Cruise Loch Ness

22 May 2018

Inverness firm sailing into busy season with new monster hunter

A Highland cruise company has unleashed a fresh breed to its fleet as it sails into the tourist season with a new state-of-the-art Loch Ness catamaran. 

Cruise Loch Ness has welcomed its new £1.5m vessel, The Spirit of Loch Ness, to the Highlands and is gearing up for the wave of summer tourists on the quest to spot the elusive monster. 

The family run firm, which operates from Fort Augustus on the banks of the loch, will see an increase in passenger capacity of 30% with the introduction of the new vessel, bringing their fleet up to two passenger vessels and three high-speed RIBs. 

The award winning business carried 150,000 passengers last year and is predicting a 20% increase on passenger numbers for 2018 with the addition of the new vessel. 

With cutting edge sonar equipment and 15 monitors across the two decks, passengers of The Spirit of Loch Ness will be well positioned to monitor the eerie depths of the famous loch in the hope of catching a glimpse of Nessie. 

Cruise Loch Ness managing director, Ronald Mackenzie, said: “The Spirit of Loch Ness has settled well into the loch and is a superb addition to our fleet.  It gives us the capacity to carry a further 100 passengers, bringing us up to near 354 across the two boats. 

“With decades of experience and knowledge of the industry, we custom designed this catamaran to allow us to bring the best possible customer experience to passengers who come here especially to hunt for Nessie, and the cutting edge equipment provides a great insight into the depths of the water offering the best possible opportunity to explore the secrets of the Loch.” 

The firm secured 50% funding from Clydesdale Bank to invest in the new-build project. The Spirit of Loch Ness will be replacing an older, smaller vessel, which was sold to a cruise operator on Loch Lomond. The vessel was commissioned following a 20% rise in passenger numbers in 2015.   

Shelley O’Neill, Relationship Manager at Clydesdale Bank, said: “At Clydesdale Bank, we are committed to working with our SME customers, offering bespoke funding solutions to enable their business growth. We have worked with Cruise Loch Ness for a number of years and we are proud to support the launch of the new vessel, which is an important milestone in their business journey.”  

Cruise Loch Ness is set to commission another new build in the near future, with a vision to launching a second new vessel in 2020.