Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Cruises (
-   -   Small Ship Cruises in the Scottish Isles? (

wrenwood Jan 12th, 2019 12:32 PM

Small Ship Cruises in the Scottish Isles?
Anyone taken any small ship cruises in the Scottish Isles?

sassy27 Jan 16th, 2019 02:52 PM

I haven't but would be interested if anyone has.

janisj Jan 17th, 2019 09:43 PM

I have been to Scotland countless times and, over the years have considered taking one of the cruises. But in the end the 'no' reasons always out weigh the 'yeses'

Some points to consider: Weather anywhere in Scotland is iffy at any time -- I would not want to be on one of these smaller cruise ships in dreadful weather/rough seas in North Sea or around the Hebrides or Orkney.

The joy of Scotland IMO is exploring the countryside and fabulous scenery. When one only has relatively short shore excursions - one is very limited what you can see/do.

Scotland is still an inexpensive place to visit, but the nicer cruises can be awfully pricey.

historytraveler Jan 17th, 2019 10:11 PM

I did a National Geographic tour of the British and Irish Isles several years ago. It was not what I’d consider small cruise. I believe there were about 160 passengers. The trip was about 14 days. I loved it but, then, I had already been to Ireland several times and had toured Scotland on numerous occasions. For first time travelers to Scotland I really wouldn’t recommend a small cruise. It’s too limiting and the best spots won’t be accessible from a ship.

If you mean cruising only the isles, I’m not even sure if such cruises are available. May I ask why a cruise ship rather than using other forms of transportation ? There are several excellent tour companies such as Rabbies which do small group tours to both the Westen Hebrides, Orkney and the Shetland Islands. A much better option IMO.

wrenwood Jan 18th, 2019 05:39 AM

We were originally going to go on Lord of the Glens with Nat Geo, but it was booked. Afterwards we planned to drive the northern Highlands on the North Coast 500. We have been to Scotland twice, but never to that area.

We have been on several small cruises with Nat Geo, enjoy it because most of the time we do our own planning etc for vacations, so to have everything taken care of is nice. And we enjoy meeting the people on the Nat Geo Cruises.

So my original thought was that maybe we could find another small cruise, but I couldn't really find anything.

And upon more thought I agree with janisj, it would NOT be fun in bad weather!

So for this fall we are skipping Scotland and taking a Smithsonian cruise trip from Rome to Malta, after which we will rent a car and explore Scicily on our own. We have been there once before but only in Ortigia for a few days to visit my niece

We will probably plan to go back to Scotland 2020, end of June through early July, which we found to be a lovely time. And I think what we will do for visiting Islands is to use the ferries. That's what we did last year, took the ferries to Islay and Arran, it was easier than I thought, and we had our rental car for exploration.

Thanks for your input!

sassy27 Jan 18th, 2019 11:06 AM

I was curious as I've been to Scotland and on Rabbies tours numerous times. I thought maybe this type of travel through Scotland would be different. They do big ferry rides almost like a small cruise further north so thought this could be an option.

janisj Jan 18th, 2019 11:52 AM

My perspective is it would be a lovely experience with good service . . . but not a way to tour/see Scotland.

historytraveler Jan 18th, 2019 02:01 PM

For Orkney and the Shetlands, there are three possible ferry options. One from Aberdeen which I really wouldn’t advise in most circumstances. The other options are from John O Groats and from Scabster. Rabbies uses John O Groats which can be the shortest route if catching the tour bus at Burwick but this is not a Rabbies tour, rather a day long tour of the major Orkney sites. Rabbies goes a bit further to before they disembark at St.Margart’sHope ( I think that’s where we left ferry ). Scabster offers both car/ foot passengers to Stromness. There are several general and special interest tour companies on Orkney but they don’t offer transportation outside of Orkney.

If you want information about ferries to/from the Western Hebrides, I may be able to help you as well. BTW, I highly recommend Rabbies. It’s not luxury travel like National Geographic but still excellent. In fact I think their driver/ guides are every bit as good as N. G.’s maybe even better.

sassy27 Jan 18th, 2019 03:31 PM

Since I was even more curious, I did a google search and came up with this As I said, I have no experience with it but they do seem to exist.

historytraveler Jan 18th, 2019 04:17 PM

I do seem to remember hearing about Majestic Line but have no experience. I did have a look at their Skye itinerary and with the exception of a visit to Talisker the tour does not take you inland at all which IMO is the best part of Skye. Yes, Dunvegan Castle is interesting and I would certainly put it on my list but the two water falls while arguably providing a nice view from the water are hardly some of Skye’s best tourist sites. It might be interesting with the some of the small islands included if you had already spent time on Skye but a tour on your own or with Rabbies is a much better option for first timers.

wrenwood Jan 19th, 2019 05:24 AM

Twice we have done a short cruise/organized trip (7 nights) somewhere and then rented a car afterwards to explore on our own. I think the the best of both worlds!

sassy27 Jan 20th, 2019 09:01 AM

I understand wrenwood. If you do find a cruise that works with your plans. I would be very interested in how it goes. So please consider a follow up.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:39 PM.