Kay McDonald: Around Oban

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It’s taken a while but I’ve finally got to grips with the fact that autumn is here and I’m happy about it.

This is my favourite season, beautiful colours, reasonable weather (usually) and it’s a bit quieter but not too quiet. The only downside is that it’s almost the end of the cruise ship season.

For the rest of the month it will be the smaller ships such as the Majestic Line and Hebridean Princess, unless we have an unexpected arrival. It’s sometimes easier and more relaxed with the smaller ships as it means you have more time to chat and get to know people – with the bigger ships the volume of passengers make it much more hectic.

We’ve been lucky this year to have a few extra ships call in as bad weather altered their destinations and we’ve made the most of it, providing ambassadors and pipers to greet them and organising walking tours and entertainment where possible. It’s worked out really well for us, with the cruise companies already planning to include Oban on their list of future calls.

I’m aware that some people still think that all the passengers are bused away from Oban but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Only a small percentage of the passengers choose to go on the trips which are usually for the morning and allow the passengers the afternoon to explore the town. Once the buses have departed Joe and I spend the rest of the morning welcoming the rest of the passengers who have the full day in the town; eating here, visiting the castle, distillery and museum and wandering around the shops and cafes.  They are all delighted that Oban is one of the few places where they arrive in the middle of the town and everything is so conveniently situated.

Many of the cruise passengers also use their cruise to identify places that they would like to return to for a longer visit, and from the reactions I’ve witnessed I would say that Oban will be one of the places many of them come back to.

It still gives me a wee warm glow to hear all the compliments. I recently travelled back from the cruise ship Star Breeze on one of the tenders with the passengers and they could not have been more delighted with the weather, how beautiful everything was, and the fact that they stepped into the heart of the town and everything was laid out before them.  I think that when they go home and tell people about their holiday Oban will definitely feature as a highlight.

The photograph last week was of the front door of the Cellar Bar at the Regent Hotel – it caught my eye as I was passing one day. This week’s is quite new but very attractive.