This cruise is devoted to the spectacular scenery and natural history of New Zealand, Tasmania and the south eastern corner of Australia. In New Zealand we will visit some of the country’s most stunning national parks, vast tracts of untouched wilderness, mountains, volcanoes, fjords, lakes and a wonderfully scenic coastline. Our exploration of New Zealand’s South Island offers rocky cliffs, blowholes, caves and rugged surf beaches where seals haul themselves ashore, but perhaps the most exiting of all is to be found in the nutrient rich currents of Kaikoura Bay where we spend the morning whale watching.
In timeless Tasmania, extraordinary wildlife awaits with unique flora, seemingly endless forests, rolling pastureland, vineyards, plantations, mountains and fast moving rivers. Surprisingly, Tasmania is similar in size to Ireland, yet accounts for only one percent of Australia’s land mass. Those who venture to this ‘Island on the Edge’ are well rewarded and return enchanted. Unlike much of Australia where the old has been torn down in favour of the new, Tasmania has a wealth of historic homes and buildings. This rich man-made heritage combined with its truly hospitable people and stunning natural environment gives Tasmania a quaint, rather British and old fashioned atmosphere in the best sense of the meaning.
The final part of our odyssey takes us to remote but fascinating Flinders Island and then to Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia. From here we navigate the coasts of Victoria and New South Wales visiting some extraordinary national parks and finally ending our journey in Sydney from where you can choose to fly straight home or extend your stay in one of the city’s finest hotels.
If you have been considering a trip that encompasses both New Zealand and Australia, but are wary of long coach journeys and would prefer a more comprehensive itinerary than those offered by the ‘big ships’, then the MS Caledonian Sky is the perfect vessel for you.
Antipodean Odyssey itinerary:
Day 1 - LONDON TO HONG KONG.
Fly by scheduled flight.
Day 2 - HONG KONG.
Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the Harbour Grand Hong Kong Hotel for a two night stay. Remainder of day at leisure.
Day 3 - HONG KONG.
Morning Hong Kong tour including Victoria Peak and Stanley Market. Afternoon free. This evening we will meet for a welcome dinner at a centrally located restaurant.
Day 4 - HONG KONG TO WELLINGTON
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Hong Kong before transferring to the airport for the scheduled flight to Wellington via Auckland.
Day 5 - WELLINGTON.
Arrive today and transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky moored in the city. This afternoon we have a brief orientation tour to include the Parliament buildings, Old St Paul’s Cathedral, a lovely all-wood structure which was erected in 1866, and the superb Botanic Gardens. Sail this evening.
Day 6 - KAIKOURA.
Today we are in Kaikoura, a famous whale watching area due to its nutrient rich waters. The combination of very deep waters and the mixing of cold and warm waters brings the nutrients to the top. After breakfast, there will be opportunities to join a whale watching cruise looking out for sperm whales, pods of dusky and common seals and the wandering albatross. Spend the afternoon exploring the town independently or join one of the nature walks or maybe take an optional trip on one of the bird watching cruises.
Day 7 - AKAROA.
This morning we cruise in to the secluded Akaroa Harbour. This picturesque bay hosts a myriad of wildlife including penguins and dolphins. Using our Zodiacs we will explore Otanerito Bay and hopefully have the opportunity to swim with one of the smallest and rarest dolphins - the Hector’s or New Zealand Dolphin. We will also have time to explore the town originally settled by the French in the early 19th century which retains its Gallic heritage and ambience. For those who wish to visit Christchurch, it may be possible to join a guided excursion.
Day 8 - DUNEDIN.
Morning cruising. This afternoon we will explore Dunedin on a guided tour. See the gracious 19th century buildings and beautiful botanical gardens. Alternatively join an optional excursion to Tairoa Head to visit Royal Albatross Centre.
Day 9 - STEWART ISLAND.
New Zealand’s third island is well off the usual beaten tourist track. It is a wonderfully tranquil place, the scenery of untouched bushland is stunning. We will visit Oban, see the fascinating Rakiura Museum and drive along some of the 15 miles of sealed road to some of the beauty spots. We also hope to use our Zodiacs around Half Moon Bay and the Paterson Inlet. The bird life here is amazing; red crowned parakeets, black oyster catchers, sooty shearwaters, tuis, bellbirds, kakas and fearless wekas.
Days 10 & 11 - FJORDLAND.
We have two days to explore the incredible wilderness of fjords of the South West coast. This is an area of majestic scenery, rich in wildlife, which is only accessible by sea, making it the most remote region of New Zealand. Our schedule may include Resolution Bay, Dusky Sound, Milford Sound and Deep Cove, but final itinerary decisions will be made by the Captain and Expedition Leader based on weather conditions.
Days 12 & 13 - AT SEA.
Enjoy time to relax and join one of the many lectures on board the ship.
Day 14 - HOBART, TASMANIA.
Arrive this afternoon in Hobart, capital of Tasmania. Founded in 1804 as a penal colony, today Hobart is cosmopolitan city. From our berth it is a short walk to the city centre where we will explore Salamanca Place in Sullivans Cove, the city’s bustling waterfront. Life here in the 1830s was all about industry, but today this picturesque cobblestone square is a destination for food, art, shopping and music. We have time to wander the galleries and search for local artefacts. From Salamanca Place you can also wander to adjoining wharves, where British convicts once stumbled ashore and whalers hauled in their cargo. We moor overnight and can enjoy the music at the arts centre courtyard as it fills with the sounds of jazz and swing music.
Day 15 - PORT ARTHUR.
Port Arthur was named after Van Diemen’s Land Lieutenant Governor, George Arthur. The settlement started as a timber station in 1830, but it is best known for being a penal colony. From 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Our guided tour will include the penintentiary which housed 480 convicts, the mess room, library and Catholic chapel. We will view the dockyard and also have time to explore the beautiful gardens and grounds surrounding the complex.
Day 16 - MARIA ISLAND.
Maria Island is a special place with something for everyone - historic ruins, sweeping bays, rugged cliffs and mountains, and remarkable wildlife. Our onboard staff will lead a number of walks on the island. Since the late 1960s a number of threatened species have been introduced here in a bid to protect their kind. The very things that made the island a convict settlement, now make it an ideal refuge for plant and animal species that are elsewhere under threat. So alongside native pademelons which occurred on the island naturally, are Forester kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies, Cape Barren Geese and Tasmanian Native hens which have been introduced to the island. Some of the waters around Maria Island are a Marine Nature Reserve. We will have the chance to snorkel and explore the marine life to be found here, including seals and whales.
Day 17 - COLES BAY AND WINEGLASS BAY.
We have a full day to explore Freycinet National Park. The majestic beauty of Freycinet’s granite mountains and white, sandy beaches have also long been admired by naturalists, artists and writers and the area was reserved as a national park in 1916. We disembark in Coles Bay situated on the northern end of Great Oyster Bay with stunning views of the red and pink granite peaks known as The Hazards. We will view the picture postcard Wineglass bay with the option for a strenuos walk up Mt Amos.
Day 18 - FLINDERS ISLAND
This morning we land at Flinders Island situated 20 kilometres from the north-eastern tip of Tasmania. Much of the region is still exactly as Matthew Flinders found it when he first explored this area 200 years ago. It is easy to imagine walking back through the centuries as you explore the island’s beaches, mountains and plains. On a series of nature walks we will explore the island searching for the local flora of the shy bush, rock orchids, sheoak or Eucalypts. Two hundred species of birds, ranging from the tiny Superb Wren to the giant Wandering Albatross, have been recorded as visiting or living on Flinders Island. Whilst possums, wallabies and wombats may also be seen. Sail at lunchtime and enjoy an afternoon at sea.
Day 19 - MELBOURNE.
Arrive in Melbourne at breakfast and join a full day tour of the Great Ocean Road. On this glorious coastal drive we will visit Bells Beach, spot koalas in the wild, enjoy a guided tour of the Otways rainforest and marvel at the amazing rock formations of the Port Campbell National Park, including the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge. Along the way we see pristine beaches and rugged rocky outcrops of the Great Ocean Road. For those that prefer to explore the famous wines of Victoria there will be a full day tour to the Yarra Valley. We will drive through the beautiful Blue Dandenongs seeing the traditional gardens and mountain ash forests before arriving at Yarra Valley for a tasting and a lunch at one of the vineyards.
Day 20 - WILSON’S PROMONTORY
Today we are in the Gippsland area of Victoria. Wilson’s Promontory is mainland Australia’s southern most National Park, an isolated area of granite headlands, with unique vegetation and geology. The park is affectionately known as “The Prom”, and is famous for its abundance of native animals, birds, reptiles and plants, magnificent beaches and thick coastal forest
Day 21 - MALLACOOTA.
Mallacoota Inlet, with its shimmering lakes, rivers, pristine forests and turquoise sea lapping quiet beaches captivates everyone who comes. Surrounded by the magnificent Croajingolong National Park, Mallacoota is one of the most relaxing places imaginable. With never a sense of holiday crowds, the Top Lake, Bottom Lake, little inlets, cliffs, beaches and mountains reveal innumerable places to explore, fish, walk or simply sit and watch the birds, animals and flora. Croajingolong’s landscapes and ecosystems are so valuable that UNESCO has nominated it a World Biosphere Reserve. More than 300 species of birds and more than 1,000 plant species flourish here, and so it’s an absolute paradise for bushwalking and birdwatching.
Day 22 - BATEMANS BAY
This morning we cruise up the Clyde River into Batemans Bay. The expansive waterway at the mouth of the Clyde River was named by Lieutenant James Cook on his voyage of discovery along this coast in 1770. However it wasn’t until well into the 19th century that the township of Batemans Bay appeared. While Batemans Bay is the largest on the coast south of Nowra, it maintains its small town atmosphere. We have the chance to explore the region for native kangaroos, wallabies, possums, bandicoots, sea eagles and brilliantly coloured parrots amongst others. There will also be a chance to visit historic Mogo where the rustic atmosphere has been preserved resulting in a quaint village in which you can find a wide variety of unusual and attractive craft and antique items.
Day 23 - SYDNEY TO LONDON
Be on deck this morning as we sail into the magnificent Sydney Harbour. Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your return scheduled flight to London.
Day 24 - LONDON HEATHROW
Arrive this morning.
The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows.
If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere.
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub.
Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort.
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request.
With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board.
For your comfort, safety and security
The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to outside decks only.
Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.