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Sicilian Odyssey (Hebridean Sky)

Sicilian Odyssey (Hebridean Sky)

From GBP £4,395

Description

“Sicily is endlessly fascinating and if you have promised yourself that one day you will visit, what better way to explore her treasures than from aboard a small ship.”

We have the perfect vessel and time of year for our exploration of the wonderful island of Sicily and her archaeological treasures. Sicily is a land that has seen more than its fair share of invasions, resulting in some lofty and noble architecture from magnificent Doric temples to great Byzantine cathedrals and Norman palaces. With its benevolent climate and superb strategic position, the island has been coveted, fought over and colonised with the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Byzantines and Bourbons all having made their mark on this astonishing island.

Sicily is endlessly fascinating and if you have promised yourself that one day you will visit, this is the time to go and what better way to explore her treasures than from aboard a small ship. The geography of the island lends itself beautifully to exploration by sea, as most points of interest are close to the coast. Appreciate, in comfort, Sicily’s rich artistic legacy of so many invading civilisations. The island is a celebration of the greatest achievements of Mediterranean cultures and with such a wealth of ancient sites, it is certainly not somewhere which should be visited in a hurry. With seven days spent exploring the island, we have the luxury of time and are able to visit the stunning Greek theatre at Taormina, the superbly well-preserved Greek temples of Segesta and the Valle dei Templi, the Norman Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel in Palermo, Byzantine Monreale Cathedral, the Roman mosaics of Villa Romana di Casale as well as the beautiful Baroque villages of Noto and Ragusa. Our Guest Speaker will contribute greatly to our enjoyment and understanding of Sicily and once visited it is a place you will never forget and will wish to return to time and time again.

Trip Name
Sicilian Odyssey (Hebridean Sky)
Days
9
Overview
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.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 London to Naples, Italy.
Fly by scheduled flight. On arrival transfer to the MS Hebridean Sky and enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 Trapani, Sicily.
Spend the morning at sea arriving into Trapani over lunch. This was the landing point for Peter of Aragon in 1282 to start the Spanish occupation of Sicily. This afternoon choose to travel inland to explore Segesta, one of the grandest Doric monuments to survive. See the unfinished temple dating from 424 BC as well as the theatre from where you can enjoy excellent views of the countryside and distant coastline. Alternatively visit Erice, famed in antiquity for its temple dedicated to the goddess of love, the Phoenician Astarte, Greek Aphrodite or Roman Venus. A tour will take us to this stunning site high above the sea and to the beautifully preserved Medieval town characterised by its winding cobblestone streets and beautiful courtyards.
Day 3 - Day 3 Palermo.
Arrive this morning in the Sicilian capital of Palermo. After breakfast we will explore the city, famous for its jumbled and picturesque streets punctuated with ornate Baroque churches, domed Arab mosques and the glittering Byzantine mosaics that reveal a unique and diverse heritage. We visit the impressive 12th century cathedral which houses the royal tombs of Henri VI and King Ruggiero. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon either enjoy some time to explore independently or join an excursion to Monreale Cathedral, said to be the most beautiful Norman Church in Italy, designed and completed by William the Good in 1174. With its thick walls and powerful towers, the exterior looks like an austere fortress yet it is the interior of this great cathedral which is its crowning glory. Here the large nave, with its side aisles and grey granite columns set off the exquisite Byzantine mosaics on the walls above the arches.
Day 4 - Day 4 Messina for Taormina.
From the nearby port of Messina we will visit Taormina, a walled town lying in the shadow of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest volcano. The town has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century and our guided tour will include walking the characteristic alleys before visiting the 15th century Palazzo Corvaja and the impressive Greek Theatre from where there are marvellous views over the town and coast. Those who wish to spend longer here will be able to take lunch independently in one of the local restaurants and spend an afternoon exploring at leisure before our coach returns to Messina. Alternatively, return to the ship for lunch and enjoy free time in Messina before we sail this evening.
Day 5 - Day 5 Syracuse.
Syracuse was founded by the Greeks in 734 BC and by the 5th century was a political and military power throughout the Mediterranean which rivalled Athens as the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world. On leaving the vessel we visit the Neapolis Archaeological Park where we will find a well preserved Greek theatre with seats carved from limestone. Paradise Quarry, now an attractive garden and orange grove, was the primary source of that limestone and is the site of the curious ‘Dionysus’ Ear,’ a vast grotto with an amplifying resonance. We will continue to explore the island of Ortigia where we find the Temple of Apollo, considered to be Sicily’s most ancient Doric temple and the Baroque Cathedral, erected over the remains of the Temple of Minerva. The afternoon is free to explore independently before we meet this evening for a private concert in one of the town’s palazzos accompanied by local food and wine.
Day 6 - Day 6 Noto & Ragusa.
From our berth in Pozzallo we will explore the Baroque villages of Noto and Ragusa. Built in 1703 Noto is a picturesque city located on the terraced slopes of Mount Iblei, among olive groves and almond trees. Here we find Sicillian Baroque style palaces and monuments. A quiet walk along the central streets will reveal the 18th century Palazzo Ducezio and some baroque churches: San Francesco Immacolata, the cathedral, San Carlo, Santa Chiara and the imposing Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, built in 1737. We return to the MS Hebridean Sky for lunch and this afternoon continue to charming Ragusa. It has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list for its artistic-architectural heritage with its Baroque palaces, churches, squares, stairways and winding narrow streets, all of which create an evocative and ancient atmosphere. We will discover the wonderful Ragusa Ibla: the “Pearl of the Baroque”, the gardens, the magnificent palaces, the splendid church of San Giuseppe and the Dome of San Giorgio, built in the 18th century on the site where an older church stood before the earthquake of 1693.
Day 7 - Day 7 Agrigento & Valley of the Temples.
Although handsome in its own right and awash with Medieval atmosphere, Agrigento is not our main reason for calling at this southern coast port. Close by is the Valle dei Templi, a series of Doric temples and the most captivating of Sicilian Greek remains, a grouping unique outside Greece. Surrounded in greenery of olive and almond trees, admire the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Concordia, the Dioscuri Temple, the Temple of Olympic Jove and the Temple of Hercules. After lunch on board the afternoon is free to explore Agrigento and shuttles will run from the port to the town and the excellent archaeological museum which you can explore at leisure.
Day 8 - Day 8 Licata for Piazza Armerina.
From the port of Licata we travel inland to what is regarded as the finest Roman site in Sicily, the Imperial Roman Villa of Casale, which is located close to Piazza Armerina amidst wooded rolling countryside. This huge villa was built in the 3rd century and has some stunning floor mosaics. Our return drive takes us through the province of Caltanissetta, recognised today as one of the best winemaking regions in Italy thanks above all to its production of high quality, prestigious red wines including Nero D’Avola. We will break our journey at one of these vineyards and enjoy a chance to sample some wine over a Sicilian lunch.
Day 9 - Day 9 Malta to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.
Day 10 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £4,395Amundsen Deck Standard Suite
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £5,895Byrd Deck Superior Sole
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £6,195Shackleton Deck Owner's Balcony Suite
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £6,695Shackleton Deck Hebridean Suite
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £4,595Byrd Deck Superior Suite
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £4,795Mawson Deck Premium Suite
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £5,295Mawson Deck Corner Suite
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £5,595Amundsen Deck Standard Sole
26-09-202104-10-2021GBP £5,795Scott Deck Deluxe Balcony Suite

Inclusions

    • Discover Trapani, Sicily.
    • Explore Palermo.
    • Visit Agrigento & Valley of the Temples.
    • Enjoy Noto & Ragusa.

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