2 independent reviews for Scotland wildlife cruise, marine biology

These full and frank independent reviews are from travelers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travelers below.


review 20 Sep 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Definitely hard to choose, the enthusiasm that Michael & Colette had for all things nautical made anything we did seem interesting. Despite not sailing as much as we could have, due to reports of gale force winds surrounding us, we were kept entertained (and very well fed). We were told all about the area we sailed in, along with plentiful amusing anecdotes, and I recommend looking out for the creepy 'Old Maids of Bute' and other landmarks to go along with the amazing wildlife. Harbour porpoises kept appearing at random times and we definitely had a close up of large amounts of seals (from the little dingey we were touring on), along with a number of seabirds such as manx shearwaters, guillimots and gannets - which were fun to watch dive bombing the water in really impressive numbers. I also managed to remeber 3 and a half knots! (My cowhitch kept getting mixed up with a clove hitch, or is it the other way around?) Which I found myself incredibly proud of. I found the study of plankton that we did on the trip truly interesting - Michael knows all about his chosen field and I often found myself wishing that I had revised up on the subject so I could discuss things more in depth with him. He is very happy to talk to explain all he can about what appears to be an under appreciated life form. I was really interested in what his monitoring and work with plankton was being used for, and he brought up some views on other scientific ideas that I had taken for granted that were fun to discuss. The microscopes and eqipment he used to study the plankton gave us a clear, up close encounter with the massive zoo that appears to float around the ocean. I got to find one piece that he couldn't identify at the time, so here's hoping for a new species. One of the best sights of the trip was actually in the large amount of luminescent plankton which could be seen at night when something impacted the water, it seemed to coat a black ocean with glitter, and a condensed sample brought out was a bit like using a glow stick. The trip was definitely successful not just for the activities but due to the people I sailed along with who made everything fun and entertaining and it was often difficult to move from the table, the stories were so overflowing. Speaking of the table - Colette definitely deserves a mention for her AMAZING food, I felt that I was on a gourmet tour and it was often hard not to waddle out onto deck with how much we were given. It was also suprisingly satisfying to both catch and eat our own fish. A special mention should be made for her ability to bake from scratch a lemon drizzle cake (made especially for my birthday) in force 5 or 6 winds. Overall I had a wonderful time and I hope that the vacation provider continues to be a success.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I would highly recommend bringing your own pair of binoculors, I think the vacation provider has a pair but it is useful to keep a some on hand for everything that you might see. If there are reports of bad weather for your trip don't expect to be doing much sailing - there is still plenty to do but you may stay around the more sheltered sea lochs rather than braving the ocean winds for your own safety.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think the knowledge given during the trip, along with the discussions we had about the major impacts and problems in the area (such as large scale trawling) helps you really appreciate the ongoing pressures we humans have on the world. From what I could understand from what Micheal is studying, his research on plankton has great potential to be used as an indicator for what is happening in our ocean and he has a particular eye out for a specific species of plankton which has only been found in tropical waters and what it could mean for the climate if it turns up around Britain. It was easy to see how much care Micheal & Colette put in to leaving as little impact as possible and how much they valued the environment they live in.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I really loved this trip, as I hope my earlier comments have shown. I always enjoy something that I can learn from and the encouragement and enthusiasm put in to teaching and showing us the workings the vacation provider, the surrounding landscape and the marine biology of the area made it a true pleasure to experience. Micheal & Colette put in a lot of work to keep everyone of the crew as happy, comfortable and fed as possible and I would like to make a special thanks for making my birthday (which occured on the boat) so enjoyable, despite not knowing about it beforehand.

review 4 Oct 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I loved the whole atmosphere of being on the St Hilda, learning about how to sail a boat and discovering the wildlife around us. Sailing towards Arran under the blue sky was absolutely fantastic. Also, fishing for our dinner and catching lobster and crabs in our lobster pot was so exciting! Colette and Michael looked after us so well - they were the perfect hosts! And Colette cooks the most delicious meals!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Remember taking the right gear so you can enjoy your vacation without any worries. In any case, you will get all the information you need from Colette and Michael. You should be reasonably fit to be able to make the most of all the activities that are offered.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The St Hilda Wildlife Cruise is operated with great respect for the environment. As a guest on the St Hilda, you learn a lot about the area, the sea and the wild life. Therefore, it supports conservation and raises awareness of the need to protect our environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Spending a week on the St Hilda in Scotland was a fantastic experience - I would love to go back any time! Highly recommendable!

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Unedited reviews from other travelers

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
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