Review: Glen Massan
Cruise - River Cruise
A very special Scottish event - not a mere cruise
This is truly a cruise with a difference – an ex-west of Ireland fishing boat, converted for a maximum of 12 guests (we were 9) with a crew of 4, including a master chef, and a route that has such great variety of splendid highland scenery I'd do it again anytime. The cabins are small but ensuite and comfortable enough with a porthole above the double bed through which one could watch the bowcurl by day and the stars by night. The main lounge/dining room/bar offers all other creature comforts and the company of whoever chooses to spend time there watching the gently passing scenery, reading, chatting – or, after dinner, playing games, singing, discussing and, towards the end, performing party pieces for the amusement of all. The weather was warm and sunny enough to sunbathe on the top deck or sit around the outside table on the stern deck – and the captain was always welcoming in the wheelhouse.
The crew were amazingly multi-talented, helping the older guests on and off the tender when necessary, bringing out the tender to pick up the tired and weary who'd over-estimated their walking capacity, setting and serving 5 meals a day, all prepared from delicious local ingredients by the master chef – all with a constant good humour and patience. We were mostly late-middle-aged or older (oldest 83) with one younger couple, from all parts of the UK and got along surprisingly well.
The route is unexpectedly varied, from Oban through 3 breezy sea lochs and then up Neptune's staircase of locks to the Cally Canal. We usually moored 'at sea', bobbing gently on the waves, though we had one night alongside at Fort Augustus and the final one at Inverness basin. We were very lucky with the weather, stunning dawns, balmy days and calm evenings (only one slightly drizzly) so walking along the towpath for 6 miles or so between locks was very pleasant, one day with stunning views of Ben Nevis, another exploring the different types of water-control along the canal. Then there was Loch Ness – we even saw the stern-wave phenomenon that creates the 'monster' effect -, made a fascinating visit to a private castle and another to Castle Urquhart, set high above the loch with commanding views in both directions. A photographer's dream.
We were all sad to be leaving and even planned to kidnap the chef and boat and sail it to the outer Hebrides once we arrived in Inverness. (The crew were all off for a short holiday then on to their winter months' jobs as the cruise season is from Easter to end October) The Majestic line run several other itineraries, some farther out to sea, and we're saving up for our next one; as you might imagine with such a small number of passengers it can't compete pricewise with a P&O or even a Fred Olsen cruise. If cruising for you has to include formal dinners, DJ's and ballgowns, and glitzy entertainment every night then this is not for you. On the other hand if you love great scenery, 5* food, good company and making your own entertainment then this could be a real treat.
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.