Posts for Cruise

A Unique Wedding Venue with Crannog

Thursday 8th Aug 2013

Beside the water and surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery must be one of the most perfect settings for your special day. Our cruise boat and restaurant offer a unique combination of rustic charm and quiet sophistication to provide the unrivalled surroundings and venue for your day. Take a bespoke cruise to Loch Eil where vows can be said on deck under a back drop of Ben Nevis. Guests can then enjoy a few canapes or a buffet with bubbly onboard whilst cruising home.

Wedding on Souters LassOur wedding coordinator, Sarah-Louise, is friendly, informative and knowledgeable. She can suggest amazing menus using fresh local produce sourced from the sea or, alternatively, Scottish meats and vegetarian options – depending on you and your guests’ pallets. Here is just a sample of possible menus; Sarah-Louise would be delighted to help you choose something to suit your exact taste and budget.

Our wine list is well researched and varied; our wines have been specifically chosen to match our range of dishes, so, again, there is plenty to choose from. We are happy to accommodate your requirements and a copy of our current wine list can be found here. Sarah-Louise is available to discuss your needs, because we know that every bride’s requirement is different and she has some great ideas to help create that special day. If you would like to contact our wedding coordinator directly please contact

Read some of the lovely comments from past couples who have celebrated their wedding with Crannog here.

Were you married aboard Souters Lass?  What made it especially perfect for you?  Or, if you’re already married, leave any hints or tips below for anyone organising their wedding.



“Global Foodservice Built on Water – Seafood Restaurant Provides Base for Loch-side Enterprise”

Tuesday 30th Jul 2013

We were recently featured in Seafood Business – a publication specifically for seafood buyers and sellers, with more than 30 years of experience.

“Diversifying business interests can be a clever strategy for when times get Stunning loch side locationtough, though it is equally important not to spread yourself too thin. One seafood restaurant in the Scottish Highlands, The Crannog Restaurant, has attempted to strike a balance and forge a little empire on the shores of Loch Linnhe.

Located in a refurbished bait shed on the Fort William town pier, the restaurant has become the centerpiece of a business that began a quarter of a century ago with fishing. Local fisherman Finlay Finlayson was catching langoustines for sale in London when he came upon the idea of selling fresh seafood in town. He converted the old bait shed into a restaurant, and 24 years later the establishment is still going strong. An eye for an opportunity has continued to serve Finlayson well, for the restaurant now forms an integral part of the Crannog Concept business.

“The population here triples in the summer, so Finlay was aware of the tourism potential in the area,” says Olivia Gemmill, The Crannog Restaurant’s marketing and communication manager. “Lots of customers are now repeat customers, not just from Scotland and England, but from further afield.”

The secrets to the restaurant’s success, says Gemmill, are fairly straightforward: spectacular loch-side location and keeping things simple. The menu changes according to season and availability, while a specials board lists the fresh catch. “Our menu is often dictated by the fishermen,” she says. “But this need for flexibility is both a challenge and an opportunity; our chefs need to be creative!” The head chef at Crannog is local Stuart McLaughlin (Stewart MacLachlan), who served his apprenticeship at the restaurant before gaining experience abroad.

“We always try and source at a reasonable price, so sourcing is a major issue for us,” says Gemmill. “We are obviously affected by fishing quotas, but not to the same extent as other parts of the country. For example, serving cod is a big issue down south at the moment — it’s seen as a bad thing because of overfishing — but in the deep waters around here, cod is abundant.”

As the restaurant business began to take off in the early 1990s, Finlayson spotted another golden opportunity: operating cruises around the loch. He bought an old boat, revamped it and turned it into a viable tourist vessel. This has enabled the business to take further advantage of the natural environment, with visitors on the lookout for porpoises, seals and golden eagles.

Crannog restaurant and cruisesThe most recent expansion for Crannog Concept was the purchase in 2004 of an underwater training center in Fort William. The center is primarily used for health and safety training; Scotland has a booming offshore oil and gas sector. “We saw this as another excellent business opportunity,” says Gemmill. “The challenge, of course, is that the price of oil influences demand for our services, but unlike much of the rest of the U.K. economy, the oil and gas sector is booming This is certainly one advantage of diversifying our business practices.”

For the moment, the Crannog Concept, built around sustainably exploiting the opportunities provided by Fort William’s Loch-side location, is ticking along nicely. There are no immediate plans for further expansion, though Finlayson and his team always keep an eye out. “In summer we’re always full, so we could double the size of the restaurant; unfortunately it’s on a pier!” says Gemmill. “I think in the near future we’ll focus on more evening cruises, taking guests over to the next loch.”

Contributing Editor Anthony Fletcher lives in Brussels and you can read the full article on the Seafood Business website.


Evening Cruising on Loch Eil

Thursday 25th Jul 2013

With this amazing spell of weather and regular evening sailings the cruise boat has been making its journey up Loch Eil on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday evenings. Boarding for the evening cruise starts at 7.15pm departing from the Town Pier at 7.30pm. Our regular evening Skipper Jamie Ball provides an entertaining commentary with information and facts about Ben Nevis, Fort William and the beautiful area we live in. As the sun sets Cruising with Ben Nevis behindJamie keeps his binoculars on hand ready for identifying the abundant wildlife. En route through the narrows Souters Lass passes a heron’s nest. Wildlife appear from all angles including porpoise, black throated divers, buzzard, cormorants, moorhen, oystercatcher, whooper swans, and more. Recently there has even been an osprey lurking in the trees. The journey continues into Loch Eil. Here Ben Nevis can be seen in all its splendour with amazing lighting from the sun as it sets in the west. Souters Lass then turns and heads for home before darkness falls.

Come and join us on any of our sailings; call the crew on 01397 700714.

If you have any questions about our evening cruises and the wildlife we have seen leave a comment for Jamie and he’ll get back to you. Alternatively, come and join one of our daytime cruises which depart daily at 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm and you can join them in the wheel house.


School Summer Cruise

Monday 8th Jul 2013

With the school holidays well under way, every child in the area was excited about their end of term treat! The whole of Fort William Primary were lucky enough to climb aboard Souters Lass and take a Crannog Cruise. Down the loch the children had the opportunity to learn more about the salmon and mussel farms, as well as watch for wildlife and admire the views of Ben Nevis. They could even spot their own school from the water.

Headteacher Sue Commander at the helm!

Headteacher Sue Commander at the helm!

The cruise also marked the last week for their head teacher who is retiring at the end of term. Mrs Sue Commander has worked for 14 years as the lady in charge of Fort William Primary School. She will be enjoying a well-earned rest after so many years at the helm!

If you joined the Fort William Primary School cruise, let us know what you thought by leaving a comment below, or to find out more about our cruises visit our website.


Meet the Skippers from Crannog’s Cruise Boat, Souters Lass

Thursday 4th Jul 2013

The staff onboard our cruise boat are some of the friendliest, cheeriest team you could wish to meet. They are ready to welcome you aboard, ensure your safety and answer any questions you may have about our cruise and what you can see from the boat. The crew are led by one of our 3 qualified and knowledgeable skippers David Mackie, Jamie Ball and Brian Williamson:

David Mackie Skipper and wildlife expert, David, has worked skippering Souters Lass for the last 10 years. He is qualified with a Boat Master Tier 1 Level 2 with a General Passenger Endorsement. He can cope with everything from engine maintenance to identifying seabirds.
“I love being aboard Souters Lass. Once you leave the pier you can really start to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the sea”.

Jamie Ball Jamie Ball has been working with Crannog Cruises for most of his adult life! He started as a member of the crew and then became skipper at the age of 23. Jamie was involved in the early restoration of Souters Lass, enjoying tackling all maintenance issues. Although he now runs his own business, he still enjoys working part time onboard this historic vessel.

Brian Williamson Brain Williamson is a well-known local skipper who has been in charge of all kinds of boats, from traditional sailing boats to a huge 39 metre holiday barge and, of course, Souters Lass. He spends many months each year in Turkey where he heads during the winter to escape the snow of Fort William.


If you have any questions for any one of our skippers, please leave a comment below and they’ll get back to you. Alternatively, come and join one of our cruises which depart daily at 10am, 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm and you can join them in the wheel house.

Evening cruises operate throughout July and August and depart at 7.30pm. Take a look at our website for more information or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


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