessels run as efficiently as possible, whilst also keeping maintenance programs up to date. A high level of maintenance of our vessels is one of the most important aspects of reducing any pollution, as well as ensuring safety at sea.

We are delighted to continue to donate to the organisation Trees for Life, who are revitalising wild forest in the Highlands of Scotland. During 2023, we donated a total of 330 trees (representing one tree for every guest who cruised with us), totalling a value of approximately £2000. Guests have also donated voluntarily to this cause with regular guest, Steve Lloyd making a contribution.

Supporting research into cetaceans

We are very aware of the positive impact a sighting of dolphins or whales has on our guests, often encouraging them to find out more about cetaceans and how to support them and their environment. We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Dr Conor Ryan who has conducted important studies on the ecology of whales as our specialist on-board Guide for a new unique expedition cruise in 2024.  "In search of giants" will voyage to the former whaling grounds west and north of St Kilda, a migration route for the largest whales. All species seen will be logged with Hebridean Whale and Dolphine Trust (HWDT) Whale Track App which will provide original, specialist research of great value to the understanding of these animals.

We support HWDT as Corporate Partners and by regularly reporting sightings of marine life via their app Whale Track each season. HWDT have been monitoring cetacean species in the Hebrides for over 20 years. This is key to reliably understanding the state of our seas and this data is the foundation of effective conservation strategies. 

Reducing single-use plastics

As a marine business, we are constantly reminded of the devastating effect plastic is having on our seas and we aim to have little or no impact here. Our 2023 season saw a significant reduction in the number of single-use plastics aboard our vessels. We introduced biodegradable coffee pods into our coffee machines and began using Serious Tissues, our new toilet toll supplier who provide 100% recycled toilet paper and ship their products with no plastic wrapping. They also plant a tree for every toilet roll sold. 

Recyclable cans and glass have replaced plastic in many instances and containers and cardboard boxes are reused where possible. We continue to use refillable toiletries and provide reusable water bottles for our guests and crew. We choose local food suppliers such as Go Naked Veg and Breckenridge that minimise their own plastic and packaging.  Sea Change, our wine suppliers, are innovative in removing waste at every level in their packaging while also donating to marine charities with every bottle of wine sold.

We continue to responsibly dispose of any plastics found on shores and in the sea whilst cruising and intend to increase the number of beach cleans we undertake during the 2024 season.

Supporting Local

As a small family run business Hebrides Cruises is proud to support the local communities in which we operate. We use local suppliers as much as possible- including local artists, local tradesmen and support the local football club by donation (Lochnell Football Club). Whilst cruising, we also support the local communities we visit by sourcing their local produce, for example game from the Isle of Muck and The Tobermory Fish Co, Isle of Mull. An important aspect of our cruise itineraries is to visit the small, remote communities around the Hebrides and we are delighted to support these by paying landing fees and introducing our guests to the islands and their local products. 

As a company, we are continually looking to minimise any impact our cruises have on the natural environment. We continue to monitor and evaluate how we can actively reduce negative environmental impact and look for ways to positively impact the surrounding communities we visit. Our high level of passes for the various sections of our Gold Green Tourism Award has helped demonstrate our commitment to being a sustainable business.  The advice and support of the Green Tourism organisation is instrumental in showing us the way forward and a pleasure to work with.