If you want to see nature in the raw, where better than the ‘Land of ice and fire’, Iceland. Europe’s least populated country offers the visitor an unparalleled experience of elemental forces at work. its largely deserted interior is dotted with huge ice-caps and glaciers, active volcanoes, gurgling mud pools, steaming hot springs and lava fields. and, if this were not enough the immense scale of the landscape is dominated by towering snow-capped mountains, thundering waterfalls and spontaneous erupting geysers.
Under the surface this island simmers with the sparks that are the telltale signs of its youthfulness as Europe’s most recent geological addition, only 16-20 million years old. Iceland is continuously being created, some of it newest land is a mere 35 years old.
Our circumnavigation of Iceland will take us to some of the most dramatic of its areas whilst we sail its waters looking out for humpback whales, orcas, white-beaked dolphins and observing the immense colonies of seabirds. Join us on our high summer circumnavigation as we explore the magnificent landscapes and learn more of the centuries old legacies of a Viking and Norse heritage. On our route from the port of Oban we have the added bonus of a visit to the St Kilda archipelago, North Rona and the Faroe Islands and on the return leg to Aberdeen we have another call in the Faroes and a visit to Orkney.
Circumnavigation of Iceland itinerary:
Day 1 - OBAN
Transportation will be provided from Glasgow airport and station to the port of Oban. Embark in the late afternoon and sail.
Day 2 - ST KILDA
Arrive at first light at St Kilda, a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some 50 miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. For some this is almost a pilgrimage and a moving experience as we drop anchor off Village Bay on the island of Hirta and wander through the village. St Kilda once supported a population of over 200, but the last islanders left in the 1930s. Recent restoration work on the village by the National Trust for Scotland offers a marvellous link with the past. Later, cruise past two of the largest gannetries in the world as we make our way over the top of Lewis to North Rona.
Day 3 - NORTH RONA
Out in the Atlantic to the north-west of Scotland lie the tiny islands of North Rona and Sula Sgeir. Weather permitting, we will land on North Rona to see the seabird colonies and the Grey Seals. The island was inhabited in the 18th century and some remains are still visible: Leach’s Petrels can be heard calling from their nesting burrows in the ruined walls of a small church in the ‘village’. Sula Sgeir is the last island in Britain on which Gannets are harvested annually. There will be spectacular views of its cliffs as we sail around.
Day 4 - TORSHAVN, FAROE ISLANDS
From our berth in Torshavn we will join a guided tour through Torshavn over the hills to Kirkjubøur, the island’s oldest cultural centre, where we see the ruins of the 13th century St. Magnus Cathedral and the 11th century church, still in use. We also visit the 900-year old “Roykstovan”, the old bishopric, considered to be the oldest wooden house in Europe. For the hiking enthusiasts it is possible to take a two hour hike back to Torshavn over the mountain. This afternoon we sail to Iceland passing by Fugloy, which has large colonies of Common Guillemots.
Day 5 - SEYDISFJORDUR
Today, we reach Iceland and the natural harbour at Seydisfjordur which has preserved its fishing heritage from the early 19th century and its architectural style. On a walking tour we will pass brightly painted and well preserved Norwegian style wooden buildings and visit the shops famous for their Icelandic patterned woollens. The keen walkers might prefer an energetic hike up the river trail through a verdant landscape of wildflowers.
Day 6 - HUSAVIK, NORTH EAST ICELAND.
A full days drive inland will take us to the Lake Myvatn area which illustrates the sheer magnitude of Iceland’s forces of nature at work. This unique landscape of sculptured lava-labyrinth formations, an exploded crater filled by a lake, steaming sulphur pits and boiling mud pools supports enormous numbers of breeding ducks in the oasis-like lake.
Day 7 - AKUREYI.
This delightful town on the north coast of Iceland is not what you expect to find in such a remote location. During the summer the gardens and window boxes are a blaze of colour and in the botanic garden you find species from Africa, China and the Mediterranean growing alongside the Alaskan and Greenlandic and indigenous specimens, all outdoors. We will also visit the beautifully situated fishing village of Olafsfjordur and the nearby lake (picnic lunch). For the walkers there will the opportunity to take the old trail over Drangaskaro, a difficult and strenuous route, but scenically, very rewarding.
Day 8 - SIGLUFJORDUR & GRIMSEY ISLAND.
The picturesque village of Siglufjordur enjoys an idyllic setting in a small fjord backed by mountains. Here in the early1900’s a booming economy due the herring industry resulted in a prosperous town with some marvellous Icelandic architecture. This morning we will walk through the village and visit the museum which recreates the atmosphere of the town its heyday. Later sail to the island of Grimsey off the north coast of Iceland. The bird cliffs here are amazing.
Day 9 - ISAFJARDARDJUP.
This morning we round the Hornstrandir Peninsula. Here waterfalls plunge to sea and basaltic pillars rise from the sea like jagged sculptures. If the weather is kind we will sail below the Hornbjarg Bird Cliffs, an amazing sight and sound. During the course of the morning we get views of the tumbling Dragajokull Glacier. The glacier carved terrain is rugged and magnificent, an untouched natural paradise. On an afternoon’s walk on the island of Vigur we will see puffins and eiders, enjoy a morning coffee on a farm and visit the small town.
Day 10 - FLATEY & REYKJAVIK.
We arrive in the broad and shallow bay of Breidafjordur, which is peppered with thousands of islands and skerries. If we are very lucky, we may glimpse the White-tailed Eagle among these historic islands, from where Erik the Red set sail to discover Greenland. We land on Flatey and explore its delightful fishing village, strolling among the many well-preserved traditional timber buildings and visiting the church, with its paintings by the Spanish-Icelandic artist Baltasar Samper, and restored library. Sail during lunch for the island’s capital of Reykjavik. Making the most of the long light evenings, there will be a brief excursion of the city after dinner.
Day 11 - WESTMAN ISLANDS.
Islanders here live with a dramatic volcanic history. In 1973 the island of Heimaey experienced an eruption which created a new mountain, Eldfell, known as Mount Fire. We will visit the lava fields, crater area and the remains of farm houses dating back some 600 years. Later, there will be a choice of walks or leisure time to enjoy the picturesque fishing town. In the evening we will sail around the island of Surtsey, an island hurled from the depths of the sea and created virtually overnight. Few places in the world illustrate more dramatically the powerful forces of nature.
Day 12 - HOFN, SOUTH EAST ICELAND.
Today we will see the shimmering white Vatnajokull Glacier, Europe’s largest glacier, sometimes called an icecap. The 600 metre thick ice surmounts active volcanoes, one of which erupted in 1996, creating a crater on the surface of the glacier, a most unusual phenomenon. We will venture out on a guided excursion. After a local seafood lunch, watch the glacier which calves icebergs into the land-locked lagoon of Jokulsarlon. Sail in the afternoon for the Faroes.
Day 13 - MYKINES, FAROE ISLANDS.
Spend the afternoon on Mykines, surely the most beautiful of all the Faroes, you can walk out to Lundaland, ‘land of the puffins’ a staggeringly beautiful area and explore the village of Mykines a quaint collection of bright turf-roofed houses.
Day 14 - STROMNESS, ORKNEY ISLANDS.
Sail past the Old Man of Hoy and into Stromness Harbour. Our afternoon tour passes through the gentle rolling landscape of Orkney and into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney; an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. We will see the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar; a huge ceremonial circle of stones dating back almost 5000 years. We continue to the 5000-yearold village of Skara Brae and see the remarkable dwellings revealed from beneath the sand dunes by storms only 150 years ago. There will also be time to visit the nearby manor house of Skaill House, built in 1620 on top of an ancient graveyard.
Day 15 - ABERDEEN.
Disembark this morning. Transportation will be provided to Aberdeen airport and station.
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.