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MV Hebridean Princess in London

Eric Pemberton very kindly sent me a couple of photographs of the MV Hebridean Princess as she recently made her way up the Thames to Tower Bridge.  The ship visited West India Dock in 2015 and I was then able to have a closer look at what is considered one of the smallest luxury cruise ship afloat .

The MV Hebridean Princess  has an intriguing history and a Royal connection and is considered the height of luxury, however the origins of the ship were much more mundane.

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West India Dock 2015

The ship began life as the  MS Columba which was the last of three car ferries built in 1964 by Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen and operated by David MacBrayne Ltd, the ship also took up the Isle of Mull service. She travelled around the various Scottish Isles visiting Stornoway, Mallaig, Oban, serving Coll and Tiree, Colonsay, Iona, Lochaline and Tobermory.

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West India Dock 2015

In 1988, she was acquired by Hebridean Island Cruises to offer luxury cruises. After a major refit she emerged as the luxury cruise ship, the MV Hebridean Princess. She began providing luxury cruises around the Western Isles of Scotland. In recent times , the ship’s itineraries have been extended to include Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland islands, the Norwegian Fjords and France.

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West India Dock 2015

The ship is 72 metres long with a  beam of 14 metres, gross tonnage of  2112 and an average speed 12 knots (14 miles per hour). There are only 30 bedrooms on board, all named after West Coast Scottish islands, castles, sounds, lochs and bays – individually designed in the style of a large country hotel – with 10 cabins specifically designed for single occupancy.  With 50 guests looked after by a crew of around 38, The ship is very popular for cruises around the Scottish Isles where her size allows access to many locations not accessible to larger cruise ships.

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West India Dock 2015

The ships transformation from humble car ferry to luxury cruise ship was given a royal seal of approval when HM Queen Elizabeth II chartered the entire ship for a ‘family holiday’ around the Scottish Islands both in 2006 and 2010. It was estimated the charter cost was £125,000 for the use of the ship.

MV Hebridean Princess is one of the most unusual cruise ships in service and is always an interesting visitor to London.

Many thanks to Eric for the photographs.


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