Hebridean International Cruises is withdrawing from international operations and selling the largest of its two fleet, resulting in a number of job losses both at sea and at its North Yorkshire headquarters.
The 98 berth Hebridean Spirit is being withdrawn ahead of the Summer 2009 season as the downturn takes its toll.
Announcing the sale, Managing Director Mike Deegan, said: “We have made the decision to withdraw from international operations to concentrate on our core product, which is the operation of Hebridean Princess in Scotland”.
“For some time now we have experienced rising costs of operating Hebridean Spirit in international waters due in part to the deterioration in the £ Sterling against the US Dollar and Euro and we can not continue to absorb these increases, especially when the vessel has been operating in a very aggressive market where heavy discounting is the norm”.
The line is offering customers a full refund or a transfer to a cruise aboard Hebridean Princess, which is unaffected by the changes.
Mr Deegan added: “Clearly we have not taken this decision lightly. I am very aware that the cancellation of an eagerly anticipated holiday is very upsetting and we shall work with all affected customers. That we shall also be losing some good staff, some of whom have seen many years of service with us, is equally upsetting for us”.
Hebridean Spirit was introduced in 2001 and has provided 5-star luxury afloat whilst operating in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and South America. Sister vessel Hebridean Princess, which was chartered by Queen Elizabeth II for a family holiday in 2006, will continue to offer 5-star holidays throughout the Western Isles of Scotland.