Cruise Loch Ness

Enjoy the Loc Hat High Speed…

Whoever coined the phrase Scream if you want to go faster” – must have been on a Cruise Loch Ness RIB at the time!

The Ness Express RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) will definitely put the colour in your cheeks as you whizz past the stunning scenery, skip over the famous waters and watch out for legendary monsters!

The RIBs have proved a huge success for the Fort Augustus-based business since they were added to its cruise itinerary in 2008, and it’s easy to see why.

You get all the thrill and adrenalin rush of racing across the water at high speed but still experience the full majesty of the Great Glen, discovering its most inaccessible banks and soaking up its dramatic landscapes which change with every view.

And all while safely tucked into your cosy romper suit, goggles and life vest!

Family business Cruise Loch Ness has been in Fort Augustus so long – 43 years – that it has almost become part of the landscape itself and folk sometimes forget it’s there!

Cruise Loch Ness was established by the MacKenzie family in 1968, making it the longest running business on the famous water.

Starting out with an ex-RNLI boat ferrying 12 passengers up and down the loch, today, Cruise Loch Ness boasts a fleet of five vessels – three RIBs, the Royal Scot cruiser, which was custom built in Plymouth and carries 120 passengers, and the latest addition, the Caledonian Spirit, which will be used primarily for the fast-growing corporate market and other private charters.

In fact the entire fleet has been used by a diverse clientele ranging from film makers, corporate clients and conference delegates to party goers, birthday boys and girls, wedding guests and thrill-seekers.

The RIBs’ speed and convenience means they are regularly used by broadcasters such as the BBC and National Geographic and recent programmes have included Coast, John Sargeant’s Tourist Trail and Robson Green’s Wild Swimming.

Corporate guests staying at luxurious Aldourie Castle are often entertained during their visit to the Highlands with a trip on the loch as Cruise Loch Ness has established a strong working relationship with the hotel. Many high profile companies entertain their VIP guests at the hotel and Cruise Loch Ness has ensured they have a good time during their Highland adventure.

The RIBs can also be chartered for corporate team building excursions where colleagues – from managers to the office junior – can be pitted against each other. The romper suits are a great leveller!

Operations manager, Marcus Atkinson, has a background in the outdoor adventure and team building market and can tailor a series of exercises for participants depending on their requirements.

But it’s not all work!

RIBs can also be chartered simply for fun and adventure on the water and on nature trails along the normally inaccessible shoreline. Passengers can enjoy the great – outdoors, looking out for native wildlife such as ospreys which make their nests on the steep crags, and learn all about the fascinating landscape and history of the loch from the knowledgeable crew.

Tourists (and locals) – of all ages – love the exhilarating ride while those who prefer a more leisurely pace can enjoy a trip all the way up to the Dores Inn (the RIB’s parked right on the beach), enjoy a delicious meal and be ferried back to Fort Augustus at sunset, briefly stopping en-route for a dram over the deepest part of the loch – magical!

Cruise Loch Ness was the first local business to conduct weddings on the water when licence rules changed, and the addition of the Caledonian Spirit means there is even greater choice for couples who want a truly spectacular yet intimate setting for their big day.

The Royal Scot and Caledonian Spirit can be chartered for other special occasions such as birthday parties – for youngsters and grown ups – hen dos and stag nights.

The two vessels are also equipped to, for conferences with well appointed, heated, licensed cabins to ensure delegates are in comfortable surroundings throughout their journey.

The conference market is a fast growing one in the Highlands and offering delegates a venue with the wow factor can make all the difference.

Aboard the luxurious Royal Scot or Caledonian Spirit, sailing down one of the most famous and magical stretches of water in the world – the wow factor is guaranteed!

The RIBs have also been chartered for private parties by a number of celebrities including rock band Kasabian and DJ Fat Boy Slim when they appeared at RockNess, Dores. While comedian Billy Connolly has chartered the Royal Scot for private parties – Hollywood star Robin Williams was a guest -during visits to the region, as has actor, Ewan McGregor, among others.

However, key to the business success has been staying ahead of the game.

In the year 2011, Cruise Loch Ness joined the business consortium promoting the area, Destination Loch Ness, and has been awarded four stars by Visit Scotland in its first attempt. The team will be working hard to gain five stars next year.

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