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Reconnecting on the Hebridean Princess

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 22, 2017

Joe888 | Dreamstime

Adult Children

We were two couples — parents, daughter and son-in-law — all of us well traveled, but none of whom had been to Scotland’s Hebrides islands. A week on the Hebridean Princess seemed a good way to vacation together while leaving room for separate interests and energy levels.


It began with a skirl of bagpipes as we were piped aboard, one couple at a time. A lone piper stood on the upper deck, playing as we walked up the gangway, where we were greeted by name and shown to our staterooms. Notice I say staterooms, not cabins.


hebridean Princess at anchor off the Isle of Iona

© Stillman Rogers

Ours were on the Promenade Deck, two of four that sit between the open Skye Deck and the covered promenade leading to the conservatory, library and main lounge. Named the Isle of Staff and Isle of Iona, they were mirror images, each with a full wall of windows and comfortable chairs well positioned to take in the sea and scenery.


Each room had a king-sized bed with a down comforter and individual bedside lights in case we wanted to borrow a book from the ship’s library for some bedtime reading. A long desk and dressing table had plenty of drawer space, so we could unpack — our luggage was whisked off immediately so there was nothing to stumble over. Along with all the drawers, there was a refrigerator t restocked throughout the week (as was the decanter of sherry). The supreme luxury was a big, deep bathtub and a thermostat-controlled shower. This was not the usual cramped ship-cabin bathroom — we’d seen smaller ones in good hotels.

Steep headlands in te Hebrides (4)

© Stillman Rogers

The same level of luxury was everywhere, in the comfortable lounge where we had afternoon tea when we weren’t ashore and sampled rare single malts before dinner. There was a shore stop every day. Some days we were met by buses to take us on island tours, other days we explored on our own, following trails on a deserted island or climbing over dunes to find a long, white-sand beach that looked more like the Caribbean than northern Scotland.


On the remote and no longer inhabited island of St. Kilda we climbed past strange looking shaggy sheep for a gannets-eye view of the deserted village, while parents investigated the stone ruins below and historical exhibits in the restored house. On Barra, we took a little boat to tour the castle that forms its own island in the harbor, appropriately named Castle Bay.

Scotland, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Outer Hebrides, Western Islands, St Kilda, Hirta,

© Stillman Rogers


As the ship sailed among these islands we could sit in deck chairs and breathe sea air as craggy islands floated past. Most of these were sheer rock cliffs topped by intensely green grass and dotted with grazing sheep. We never did figure how farmers got the sheep up there — or how they stayed anchored to these steep pastures.


On the island of Harris, we understood what all the sheep were for — Harris Tweed. In Stornoway, a crewmember led us beyond the High Street to a hidden tailor shop where we bought tweed caps and a handsome sport jacket. The more ambitious of us climbed to the top of Iron Age Carloway Broch and we all wandered among the prehistoric stones at Callanish.


Most of all, we all had a great week, together and separately and in various combinations. We discovered new interests in common, and renewed old ones. We also discovered that however much we enjoyed traveling with our respective children and grandchildren, it was fun to get away together and reconnect as adults.


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