Scottish small cruise-ships, the M/V Glen Massan, Glen Tarsan, Glen Etive & Glen Shiel

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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and my other related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any of the cruise companies nor any travel agency or cruise agencies, etc! The author has been in the Passenger Shipping and cruise industry since 1960 and although retired a long time ago, but I am delighted to share all my knowledge with those who love to take cruise vacation! Thus I continue to write on Cruise Companies and their Ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure, but more so to ensure that you, my wonderful reader will make the best-informed choice possible!

“The Majestic Line”

Page One

Introducing a very special Mini-Cruise Ship Experience:

This wonderful company has only been in operation for 15 years and it has proved to be so popular that cruises are sold out well in advance! Already some of their past passengers have returned for their third or fourth cruise and they have rated their cruise experience 5-Stars!

Now, have you thought about heading off to “Bonny-wee-Scotland” and discover the magical wonders of the Hebrides and treasures of Scotland’s West Coast on a delightful mini-cruise-ship with just 11 or a maximum of 12 pampered guests aboard? On these amazing vessels you will not just enjoy the most stunning scenery, but savour the very freshest and finest local cuisine you can possibly imagine and, yes there is so much more. Just read on and you may just discover a cruise adventure of a lifetime.

“The Majestic Line” has a fleet of four small-ships, each having been custom-designed for sea journeys whilst being small enough to allow inshore access to remote anchorages that are inaccessible to even slightly larger cruise ships. Their first ship the M/V Glen Massan and her sister the Glen Tarsan were lovingly converted from traditional fishing boats built originally in 1972, and offer 3-night and 6-night cruises for just 11 guests in stylish accommodations. Two newer ships the M/V Glen Etive and the Glen Shiel are two new-built steel-hulled ships and they undertake 10-day voyages to Spectacular Skye, the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda and a newly introduced North West Coast route, with 6-day cruises to Skye and the Small Isles and a 3-night Taste of the Hebrides cruise with 12 guests onboard. These new built vessels look very similar to the original timber fishing vessels, but they come with many additional improvements.

Famous singer, entertainer and TV star Jane McDonald sailed on one of the wooden ships, she felt that her voyage was “One of the best cruise vacations ever, and I will certainly do it again.” But I will cover Jane’s statement in full down the page as well as another cruise review from another passenger who contacted me.

But be assured, this fine Scottish Cruise Line offers an experience that I personally recommend!

Reuben Goossens.

The beginnings of - The Majestic Line:

Close friends Andy Thoms and Ken Grant had a great love of sailing the Loch’s and the Islands of Scotland and then came a time they decided how wonderful it would be to take others on an amazing voyage of discovery to the Hebrides and the West Coast of Scotland. Thus they set up “The Majestic Line” and commenced to look at suitable small vessels they could renovate into fine small cruise-ships.

For a considerable time they already had a desire save well built and beautifully crafted Irish constructed wooden hulled trawlers from the breakers, and in 2004 they were able to do just that in order to commence the “The Majestic Line” in that year. Although at the time of writing this feature, “The Majestic Line” has already grown and has become extremely popular that it does tend to sell out rapidly, and the reviews are simply amazing!

Andy Thoms and Ken Grant wrote for “The Majestic Line” 2020 brochure the following;

“It is now 15 years since we came up with the concept of small-ship cruising on the Scottish West Coast and we are so pleased that our idea of combining high-quality comfortable accommodation with excellent food and service has worked so well. We knew the stunning landscape was there, and we both sail all over the west coast and indeed live there just beside the headquarters of The Majestic Line, and wanted to share our own magical experiences with others.

It’s safe to say we know this part of the world intimately. Using the wealth of knowledge we have built up over the years and from listening to guest feedback, we have developed an enticing range of 3-night, 6-night and 10-night itineraries cruising across six main areas: the Southern Hebrides and the Clyde, the Inner Hebridean island of Mull, the Isle of Skye and the Small Isles, the heart of Scotland via the Caledonian Canal, our newly introduced North West Coast route and the pristine Outer Hebrides and St Kilda. Whether you are looking for a taster cruise or an epic adventure to the very edge of the western isles, we have it covered.”

Magnificent vista’s from the Upper Deck with the sun having just set, as the ship heads for an overnight anchorage

 

For a delightful short video of “The Majestic Lines” four vessels departing for a

new season of cruising click this Link; The Majestic Line - Start of a New Season

A Fleet of Four small Cruise-Vessels:

The first vessel obtained was a wooden fishing (herring) boat that was constructed in Baltimore (County Cork, Ireland) in 1975, and she was converted in 2004. Upon completion she became “The Majestic Line” very first cruise vessel, and she was named; M/V Glen Massan, and be assured you will not smell any presence of past herrings ever having been on board in any shape or form. But her interior will certainly please all who come on board!

The completely refitted M/V Glen Massan accommodates 11 guests in comfort with all cabins having private facilities

The second vessel obtained was another wooden fishing (herring) boat, also built in Baltimore (County Cork, Ireland) in 1975, and she was converted in 2007. Upon completion she was named; M/V Glen Tarsan and she had a similar layout with just a few small differences.

Upon completion the M/V Glen Tarsan also accommodated 11 Guests

The third vessel obtained by The Majestic Line would be somewhat different to the first two, for this vessel of a similar size would be a brand new custom-designed steel hulled small ship. She was ordered late in 2015, and was constructed by “Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Co. Ltd”, on the Clyde. She was then launched on February 22, 2016 and was completed on April 5. Her measurement’s are as follows; 27 m long and she has a width of 7 m, thus she is slightly longer and wider that the original two timber hulled sisters.

Although having a steel hull, she was beautifully finished with traditional wood and brass throughout, with excellent traditional accommodations. She was named M/V Glen Etive and she commenced operation early April 2016.

The brand new M/V Glen Etive is piped in on the day of her official naming, with the official guests about to arrive

With the huge success of the three vessels cruising, it was announced by The Majestic Line in March 2018, that a fourth vessel would very soon be on the way, and that this ship would be a sister ship to the M/V Glen Etive.

She like her sister would also be constructed by “Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Co, Ltd” although she would be somewhat different to her the Glen Etive, and the two earlier sisters, as she would have two engines installed, and she would also be fully stabilised.

Therefore this fine new vessel was especially designed to reach more remote locations including the popular St Kilda and get there so much faster, as well in greater comfort. She was completed and named M/V Glen Shiel and was ready for the 2019 June to October season.

Here we see the advanced M/V Glen Sheil with her two powerful engines and stabilisers as well being a fine vessel

I have covered the beginnings of all four vessels and below we will take a closer look at two of these mini-cruise vessels the M/V Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan. Then on Page Two, I will continue with the newer members of the feet the M/V Glen Etive and Glen Sheil. Deck plans are also provided.

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M/V Glen Massan & Glen Tarsan Interiors & Exteriors

Upper Deck: The very similar Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan have three decks available to her guests, and therefore I will commence with their top deck being Upper (or Bridge) Deck.

A broadside view of the M/V Massan and we can see that the main Social Venue is located aft on Main Deck

Upper Deck is a full walk-around deck, with a spacious forward deck, named the “Whale Watching Deck” whilst aft is the “Sun Deck” which has sun lounges as well as other seating options.

Guests enjoying themselves up on Whale Watching Deck

 

A guest relaxing on the Glen Tarsan Sun Deck

The Bridge is generally open to the guests, but when the captain is navigating through difficult area, with rocks, etc, best not to chat with him, be assured he will let you know, but otherwise your very friendly and most hospitable captain is always at hand. Aft of the Bridge is the chart room and the Captains quarters.

The M/V Glen Tarsan Captain is seen on the Bridge wing

 

Here we see the beautiful timber and brass traditional steering wheel, even though the

Bridge is very traditional, yet it is fully equipped with all the latest navigational technology!

Main Deck: Forward on “Main Deck” there are two Queen sized bed cabins with a private bathroom, having a shower, basin and a WC. Bathrooms aboard are not like a hotel of course and tend to be on the smaller size, but are well equipped with every amenity and toiletries. There are small wardrobes, but seven hanging hooks around the cabin to hang clothes on, as well as storage space under the bed, and drawers in the side tables. Cabins on Main Deck have windows that open. All beds feature the finest and most comfortable mattresses, fine linen, and duvets, and cushions that feature traditional luxurious Scottish “Harris Tweed” coverings. On the Glen Massan the bed heads face aft, whilst on the Glen Tarsan they face outwards with the window being directly above, and bathrooms being located forward.

On the M/V Glen Tarsan we see a double cabin on Main Deck

 

A wonderful touch indeed, but on these vessels there is so much more!

As we head aft, amidships there is what many will call the heart of the ship, and that is the Galley not the engine room. The Galley may not seem to be very large, but believe me what the chef creates here is without a doubt some of the most amazing dishes you can possibly imagine, in fact “The Majestic Line” is already celebrated for their fine and freshest food at sea! Further down the page is a special “Food and Dining On Board” Item as well as several “Cruise Reviews.”

Nearby in the hallway is a public WC. This is followed by the spacious and surrounded by large windows on three sided the “Saloon”, which has a long communal Table seating 12, being all passengers, as well as the captain when he is able. There is also a Lounge area with a flat screen TV as well as a well stocked library and not to forget the Bar on the forward wall.

Wines are included at diner time, as are soft drinks as well as tea and coffee all day long

It is worthy to note that for your comfort, for lunch, diner as well as overnight stops your vessel will be at anchor in a remote loch or an isolated bay.

The Saloon on the Glen Massan and her Dining table, looking towards the Aft Deck

 

Passengers dinning on the famous mussels obtained that morning fresh from Inverlussa mussel farm

The Inverlussa farm has the purest water and the mussels are sought after by 5-Star hotels all over Britain & Europe

 

This is the Saloon and the Dining table on the Glen Tarsan looking forward towards the Bar

 

Another view of the Glen Tarsan’s Saloon and its Lounge area

Main Deck has a full walk-around deck and aft of the Saloon is the popular Aft Deck, the perfect place to relax after a fine lunch or a grand evening meal as there is another long table with six chairs. On pleasant days or nights, some may head up to Sun Deck or the forward viewing deck and watch the stars at night.

Aft of the Saloon is the Aft Deck being another popular location to relax

with new found fiends with a coffee or a drink - this is aboard the Glen Massan

 

The Aft Deck on the Glen Tarsan, the table has six chairs; some are folded up in this photo

Lower Deck: On this deck there are four Cabins all having Queen sized Beds, however two can be made up with twin beds if requested. Of course these cabins have portholes which do not open, but all cabins are well ventilated, and they all have private bathrooms. The bed heads here all face outwards.

A Double cabin on Lower Deck of the Glen Massan, “Harris Tweed” cushions have since been added

 

Same cabin looking towards the bathroom

 

Here we see a bathroom that has a shower, wash-basin and a WC

 

A cabin on the Glen Tarsan seen made up with twin beds

It is important to note that on each vessel there are two double bedded cabins set aside for passengers travelling alone who may cruise at no optional cost whatsoever, and they just pay a regular fare.

M/V Glen Massan & Glen Tarsan Deck Plans

 

Enter a larger version of this Deck Plan, click the link below:

M/V Glen Massan & Glen Tarsan Deck Plans

As you will have seen above, amidships on Lower Deck is the engine room, whilst aft are the comfortable crew quarters for one of the friendliest crews you will ever find, and the chef is beyond outstanding as is the food, which is clearly described in a cruise and cuisine review which is located directly below the “Food and Dining on Board” item down the page.

There is a special crew item on Page Two.

Mini Photo Album

 

An excellent stern view of the M/V Massan showing her external decks

 

The colourful houses of the delightful Tobermory Harbour

 

The M/V Glen Massan heads through some of the most stunning sceanerary to an overnight anchorage

 

M/V Glen Tarsan is now seen at anchor at yet another spectacular location

Photograph by & Robert Christie

Please Note: I am sure that you will enjoy reading the food and Dining feature below as well as a Cruise Review and Entertainer, Vocalist and TV Star, Jane McDonald’s remarks regarding her cruise aboard the Glen Tarsan and how much she loved it, actually she simply adored it!

Then on Page Two you will find the details on the two new steel-hulled vessels, the M/V Glen Etive and Glen Shiel’s Interiors and Exteriors. The link is located at the bottom of the page!

“Food and Dining on Board”

From “The Majestic Line” 2020 Brochure

“Our on-board Chefs create delicious meals for our guests from the best of locally-sourced seasonal produce. The west coast of Scotland is home to producers of outstanding speciality food and drink, ensuring the quality of the dining experience offered by The Majestic Line is a highlight of the cruise.

Freshly-landed mussels cooked by your on board chef is an experience to remember. Our menus also feature beef, venison and lamb from the hills of Argyll and the Hebrides, as well as a fabulous range of locally-sourced food and drink products including cheeses, preserves and local ales. Guests with dietary requirements are equally well catered for.

Left - Breakfast; Scrambled Eggs with Argyll Smoked Salmon

Centre - Lunch; Seafood Platter, with fresh mussels, oysters, lobsters, Scallops and more

All was obtained in the morning fresh from the fishing fleet

Right - Afternoon Tea; Tea & Coffee, with freshly baked scones, whipped cream and jam

 

Left - Lunch or Dinner; A Seafood Medley with a White Wine and a Saffron Broth

Centre - Diner: Skye seared Scallops with Pancetta and Truffle Oil

Right - Diner; White Chocolate Mousse, with Blairgowrie Raspberry sorbet with Passion Fruit sauce

Our cruises are not just about gourmet food and outstanding Scottish hospitality. We have 15 years of experience in finding the perfect anchorages for lunch and overnight stops in remote lochs and isolated bays.”

Please Note: All meals, morning and afternoon tea (and also a High tea or two), as well as a fine selection of house wines with evening meal, teas and coffees throughout the day and evening, snacks and soft drinks are included in your cruise fare. Only other drinks obtained from the bar, is at your own expense.

Cruise Reviews

Below is a review I received from an American couple who sailed on the M/V Glen Tarsan. 

“We enjoyed an amazing cruise experience on board a small Scottish cruise vessel, the M/V Glen Tarsan that began her life as a trawler. Although looking at her exterior, she certainly looks like a trawler, but once aboard, she is far from being one, as suddenly you are enveloped in luxurious surroundings, and there is certainly nothing fishy to be found here!

On this, what can only be called a remarkable and a voyage of a lifetime, we saw some of the most stunning scenery, as well as a wide range of wildlife and waterfalls, all being enhanced by the best of weather. To say the least we loved this small ship, for it certainly had everything we could have possibly asked for. Yes the cabins are certainly not very big, but they are comfortable and the beds were simply excellent, and they had the best of coverings and even had those famous Harris Tweed cushions, etc, we just loved our cosy room on Main Deck, The bath room was smallish, but adequate with heaps of hot water to have a good shower and there was a hair dryer and all the other expected toiletries, just like any cruise ship. The Saloon was further back on our deck and it was a well designed venue, with a good lounge and dining room area, a library, flat screen TV as well as a bar, thus a delightful place to meet our new friends and have a drink together, or just have cup of coffee that is available all day. The vessel also has ample open deck spaces, as well as an open bridge, a place I spent quite some time. But one of the great highlights where the wonderful crew and the amazing food, which I will now cover.

“Every single meal has been of such a high standard, both in terms of the menus and presentation, we were really amazed. At every meal there was always another surprise, be it at breakfast, lunch or diner, for on this small vessel we received what can only be described as a 5-Star culinary delight, and we received this each and every day. In fact in so many ways, it was far superior then on many of the luxury cruise ships we have been on. Thus, we were stunned to have meals of this high calibre on such a small and intimate cruise vessel such as this, well done Majestic Line, we absolutely loved it. We were also fascinated by the arrangements of the napkins, for there would be a different theme for every evening meal. In addition the Glen Tarsan staff was simply outstanding and could not have done anymore to make your cruise experience any better, for me it was perfect in every respect, and the chef was amazing!

In addition, we also met some of the nicest people possible on this memorable voyage and we simply cannot find fault with anything. In conclusion will we go again on a Majestic Line cruise? The answer is, ‘see you next year’, as we will be back again and again, for this has been our best cruise ever, and we have been on 54 cruises to date”.

Entertainer, Vocalist and TV Star Jane McDonald, who also has a well known TV Show around the world; “Cruising with Jane McDonald” said regarding her week long cruise on the M/V Glen Tarsan:

Jane McDonald is seen on board the spotlessly clean & perfectly maintained M/V Glen Tarsan

“I was blown away by everything The Majestic Line offered on my Inner Hebrides Cruise; the scenery, the food, the crew, the cosiness of the Glen Tarsan and as for the weather - Wow”.

Jane also said “it was one of my favourite cruises ever and I been on a few, there was something utterly magical about the whole experience. And yes, I am going again for I loved it!”

The very popular M/V Glen Tarsan is again seen at anchor

 

Enter Page Two for the M/V Glen Etive & Glen Shiel’s Interiors & Exteriors

 

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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and its associated pages are 100% non-commercial and privately owned cruise sites and are NOT associated with any cruise company or travel agency! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960 and is retired, but continues to write cruise and ship reviews and articles in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and provide information for those intending a cruise in the future.

Bon Voyage!

Reuben Goossens.

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