Please read the information below to get the best out of your cruise.
The Cruise Itineraries
Cruise Routes, Stopovers and Anchorages: Within each route there is a selection of lovely stopovers and anchorages and these are chosen according to the winds, tides and weather as to which are most suitable on the particular week of the cruise. If there is a choice of anchorages available on any given day, the Skipper will consult with the guests on board as to which to choose. The final decision on the cruise itinerary lies with the Skipper.
Going ashore: Transport to and from your vessel and the shore is by boat tender. There is an access platform to the tender and a certain degree of agility is required, however please note there is always at least 2 crew members there to assist guests in and out of the tender - Please contact us if you require more information. Trips in the boat tender usually take a few minutes and a high level of safety is observed. The tender will either land at a slip pier or on a flat beach area where guests are assisted onto the beach by the crew.
Trips ashore: Daily trips ashore are an important part of our cruises but are not compulsory. All of our trips ashore are guided but if you would prefer you can of course explore by yourselves. Further information and maps are provided by the crew where necessary. The crew has excellent local knowledge of the best walks and attractions to visit on each cruise route. Trips ashore tend to last between 1 to 5 hours; any entrance costs for local attractions and activities are at guests’ own expense.
Cruising timetable: We tend to cruise after breakfast and lunch to allow guests to relax and enjoy the scenery. We do not cruise at night; the Skipper may occasionally decide to cruise before breakfast if necessary, to reach a particular destination in good time.
Wildlife: Our cruise routes are rich in wildlife and various species, many rare, are regularly seen in many of our stopovers and anchorages. There is a specialist Wildlife Guide on board every cruise who work closely with the Skipper to locate likely spots for sightings of wildlife, depending on the seasons. Our Guides also help guests identify wildlife and provide any other information requested. We cannot guarantee wildlife sightings but we have the best record in small-ship cruising on the west coast of Scotland which is demonstrated by the number of our sightings referrals to Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. We carry information on board our vessels about the wildlife likely to be located in our cruise routes.
Weather: The West Coast of Scotland enjoys a temperate maritime climate without extremes, with south westerly prevailing winds. The weather can be quite localised and can change from sun to rain and back again from hour to hour not just day to day! This type of weather system is of course what makes the landscape so spectacularly beautiful and dramatic. Our guests assure us it is worth putting up with occasional rain to enjoy spells of glorious weather and spectacular scenery. Our itineraries are flexible to get the best from the weather on each day.
Health and safety
Health and Medical Services: Members of the crew are qualified First Aid Officers and there is a first aid kit on board. Please bring any medicines or pharmaceutical products that you may need during the cruise; there are also pharmacies in many of our ports of call. Arrangements to consult a doctor on land can usually be made at relatively short notice and assistance can be summoned quickly in the event of an emergency. Guests should ensure that, to their knowledge, they are fit to take a holiday during which immediate medical assistance may not be available.
Lifejackets: For your safety, life jackets are provided for each passenger. Their use will be demonstrated during the safety briefing at the start of the cruise. Lifejackets must always be taken on the tender and it is recommended they are always worn while on the tender. Life jackets must be worn when requested to do so by the crew
Planning what to bring
Baggage: Storage space is limited so we advise soft bags for your luggage. We can sometimes store your luggage away from your cabin if it is too big. If your cruise is part of a longer trip then we are happy to store excess luggage in our secure premises onshore.
Clothing and footwear: Casual dress on board is very much the order of the day. A warm waterproof jacket is recommended for the outer decks when the boat is sailing. Lightweight waterproof trousers and jacket are essential for tender trips and shore trips. We advise that whenever possible guests wear non-slip shoes on deck and when going ashore in the tender. Soft shoes (slippers) are good to use indoors. Waterproof walking shoes and good boots are recommended for trips onshore. To protect the decks high-heeled shoes should not be worn on board. A walking pole or stick is useful for our walks ashore.
Health and Medicines: Let us know of any special medical conditions e.g. allergies that the crew should be aware of. If you need to keep any medication refrigerated, or have any medical devices that will need charging etc, let us know and we will check their compatibility with the ships electrical system. Bring any medicines or pharmaceutical products that you may need during the cruise.
Toiletries: Each guest is provided with shampoo, shower gel and soap and these are replenished throughout the cruise. We supply hand and showering towels for each of our guests.
Binoculars: The boat has a selection of binoculars but you may wish to bring your own, as there are lots of opportunities to spot birds and other wildlife. We would advise to bring your own.
Camera: Anyone with an interest in photography will have more than enough to inspire them, so ensure you bring the camera, battery and storage.
Food and drink: All meals, bottled water, snacks and house wine with dinner are provided. A good selection of wines, beers and soft drinks are available. If you wish to ensure particular food and drink items are available on board, this can usually be arranged.
Midges: While on board you are safe from the infamous Scottish midge which is around in June, July and August. However, you may need to apply repellent when you go ashore. You may have your own preference to bring with you but we will have on board a stock of the one we find most useful.
Communications: The cellular system in the Highlands and Islands can be irregular; especially in the Outer Hebrides. The boat has access to emergency services via radio. It is usually possible to access the internet from local hotels or in an emergency via our shore manager. You will probably have 4G signal in many locations as we have noticed the signal is becoming increasingly better year upon year.
Hospitality and Leisure
Bar: There is a good selection of wines, beers and soft drinks on board and house wine is complimentary with dinner. Guests wishing particular soft drinks, spirits or beers should discuss their requirements with the office and we will make every effort to oblige.
Coffee, tea and snacks: Complimentary coffee and tea is freely available throughout the day in the saloon from the crew. There is a snack basket of biscuits and fresh fruit available for guests at any time. Homemade cake and biscuits are freshly prepared in the afternoon for tea.
Meals: All meals are served on board around the communal table in the deck saloon. Each day there is a set menu, freshly prepared by your on-board Chef from locally sourced produce. Personal preferences and dietary requirements can be catered for by providing information in advance of the cruise. Every meal is served to the backdrop of a different anchorage.
Entertainment: Entertainment on board is very low-key and includes a library, chess, jigsaws, board games and magazines.
Learning: Many of our guests are very keen to know more about boat operations and the cruising area. Guests are welcome to join the Skipper in the wheelhouse at times and learn about navigation and perhaps even take a spell at the wheel. A crew member will be pleased to take you on the tender while at anchor. The book ‘Scottish Islands’ by Hamish Haswell-Smith is on board about the local wildlife, natural environment, history and culture of the area and members of the crew are very knowledgeable, although not expert in any field apart from boat operations.
Electricity: The boat’s electricity is 240V AC and standard UK 3 pin sockets are provided in cabins.
Emergency contact: If you wish to leave an emergency contact number please add this onto your guest information sheet. Phone numbers are the Connel office on +44(0)1631 711986 or the mobile of Emma Fairbairns, the Shore Manager (Mobile – 07585 151611). She can then contact you via the Skipper. Alternatively less urgent messages can be sent via our office email email@example.com marked for the attention of yourself.
Gratuities: Tipping is entirely at your discretion. However if you do want to leave a gratuity please give it to the Skipper who will ensure it is shared equally between all crew members.
Smoking: Smoking is only allowed on the outside aft deck and guests are encouraged to be sensitive to the needs of non-smokers. No smoking is allowed in the cabins or in the deck saloon.
Valuables: Any valuables can be left with the Skipper, to be locked away.
Seasickness: Seasickness is not normally a problem on our cruises as during the summer months Scotland’s coastal waters are normally calmer. All 3 vessels have an active fin stabilising system and the Skipper will head for sheltered waters in very windy weather. People who are very prone to being seasick come prepared and say they feel fine on our cruises. We do carry good sea sickness tablets on board so please so speak to a member of crew about these.
Queries and further information
Please do not hesitate to contact us either by phone or email with any further queries. You may also like have a look at the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on our website for more information.