29th August, 2021
Scottish Highlands & Islands Summary
Tilbury 23rd August
Spirit of Adventure was in Tilbury once again picking up a new group of eager guests for our Scottish Highlands & Islands cruise. We left the berth at 18:00 before starting the lengthy outbound pilotage through the Estuary, passing the town of Southend and its pier, the longest of its kind in the world. After leaving the river, we turned north and headed up the East coast of the United Kingdom headed for Scotland, weaving in between oil rigs and windfarms aplenty. Evening entertainment was provided by the Victory Piano Quartet in the Playhouse Theatre, playing the works of Mozart, Bacarini and Strauss. The gentle movement of the ship, combined with some relaxing music and a day’s travel, meant that there were more than a few content nodding heads in the Theatre that evening…
Scrabster 25th August
After a 15kt passage up the east coast, passing the cities of Sunderland, Newcastle and Edinburgh, we passed through the racing currents of Pentland Firth headed to Scrabster. By 09:00, our ship’s tenders were in the water ready to take guests ashore in the eerie gloom and grey of a Scottish summer morning. Thankfully though, the weather perked up a little in the afternoon such that at least we could see beyond our noses… Visits for the day included a highland drive to John O’ Groats and a trip to Caithness, passing highland cows and the odd distillery and bagpiper en-route. With hundreds of happy faces (perhaps there were more stops to distilleries than I’d been told…) returning to the ship in the late afternoon, we weighed anchor and steamed north out of the bay towards Fair Isle and the Shetlands. That evening, Paul Emmanuel delighted guests to soulful flavours in the Britannia Lounge alongside our resident band Viva. The Spirit of Adventure Show Company also performed in the evening, treating guests to their show ‘We are the Champions’.
Lerwick 26th August
We arrived in Lerwick early in the morning on the 26th marking the midpoint, and most northerly call of the cruise. In the morning guests were tendered ashore while the ship was held in position just outside of the town, as low tide meant that we were unable to go alongside the berth safely until mid-morning. At about 10am with the tide flooding we came alongside in the middle of the town, after squeezing through the narrow entrance channel some 70 metres wide. Visits for the day included a cruise around Mousa Island, and a sightseeing tour titled ‘Shetland’s Southern Vistas’. Now, after the summer we’ve experienced so far, not many of you would believe it when I tell you that the sun came out for our afternoon in the Shetlands - but I assure you that it did. After overcoming this shock and with everyone delivered back to the ship squinting away, we departed at 17:00. After squeezing the ship back out again through the channel buoys and waving a cheerio to Fred Olsen who were unfortunately unable to get alongside, we were back at sea headed for Invergordon.
Invergordon 27th August
The arrival into Invergordon was picturesque with views of rolling hills in the distance, and as we came alongside the berth the sun began to shine. Tours for the day included visits to Rogie Falls & Silverbridge Forest, and Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness. I wished everyone the best of luck in spotting Nessie, as well as advising that they might have better luck having enjoyed several glasses of scotch whisky beforehand.
As we left the berth at 17:00, a merry band of kilted bagpipers played us off as many observed from the open decks on the starboard side. Evening entertainment was provided once again by the Spirit of Adventure Show Company, who presented ‘Music of the World’ – which was described as a journey across the globe in an impressive and hectic dance extravaganza, but it was still successful in lulling me to sleep watching live on my cabin TV that evening
The following day was spent relaxing at sea in an unusually calm North Sea, weaving southbound again through the ever-present human energy-sucking fixtures there, in the form of oil rigs along with the greener wind turbines. The Thames Estuary was reached in the early hours of Sunday morning, and Spirit of Adventure found herself once again next to London International Cruise Terminal early next morning to disembark lots more happy holidaymakers.
Captain Kim Tanner
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