Hotel barges and small-ship cruises begin again

The Majestic Line and European Waterways among those small-ship operators sailing this season.

Scottish cruise company The Majestic Line intends to start cruising again from August 29, joining other ship operators in running small-ship cruises.

The company will only cruise with two of their four vessel fleet and will be operating six-night cruises with a reduced number of guests onboard.    

The company will be running two of its most popular cruises: Mull and Her Inlets and Islands and Skye and the Inner Hebrides, plus one-off cruises Captain’s Choice and Isles of the Clyde and the Southern Hebrides itineraries.

The Majestic Line managing director Ken Grant said: “We have many guests who are very keen to cruise with us this year, and having looked long and hard at the options and how best we can confidently offer a cruise experience that is enjoyable and safe we feel that we are now in a position to cruise safely once again.”

The Majestic Line said its ability to cruise at the time will be subject to Scottish government guidance. The FCO currently advises against ocean-going cruises – including British Isles cruises – but has given the green light to river and inland ship travel.

British luxury hotel barge company European Waterways is also taking bookings for the remainder of the 2020 cruise season with holidays on the canals and waterways of England, Scotland and Ireland.

European Waterways’ four hotel barges cruising in England, Scotland and Ireland: Magna Carta (eight passengers) on the River Thames; Scottish Highlander (eight passengers) and Spirit of Scotland (12 passengers) on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness; and Shannon Princess (10 passengers) on the River Shannon.

“These luxury barges accommodate just eight to 12 passengers, so our guests are travelling in the safety of small numbers. With these capacities, they are ideal for families and small groups of friends in search of a private escape on a whole barge charter, or those seeking a small-group experience with like-minded travellers when booking individual cabins,” says Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways.

He added: “We cruise through peaceful countryside where our guests can savour clean, fresh air and unspoiled views. Our daily shore excursions are often exclusive and away from crowds and tourist hotspots, and in most cases, you can start your journey by car or train to our departure points and avoid air travel. Most importantly to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew, we have enhanced our already strict hygiene routines, including temperature checks, complete deep cleaning and disinfecting of all cabins and public areas on the barges, as well as shared items such as bicycles. All of this will be conducted with minimal impact to guests and without spoiling the relaxed ambience of an intimate hotel barge cruise.”

What is Clouded Hills?

Launched in summer 2020, Clouded Hills is a new platform dedicated to holidays in the UK, featuring news, expert advice, area guides and insider picks.

Clouded Hills is for anyone looking to take a break in the UK – whether that’s stargazing in Exmoor, wandering the beaches of Ceredigion Bay, exploring the historic docks of Belfast or browsing the record shops of Glasgow. Sign up to our newsletter here.