The Best of British

The Best of British

From GBP £7,295


Drawing on our considerable experience of operating cruises around the British Isles, we have devised this circumnavigation of the UK which offers a wonderful portrait of life in our islands. The voyage is a celebration of the very best of what we offer and it is a wonderful opportunity to return to some of our favourite places to see some of the most beautiful scenery, meet some interesting inhabitants and learn more about both the past and present of the United Kingdom.

We will sail from Portsmouth and during our cruise visit remarkable places of great natural beauty, rich in wildlife and history. From the idyllic islands of Herm and St Agnes in the southwest with their crystal-clear waters and fine white sandy beaches to Unst, the northernmost inhabited island and St Kilda, we will enjoy the peace and tranquillity which these charming islands exude. During our circumnavigation we will visit many special places including Tresco’s famous subtropical Abbey Gardens, St Davids, Britain’s smallest city, Rathlin Island and the Giants Causeway in Northern Island. From Berwick-upon-Tweed, England’s most northerly town we will explore Northumberland including Lindisfarne Castle and from Lowestoft, England’s easternmost town, we will discover some of Suffolk’s many highlights.

Over the course of 15 days we will visit all of the UK’s four countries, as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and with the all-suite MS Hebridean Sky as our base, in the company of just over 100 fellow guests, we will be able to visit many fascinating yet little-visited destinations that are otherwise inaccessible to the larger ships. All of this makes for a most appealing sea journey whether you be an avid gardener, nature-lover or simply enjoy sailing past and visiting some of the most enchanting places in the world.

Trip Name
The Best of British
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.


Day 1 - Day 1 Portsmouth, England.
Embark the MS Hebridean Sky this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station at a fixed time. Alternatively car parking facilities are available at the port.
Day 2 - Day 2 Guernsey & Herm, Channel Islands.
This morning we arrive on Guernsey, the ‘Island of Flowers’ where 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. 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 exploring on foot. Here, you will have free time to explore, perhaps take a stroll over to Shell or Belvoir beach or join our naturalists for a walk.
Day 3 - Day 3 Isles of Scilly.
Spend the morning on 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 cafe. We spend the afternoon on St Agnes, 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.
Day 4 - Day 4 Fishguard & St Davids, Wales.
From our berth in Fishguard we will take a scenic drive to St Davids, Britain’s smallest city. Explore the magnificent 12th century cathedral and see the Bishop’s Palace before enjoying some free time in the city. Return to the ship for lunch and either choose an afternoon at leisure or join our naturalists for a walk along the Pembrokeshire coastal path. The path covers 186 miles around the Welsh coast and we will join a section to enjoy the wonderful scenery.
Day 5 - Day 5 Peel, Isle of Man.
Arrive this morning on the Isle of Man at the main fishing port of Peel. Settlements have been here since the Mesolithic Age and the island also claims to have the longest continuous parliament which was founded in 979 AD. Leaving Peel we will visit Tynwald Hill, located in the little village of St John’s. This grass-topped, 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. Continue to Castletown where we 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. Return to the ship for lunch and a free afternoon to explore Peel at your own pace.
Day 6 - Day 6 Rathlin Island & Portrush, Northern Ireland.
Arrive this morning at Rathlin Island. Located just a few miles from the North Antrim coast, Rathlin has been settled for more than 6000 years. Today, there are only 140 or so souls, whereas before the Great Famine there were 1200 inhabitants. History can be seen everywhere here amongst the historic buildings and ruins. Also see the unique “upside down” Rathlin West Light, a great feat of engineering and one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Over lunch we sail to Portrush, our base for a visit to the Giant’s Causeway which became widely known from the 1700s as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ and large numbers of visitors came to view this amazing array of basalt columns - it is estimated that there are around 40,000 in total.
Day 7 - Day 7 St Kilda.
This morning we 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 that nest here in the spring, and in 1957 it was bequeathed to The National Trust for Scotland. St Kilda is one of only a few 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.
Day 8 - Day 8 Scrabster.
Spend the day in Scrabster, the most northerly port on the Scottish mainland. This morning we will visit the Castle and Gardens of Mey, built between 1566 and 1572 by George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness. The castle was purchased by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1952, who renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens which we will see today. After lunch on board, enjoy a leisurely afternoon or choose to take a drive along the coast to John O’Groats, the most northerly town on mainland Britain. After some free time here we will return to the ship via Dunnet Bay, a glorious crescent of sand and dunes, and Dunnet Head to see the lighthouse, built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, taking in the views over the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands.
Day 9 - Day 9 Unst, Shetland Islands.
After a morning at sea we arrive over lunch in Unst, Britain’s most northerly inhabited island and at the Heritage Centre we learn about how the islanders have lived over the centuries and the industries that have prospered. We will visit the Unst Boat Haven, dedicated to the history of the island’s distinctive wooden boats which descend from Viking craft and Saxa Vord. Admire the views over Hermaness National Nature Reserve and Muckle Flugga stacks.
Day 10 - Day 10 Lerwick.
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.
Day 11 - Day 11 Montrose.
Spend the morning at sea before we arrive in Montrose, the gateway to Angus and known as the birthplace of Scotland. It was the Battle of Dunnichen, between the Picts and Northumbrians in 645 AD which led to the creation of the Kingdom of Alba and in 1320 the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath marked Scotland’s creation as an independent country. This afternoon we visit nearby Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mother. One of the most famous rooms in the castle is Duncan’s Hall, the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There will be some time to explore Montrose independently before we sail this evening.
Day 12 - Day 12 Berwick-upon-Tweed, England.
England’s northernmost town is our base for today’s exploration of Northumberland. To the south lies Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne, home to a monastic community which was established in 635 AD by Irish evangelist St Aidan. Viking raids forced the monks to leave in 875 AD but in 1082 the prior and convent of Durham refounded the monastery, the remains of which we can visit today. Also walk up to Lindisfarne Castle perched atop a rocky crag on the island. After our visit choose to either return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure in Berwick or to continue to Alnwick Castle. The second largest inhabited castle in England, it has been home to the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309. After lunch there will be the opportunity to visit the castle, see the fine collection of artwork and explore the wonderful gardens.
Day 13 - Day 13 Whitby.
This morning we will call into Whitby, where on the east cliff the ruins of St Hilda’s Abbey dominate the skyline. This charming fishing port, which was once an important whaling station, is also the town where 18th century explorer Captain James Cook lived as an apprentice seaman and where Lewis Carroll wrote some of his work. We will visit the ruins of Whitby Abbey and its museum as well as the unique parish church of St Mary’s. Take some time to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views from above the old town with its delightful collection of red roofed pantile cottages and narrow cobbled streets before descending to the old town. There will also be a chance to ride a section of the North Yorkshire Moors Heritage Railway which travels through the beautiful countryside of the North York Moors National Park using historic carriages and steam locomotives.
Day 14 - Day 14 Lowestoft.
The Suffolk town of Lowestoft is the easternmost town in Britain and our base for the day. There will be the opportunity to visit Helmingham Hall, the home of the Tollemache family since 1510. The Hall appears to float on the surface of its broad surrounding moat and we have time to wander around the extensive and beautiful gardens. Alternatively, visit the Anglo Saxon royal burial site at Sutton Hoo where, in 1938 the archaeologist Basil Brown discovered the remains of a 90 foot burial-ship of an Anglo- Saxon warrior king. The exhibition tells the compelling story of Anglo- Saxon warriors, treasure and kings, with a full-size reconstruction of the burial chamber. After the excursion, choose to either return directly to the ship or spend some time in the seaside town of Southwold before we sail this afternoon.
Day 15 - Day 15 Portsmouth.
Disembark this morning. Transfers will be provided to Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station at a fixed time.
Day 16 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £7,295Amundsen Deck Standard Suite
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £9,485Amundsen Deck Standard Sole
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £9,495Shackleton Deck Owner's Balcony Suite
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £9,875Byrd Deck Superior Sole
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £10,495Shackleton Deck Hebridean Suite
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £7,595Byrd Deck Superior Suite
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £7,995Mawson Deck Premium Suite
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £8,495Mawson Deck Corner Suite
24-08-202307-09-2023GBP £8,995Scott Deck Deluxe Balcony Suite


    • Guernsey & Herm
    • Isles of Scilly
    • Fishguard & St Davids
    • Rathlin Island & Portrush
    • St Kilda
    • Lerwick
    • Berwick-upon-Tweed
    • Lowestoft