Spring in the Hebrides

Spring in the Hebrides

From GBP £3,950

Description

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 and uninhabited islands that surround the Scottish Coast including Lunga, Mingulay 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 like-minded companions to enjoy the peace and tranquility 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. 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
Spring in the Hebrides
Days
8
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 - Oban.
Embark the MS Hebridean Sky this afternoon in Oban. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow Central Railway Station and Glasgow International Airport at a fixed time. Enjoy Welcome Dinner and Drinks and sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Colonsay & Jura.
Lying between Mull and Islay, we will spend the morning exploring 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. Return to the vessel for lunch as we sail to Jura, arriving in the late afternoon. We will go ashore at Craighouse and will be welcomed in the cooperage where we will be given an introduction to the Jura Distillery and an opportunity to taste the local product. Alternatively, join one of our naturalists on a walk along the shore or join the local bus for a short drive around the island.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Iona, Staffa & Lunga.
Awake this morning at 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. Later today we hope to drop anchor off Staffa, the south side where the perpendicular rock face feature 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. Weather permitting we will use our Zodiacs to explore closer and northwest of Staffa lie 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 4 - Day 4 - Mingulay & Vatersay.
Today we explore the remote islands at the tip of South Uist including Mingulay and Vatersay. Mingulay, which is 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.
Day 5 - Day 5 - St Kilda & Stac Lee.
This morning arrive at 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 guided walks on the island. Later, we will cruise past one of the largest gannetries in the world at Stac Lee. The impressive stacs rise 170 metres from the sea and are home to up to 60,000 breeding pairs of northern gannet.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Isle of Lewis & Shiant Islands.
On leaving the island capital of Stornoway, today’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 3000 BC. 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 Canna House 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. 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 7 - Day 7 - Canna & Loch Scavaig.
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 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. Enjoy lunch as we 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 and our expedition team will run a series of hikes for all interests. For those who prefer a less energetic afternoon our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Oban.
Disembark this morning after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Glasgow International Airport and Central Station at a fixed time.
Day 9 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £3,950Amundsen Standard Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £4,150Byrd Superior Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £5,550Shackleton Owner's Balcony Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £5,650Byrd Superior Sole
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £6,450Shackleton Hebridean Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £4,450Mawson Premuim Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £4,750Mawson Corner Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £5,250Scott Deluxe Balcony Suite
13-05-202020-05-2020GBP £5,450Amundsen Standard Sole
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £3,950Amundsen Standard Suite
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £4,150Byrd Superior Suite
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £4,450Mawson Premuim Suite
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £4,750Mawson Corner Suite
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £5,250Scott Deluxe Balcony Suite
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £5,450Amundsen Standard Sole
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £5,550Shackleton Owner's Balcony Suite
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £5,650Byrd Superior Sole
20-05-202027-05-2020GBP £6,450Shackleton Hebridean Suite

Inclusions

    • Iona: Spent the afternoon visiting the Abbey & search for the elusive corncrake
    • Lunga, Treshnish Isles: Enjoy the number of birds that is amazing. Guillemots ‘nest’ on the tiniest ledges of steep cliffs, razorbill, puffin and fulmar nests all around with views to the islands beyond
    • St Kilda: Spot the soay sheep. Living wild on the island and dating back to the Bronze Age, these are believed to be the first domestic sheep
    • Shiant Isles: Encounter razorbills and puffins, two of the three birds of the auk family

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