Often viewed as the last outpost of China, the island of Taiwan is perhaps a reflection of what the People’s Republic of China may have become if it hadn’t turned to Communism. Sitting between China and Japan it is a surprisingly beautiful island about half the size of Scotland. Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese nationalist leader and Mao’s great adversary crossed the sea from China with a million and more of his followers in 1949 together with many great treasures from the Forbidden City which are today housed in the magnificent National palace Museum in the nation’s capital of Taipei.

Taiwan is just our sort of place. Well off the usual tourist radar and offering a unique experience. Beijing still considers this island to be part of its territory, whereas Taiwan views itself as autonomous. Only a few nations officially recognise it as a country in its own right, but that has not held back this industrious and highly successful island. We have nine days to explore the Taiwan and its outlaying islands. Stunning mountain, lake and coastal scenery vie with futuristic cityscapes, hot springs and remote islands. For ardent travellers of the Orient, Taiwan offers another intriguing chapter and something completely different. Leaving Taiwan we make our way to Japan via the Vaeyama, Ryuku and Amami Islands, a wonderful epilogue to a thought provoking trip.

Highlights


• Join a tour of Taiwan’s lively and attractive capital city - Taipei

• Explore the islands of the Kinmen archipelago, that were once the frontline between Mao Zedong’s Communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and were one of the most heavily fortified places on earth.

• Visit Tainan, the former capital of Taiwan.

• Enjoy a full day tour to the Taroko Gorge National Park.

• Discover Okinawa. It is probably best known for the long and bloody battle of World War II which lasted 82 days and saw losses of over 100,000 Japanese troops and many thousands of US troops.

• Arrive in Amami Oshima, a natural paradise situated in the Amami Islands and surrounded by transparent waters, brightly coloured coral reefs and tropical fish.

• Spend morning on the island of Yakushima - Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Arrive today and make your way to the centrally located hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
After breakfast in the hotel we will embark on a tour of Taiwan’s lively and attractive capital city. We will visit the National Palace Museum which has a repository of over 600,000 priceless Chinese artefacts including pottery, porcelain and bronze with pieces dating back over 5,000 years. Also, on our must do list is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, with its beautiful garden, and the Lungshan Temple, the city’s most atmospheric Taoist temple. We will enjoy lunch and a visit to Taipei 101, the tallest building in Asia and the pride of Taipei’s skyline before transferring to the MS Caledonian Sky, moored in Keelung in the late afternoon.
From our berth in Keelung we will drive the short distance to the towns Chiufen and Jinguashi located in a stunning hillside location with wonderful views and the former centre of the gold mining industry in Taiwan. In Jinguashi we will visit the Gold Ecological Park, located in the old village which is a fascinating mix of museums and old mining buildings. Enjoy lunch before continuing our journey to Pingxi where it is claimed the “sky lantern” was invented in the Three Kingdoms period (A.D. 220- 265). At first it was used to transmit military information but in the early 19th century the Lantern Festival was brought to Taiwan where every year, at the beginning of the spring planting season, people would release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year. We will write our own hopes for the coming year and release a lantern before returning to the MS Caledonian Sky.
From our berth in Taichung we have a choice of tours. Choose from a full day tour inland to the Sun Moon Lake, the largest lake in Taiwan and so named as the eastern part of the lake is round like the sun and the western side is shaped like a crescent moon. Its crystalline, emerald green waters reflect the hills and mountains which rise on all sides and provide one of Taiwan’s most mesmerising landscapes. We will spend time on the lake and also visit one of the temples on the banks before enjoying lunch. We return to the ship via the Chung Tai Chun Monastery, a lavish monument to Chan Buddhism which has fused ancient traditions with modern architecture. Alternatively, join a half day tour to Lugang, one of Taiwan’s oldest port towns which was used as a major harbour by Dutch traders in the 17th century. We will see the 17th century Lungshan Temple, one of the best preserved in Taiwan, whilst in Old Street we can see the historic buildings or purchase some of the rare handicrafts produced here. Return to the ship for lunch and a free afternoon in Taichung.
Situated only two kilometres off the Chinese coast, the 15 islands of the Kinmen archipelago were once the frontline between Mao Zedong’s Communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and were one of the most heavily fortified places on earth. In 1997 much of the island became a National Park dedicated to the preservation of historical sites and battlefield memorials. We have requested permission to land on the island where we plan to have the day to view these monuments including the Zhaishan Tunnels, completed in 1966 and used to conceal small naval vessels, and the Guningtou Battlefield History Museum, the scene of the most significant victory, in 1949, for the Nationalist forces in the civil war against the Chinese after a 56-hour battle. If time permits, we may also see the fauna and flora at the Shuangli Wetlands Nature Centre which is home to more than 250 species of migratory birds.
Staying in the Taiwan Straits we visit the Penghu archipelago made up of 64 islands of which only 20 are inhabited. We will base ourselves in the historic capital of Magong where we find an array of historical buildings and temples. See the 16th century Queen of Heaven Temple (Mazu Temple) which is Taiwan’s oldest and finest temple and is classified as the first grade relic. Whilst on Zhongyang Street, one of the oldest in the islands, we will hear about the “Four-eyed well”. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch and this afternoon we hope to receive permission to explore one of the other islands in the chain.
Returning to the mainland we arrive at the southern city of Anping which is our base for a morning excursion to nearby Tainan, the former capital of Taiwan. The Dutch built the town of Fort Zeelandia here in 1624 before surrendering to the forces of General Ming Chenggong in 1662. Fort Zeelandia was renamed Anping and the nearby town of Tainan prospered and many of its finest temples were constructed. On a morning tour of Tainan we will see the Chikan Tower, built by the Dutch in 1653 as an administrative centre, and the Koxinga Shrine dedicated to General Chenggong. Our tour will end at the Confucius Temple, Taiwan’s oldest and most revered Confucius shrine, established in 1665. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch and enjoy an afternoon to explore Anping independently. Alternatively, join us as we drive to the Foguangshan Monastery which is the centre of Buddhism in Southern Taiwan.
Arrive this morning in Taitung in the South East of Taiwan, our base for a day on the mainland and also the surrounding islands. Spend the morning at the National Museum of Prehistory which charts Taiwan’s geological birth, pans through prehistory with a fascinating display of exhibits including stone coffins and jade ornaments and ends with an exhibition charting the development of the aboriginal tribes. Over lunch we hope to sail the short distance to Ludao (Green) Island. It is hard to believe that this beautiful island was once renowned as a prison island during the “white terror” period, from 1949 to 1987. Today the island is a popular holiday destination for Taiwanese looking for snorkelling or diving on the outer reef. On an island drive we will see the highlights including the prominent lighthouse, Niutou Hill and the three infamous prisons.
From our berth in Hualien we will enjoy a full day tour to the Taroko Gorge National Park. Taroko means “magnificent and beautiful” in the local Truku language and it is clear to see why the name was used. The gorge itself stretches for 20 kilometres with marble cliffs rising hundreds of metres above the Liwu River. We will see the Swallow Grotto and the Tunnel of Nine Turns, a 1.9 kilometre path cut into the cliffs following the route of the original tracks along the gorge and the Changuang Temple, a Buddhist monastery with commanding views of the river.
Our first call in Japan will be at the Yaeyama Islands, a cluster of coral reefs and forested mountains. This morning, from our base in Ishigaki we take the short journey to neighbouring Taketomi. This tiny island, just 1500 metres at its widest point and home to 300 people still offers a traditional Ryuku way of life. We will be transported by buffalo drawn carts to view the traditional bungalow style houses with low slung terracotta roofs and rocky walls covered in hibiscus and bougainvillea. We return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon relax on board or join a glass bottomed boat trip.
Arrive during lunch in the largest island of the Ryuku archipelago, Okinawa. It is probably best known for the long and bloody battle of World War II which lasted 82 days and saw losses of over 100,000 Japanese troops and many thousands of US troops. There will be a choice of excursion this afternoon, either choose to learn more about this significant encounter when we visit the former Japanese Navy Underground Head Quarters, the Peace Memorial Park and Himeyuri Tower, which commemorates the fate of female high school students who worked in army field hospitals in caves under horrendous conditions. Alternatively, stretch your legs as we walk through the Gangala Valley, a working excavation site with human pre-historic remains dating back some 18,000 years. We will walk past the “walking Banyan tree” and see the caves, the history of which our guides will explain. Before returning to the vessel we will see the Shuri Castle, perched on a hill overlooking Naha which used to be a centre of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
We continue sailing north and arrive this afternoon in Amami Oshima, a natural paradise situated in the Amami Islands and surrounded by transparent waters, brightly coloured coral reefs and tropical fish. The island is almost entirely covered in forest and mangrove and offers fantastic bird watching and wildlife sightings. We have the afternoon to explore and will visit the Nature Observation Park where we can walk through the forest and hope to see the Amami Jay, Ruddy Kingfisher, Ryukyu Akashobin, butterflies and possibly the rare black hare. We will also see local industry and watch the process of making tsumugi and kasuri silk-cotton fabrics at the Oshima Tsumugi Village, a craft complex in a beautiful hillside setting.
Spend the morning on the island of Yakushima which became Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Its natural wonders will astound you as Yakushima has a particularly diverse flora. We will spend our time here on nature walks including Yakusugi Land, a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees.
After a morning at sea we arrive over lunch on the island of Shikoku and its main town of Matsayama. The town is renowned as the centre of Haiku poetry in Japan, these traditional poems are three lines long containing, respectively, five, seven and nine syllables. Throughout the city we can find the wooden “Haiku postboxes” where anyone is able to drop off their efforts. We will visit Matsuyama Castle, a rare three-wing, threestorey castle, constructed by famous samurai Yoshiaki Kato in 1603 which sits atop Mount Katsuyama in the centre of the city. We also visit the Dogo Hot Springs, the oldest hot springs in Japan, which are famous for its clear
Disembark this morning and transfer to Osaka airport at a scheduled time.

Castle Standard Forward Suite

£ 6145 GBP pp
Castle Standard Forward Suite
The two Standard Forward Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 metres and feature two portholes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.

Castle Standard Suite

£ 6345 GBP pp
Castle Standard Suite
Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.

Caledonian Superior Suite

£ 6645 GBP pp
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.

Promenade Premium Suite

£ 7045 GBP pp
Promenade Premium Suite
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.

Castle Deck Standard for sole use

£ 8145 GBP pp
Castle Deck Standard for sole use
Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.

Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite

£ 8345 GBP pp
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

Caledonian Deck Superior for sole use

£ 8645 GBP pp
Caledonian Deck Superior for sole use
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.

Promenade Owner's Corner Suite

£ 8745 GBP pp
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.

Caledonian Sky

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.

Your Suite
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.

Your space
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.

Your dining
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.

Gratuities
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.

Cabin layout for Caledonian Sky

Post-Cruise Cherry Blossom Extension (2495.00 GBP)

If you would like to spend some time in Japan after your cruise we will be offering a 5 or 6 night escorted overland tour in and around Kyoto. Details are being finalised so please register your interest at the time of booking and further details will follow. Price based on twin share-

Caledonian Sky

Caledonian Sky in ChinaCaledonian Sky

China Luxury Expedition Luxury Expedition

16 Days from
£ 6145 GBP pp

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