The design challenge was to build a vessel that could transit the intricate waters
of the Caledonian Canal as well as the sheltered waters around Scotland’s hauntingly beautiful fretted west coast.
The limiting factor being the size of the 36 locks (on the canal) each having a maximum dimension of 150 feet in length and 34 feet in width, with a depth of no more than 12 feet. Due to the width and meandering nature of the navigation, dual propulsion systems and bow thrusters are required to be controlled not only from the bridge but also from the side-wings of the vessel – this so that the Master is able to manoeuvre the ship into almost impossibly tight locks and around the many tortuous bends, bringing the dramatic landscape even closer.
The result of all these endeavours being the splendid, not to say unique, ‘MV Lord of the Glens’ - and if its elegant appeal calls to mind that of a luxury yacht, this is no accident since the ‘Royal Yacht Britannia’ was very much in mind when it came to deciding the exterior livery with its ‘Mauritius’ deep blue hull, complemented by an all around band and resplendent eagle motifs all in gold, together with a brilliant white superstructure.
When oft the ‘Lord of the Glens’ plies into and cuts a gentle swathe into these bestilled and lonely waters – her presence, most pleasingly, complements the beholden scene, where others even if unintentionally might well have disturbed
the spell and the very peace they have come to find.
Internally the vessel deliberately shuns the ‘urban chic’ and the contemporary,
for one that is most certainly more in sympathy with both the landscape and the environment. On stepping aboard for the first time the weary traveller is immediately greeted by the more durable, and arguably the much more sumptuous ‘classical’, some might even say ‘colonial’, look - with its rich hardwood finishes throughout offset by cream paneling, very much reminiscent of the ancien deluxe British Pullman carriage – thus, but perhaps quite accidentally, echoing that train’s renown cream and umber livery.
Much loved spaces more often than not drew only scant inspiration from their original design but instead were fashioned over time and by random personal touch – and nowhere is this more true than onboard the ‘Lord of the Glens’. The peril in this course is that where originality and thematic design collide it can often give latitude to cliché – thankfully this is avoided on the ‘Lord of the Glens’ where everything seemingly has been thought about and well considered. Take for instance the beautiful fixtures, fittings and furnishings, which are not to be found in the usual emporiums but rather were individually chosen historic pieces sometimes originating from the ‘Grand Expresses’ and ‘Ocean-Liners’ of yesteryear, together with personal artifacts from the owner, all lovingly restored and sit onboard sometimes unnoticed since they meld so effortlessly in their surroundings.
Of special note are the original 1929 ‘Riviera’ armchairs (PLM Orient Express),
hand painted David Roberts lithographs, light fittings from the SS France and Nord Norge, restaurant chairs, overhead glass paneling, deck furniture from the RMS Windsor Castle and lovely brass friezes from the RMS Kenya Castle. Elsewhere there are scaled models of locomotives and ocean going ships. Throughout the vessel is adorned with plush carpeting by ‘Brinton’s’ and hardwood flooring with inlaid compass motifs made by craftsmen at the top of their profession.
The whole vessel is air-conditioned/heated throughout. Guests embark at the Reception level, where is also located the delightful ‘one sitting’ ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’ restaurant and the Bridge, besides the six Top Deck State Cabins.
A short flight of stairs brings guests to the splendid Upper Deck – the ‘David Livingstone Lounge/Bar’ - which is again richly decorated in hardwood finishes and divided into two sections. The aft area is reserved for the Bar and a comfortable relaxing area, as well as a stern facing viewing deck. The forward area is perhaps reserved for quieter contemplation and spectacular viewing opportunities both through the all-round panoramic windows and the forward viewing deck.
There are 27 outward facing State Cabins spread over three decks, sequentially
all named after well known Scottish personages (Thomas Telford, David Roberts
& Alexander Graham Bell). Each State Cabin is finished in rich hardwood finishes, plush carpeting, dressing table, stool, wardrobe, internal telephone, satellite TV
and en-suite facilities with shower, WC and washbasin. All State Cabins are
air-conditioned/heated - the Top and Middle Deck State Cabins have a picture
window, whereas the Lower Deck State Cabins have two portholes each.
The cuisine is excellent, freshly prepared onboard by a loyal and long serving brigade of chefs, drawing on the rich bounty of locally sourced produce - and what could be more delightful than to awake to the prospect of a full Scottish breakfast, and for earlier risers to take advantage of the complimentary hot beverages that await in the lounge, and for that matter for the rest of the day as well.
The vessel operates an 'open bridge' policy. The vessel is British registered and carries a full nautical compliment of British officers and European crew. The vessel was re-constructed in 2000 and has been renovated annually ever since.
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