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Super-small boat cruises offer 2015 sailings to Scotland's western islands

Small ships launch this year's season with itineraries to the Hebrides, Argyll and St Kilda.

Big cruise lines are rolling out their 2015-16 itineraries on luxury ships -- and so are new super-small ones, which operate just one boat on cruises to Scottish islands.

Hebrides Cruises isn't the only single-boat cruise line that operates in Scotland but it is among the newest.

The company last year started taking visitors to the Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland.

This year it offers eight itineraries -- to places like Mull, Skye, St. Kilda, Mingulay, Shiants -- aboard the Elizabeth G, a former Norwegian rescue boat. It holds just 12 guests on four- to six-night sailings, and a naturalist and nature photographer come along too.

Prices range from 830 to 1,800 British pounds ($1,245 to $2,700).

Argyll Cruising launches this year with a converted wooden fishing boat that accommodates just seven guests. It debuts with four itineraries on three- to six-night cruises to destinations such as Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre, according to a statement.

Prices range from 570 to 1,080 British pounds ($855 to $1,620).

The accent for both super-small cruise lines is on the scenery and the wildlife -- and letting guests chart their own course with activities. On Argyll's ship, guests can bring along kayaks and bicycles on the boat's deck if they want to explore on their own.

The Majestic Line is the established player in Scottish island cruises. It has been around since 2004 and operates two converted wooden fishing boats with six cabins (each sleeps two). Majestic has nine itineraries this year on cruises to destinations that include Argyll and the Hebrides islands.

Prices range from 1,050 to 1,995 ($1,574 to $2,991 for three- to six-night cruises.

For more information on visiting the western islands -- you can also visit some by ferry and plane -- check out information at Visit Scotland's website.

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