The world’s smallest continent has it all. Extraordinary wildlife, unique flora, forests which appear to go on forever, rolling pastureland, vineyards, plantations, mountains, rivers, and dramatic coastal scenery. Nowhere is this more true than on the island of Tasmania which, due to its isolated position, has retained a refreshingly ‘untouched’ feel both in its landscape and heritage.
The old cliché of ‘more British than the British’ sits easily with Tasmania, where the predominant settlers were Anglo-Saxon in origin. Due to its small population and remoteness, the island has been by-passed by any massive economic development and the result for the visitor is sheer bliss. Unlike most of Australia, where the old has been torn down and replaced with new, Tasmania has a wealth of historic homes and buildings. During our seven days exploring the island we will spend time on Maria Island, a special place with historical ruins and remarkable wildlife and we will also discover Port Arthur with its impressive architecture and delightful gardens. To experience the Tasmanian Wilderness, which is recognised by UNESCO, there will be opportunities to join guided walks with our naturalists through the Freycinet National Park and the iconic Cradle Mountain National Park with its rich vegetation of ancient rainforests and alpine heaths.
After crossing the Tasman Sea, we begin our exploration of New Zealand which will include three islands off the usual cruise route, Ulva Island, Stewart Island and White Island. In addition we will explore New Zealand’s capital of Wellington, Dunedin’s 19th century buildings and botanical gardens, the Art Deco town of Napier and the famous thermal springs at Rotorua. Our voyage aboard the all-suite MS Caledonian Sky has been perfectly timed for the spring when temperatures will be comfortable for touring with the added advantage that flowers should be in bloom. The itinerary is brimming with highlights and includes a wonderful balance of history, culture, flora, fauna and architecture. With the added advantage of our Zodiac landing craft we will be able to land in otherwise inaccessible places making the most of the region’s extraordinary natural attractions and our knowledge will be enhanced by the expert onboard team.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight.
Arrive this morning and transfer to our central hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is free to explore the city independently or relax after our journey and enjoy the hotel facilities.
After breakfast in the hotel 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 and Loch Ard Gorge. Along the way we see pristine beaches and rugged rocky outcrops of the Great Ocean Road. We will arrive at the MS Caledonian Sky later in the afternoon where we will enjoy Welcome Drinks and Dinner before sailing tonight.
Located in the Bass Strait which separates Tasmania with Victoria lies King Island, a peaceful paradise with rugged coastlines, beautiful beaches and wonderful nature walks. King Island’s largest town is Currie, with 700 residents, set on a scenic harbour with amazing views of the vast Southern Ocean. Currie has a history of shipwreck salvage, agriculture and fishing, with a sleepy seaside village atmosphere. On our tour we will see the Currie Lighthouse which was built in the 1870s to help prevent shipwrecks in a dangerous stretch of water known as the ‘Eye of the Needle’ and still stands guard over the ocean today. For nature lovers, Seal Rocks State Reserve has stunning cliffs and calcified forests to explore whilst Lavinia Nature Reserve has wetland bird habitats. Meanwhile food lovers will enjoy the King Island Dairy which produces a wide range of award winning specialty cheeses.
We arrive on the main island of Tasmania at the north western port of Burnie. Settled as an industrial port by the Van Diemans Land company in the early 19th century it was a centre for the timber industry. Today, whilst many of the bigger firms have moved away, the town retains a number of artisans producing delicious foods, hand-made paper and single malt whiskey. A morning tour will include the Makers Workshop which honours the town’s history as well as visiting the nearby Emu Valley Rhodedendron Gardens and Fern Glade Nature Reserve and ending at the boutique Hellyers Whiskey distillery. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon to explore further. Alternatively join a full day tour to Cradle Mountain National Park part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and one of the islands iconic sites. Here we find rich vegetation including grasslands and rainforest with many endemic plants and trees offering a rich habitat for wildlife including Tasmanian devils and birds. We will have time to walk at Dove Lake to see the wonderful views of Cradle Mountain whilst the active may wish to tackle the summit.
One of Australia’s oldest cities, Launceston is situated at the meeting of the North and South Esk rivers, where the Tamar River begins its journey to Bass Strait, and has one of the best preserved early city scapes in Australia with its elegant colonial and Victorian architecture and century-old parks. On a full day tour we have the morning to enjoy some sightseeing around the city taking in the architecture of the historical buildings and the gardens that lace the streets. We will then take to the water. The Tamar River once served the city of Launceston as a major shipping and transport ‘highway’ and remains central to the lifestyle of more than a quarter of Tasmania’s population. Steeped in romance and studded with tales of bushrangers, we will enjoy a cruise along the river and through the magnificent Cataract Gorge and learn about the fascinating collection of history, fauna and people of this region. We will return to the ship via one of the vineyards of the Tamar Valley which is renowned as one of the premium wine growing regions of Tasmania and where we will enjoy a tasting.
The fishing village of Bicheno will be our base for the day and is known for its safe beaches and interesting coastal walks which include its famous Rocking Rock and spectacular blowholes. This morning we will explore the Freycinet National Park. The majestic beauty of Freycinet’s granite mountains and white, sandy beaches have long been admired by naturalists, artists and writers and the area was reserved as a National Park in 1916. From Great Oyster Bay we will see the stunning red and pink granite peaks known as The Hazards and later take a short trek to the lookout for views over the iconic, picture postcard, Wineglass Bay. This evening, after dark, we will make our way to the local beach and watch hundreds of fairy penguins as they come ashore in Bicheno crossing the beach to their burrows.
Be on deck first thing this morning as we cruise by the Iles de Phoques, a small island which is home to huge numbers of Australian fur seals, that haul onto the rocks, whilst we may also see sea eagles on the cliffs. We will continue to Maria Island National Park which is perhaps best known as the site of Tasmania’s second penal settlement which opened in 1821. By the early 1830s it was decided that the site was too expensive to be viable so the convicts were returned to the penitentiaries of the mainland and the whalers, sealers, farmers and smugglers moved in. Today the only reminder is the remains of the penal settlement in Darlington, however Maria Island is also home to diverse flora and fauna including reintroduced animals such as forester kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies, Tasmanian native hens and Cape Barren geese that had been wiped out during the European occupation. The very things that made the island a convict settlement, now make it an ideal refuge for plant and animal species that are under threat elsewhere. The island’s ranger and our onboard team will lead a number of walks on the island whilst, if weather permits, we may be able to use Zodiacs to see the sandstone “Painted Cliffs”.
Named after Van Diemen’s Land Lieutenant Governor, George Arthur, Port Arthur 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 full day tour will include the penitentiary which housed 480 convicts. We will view the dockyard and also have time to explore the beautiful gardens and grounds surrounding the complex. After our visit we will take the scenic drive to Hobart where the ship will have sailed to meet us. Our journey will take us via Eaglehawk Neck, the thin strip of land that connects the Tasman and Forestier Peninsula and was once guarded by the “dog line” which prevented convicts escaping from Port Arthur to the main island. Also see the striking geological formations at the Tasman’s Arch, Tessellated Pavement and Devil’s Kitchen. This evening you may wish to take an after dinner stroll in Hobart’s Salamanca Place to enjoy the bustling waterfront area.
Tasmania’s capital was founded in 1804 as a penal colony but today Hobart is a cosmopolitan city. We have a day to explore the city and surrounding areas on a choice of tours. Maybe learn more about the history of the city built by the early convicts. See the cathedral, the old gaol and treasury and end in the wharves Salamanca built for the whaling industry. Alternatively take a journey to the summit of Mount Wellington measuring 4,000 feet with wonderful views over the city returning via the Royal Botanical Gardens built along the Derwent River. Created in 1818 they are home to an extensive collection of native flora. Maybe enjoy a taste of the local beers at the Cascade Brewery situated in the foothills of Mount Wellington. Built in 1824 by exconvict Peter Degraves, the use of local water and Tasmanian barley has created an award winning beer. Further afield is the Mount Field National Park, a World Heritage Site, where we can take guided walks in the diverse range of vegetation, ranging from tall swamp gum forests and massive tree ferns at the base of the mountain, through rainforest to alpine vegetation at the higher elevations as well as waterfalls. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky as we clear customs formalities and depart Australia this evening.
We have three days to cross the Tasman Sea which divides Australia from New Zealand. Our lecture programme continues in the lounge whilst you may prefer to relax in the library or find a spot on deck to watch for wildlife.
We arrive into Bluff at dawn where we will clear New Zealand customs and immigration formalities. We then continue to Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third island which is well off the usual beaten tourist track, arriving in the late morning. It is a wonderfully tranquil place, the scenery of untouched bushland is stunning. Depending on our arrival time we hope to spend time on Ulva Island where we will use Zodiacs to go ashore for a choice of walks with our local guides. We will explore the dense vegetation and keep an eye out for the amazing birdlife. Later we will land at Oban on Stewart Island and have the chance to wander amongst the shops and see the museum or join a drive along some of the 15 miles of sealed road to some of the beauty spots including Observation Rock with views over Iona and Ulva Island and the beaches lining the East coast.
Arrive this morning in Dunedin and enjoy a guided tour including the gracious 19th century buildings and the beautiful botanical gardens, the oldest in New Zealand containing over 6800 plant species. Alternatively, choose to drive to the Otago Peninsula to visit Penguin Place where we learn about the breeding and conservation programme of the rare Yelloweyed penguins as well as the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head. This afternoon is free for independent exploration or maybe choose to join the optional excursion on the Taieri Gorge Railway through the rugged and spectacular scenery of inland Otago.
Akaroa meaning, ‘Long Harbour’, in Maori, was founded by French whaling Captain Jean Langlois on his ship Cachelot in 1838. He returned in 1840 with 60 settlers on the Comte de Paris to create a French colony. We will arrive over breakfast and this morning have a choice of excursions including a dolphin watching trip using local boats to explore the scenic coastline and search for the rare Hector’s dolphin or a guided historic walk in Akaroa and through the native bush of the Garden of Tane. We also hope to offer a chance to visit a working farm in the countryside outside the town. We will hear about the history of the farm, have demonstrations of sheep shearing and see the working dogs in action as well as enjoying tea in the farm grounds. Or if you prefer you can simply wander in the town and enjoy the local atmosphere. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea.
Arrive this morning in the nation’s capital as we explore the city from our central berth. A morning tour will include St Paul’s Cathedral, the parliament buildings, a stroll through the Botanical Gardens and spend time in the excellent Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand with its impressive interactive displays and marvellous Maori collection. Return to the ship for lunch and spend an afternoon at sea.
Sail through the Marlborough Sounds which divide the North and South Islands of New Zealand and arrive in the early morning at Resolution Bay on the South Island. Keen walkers can enjoy a longer hike over to Ship Cove along the Queen Charlotte Track affording fantastic views over the archipelago of islands. Alternatively alight a little later at Ship Cove where Captain James Cook spent much of his time in New Zealand, view the monument dedicated to Cook, or maybe walk the forest trail to the nearby waterfall. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at sea as we sail back to the North Island.
We spend the day in Napier and join a tour of the town which will include its charming Art Deco buildings. Totally rebuilt after the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake, it has enormous style. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th century. Napier’s Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright. Walk along Marine Parade, see the Botanical Gardens and take in the view from Bluff Hill Lookout. We will also take the chance to enjoy a tasting of some of Hawkes Bay’s famous wines. This afternoon is free to explore further independently or maybe join the excursion to the gannetry at Cape Kidnappers where you are able to get amazingly close to the birds. The 13 hectare reserve includes the Saddle and Black Reef gannet colonies.
This morning our lecture programme continues as we sail arriving just after lunch at White Island. Weather permitting there will be an excursion to explore the active volcano on White Island, identifiable by the plume of steam continually spouting from its crater. The sights are surreal.
From our berth in Tauranga we drive inland to the famous thermal springs at Rotorua. Discover Wai-O-Tapu, meaning Sacred Waters, an active geothermal area with colourful hot springs, steaming ground and boiling mud pools. Marvel at the incredible palette of vibrant hues displayed in the pools, lakes and craters, and enjoy the melodic sounds of birds singing in the native forest. From here we visit a local Maori Marae where we will enjoy a traditional Maori welcome and lunch.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
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
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.
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
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.
Castle Standard Suite Sole
Sole Occupancy. 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 Sole
Sole Occupancy. 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.
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.