Islands on the Edge (Island Sky)

Islands on the Edge (Island Sky)

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This expedition has been devised to celebrate the stunning scenery of the British Isles from the outlying islands off the English coast to the highlands of Scotland. Every year the popularity of small ship cruising in our own waters grows and this is immensely rewarding as the vast majority of our passengers are from Britain. We have many years of experience in designing trips to the hidden corners of our remotest places and yet, every year we discover something new. Although we set sail with a fixed itinerary it is the unscheduled events that often become the highlight of the journey.

This is a truly unique voyage visiting as it does the remarkable islands on the edge of the British Isles with only one non-island call during our voyage; such is the advantage of having a self-sufficient vessel with the qualities of the MS Caledonian Sky. We will sail from Portsmouth and during our cruise visit both inhabited and uninhabited islands and places of great natural beauty, rich in wildlife and mystical history. We have also included a number of gardens which, given the timing of our cruise will be coming into bloom from the Isles of Scilly to the Hebrides. For keen birders, there are numerous highlights including sailing past the gannetries on the Skellig islands and at St Kilda, as well as discovering the puffins on Lunga.

Each day there will be the opportunity to explore coastal paths, see the resident wildlife, enjoy the wonderful views on offer and appreciate the ancient and Medieval history of the region. Such a voyage is only possible aboard a small ship with the ability to reach these remote ports and, with the use of our Zodiacs, we will be able to explore in small groups, ensuring the solitude we find on these isles is not disturbed.

Trip Name
Islands on the Edge (Island Sky)
Vessel Type: Luxury Small Ship Length: 90 metres Passenger Capacity: 116  Built / refurbished: 1992 / 2010 / 2017 Sister ship to Hebridean Sky. Island Sky and Hebridean Sky are truly sisters. Built in the same Italian Shipyard, both boast spacious, well-appointed suites, stylish common areas, and redundant core technology that allows them to operate smoothly, even under the most challenging of conditions. Both ships are all-suite, all-inclusive small expedition vessels with touches of elegance throughout. The Island Sky is scheduled for additional upgrades in 2017, including the addition of tinted sliding glass doors to all cabins on the Promenade Deck. Services: World-Class Cuisine Complimentary Wine or Beer with Dinner Live Entertainment Complimentary Coffee/Tea station Voyage Photographer On-board MD and Facilities Dedicated Passenger Service Manager Pre-voyage hotel night Complimentary Expedition Jacket Facilities: Elevator serving all passenger decks Upgraded WIFI Internet Library with computers Panoramic Top Deck Observation Platform Bar/Lounge with Live Entertainment Lounge with Audiovisual Facilities DVD Movie Library Tinted sliding glass doors in all cabins on the Promenade Deck World-Class Cuisine: Great expeditions require great food! Our team of world-class chefs offer breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that change daily. They have boat-loads of creativity, so you are sure to experience a variety of remarkable cuisine throughout your voyage. Accommodations: All Suites Feature: Exterior views Your choice of queen-sized or two twin-sized beds Sitting area with sofa and side chair Flat Screen TV with DVD/CD player Telephone Independent temperature controls Mini-Bar Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries Hair dryer 220 square feet or more Sofa can be converted to bed for third person PLEASE NOTE - DECK PLANS CAN VARY.


Day 1 - Day 1 Portsmouth, England
Embark the MS Caledonian Sky in the afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station at a fixed time. Sail this evening for the Channel Islands.
Day 2 - Day 2 Guernsey & Herm, Channel Islands.
Anchor this morning off Guernsey, the ‘Island of Flowers’. There will be the option of a walking tour of St Peter Port including a visit to Castle Cornet, a 12th century battlement which guards the entrance to St Peter Port Harbour. Alternatively, enjoy a panoramic island drive during which we will see the beautiful coastline and beaches and also visit the Little Chapel, built in 1914 as a miniature version of the famous basilica at Lourdes and covered in fragments of shattered china. Over lunch we sail the short distance to Herm, the smallest inhabited Channel Island and, at just one and a half miles long and half a mile wide, perfect for discovering on foot. You will have free time to explore, perhaps take a stroll over to Shell or Belvoir Beach. Alternatively, join our naturalists on the lookout for wildflowers and birds.
Day 3 - Day 3 Tresco, Isles of Scilly.
Spend the morning on traffic-free Tresco, walking its idyllic lanes from the beach to the famous sub-tropical Abbey Gardens. Defying the Atlantic weather, this miracle of a garden is home to more than 20,000 species of plants from over 80 countries. Enjoy time to wander at your own pace along the paths, maybe visit the Valhalla collection of ship figureheads from ships wrecked on the islands or relax in the café. Return to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch on board and this afternoon transfer by local boat to St Agnes.
Day 4 - Day 4 Garnish Island & Bantry, Ireland.
Sail this morning and anchor off the sheltered harbour of Bantry. Local boats will take us to Garnish Island and the beautiful Ilnacullin Gardens where the sheltered position and Gulf Stream is favourable to the growth of ornamental plants, many normally only found in sub-tropical or Mediterranean climates. We return by local boats sailing past “Seal Island”, home to 250 common seals before enjoying lunch on board. This afternoon you may wish to stay on board, enjoy some free time in the small town or join a walk to Bantry House, overlooking Bantry Bay. We will explore the house, one of the finest historic houses in Ireland along with the gardens.
Day 5 - Day 5 Skellig Islands & Valentia Island.
Over breakfast we will arrive off The Skelligs, tiny islands just off the magnificent coast of the Dingle Peninsula. Weather permitting, we will sail around these mystical islands with their early Christian history. Skellig Michael is a World Heritage Site and atop this rugged pyramid, that rises from the sea, are the ruins of a monastery. Meanwhile at Little Skellig the sky can on occasion turn white as some of the 20,000 pairs of breeding gannets leave their roosts. We continue along the famous Kerry (Iveragh) peninsula and anchor at the port of Knightstown on Valentia Island. Spend the afternoon exploring the island, perhaps take a coastal walk, visit the tropical gardens at Glanleam or join an island drive including the Cromwell Point Lighthouse.
Day 6 - Day 6 Tory Island.
After a morning at sea we arrive at Tory Island, located off the northwest coast of Ireland and home to 150 or so Gaelic speakers. It is the most remote inhabited Irish island; although only 14 miles offshore, it feels like many more and island life here is full of traditions. Meet some of the local community in the village hall and enjoy some of their legendary storytelling, music and dance. Tory Island is also famous for its migratory birds; seabirds nest here in large numbers and a puffin colony nests on the northern cliffs. Look out for guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars, storm petrels and Manx shearwaters and we hope to hear the early season calls of the corncrake for which the island is known.
Day 7 - Day 7 Staffa, Iona & Lunga, Scotland.
Awake this morning as we approach and anchor off Staffa, 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. Weather permitting, we will use our Zodiacs to explore closer. We then plan to cruise the short distance to the Isle of 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. After lunch we cruise northwest to 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. Here we hope to land by Zodiac and explore on foot.
Day 8 - Day 8 Canna & Loch Scavaig.
Awake in the 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 morning our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals. Enjoy lunch on board as we cross over to Canna. 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.
Day 9 - Day 9 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 10 - Day 10 Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides.
Arrive today on the Isle of Lewis. On leaving the island capital of Stornoway, we will head across the island to the beautiful west coast. 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. We also visit the 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. Our final stop is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village – a reconstructed settlement of traditional black houses which were 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 of this dramatic site on the wild Atlantic coast. Spend the afternoon at sea as we sail north.
Day 11 - Day 11 Lerwick, Shetland Islands.
From the Shetland capital, we will visit the remarkable archaeological site of Jarlshof. The site was uncovered by a violent storm in the winter of 1896/7, revealing an extraordinary settlement site embracing at least 5000 years of human history. The site contains a remarkable sequence of stone structures – late Neolithic houses, a Bronze-Age village, an Iron-Age broch and wheelhouses, several Norse longhouses, a Medieval farmstead and the 16th century laird’s house. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon to explore this historic port. Perhaps wander through its narrow stone lanes or maybe visit the excellent Shetland Museum, containing artefacts from shipwrecks and the whaling era. Tonight we will enjoy the company of local musicians on board.
Day 12 - Day 12 Fair Isle.
This morning we arrive at the remote island of Fair Isle. Located midway between the Shetland and Orkney islands, the tiny population of sixty or so islanders always extend us a warm welcome. Enjoy a walk across the island searching out the puffin slopes, visit the community hall for a cup of tea or maybe purchase some of the famous knitwear.
Day 13 - Day 13 Aberdeen.
Disembark the MS Caledonian Sky after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to the rail station and Aberdeen Airport at a fixed time.
Day 14 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Enjoy Guernsey & Herm, Channel Islands
    • Discover Tresco, Isles of Scilly
    • Explore Staffa, Iona & Lunga, Scotland
    • Sail to St Kilda & Stac Lee
    • Enjoy Lerwick, Shetland Islands