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Hebridean Island Odyssey (Caledonian Sky)

Hebridean Island Odyssey (Caledonian Sky)

From GBP £4,995

Description

Discover 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 and uninhabited islands that surround the Scottish Coast including Mingulay, Lunga and St Kilda as well as the small island community of Iona.

This is not a cruise in the conventional sense, more an exploration with 100 or so passengers who wish 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. Having arranged hundreds of small ship cruises around Scotland, we have learned that everyone takes something different from the experience. We are indeed fortunate in having such marvellous places so close to home. Now, more than ever there is a great appreciation for the peace, beauty and culture of this special corner of the UK.

Trip Name
Hebridean Island Odyssey (Caledonian Sky)
Days
11
Overview
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.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 Oban, Scotland.
Embark the MS Caledonian Sky this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow Airport and Glasgow Central Train Station at a fixed time. Sail early this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 Gigha & Colonsay.
Gigha is a place apart; heathercovered hills, deserted beaches and a single lane verged with wildflowers that meander for some six miles between cottages and farms. Privately owned by its 120 inhabitants, it is a gem of a place and somewhere not easily forgotten. After landing by Zodiac, we will walk to the gardens of Achamore House where the Horlick family have created a lovely and eclectic garden with their collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and exotic plants. After lunch we will explore the island of Colonsay, with her craggy, heather-backed hills and sparse woodland yet impressive array of plant and birdlife. Near Colonsay House, built in 1722 by Malcolm MacNeil and bought by Lord Strathcona in 1904, we will visit the attractively dilapidated wooded gardens which protect the tiny, enigmatic 8th century St Oran’s Cross.
Day 3 - Day 3 Mingulay.
Today we explore Mingulay, a remote island at the tip of South Uist which, at nearly 1600 acres, is the largest of the group of islands south of Barra. Its towering cliffs and stacks face the Atlantic while the east side slopes gradually down to the sandy beach of Mingulay Bay. Despite there being a continuous population on the island for at least two thousand years, evacuation began in 1907 and the island was completely abandoned in 1912. Ruins of the village remain close to the shore which we will explore on a guided walk. The islands are also a nature reserve with important breeding populations of razorbills, guillemots, puffins, fulmars and shags. Enjoy the afternoon at sea.
Day 4 - Day 4 St Kilda & Stac Lee.
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 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 one of the largest gannetries in the world, Stac Lee.
Day 5 - Day 5 North Rona & Sula Sgeir.
Spend the day around North Rona, an isolated island some fifty miles north of Cape Wrath. The last islanders left North Rona in 1844 and today it is home to thirteen species of breeding seabirds including large colonies of great black-backed gulls, great skuas and puffins. There is also a large population of grey seals which we hope to observe on a Zodiac cruise. If weather permits, the MS Caledonian Sky will cruise past the gannet colony on Sula Sgeir, home to over 5000 breeding pairs and renowned as the least visited national nature reserve in Britain.
Day 6 - Day 6 Handa & Isle Martin.
Arrive over breakfast at Handa where we will use our Zodiacs to explore the magnificent sea cliffs of Torridonian sandstone which rise from the Atlantic. The island comes alive each summer when nearly 100,000 seabirds gather to breed including internationally important numbers of guillemot, razorbill, puffins and great skua. We will return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch and set sail for Isle Martin. Eilean Mhartainn in Scots Gaelic, Isle Martin is an uninhabited island in Loch Broom, on the west coast of Scotland. During the 1980s and 1990s, it became the site of a reforestation experiment by ecologists with native woodlands planted throughout and these are now flourishing and improving soil fertility and biodiversity. Then in 1999 the island became one of the first handovers of land to community ownership. We will be offered a very warm welcome by volunteers from the community trust and learn about the work they do on the island; promoting the landscape, community and traditions.
Day 7 - Day 7 Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
Awake today in the Isle of Lewis. On leaving the island capital of Stornoway, this morning’s tour takes you across the island to the beautiful west coast and to Callanish. Described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, the Callanish Standing Stones date from around 3000BC. 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. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon is at leisure for individual exploration. We will moor overnight and hope to have local musicians come on board this evening.
Day 8 - Day 8 Inverewe & Shiant Islands.
This morning we will visit one of Scotland’s premier gardens, Inverewe. This botanical garden in the northwest Highlands presents an amazing collection of exotic trees and shrubs that are sheltered by well-positioned windbreaks of native pine. After a guided tour of the gardens, we will return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch. This afternoon we will board the Zodiacs for a cruise around the spectacular basalt cliffs of the Shiant Islands, a group of little islands located a few miles off the shores of Lewis. This is an excellent place to spot puffins, razorbills, guillemots, seals and hopefully white-tailed eagles.
Day 9 - Day 9 Loch Scavaig & Canna.
Wake this morning in 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 and for those who prefer a less energetic afternoon our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals. Enjoy lunch as we sail over to Canna. Strategically placed between the mountains of Rum and the Outer Hebrides, the island 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 hornshaped 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.
Day 10 - Day 10 Staffa, Iona & Lunga.
This morning we hope to drop anchor off Staffa, the south side 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. From here we sail over to 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. In the afternoon, weather permitting, we will use our Zodiacs to explore the Treshnish Isles, an archipelago of uninhabited volcanic islets. The island of Lunga is the largest of the Treshnish Isles in Argyll and Bute. 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.
Day 11 - Day 11 Oban.
Disembark this morning after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Central Train Station at a fixed time.
Day 12 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
22-05-202101-06-2021GBP £4,995Castle Standard Suite
22-05-202101-06-2021GBP £7,795Promenade Owner's Corner Suite
22-05-202101-06-2021GBP £5,295Caledonian Superior Suite
22-05-202101-06-2021GBP £5,595Promenade Premium Suite
22-05-202101-06-2021GBP £6,595Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite
22-05-202101-06-2021GBP £6,795Promenade Prem. Balcony Suite

Inclusions

    • Discover Gigha & Colonsay.
    • Travel to Mingulay.
    • Explore St Kilda & Stac Lee.
    • Enjoy North Rona & Sula Sgeir.
    • Discover Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
    • Visit Loch Scavaig & Canna.
    • Explore Staffa, Iona & Lunga.

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