Cruise line Hebridean is facing insolvency after it emerged that its vessel Hebridean Princess, a ship that the Queen chartered for her 80th birthday, is in the hands of administrators.
This follows the sale of Hebridean International’s other ship, Hebridean Spirit, which was sold for $7 million (£4.8 million) to a Middle Eastern buyer to be converted into a private yacht.
A spokeswoman for the administrators, Ernst & Young, said today that Hebridean Princess would continue with this year’s programme of cruises “while the possibility of a sale is explored.”
She said interest had already been shown by a potential buyer but declined to name them.
Industry speculation suggests it might be the cultural cruise specialist Swan Hellenic, now headed by Lord Sterling, formerly chairman of P&O.
Hebridean Princess began life in 1964 as the MacBrayne ferry Columba. It was converted to a miniature cruise ship for just 49 passengers in 1989. In this year’s cruise programme, which has only just been announced, the ship is planned to sail from its home port of Oban to the Hebrides, Shetlands and Norway.
Colin Dempster, joint administrator at Ernst and Young, said: “The Hebridean Spirit has been loss making for some time and although it has now been sold it has impacted on the funding of the remaining group. This means that unfortunately the company that owns the Hebridean Princess has filed for administration.
“We are aware of the strength of the Princess brand and interest in the vessel has already been received. This has allowed us to secure funding to continue the Princess schedule as planned whilst we pursue a sale as a going concern.”