Scottish Hotel Barge Spirit of Scotland - Barging in Scotland -

Barge Cruises on the Caledonian Canal of Scotland Between Banavie and Muirtown

Facts About the Barge Spirit of Scotland

The Scottish Hotel Barge Spirit of Scotland was purpose-built and commissioned in 2003 to perform barge cruises along the Caledonian Canal and the lochs of the Great Glen of the spectacular Scottish Highlands.

Scottish Hotel Barge Spirit of Scotland - Layout diagram Barging in Scotland River Cruise

Length: 126 feet
12 Passengers
6 Crew
6 Staterooms (doubles and/ or twins)
TV/DVD player in guests cabins
Separate cabin for tour leader
Air conditioning / Central heating
3 Sun decks
Spa pool / Hot tub
8 Bicycles
WiFi (subject to local reception)
2 Air conditioned minibuses

Barge Specifics

Your Crew On Board

Accommodation On Board

Maximum 12 passengers / 6 Staterooms

All cabins can be configured with either 2 single beds or a double bed. As a twin-bed configuration there is access to each bed from the space created in between. When configured with a queen, one side of the bed is flush with the cabin wall.

As single beds, each measure 2ft 7” (0.8m) x 6ft 7” (2m). They can be placed together and made as queen-size

All cabins have an en-suite shower-room, large triple double-door wardrobes (2 sections for hanging and a section with 5 deep shelves), a fitted desk with drawer and cupboard below, and a bedside table with drawer and cupboard. There is a reading light and TV with DVD facilities. The cabin furniture is polished walnut. All cabins are fitted with safes.

Each cabin has 3 portholes (2 in the cabin and 1 in the shower room). Each porthole opens and measures 15” (38cm) in diameter.

Each cabin has 2 USB ports by the bedside table.

Bathrooms: All cabins have a fully tiled en-suite shower room with power-shower, wash-basin and WC. Towels, hand soap, shower gel, shampoo, hair dryers, slippers and bathrobes are all provided.

Cabin Sizes

Each cabin is similar in size measuring 130ft² (12m²)

Each en-suite shower room measures 5ft 3” (1.6m) x 4ft 11” (1.25m) these dimensions are included in the overall cabin size detailed above.

Ceiling height: 6ft 6” (2m) for both cabins and public areas.

All sizes are approximate.

Climate Control

Each cabin has individually controlled cooling and heating (operated from the same unit).

Computer and Telephone

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available on board. Connectivity can be limited in remote locations and access is available whilst in the salon and dining area.

There is no passenger telephone on board Spirit of Scotland.


The local currency in Scotland is GBP Pounds Sterling. Spirit of Scotland is unable to accept credit or debit cards on board.

Cycling & Walking

You are welcome to walk, or cycle using the on board bicycles. Most guests choose not to miss any cruising and tend to cycle or walk when the barge is stationary.

Cycling opportunities can be limited on certain days due to the differing terrain along the Scotland cruise route. There are 8 bikes and helmets are provided.

Children’s bikes, helmets and child bike seats can be arranged if required on request – please notify Paradise Connections at least 8 weeks prior to your departure.

Dining Room & Saloon

The large and light dining room is on the upper deck and is 25ft (7.6m) x 17ft (5.2m) wide. With 12 large windows (6 on either side) and a screen-door which can be opened onto the rear sundeck.

Leading from the dining room towards the front of the barge is the light and spacious saloon which is 22ft (6.7m) x 17ft (5.2m) wide. Here you will find plenty of comfortable seating available and a well-stocked bar. The wheelhouse forms the front part of the saloon, and is a wonderful and unique location to relax and watch the Captain navigate the barge along the stunning Caledonian Canal.


The barge is wired for 220 volts (not 110 volt), with sockets which correspond to the standard European 2-pin plug. 2 USB ports in each cabin. 2 USB ports in Saloon area.

We suggest you bring an adapter for your particular appliances. If you wish to use your electrical appliance on board, please ask one of the crew when you arrive on board to ensure that it is suitable to the barge’s electrical system.

We cannot be held responsible for unforeseen voltage fluctuations which sometimes occur when swapping from one voltage system to another.


The Spirit of Scotland has 2 vehicles, an 8 seater and 6 seater, which are air-conditioned. These are used for transfers and excursions.

For charter bookings, the itinerary can be adapted to suit your group’s particular needs. If a destination or excursion is within a reasonable distance of the barge, we will do everything we can to arrange it. Please speak with our Reservations team in advance of your cruise and we can pre-arrange with the Captain.

Any guests not wishing to participate in an excursion are welcome to remain on the barge.

Facilities On Board

Food & Drink

All meals on board are freshly prepared by your chef and most meals are a set menu (there is no choice available). International and traditional Scottish cuisine is featured.

We are able to arrange special meals, e.g. vegetarian / no fish / vegan etc; and we are able to cater for any preferences or allergies. However, it is most important that we are notified of any specific requirements at least 8 weeks prior to your departure date. Failure to notify Paradise Connections in advance of your cruise may result in disappointment on board.

There is no assigned seating and the dining table accommodates all guests at a single sitting.

Breakfast: Full Scottish cooked breakfast or Continental-style buffet breakfast with toast, fruit, cereals, fruit juices, decaffeinated or regular tea and coffee.

Lunch: Usually consists of a light buffet with salads, patés and fish dishes. Occasionally, you can enjoy a picnic out and sometimes a 3-course sit-down lunch or hot soups on cooler days.

Dinner: Always a gastronomic adventure created by your talented chef. A taste of regional cuisine by candlelight, complemented by fine wines, followed by a selection of regional cheeses, coffee and liqueurs.

Captain’s Farewell Dinner: Captain’s dinner on the last night of the cruise. Guests may choose to dress slightly more formal.

Drinks included in the cruise price: Non-alcoholic beverages and regular or decaffeinated tea and coffee. The well-stocked bar is open 24 hours, which includes wines, spirits, a wide selection of single malt whiskies, beers, and soft drinks. All wines are provided with meals and there is a Champagne welcome on arrival.

Drinks not included in the cruise price: Some champagnes, and special wines are not included, although you may purchase bottles in advance of your cruise at cost if you notify us in advance how many you require. We do not recommend specific beverage ordering unless you are chartering the whole barge.

Hot Air Balooning

The region Spirit of Scotland cruises through is not suitable for hot air ballooning.


We recommend you bring sufficient clean clothing for your cruise as there are no laundry facilities on board. However, the crew may be able to assist in an emergency on a request basis.

Luggage / What To Pack

Please plan to travel with one suitcase per person. Soft-sided luggage will be easier to store once you have unpacked.

Practical comfort and casual clothing is the norm aboard Spirit of Scotland and for most excursions. Dress code for dinner is relaxed and informal. For the Captain's Dinner on the final evening, guests often dress-up, which is optional.

Suggested things to pack:

Umbrellas are available on board.


Please let us know in advance of your cruise if you require frequent or ongoing medical attention.

The crew are unable to administer medicines but can accompany you to a chemist for you to purchase any necessary medicines. Due to your cruise often being in a rural location, we recommend you bring all necessary medication with you. Doctors are usually not far away for an urgent consultation and the Emergency Services can be called if required.

Problem During Your Cruise

If you have a problem during your cruise, please give us the immediate opportunity to make things right. Please bring any concern to the private attention of your Cruise Director who will often be able to solve any issue immediately.

Restricted Mobility

Please let us know in advance of your cruise if you have a physical disability and require any assistance.

Spirit of Scotland has 3 decks. Boarding the barge is usually by ramp from the canal / loch side, but occasionally 1 or 2 steps are required depending on the mooring location. Once on board, there are 2 staircases with 10 steps between the Saloon level and cabin deck below. There is a single brass hand-rail on each staircase.

The roof-top sundeck is accessed from an external semi-spiral staircase on the aft deck – there are 10 steps.

We are able to hire wheelchairs locally – a small charge may apply. Please notify Paradise Connections at least 8 weeks prior to your departure. Please note wheelchairs are not suitable for use on board. Passengers must be accompanied by someone who is able to push the chair as the crew are unable to assist.

Safety & Security

Once you are on board, your Cruise Director will talk you through the Cruise Safety Procedures. Safety Instructions are detailed below. Please note that we cannot be responsible for any valuables that you bring on board. We strongly recommend that you do not bring valuables with you unless required and that you ensure that all valuables are covered by your travel insurance.

There is a safe located in each cabin. Cabin doors are not locked for safety reasons.


Spirit of Scotland has a strict non-smoking policy for safety reasons and for the comfort of your fellow passengers.

If you would like to smoke we request that you do so outside or on the deck away from fellow passengers.


There are 3 lovely outdoor areas on-board Spirit of Scotland:

Themed Cruises

For charter groups only, Golf, Walking (along the banks of Loch Ness and the Great Glen), Fishing, Whisky, and Family Cruises are available on request. We can also adapt our cruise to include horse-riding. Special interest cruises often have a supplement, for details please visit Spirit of Scotland's Itinerary page and Rates page.


Gratuities are not included in the cruise fare. Tipping is entirely discretionary but is greatly appreciated by the crew if you are fully satisfied with the level of service on board. As a guideline, the average tip given by our guests from around the world is approximately 5% of the Cruise Fare.

The usual way to give the tip is to give the amount in cash as one lump sum to the Cruise Director on the last day of the cruise. They will distribute the amount equally amongst the crew.

Sterling, Euros or Dollars are equally appreciated. ATMs are accessible for cash withdrawal on most itineraries during the cruise and the crew can advise where these are located.


For details of the Spirit of Scotland vehicles, please see “Excursions,” above. The approximate transfer duration is 15 minutes or 2 hours from Inverness depending on the cruise direction.


Tap water in Scotland and on-board Spirit of Scotland is potable, but we advise guests to use the filtered water provided.

Safety Instructions On Board Spirit of Scotland

On arrival the Captain will talk you through the Cruise Safety Procedures on board.In addition, it is important that all passengers are familiar with the safety instructions detailed below.

Please ask a member of the crew on board if you require any further safety advice

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