Firm rapped for selling “island cruise” using CalMac ferries

Travel firm's 'cruise' involved publicly-funded CalMac ferry. Picture: John Devlin

Travel firm's 'cruise' involved publicly-funded CalMac ferry. Picture: John Devlin

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It was billed as a getaway to remember that would set sail from Oban before taking in some of the most stunning natural landscapes Scotland has to offer.

When National Holidays ran an advertisement promising a “sensational adventure” of exploration across the Sound of Mull, potential customers would have been forgiven for picturing themselves aboard a private boat as it navigated the waters off Kerrera, Lismore and Craignure.

Those who signed up, however, were in for a short sharp shock, with the journey taking the form of a return ticket on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry.

Now, the advertising watchdog has upbraided the firm for its floridly worded promotion and ordered it not to run it again.

• READ MORE: CalMac announces new routes to Scottish islands for winter

The Hull-based company’s online advertising campaign, launched in April, described the trip as a “memorable island cruise,” one which took in the “enigmatic sights of the three great castles of Dunollie, Duart and Gylen.”

It added: “A sensational adventure exploring the sea lochs, inlets and islands, taking in the majestic scenery and a true adventure in search of dolphins, minke whales, porpoises, seals and the amazing marine wildlife to be found around these beautiful Scottish islands.”

But after receiving a complaint that the term, “island cruise” and the description of the journey were misleading, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has censured National Holidays.

In a written ruling, the ASA said: “The ASA considered consumers were likely to interpret the claim ‘island cruise’ to refer to a trip on a private ship arranged specifically for leisure – typically a holiday – as opposed to transportation.

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“In the context of the claims ‘a sensational adventure exploring the sea lochs, inlets and islands’ and ‘a true adventure in search of dolphins, minke whales, porpoises, seals and the amazing marine wildlife’, they would likely expect the ship to take diversions and to stop off at several places on route to its destination.

“We noted, however, that the ‘island cruise’ consisted of a return journey on a public ferry, whereby many customers would likely use the ship solely as a means of transportation.”

The journey in question is operated daily by Caledonian MacBrayne between March and October. An adult ticket costs £6.90.

In its written response to the ASA, National Holidays confirmed that the boat ride was a return trip on a ferry, but said the advertisement’s wording accurately reflected the excursion on offer and was provided by the ferry firm.

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