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Islands to the Highlands

Islands to the Highlands

From GBP £4,195

Description

Here is a perfect getaway for those who enjoy visiting islands, small ship cruising and the chance to explore on foot. Join the MS Hebridean Sky in Plymouth and visit some of the most idyllic islands of the United Kingdom as we sail north to Oban. During our eight night island hopping voyage, we will explore amazing little contained worlds including Alderney, Sark, Tresco and St Martin’s with their crystal clear waters and fine white sandy beaches that would not disgrace a Caribbean island. We also visit Bryher, Lundy and the Isle of Man which are rarely visited gems and almost never included on cruise schedules before spending a day in the beautiful Hebrides. Our time will be spent walking the nature trails, seeing the abundant birdlife and flowers and experiencing life in these remote communities.

Such an itinerary would be difficult to arrange independently and the MS Hebridean Sky is the perfect small ship for such a venture. A maximum of 100 passengers allows us to explore places otherwise inaccessible to larger ships and with our nimble Zodiac craft, we can land on out of the way coves and be footloose in a way that would be totally impractical for larger groups of passengers.

Our journey offers a portrait of life in our islands and is a wonderful opportunity to see some of our most beautiful places, meet some interesting inhabitants and learn more about both the past and present of Britain. Whether you be an avid gardener, birdwatcher, amateur historian, or simply enjoy sailing past and visiting some of the most enchanting places in the world, this trip has it all.

Trip Name
Islands to the Highlands
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 Plymouth, UK.
Embark the MS Hebridean Sky this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Plymouth railway station at a fixed time.
Day 2 - Days 2 & 3 Channel Islands.
Our first two days are in the Channel Islands as we visit the Bailwick of Guernsey. On 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 drive during which we will see the beautiful coastline and beaches and visit the Little Chapel, built in 1914 as a miniature version of the famous basilica at Lourdes and covered in fragments of shattered china, or join a cliff walk along the scenic coastline. We will 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 exploring on foot. Here, you will have free time to explore, perhaps take a stroll over to Shell or Belvoir Beach whilst our naturalists will be ashore on the lookout for wildflowers and birds. On Alderney, visit the island’s only town, St Anne, which has all the old-world charm of a Normandy village with tiny squares and pastel shaded cottages and shops. Maybe join a short walk to see the German fortifications or a longer walk with our naturalists heading to the cliffs to see the abundant birdlife. At Sark we will use our Zodiacs to land on this peaceful traffic-free island. Horse-drawn carriages take us along the narrow lanes alive with the songs of chaffinches, skylarks and mistle thrush as we see the narrow isthmus which joins Little Sark and Big Sark and the enchanting gardens at La Seigneurie. Those feeling active may wish to hire a bicycle and explore independently.
Day 3 - Days 4 & 5 Isles of Scilly.
We will spend two days exploring the beautiful Isles of Scilly. From our central anchorage, we will use our Zodiacs and local tenders to visit a number of the islands in the group. We will visit traffic-free Tresco, walking its idyllic lanes from the beach to the famous subtropical 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. On St Agnes we find the most southwesterly community in the UK. Surrounded by rocks and reefs this delightful tiny island offers marvellous coastal walks. The small island of Gugh lies across a narrow sandbar and here we find a single stone monolith called the ‘Old Man of Gugh’ which dates back to the Bronze Age. Maybe join a boat trip to the island of Annet, the second largest of the uninhabited islands and a bird sanctuary. We are not allowed to land here but will cruise the coastline alive with puffins, European storm petrels and shag. We will tender ashore to Bryher, the smallest of the inhabited Isles of Scilly. Take the chance to wander along the tracks that cross the island amongst hedgerows and fields bursting with wildflowers. The active may wish to climb Watch Hill, where in the past islanders would keep watch for ships in distress or alternatively take a stroll to one of the beautiful beaches. See the northernmost island of the group, St Martin’s, a small island community of just 120 residents. Enjoy time to explore independently, climb to one of the viewpoints for vistas over the islands and the offshore seal colonies or maybe join one of our birders on a guided walk.
Day 4 - Day 6 Lundy Island.
Over breakfast we arrive on Lundy, a remote island in the Bristol Channel. Although small, just three miles long by half a mile wide, its isolation has made it a home for a range of wildlife whilst it is home to a clutch of listed buildings and monuments. The towering cliffs and rocky shoreline are a haven for migrating seabirds, whilst sika deer, red deer and Soay sheep can also be seen as we walk along its traffic-free lanes and paths. Spend the morning being as active as you wish, maybe explore the wide bays and coves by way of hanging valleys, see ancient burial chambers, climb the lighthouse, have a drink or lunch at the tavern or buy the island’s ‘puffin stamps’ at the shop. We sail in the early afternoon and spend some relaxing time at sea.
Day 5 - Day 7 Calf of Man & Peel, Isle of Man.
At first light we will cruise around the Calf of Man, a 600 acre island situated off the southern tip of the Isle of Man, and home to thousands of seabirds including Manx shearwater, kittiwake and razorbill. Meanwhile in the water we may be lucky to see dolphins and seals. Afterwards we will continue to Peel where the rest of the morning is at leisure to explore independently. After lunch on board, or independently ashore, we will visit Tynwald Hill, located in the little village of St John’s. This grasstopped, tiered hill is made from the soil and stones from each of the island’s 17 parishes and is the point from which, each 5th of July, all the laws enacted in the year preceding are promulgated to the gathered government officials and the public at large, both in Manx and English languages. At Castletown, board the vintage steam train for a delightful and traditional journey to Douglas. Dating from 1874, the Isle of Man Steam Railway is the island’s oldest Victorian rail system and this narrow gauge railway still runs with its original locomotives and carriages.
Day 6 - Day 8 Colonsay & Iona, Hebrides.
Awake this morning off Colonsay. Lying between Mull and Islay, we will spend the morning exploring this lovely island with her craggy, heather-backed hills and sparse woodland yet with an 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. Sail over lunch 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.
Day 7 - Day 9 Oban.
Disembark this morning after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Central Train Station at a fixed time.
Day 8 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £4,195Amundsen Deck Standard Suite
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £5,395Amundsen Deck Standard Sole
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £5,595Shackleton Deck Owner's Balcony Suite
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £5,795Byrd Deck Superior Sole
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £6,095Shackleton Deck Hebridean Suite
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £4,395Byrd Deck Superior Suite
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £4,595Mawson Deck Premium Suite
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £4,895Mawson Deck Corner Suite
02-05-202110-05-2021GBP £5,195Scott Deck Deluxe Balcony Suite

Inclusions

    • Discover Channel Islands.
    • Explore Isles of Scilly.
    • Enjoy Calf of Man & Peel, Isle of Man.
    • Visit Colonsay & Iona, Hebrides.

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