By day, the main entertainment on Glen Massan is to be found off the ship, and the obliging crew are always on hand to ensure safe embarkation of the tender to take passengers ashore. Obligatory zip-up flotation jackets are provided. The unspoiled Argyll coastline covers over 3,000 miles with many fabulous sea lochs to explore, and the large and small offshore islands are each totally different. Guests can choose to go for a self-guided stroll or visit local heritage sites, landmarks and natural attractions. One-way coastal walks are popular, where guests get dropped off and picked up by tender. Guests can also utilise the tender for fishing trips or explorations along the coastline when the boat is at anchor.
Between April and July on the 'Around Mull: Inlets and Islands' cruises, guests can go ashore to see nesting puffins and other seabirds at close quarters. On all itineraries from August onwards, puffins, guillemots and razorbills are at sea and can easily be spotted floating in groups on the water or in flight. From April to October, golden and sea eagles are often seen, with the ever-present gannets diving and Manx shearwaters skimming the waves. Nearer the shoreline, osprey, hen harriers and short-eared owls are common.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
The skipper operates an open policy in the wheelhouse and guests are free to discuss their route or other seamanship topics -- you might even be invited to take the helm! It's also a great vantage point for spotting wildlife, and the skipper has an uncanny knack of spotting porpoises, dolphin, seals, basking sharks, minke whales and sea eagles. On shore, otters, red deer, red squirrels and wild goats are often spotted, as well as many species of indigenous birds. There are several pairs of binoculars in the saloon and in the wheelhouse, although many guests prefer to bring their own. And those with an interest in photography will find it well worth bringing the camera along -- there's even a seasonal photography competition with a hamper prize!
In the saloon there's a selection of complimentary fresh fruit, biscuits and crisps available, as well as chocolate bars. Board games such as Scrabble and Backgammon, as well as jigsaws, are also on-hand to pass the time. There's a tiny library stocked with Ordnance Survey maps, local guidebooks and reference books on the local wildlife, flora and fauna. A selection of historical books make for topical reading, while the comprehensive book by Hamish Haswell-Smith -- "The Scottish Islands" -- offers a comprehensive guide to every Scottish island. There are DVDs, which can be shown on the flat-screen TV, including films on Scottish history and nature. A perennial favourite is the video cassette of the 1973 Scottish Television production 'The Vital Spark' featuring the Clyde puffers -- especially the episode known as 'The Quarrel', which gave the inspiration to the company's founders to name The Majestic Line. Occasionally, if Robert is the engineer, he'll entertain with his guitar and engaging repertoire of Scottish folk songs -- none more popular than The Proclaimers.
There's a well-stocked bar onboard (within the saloon) where guests can purchase a selection of wines, ales, soft drinks and spirits -- including the Scottish firewater (whisky!), naturally. Prices are reasonable and the bar bill is settled at the end of the cruise.
A row of velour seating runs along one side of the saloon, or guests can choose to relax in one of the leather tub chairs or the armchair.
Whilst the focal point of activity onboard is the saloon (especially during inclement weather), there are four teak steamer-chairs on the Sun Deck, which is sheltered as it's aft of the wheelhouse.
There are rods and tackle onboard, and guests are welcome to bring their own and fish while the vessel is at anchor -- or head out on the tender, if available. Mackerel is the most common fish caught and can be cooked and served to guests if they wish. There are also lobster creels on each boat and guests can help the crew set them.
With Scotland's latitude, cruises either side of the summer solstice are often bathed in late-evening light, and the table and chairs aft of the saloon is a perfect place to take in the majestic scenery -- enhanced with a glass of peaty single malt.
There's a selection of books, DVDs and board games in the saloon for guests to make use of -- with many of the materials themed along the relevant lines of local wildlife, nature, history and attractions. Binoculars are also available, for bird and wildlife watching.
There's no laundry service or iron onboard, but crew will take muddy walking boots and return them to guests miraculously clean.
Once onboard, you'll find your communication with the outside world limited, with irregular mobile phone service and no Wi-Fi or internet access -- which for many is part of the appeal of such a cruise.
There are no spa or fitness facilities.
Children aged under 12 are not allowed onboard, except for whole boat group charter, where children (and pets) are welcome.