Responsible travel with Caledonian Discovery Cruises

Wild Scotland
28 Feb 2022

We all like to do our bit for planet and people and for a few years now the whole team behind Caledonian Discovery have been looking at ways we can take a greener and more sustainable approach to our cruise holidays. We have come to the point where we want to do things better in the future and help our guests make the most of our local environment and explore Scotland responsibly.

Once we started the rigorous process and looked at our ways of operating, we realised that we have a way to go to hit our ambitions but that actually getting on board Fingal or Ros Crana, and discovering the Great Glen on a boat does tick a few of the boxes as far as sustainable tourism goes.

With this in mind we wanted to share what we already do and where we are heading on our greener, responsible quest.

Responsible exploration with on-board Guides

On this crowded planet we know we are fortunate as we glide up and down the Great Glen with the chance to take time, stop, breathe, sit and take in the surroundings. Whilst our boats are substantially built we keep the number of guests and crew on board small for a more intimate experience. Over the years, 25 or thereabouts, by operating this way there is ample opportunity to get to know the crew and meet our on board guides. We have experts for the duration of the cruise from wildlife to walking guides and water activity instructors. This provides for key knowledge, insight and history of both nature and landscape shared with our guests who inevitably gain a more immersive experience and deeper respect for the visited space as a result of this.

The conversations had on board often develop to exploring the wild spaces on and off the boats and with our expert guides and enriched knowledge of the spaces we explore, our guests as a consequence are really respectful and caring, engaged with the landscape and wildlife.

Our boats are a sanctuary of a place that seemingly have their own personality. Adam (one of our skippers) has a sentimental fondness for Fingal which to anyone that has spent time on board our barges or any boat knows the connection you feel as you approach anywhere by water in a community of like minded souls for the week. The boat seems to envelope and look after you, waiting like an old friend as you come and go making the holiday more about the destination and voyage itself. The time constraint isn’t an issue and we love the “go slow for travel and adventure “ that our guests embrace.

Connection back to the water and wildlife through activities

Anyone that has spent anytime with us knows the activities we have on board both boats. We do tailor cruises for certain experiences but our canoes, bikes, SUPs and small sailing boat are all on board anytime for people to use.

Our activities are people powered! Currently it is a “necessary evil” that we have a diesel engine on board, and our maximum number of guests (12 on board) making their way up and down the Great Glen, sometimes under their own steam takes the pressure off the same amount of people using this popular stretch in several cars. We are a truly car - free option !

Water Wise

Part and parcel of being on a boat we are ever conscious of the need to respect and save water through practical lo flow loos and potable water, ensuring that anything we use on board are chemical free products. By virtue of being on a boat we have long implemented effective metering of energy and we take great care to conserve water supply to reduce needless waste and of course we adhere to the 3 R’s ! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Taste our Best

Catering is done on board with our resident cooks. We source from local suppliers and businesses and we are committed to reducing our non-recyclable waste! As guests plan their trips they often pre-order meals which saves on food waste, this way we have ample time to support our local suppliers. Of course straws are out! Gone are the single use plastics and we have refill water bottles for guests to use.

Our stance is pretty much buy anything local! Whether food, beer or gifts this way money is being fed back into the community and to the crew and local business, not some unknown corporate organisation.

We are now looking at ways that we can take the next steps in improving our carbon footprint. We have created our Environmental Policy, we have a commitment to working with the local Woodland Trust or Trees for Life. We want to shore up plans for carbon offsetting and to focus on some key operational changes on board to trim our energy use for better carbon reduction.

Operating largely in remote areas of the Highlands and waterways of Scotland, it is important to us that we help to maintain and preserve the natural and cultural beauty of the area by minimising our impact on the local environment.

We like to think that our guests and the connection they make with us on our boats, discovering this part of Scotland, that they have really enjoyed their time, become friends and for the time they spend on a Caledonian Cruise feel more a “temporary local” and less “tourist”.


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