A new state of the art vessel has boosted the range and capacity of a charter cruise operator on the Isle of Harris, also creating a new job with the company, with the support of Bank of Scotland.
Since it was founded in 2005, Kilda Cruises has offered tourists custom-made day trips to the islands off the Hebrides, including the remote World Heritage Site of St Kilda, on its 55-foot motor cruiser, HIRTA.
Due to increasing popularity and growing demand for scientific research services, the company, which operates out of West Tarbert, commissioned a second ship that has an increased range of 200 miles offshore and can accommodate up to 12 passengers.
The twin hulled catamaran vessel, called Orca 3, is equipped with a range of marine acoustic and side-scanning technology, which will enable it to cater for on-board research scientists, as well as increasing the company’s overall passenger capacity by up to 50 per cent.
Kilda Cruises’ owner and skipper Angus Campbell started the company after working for many years as a lobster and crab fisherman around his native Harris, giving him good knowledge of the surrounding waters. The business has since grown to employ four full-time members of staff, and is already looking to recruit a new marketing and booking manager.
In order to commission the new ship, Angus approached Bank of Scotland to secure a six-figure loan, having received previous support from the bank when establishing the business.
Angus Campbell, owner of Kilda Cruises, said: “The new Orca really is an amazing boat that which will allow us to take more passengers as far out as Rockall, which is far beyond most other vessels of her size.
“We’ve seen constantly growing demand for our services from scientific researchers and ecologists from Edinburgh University and beyond, looking to conduct research in the seas around the Hebrides, which are immensely rich in marine life. This has given us another area in which to expand the business.
“The consistent support from Bank of Scotland has been a key factor in the company’s growth, and has enabled us to successfully exploit this new avenue of growth by building a fully customised research vessel that will cater for the needs of both tourists and researchers.”
Bill Ferguson, relationship manager for Bank of Scotland, said: “Kilda Cruises is a great local business that has successfully developed a niche opportunity within the thriving local tourism industry to capitalise on the growing ecological research sector.
“St Kilda and the surrounding isles are world renowned for their rich history and wildlife, and the new vessel will enable the company to take full advantage of this amazing local resource.”