This unique expedition cruise is one of our most popular and will appeal to those who prefer their islands deserted, but with abundant bird and wildlife. True, Noble Caledonia can bring you all over the world, visiting all manner of exotic and wonderful places yet it is also true that some of the finest scenery, fascinating history and most endearing people are found close to home and nowhere is this truer than the islands off Scotland’s indented coastline which form stepping stones into the Atlantic. During this unique voyage, we will journey along rugged coastlines and visit once inhabited islands venturing far north to the Orkney and Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands and the Hebrides. We will witness vibrant colours and amazingly prolific birdlife, explore deserted villages and learn of the history and ancient culture of unique island life.
With no more than 100 travelling companions and our nimble Zodiacs we will be able to land on remote beaches and cruise close to shorelines and cliffs crowded with birdlife. Enabling us to land in remote places, the Zodiacs make the otherwise inaccessible readily available. Although we will set sail with a schedule, this will not be set in stone as these are perfect waters for expedition cruising and our Captain and expedition team will keep a flexible approach allowing for the opportunity to fully experience the unexpected whether it be a sighting of dolphins, a whale or any unusual event.
• Explore Fair Isle and the Shetlands
• See Westray, Papa Westray and the Orkney Islands.
• Discover Fetlar and Unst.
• Experience Vestmanna.
Embark the MS Caledonian Sky this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Aberdeen Airport and rail station at a set time.
Awake off the islands to the north of the Orkney mainland. On Westray we will visit Noup Head, an RSPB reserve on the sea cliffs and Notland Castle, an incomplete fortress built in the 16th century by Gilbert Balfour, Master of the Royal Household to Mary Queen of Scots, Sheriff of Orkney. Meanwhile in the main village of Pierowall we find the Westray Heritage Centre housing Neolithic carvings. Over lunch we sail the short distance to Papa Westray, where there will be the opportunity for a number of island walks. You can also visit the 3500-year-old Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farm building that claims to be the oldest standing house in Europe and the 12th century St Boniface Kirk. In the north of the island is the North Hill Reserve, home to Arctic terns and skuas and also the extremely rare Scottish primrose. In the early evening we will meet at the Papay pub for a well-deserved pre-dinner drink.
Located midway between the Shetland and Orkney islands, the tiny population of sixty or so islanders always extend us a warm welcome at the remote island of Fair Isle. Enjoy a walk across the island, searching out the puffin slopes or meet the local community and maybe purchase some of the famous knitwear. Enjoy an afternoon at sea and sail north to Lerwick where we moor overnight.
We continue our exploration of Shetland today in the capital from where we visit the remarkable archaeological site of Jarlshof. The site was uncovered by a violent storm in the winter of 1896/7, revealing an extraordinary settlement embracing at least 5000 years of human history. The site contains a remarkable sequence of stone structures – late Neolithic houses, a Bronze- Age village, an Iron-Age broch and wheelhouses, several Norse longhouses, a Medieval farmstead and the 16th century laird’s house. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore this historic port. Perhaps wander through its narrow stone lanes or maybe visit the excellent Shetland Museum, containing artefacts from shipwrecks and the whaling era. Tonight we will be entertained by local musicians as we overnight in port.
Today we explore the northern islands of Fetlar and Unst. Fetlar, inhabited for over 5000 years lays claim to being the first Norse landing site in the Shetlands. Known as the most fertile of the Shetland Islands, the wildflowers bring great colour to the landscape. Our expedition team will lead walks ashore including the Fetlar Interpretative Centre and Museum where we will learn about the wildlife and archaeological history of the island. Over lunch we sail to Unst, Britain’s most northerly inhabited island and at the Heritage Centre learn about how the islanders have lived over the centuries and the industries that have prospered. We will visit the Unst Boat Haven, dedicated to the history of the island’s distinctive wooden boats which descend from Viking craft and Saxa Vord. Admire the views over Hermaness National Nature Reserve and Muckle Flugga stacks, home to thousands of birds as well as rare Arctic-alpine plants.
After a morning at sea we arrive at Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. This afternoon there will be a choice of tours including a guided tour over the hills to Kirkjubour, the island’s oldest cultural centre, where we see the ruins of the 13th century St. Magnus Cathedral and the 11th century church which is still in use. We also visit the 900- year old ‘Roykstovan’, the old bishopric, considered to be the oldest wooden house in Europe. Alternatively, join a hike to the hills surrounding the town to discover the local flora and fauna. We moor overnight allowing the opportunity for an after dinner stroll.
Spend the day in Vestmanna, our base as we discover the northwest corner of Streymoy and the nearby cliffs. This morning we will board local boats to explore the vertical cliffs that climb almost 1500 feet, sailing into grottos carved by the surf over the years and watching the thousands of sea birds including puffins, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes that nest here each summer. After lunch on board we will drive to the beautiful village of Saksun, an isolated settlement situated beneath steep majestic mountains and see Duvugaroar, an old farmhouse, which is now a museum and visit a traditional Faeroese wooden church in Kollafjord.
Over breakfast we will arrive on Suduroy, the southernmost island of the Faroe Islands. From the port of Tvoroyri we have a choice of activities. Choose to join an island drive and travel between the villages seeing the stunning geology, fjords, tunnels and architecture of the island and end at the southernmost point and the Akraberg lighthouse. In Porkeri we will take the ridge-top road which winds up the mountainside for wonderful views towards the steep cliffs on the west coast, the Beinisvoro promontory to the north and the luscious grass slopes to the east. Alternatively, those feeling active may wish to join a hike to Hvaanhagi, a beautiful, uninhibited place north of Tvoroyri on the east coast with impressive views toward the three islands Litla Dimun, Stora Dimun and Skuvoy. Spend the afternoon at sea relaxing on board.
Today we arrive at St Kilda, a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some fifty miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. Dominated by the highest cliffs and sea stacks in Britain, Hirta, St Kilda’s main island was occupied on and off for at least two thousand years, with the last 36 Gaelic speaking inhabitants evacuated at their own request in 1930. Immediately after the evacuation, the island was bought by the Marquess of Bute to protect the island’s thousands of seabirds including puffin and fulmars and in 1957 it was bequeathed to The National Trust for Scotland. St Kilda is one of only two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites with dual status reflecting its natural and cultural significance. The local ranger will join us on board before our expedition staff lead guided walks on the island. During the day we will also cruise past one of the largest gannetries in the world at Stac Lee. The impressive stacs rise 170 metres from the sea and are home to up to 60,000 breeding pairs of northern gannet.
Arrive today on the Isle of Lewis. Our morning tour will take us across the island to the beautiful west coast and to Callanish. Described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, the Callanish Standing Stones date from around 3000 BC. There are a total of 32 stones in a circular and avenue design. The stones stand like a petrified forest on the flat top of a peninsula which reaches out into East Loch Roag. Visit the excellent visitor centre to learn more about the site and venture out amongst the stones themselves to experience their mysterious atmosphere. Continue around the west coast to the site of Dun Carloway Pictish Broch. Probably built sometime in the last century BC, it would have served as an occasionally defensible residence for an extended family complete with accommodation for animals at ground floor level. We then head north to Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, a reconstructed settlement of traditional black houses where people and animals lived in close proximity. The houses are made using dry stone masonry and have thatched roofs, distinctively weighted down with rocks. Visit the small museum, enjoy a display of a typical crofting activity such as weaving and take in the views at this dramatic site on the wild Atlantic coast. After lunch on board we sail amongst the islands before anchoring off the spectacular basalt cliffs of the Shiant Islands in the mid-afternoon. We will take to the Zodiacs for a coastal cruise as this small group of little islands located a few miles off the shores of Lewis is an excellent place to spot puffins, razorbills, guillemots, seals and hopefully white-tailed eagles.
This morning we will visit lovely Loch Scavaig on the island of Skye. Just beyond is the freshwater Loch Corruisk with its breathtakingly beautiful view over the Cuillins. This is great walking country and our expedition team will run a series of hikes for all interests. For those who prefer a less energetic morning our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon we will visit the island of Canna and its adjoining neighbour, Sanday, which are bound together like some rare text that reveals over 60 million years of Hebridean geology and history. They have an amazingly rich archaeological landscape with remains dating to all periods of settled occupation in Scotland. Canna is run as a single farm and bird sanctuary by the National Trust for Scotland and enjoys the best harbour in the Small Isles, a horn-shaped haven. The fertile soil and its diversity of habitats mean that the island has an incredibly rich plant life with 248 native flowering plants recorded. We will see Canna House and wander across grassy basalt plateaus to the 600-foot cliffs on the north shore.
In the early morning we anchor off Staffa, where the perpendicular rock face features an imposing series of black basalt columns, known as the Colonnade, which have been cut by the sea into cathedralesque caverns, most notably Fingal’s Cave. Weather permitting, we will use our Zodiacs to explore closer. We then plan to cruise the short distance to the Isle of Iona which has been occupied for thousands of years and has been a place of pilgrimage and Christian worship for several centuries. It was to this flat, Hebridean island that St Columba fled from Ireland in 563 and established a monastery. Here his followers were responsible for the conversion of much of pagan Scotland and Northern England. No less than 62 Scottish Kings are buried in the Abbey. Visit the Abbey or perhaps walk along the white sandy beaches or go in search of the corncrake amongst the irises. After lunch we cruise northwest to the Treshnish Isles, an archipelago of uninhabited volcanic islets. Of volcanic origin, Lunga has been described as ‘a green jewel in a peacock sea’ and is a summer nesting-place for hundreds of sea birds. Here we hope to land by Zodiac and explore on foot.
Disembark this morning after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Central Station at a fixed time.
Castle Deck Standard Suite
Caledonian Superior Suite
Suites on the Caledonian Deck measure 21.6 square metres and feature en-suite bathrooms with bath tub and shower (except for suites 329, 330 and 331 which feature only a shower), spacious wardrobe and large window.
The Premium Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a spacious wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower (cabins 431 and 432 feature a bathtub) and a large window.
Promenade Owner's Corner Suite
The two corner suites on the Promenade Deck measure 22.6 square metres and feature one window facing to the side and two forward facing portholes, a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom with shower.
Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite
Balcony Suites The Premium Balcony Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower and a private balcony measuring 5.6
Promenade Prem. Balcony Suite
The Premium Balcony Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower and a private balcony measuring 5.6
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 90 metres
Passenger Capacity: 114 (in 57 suites)
Built: 1991 / refurbished 2012
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.