Enjoy Scotland’s magnificent coastline, an indented landscape of enormous natural splendour with offshore islands forming stepping stones into the Atlantic. The sheer diversity of the landscapes and lifestyles will amaze you, as will the spirit and warmth of the small communities we will encounter. With our fleet of Zodiacs we are able to visit some of the most remote islands that surround the Scottish Coast including Canna, St Kilda, Unst and Fetlar and we also have two days to experience the dramatic landscapes and sparsely populated villages of the Faroe Islands.
This is not a cruise in the conventional sense, more an exploration with like-minded companions to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the islands. Learn something of their history, see the abundant bird and marine life, but above all revel in the timeless enchantment that these islands exude to all those who appreciate the natural world. There is no better way to explore this endlessly fascinating and beautiful region than by small ship and, ashore with our local experts, we divide into small groups thereby enjoying a more comprehensive and peaceful experience. 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 the remote and inaccessible islands between the Hebrides and the Faroe Islands. Most cruises to this region concentrate on the larger islands and ports whereas the flexibility of the MS Hebridean Sky and the ability to use Zodiac landing craft mean we can visit the more remote places of interest
• Explore islands of historical significance such as St Kilda, which once supported a vibrant community but is now uninhabited
• Witness the wonderful birdlife in the Shiant Islands and at the gannetries of Stac Lee and Berneray; as well as discover the archaeological sites such as Jarlshof on the Shetland Islands
• Spend three days in the Faroe Islands allowing us time to see the lives of those that call this remote archipelago home
Embark the MS Hebridean Sky this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow Airport and Glasgow Central Station at a fixed time. Sail this evening to the Hebrides.
Strategically placed between the mountains of Rum and the Outer Hebrides, the island of Canna and its adjoining neighbour Sanday 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. Over lunch we will sail to 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, but for those who prefer a less energetic afternoon our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals.
Arrive in the Small Islands for a morning on Rum which is a nature reserve. We will walk the nature trail, a beautiful area of wildflowers and typical Scottish island scenery. This lovely island is also a bird watcher’s paradise. Over lunch we will sail to 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, but for those who prefer a less energetic afternoon our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals.
Awake this morning in 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 the 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 a number of guided walks on the island. Later, cruise past two of the largest gannetries in the world at Stac Lee and Berneray. These impressive stacs rise 170 metres from the sea and are home to up to 60,000 breeding pairs of northern gannet.
After a morning at sea we make our first call in the Faroes on Suduroy, the southernmost island of the group. From the port of Tvoroyri we have a choice of activities. Choose to join an island drive passing the beautiful scenery as we drive 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. To locals, this delivers the essence of the Faroe Islands with mountains and fjords, villages and valleys, birds, sheep and nature. Alternatively the active may wish to join a hike to Hvaanhagi, a beautiful, uninhibited place north of Tvoroyri on the east coast of Suduroy. The view is fantastic towards the three islands Litla Dímun, Stora Dimun and Skuvoy. There are sheep and birds, a valley with a lake and beautiful high mountains.
Overnight we will sail the short distance to Vestmanna, our base as we explore the northwest corner of Streymoy and the nearby cliffs. Here we will board local boats to explore these vertical cliffs that climb almost 1500 feet, sailing into grottos carved by the surf over the years and watching the thousands of seabirds 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. We visit Duvugaroar, an old farmhouse, which is now a museum and visit a traditional Faeroese wooden church in Kollafjord. This evening we sail the short distance to Torshavn where we moor overnight.
From our berth in Torshavn we will join a guided tour through Torshavn 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, 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 more active we will arrange a hike in the hills surrounding the town to discover the local flora and fauna. Return to the ship for lunch and sail this afternoon as we return to the Scottish isles.
We begin our exploration of Shetland in the northern islands of Unst and Fetlar. Unst is Britain’s most northerly inhabited island and at the Heritage Centre we will learn about the islanders struggles over the centuries and the industries that have prospered whilst the Unst Boat Haven is dedicated to the history of the islands distinctive wooden boats which descend from Viking craft. We also visit Saxa Vord with views over Hermaness National Nature Reserve and Muckle Flugga stacks and home to thousands of gannets and puffins as well as rare arctic-alpine plants. Over lunch we sail to Fetlar, inhabited for over 5000 years the island lays claim to being the first Norse landing site in the Shetlands. Known as the most fertile of the Shetland Islands the wildflowers bring colour to the landscape whilst the birdlife on the island is prolific. 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.
From the Shetland capital, we will 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 site 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 longhouse, a Medieval farmstead, and the 16th century laird’s house. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon 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.
This morning we sail the short distance to Mousa to see the 40 foot defensive tower built by the Picts more than 2000 years ago, and the tallest, best-preserved example of an Iron Age broch (tower) in Britain. Return to the ship for lunch before we anchor off the remote island of Fair Isle in the early afternoon. Located midway between the Shetland and Orkney islands, the tiny population of sixty or so islanders always extend us a warm welcome. Enjoy a walk across the island, perhaps visiting the Bird Observatory, searching out the puffin slopes, visit the community hall for a cup of tea or maybe purchase some of the famous knitwear.
Disembark after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to the train station and Aberdeen airport at a fixed time.
Itineraries are subject to change.
23 June, 2023 to 03 July, 2023
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 90.6 metres
Passenger Capacity: 118
Built / Refurbished: 1992 / 2016
The MS Hebridean Sky is one of our three flag ships and sister vessel to the MS Island Sky and MS Caledonian Sky. All three vessels were built in the same ship yard in Italy at similar times and share the same excellent attributes that make them three of the finest small ships in the world. Formerly known as the Sea Explorer, the vessel underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment in Sweden in Spring 2016 before being re-launched as the MS Hebridean Sky.
Your Suite. On board there are 59 exceptionally spacious and well-designed suites. All feature a sitting area and fourteen suites have private balconies. The feeling of luxury is enhanced by the wood panelling and brass which predominates throughout the vessel conveying the atmosphere of a private yacht. The passenger accommodation is arranged over five decks and all suites have outside views with suites on the Scott and Shackleton Decks featuring private balconies. Each suite affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring vanity unit with sink and walk-in rainfall shower, large wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool and excellent storage. There is a minifridge, flat screen television and a telephone in each suite. Refillable water bottles, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Additional facilities include a programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted Molton Brown toiletries and individually controlled air-conditioning and heating. Soft hues and blended tones enhance the traditional maritime style making the passenger accommodation an inviting and relaxing place to be. The beds in each suite can be configured as twins or double with the exception of suite 601 and 602 which feature fixed double beds. The impressive Hebridean Suite, located on the Shackleton Deck consists of a separate bathroom and sitting room with extra large balcony stretching the length of the suite. Additional benefits of booking this marvellous suite include complimentary mini-bar stocked with your preferences and complimentary laundry.
Your Space. The spacious and finely decorated public rooms on board the MS Hebridean Sky include a large lounge on the Byrd Deck featuring a selection of seating options from individual armchairs and sofas to side cushioned benches. Daily briefings given by the Cruise Director and talks from Guest Speakers and expedition staff take place in The Lounge which is fitted with the highest standard of presentation equipment including multiple screens. In addition to the Lounge, there is also The Club, located on the Mawson Deck which features the main bar where the onboard pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The Club also offers a 24-hour tea and coffee station. Towards the aft of the ship on the Mawson Deck is The Library which is well stocked with reference books pertaining to the destinations the vessel is visiting and a selection of essential reads. A collection of games and devices to access the internet via the ship’s satellite can also be found in the library. Access to the ship’s satellite Wi-Fi via your own device is complimentary on board (signal strength varies depending on location and demand). The Dining Room which can seat all guests at one sitting is located on the Amundsen Deck and is a bright and charming setting to enjoy the delicious meals on board. Outside there is a rear Lido Deck located on the Scott Deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. Whilst heaters and blankets make dining al fresco comfortable in cooler climates. Further to this, on the top Shackleton Deck there is an observation area which offers a fantastic platform for spotting wildlife complete with deck furniture, ideal for relaxing with a book or catching up with fellow travellers. You will also find a clinic and Doctor on board and a lift that serves all decks. Additionally there is a small hairdressers with appointments made on request.
Your Dining. It is quite a task to create a dining experience as that found on board our Sky vessels when you are cruising in far-flung corners of the globe, indeed it takes a team of highly talented chefs to deliver fresh, varied dishes no matter where you are at sea. Fortunately, our catering teams are well adapted to the world of small ship cruising where no two days are the same and the menus are often scheduled and tailored around the days’ excursions. With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the cuisine on board is of a consistent superior quality that befits such vessels. Where possible and when it meets their high standards, our accomplished chefs will obtain local produce in markets. Such purchases enhance the well-stocked larders and enable the chefs on board to exhibit their culinary skills and bring a local touch to the varied menus, emphasising the international expertise of the chefs on board. Afternoon tea and pre-dinner canapés take place every day in either the comfort of the Lounge or out on the Lido Deck when the weather is favourable. Tea and coffee are also available 24 hours a day. Special diets can be catered for with sufficient notice. In keeping with the informal atmosphere on board, when dining you are able to choose your seating arrangements at your leisure. Whether that be joining a table of four to six other passengers outside on the Lido Deck in the evening’s sunshine or whether you prefer to enjoy meals in the à la carte restaurant. For those travelling alone, our onboard friendly restaurant staff will take care to ensure you are seated with other like-minded travellers. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order on request. Lunch and dinner are à la carte with an excellent choice of dishes, with the menu reflecting the daily catch or local delicacies. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with both meals and there is also a comprehensive wine list with a wide selection of new and old world wines from which to choose. The onboard catering and restaurant staff are experienced at sea and enthuse a passion for superb service. Whether it be ensuring you have an outdoor blanket as you enjoy the crisp sea breeze on the Lido Deck or sharing their knowledge of the characteristics of the days’ wine selections, you will experience a service on board like no other. You may also enjoy sumptuous barbeques on deck whilst at times, the chef will make your dish to order at special pasta or stir fry stations.
For Your Comfort. The MS Hebridean Sky is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilizers to minimize the ship’s motion. During your voyage we hope to offer the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers on the Bridge to check the vessels progress by charts and learn more 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 a specific area on deck.
Life Onboard. If large resort-style vessels accommodating many thousands of passengers are your ideal, then our ships are not for you as you will not find endless entertainment, round the clock buffets and the people management which is so much a part of today’s big ship on board style. However, if like us you prefer a more peaceful life at sea you will find our flagships the perfect vessels. When choosing your next voyage the choice of vessels is astounding. You can select a ship carrying in excess of 4000 passengers with impersonal service or join us aboard the MS Caledonian Sky, MS Island Sky or MS Hebridean Sky where peace, high quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day. We promise there will be no organised entertainment, fancy dress, deck games or any of the usual big ship experiences. Instead, the atmosphere is warm and convivial and more akin to a private yacht or country hotel in which you can learn more about the wonders of nature, culture and ancient civilisations in the company of like-minded people. A little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, Guest Speakers and informative port briefings from our Expedition Leader or Cruise Director and of course good food with wine included at lunch and dinner, all contribute to make any voyage aboard these wonderful vessels a memorable and joyful experience. After a day ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of an exceedingly comfortable ship. The daily programme on board is in the capable hands of our Cruise Director or Expedition Leader and staff who coordinate with the Captain and Officers to make the most of each day. Briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage together with a ‘Daily Programme’ that is distributed every evening to your suite outlining the next day’s activities. Dress on board is casual and relaxed and there will be no ‘black tie’ evenings.
• Voyage on board in selected cabin category
• House wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board
• Expedition team
• Shore excursions as per the itinerary (Note: Some itineraries have optional excursions as per the specific exclusions)
• Port Charges/ Taxes
• Transfers as per the itinerary (Note: Transfers are offered in conjunction with group flights only when booked together, both can be taken off if included in the itinerary and credited)
• Passport and Visa costs where applicable
• Travel insurance
• Beverages other than those listed in inclusions
• Meals when not on board the ship unless otherwise stated
• Pre and post voyage accommodation unless otherwise stated
• Optional excursions as per specific itinerary
• Any items of a personal nature