An Tirisdeach was invited aboard this fine cruise ship by the National Trust for Scotland Cruise Director Elaine Bruges to have a look around.
Security was tight, and a driving license had to be handed over to verify identity, and was retained until leaving the ship.
Interestingly, there was a bacterial hand washing spray unit in place due to the current concern over the Swine flu virus. The ship is basically a floating 5 star hotel which included a classy restaurant with delicious cuisine, a hairdressing salon and one of the loveliest libraries one could ever hope to pass time in. Many of the courteous staff were Filipino, the head chef Cornish and Captain MacLundie was from Argyll.
Elaine explained that the cruises remain very popular and were initially started to get people to their more inaccessible properties such as St. Kilda, The Fair Isles, Orkney and Shetland. Now they are important fundraising cruises with all profits going towards Conservation. Elaine also pointed out that the N.T.S is a charity and not a government organisation. ‘ All funding comes from members and ventures such as this’ she said.
Time aboard was short, but Elaine, Billy Kay, the Entertainments Officer, the lovely Alison and Jim the Piper all made the trip to the vessel well worth while.
Despite worrying weather predictions for the day, Iain Skipinnish managed to make two wildlife trips down the Gunna Sound and the side of Coll with his N. T. S. visitors. Abandoning the idea of Staffa due to the swell ( it would have been unlikely anyone could have gone ashore. ) Nevertheless, Iain remained rather concerned for his passengers safety, as the average age was around 70 years. However, Iain told An Tirisdeach “the rougher it got, the more they liked it!” One passenger even exclaimed “This is the most exhilarating boat ride I have ever had.”