It’s been a while since we have been on a holiday without our motorhome but we found ourselves very excited about our adventure onboard a cruise ship!
There are some locations better viewed from the sea and we felt the islands off the west coast of Scotland was just such a place. This 4 night cruise took us past some of the smaller, uninhabited Scottish islands as well some of the more well known ones such as Arran, Skye and Mull. It was advertised as a wild life cruise, with a team from the wildlife charity ORCA onboard. The cruise turned out to be something different and very laid back and enjoyable and with 7 bars and 6 restaurants we weren’t going to go hungry or thirsty!
What wildlife did we see?
I must say that the wildlife team onboard from ORCA were very enthusiastic. As soon as there was a sighting, they would shout out the location and what they thought they had seen. The sightings were all logged on their database for research. We were lucky enough to see a Minke whale, dolphins, porpoises and 4 white tailed eagles as well as dozens of sea birds including gannets, puffins, razorbills, guillemots, great skuas. arctic skuas, kittiwakes and seals.
Part of the Fred Olsen fleet, Borealis is one of their latest additions and has been very recently refurbished. It’s a small ship that holds about 1,400 passengers. Due to Covid-19 rules, the capacity has been limited to 700 people. Cabins are a reasonable size and have plenty of storage space, a TV and en-suite bathroom. Being used to living in a motorhome, the cabin felt quite spacious; about four times the size! There was also ample room to avoid other passengers in the public areas.
Borealis has 7 bars, 6 restaurants and there was plenty of live music and entertainment available as well as plenty of comfortable, quiet seating areas. There was an excellent outside viewing area at the front of the ship, perfect for admiring the incredible scenery and wildlife spotting.
Fred Olsen say that Borealis is “in keeping with our commitment to offering a more traditional style of cruising” and I think our ship fitted that description very well.
Where did we visit?
Neist Point Lighthouse
Sailing from Liverpool we arrived the next morning at Neist Point Lighthouse on Neist Point on the Isle of Skye. The Isle of Skye is definitely a place I would like to visit in the future with our motorhome. With rugged landscapes and spectacular cliffs, the views from our ship were magnificent.
Kilt Rock and Mealt Waterfall
Composed of sea-weathered basalt columns, Kilt Rock is a 90 metre cliff on the Trotternish Peninsula. From the cliff-top viewpoint you can also get a nice look at Mealt Falls, a waterfall that plummets 328 feet (100 m) over Kilt Rock to the rock-laden shoreline below. Our sail by the waterfall was a bit underwhelming though after all the dry weather.
Sailing past the beautiful Summer Isles into The Minch leads into Loch Broom. The small town of Ullapool lies on the eastern shore of the loch.
The Small Isles, Loch Hourn, Dutchman’s Cap, Fingals Cave, Isle of Staffa, Sound of Mull and Duart Castle
Cruising very close to beautiful islands in calm water was a real joy and we cruised past many places I had not even heard of. One of the highlights was Fingals Cave which is part of the Island of Staffa. Formed by basalt vertical columns the cave itself is 227 feet high and is renowned for its acoustics.
Mull of Kintyre, Dunaverty Rock, Kings Caves on Arran, Pladda, Culzean Castle and Alisa Craig
Another highlight of our cruise was the strange rock at Alisa Craig. Rearing 1,120 ft. out of the water, just off the Ayrshire coast, the rock is famous for “blue hone” microgranite which has long been quarried to make curling stones. Alisa Craig is also home to a huge colony of gannets.
Having only been on one cruise in the past, I must say that this cruise through the western isles of Scotland was a very enjoyable experience. There was plenty of space on the cruise ship to find a quiet corner if you wanted that and also there was plenty of low key live music and entertainment if you wanted that too. On top of that, the food on our cruise was excellent and with a choice of restaurants there was no lack of choice for all tastes.
Will cruising take the place of exploring by motorhome? The answer is “No” but this type of cruise is certainly a great way to explore places that can’t by reached by road and it made a very enjoyable change to our normal mode of holiday transport!