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11 nights
from £5595

Wildflowers, History & Gardens of the Mediterranean

A springtime voyage from Athens to Naples aboard the MS Island Sky with Dr Toby Musgrave

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  • History and Culture
  • Garden

"Our voyage combines some ‘must see’ sites together with private gardens and some rarely visited places that are totally unsuitable for vessels larger than ours. We will see some of the loveliest scenery imaginable whilst enjoying all the civilised comforts of the MS Island Sky."

  • Piazza del Duomo in Catania

Join us for this relaxing and informative voyage as we explore the Mediterranean and all its wonders. Our small ship is perfect for this journey of discovery as we cruise to some of the most culturally fascinating and scenically beautiful places in Greece and Italy. The combined effect of the natural beauty of the islands and coast with the intriguing history and stunning architecture of the towns and cities makes this journey unforgettable. The itinerary has been planned to ensure the balance is just right between exploring ashore, relaxing on board and with some time at leisure on some of the picturesque islands for individual exploration. It is the most perfect time of year; verdant gardens, landscapes awash with blossoms, moderate temperatures and all with the absence of high season crowds.

For this exploration we are working with our Australian associates and experts in botanically themed tours, Botanica World Discoveries who have chartered our very own MS Island Sky for the voyage. With just 100 or so like-minded souls and an expert team on board, together with informative local guides, by the end of the voyage you will have seen and learnt so much. All this will be achieved with great ease from the comfort of the all-suite MS Island Sky which has the advantage of being able to access many of the region’s ports which the big ships simply cannot.

Tour Highlights

• Private garden visit to Marquess of San Giulliano’s garden
• Private garden visit to Princess Borghese garden
• Explore the Island of Ischia & La Mortella garden
• Have a choice of touring options in selected locations
• Learn about the plants and gardens from your Botanical Guide, Dr Toby Musgrave

  • Featured Experts

    Dr Toby Musgrave

    Dr Toby Musgrave is one of the UK’s leading authorities in garden history and design. With a degree in horticulture and a Ph.D. in garden history, since 1994 Toby has embarked on a freelance career as a television and radio presenter and consultant, author, journalist and photographer, designer and lecturer. Since 2004 he has shared his time between the UK and Denmark. As a garden designer Toby has created gardens in the UK, the USA, India and in Denmark. In the UK Toby contributes to a number of magazine and newspapers. Most recently Toby was Consultant Editor and major contributor to Phaidon’s “The Gardeners Garden”. He specialises in Italian and French gardens and Mediterranean plants.

    More information

Island Sky

Island Sky

The MS Island Sky is one of our three flag ships and sister vessel to the MS Caledonian Sky and MS Hebridean 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.

View vessel details


Day 1 - London Heathrow to Athens, Greece.

Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the MS Island Sky for embarkation and set sail for Crete.

Day 2 - Heraklion, Crete.

Arrive this morning in Heraklion and from our berth it is a short distance to the Palace of Knossos, legendary home of the Minotaur and the greatest survivor of the Minoan period, which predates even Homer. Wander around the site impressively excavated by Sir Arthur Evans seeing some of the 1300 rooms adorned with lively frescoes where King Minos held court. We will then travel inland, enjoying lunch enroute, through the charming countryside and picturesque villages to one for the three great mountain ranges, Mount Dikti, where we hunt for spring flowering plants including wild tulips and anemones before returning to the MS Island Sky.

Day 3 - Rethymnon, Crete.

This morning we will call into Rethymnon and visit the Fortezza Castle which was built by the Venetians for protection. It is star shaped with three gates and six bastions. In the middle, the church of St Nicolo was converted into the Mosque of the Sultan Ibrahim Han. Continue on a scenic drive to Gaios Kambos which is renowned for endemic Cretan plants and seek out crown anemones, turban buttercups, narcissus tazetta, orchids, irises and Bulbocodium species, before we visit the Minoan cemetery at Armernoi. Return to the ship for lunch and then either spend the afternoon exploring at leisure or join an excursion inland to the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete with nearly 20 hectares of fruit trees, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants to explore.

Day 4 - Kalamata, Greece.

Enjoy a choice of full day excursions. From our berth at Kalamata enjoy a scenic drive through the beautiful and fertile Peloponnese countryside to Agios Nikona where we hope to see an abundance of springtime euphorbia and wildflowers. Continue to Areopolis, centrally located on the Mani peninsula, it is regarded as the heart of Mani and one of the most attractive villages in Greece. There will be time to explore the village at leisure before enjoying a traditional lunch and returning to the ship. Alternatively choose to visit the extraordinary site of Mystras, a remarkably intact Byzantine town that once housed a population of 20,000 people. Here we visit the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios. On the floor of the church is the two headed eagle, the symbol of the Palaeologos Dynasty, carved into a plaque and according to tradition, this is where Constantine XII stepped when he was crowned king. Strolling through the narrow, hillside paths of the dead city, we will also visit the Church of Agia Sophia, the Palace of the Despots and the Monastery of Pantanassa, with its brilliant frescoes.

Day 5 - Argostoli, Kefalonia.

The largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia is immortalised in the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and has great charm. We will arrive this morning in the capital Argostoli and drive to the nearby Botanical Gardens which were founded in 1998 to display and preserve the wild and endemic plants of the island. We will then make our way to Mount Ainos National Park renowned for its dense forest of Kefalonian Fir trees and endemic flowers including orchids. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to relax on board or explore Argostoli independently.

Day 6 - Kerkyra (Corfu town), Corfu.

Arrive this morning on the island of Corfu, one of the most richly endowed of all the Greek Isles. Praised by Homer in ‘The Odyssey’ and selected by Shakespeare as the setting for ‘The Tempest’, the island retains evidence of cultural heritage from each of its past rulers - Byzantium, Venice, France, Russia and Great Britain. On our morning tour visit the Achillion Palace and see the beautifully landscaped gardens full of exotic flowers and guarded by elaborate statues of mythological heroes. Return to Kerkyra and enjoy a guided walk through the old town including a visit to St Spyridon Church, an ornate 16th century place of worship with a wealth of incredible silverware before returning to the ship for lunch and spending an afternoon at leisure. Alternatively join a full day tour including Mon Repos Palace, surrounded by rare plants, herbs and trees, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Island before lunch in a local taverna.

Day 7 - Otranto, Italy.

From the port of Otranto we will drive to Lecce, often referred to as ‘The Florence of the South’ with its amazing collection of Baroque architecture including an abundance of churches and noble palaces decorated with the “Leccese stone”, a chalky stone ranging in colours which became the local style due to its ease to work with. A guided tour will include a visit to the beautifully decorated Santa Croce Basilica and Piazza Duomo, considered one of the finest and most impressive squares in southern Italy. After the tour, and before returning to the ship, there will be an exclusive, private visit to the 15th century Palazzo Tamborino- Cezzi. The owner of the palazzo will personally take us on a tour, sharing interesting stories and anecdotes regarding his family and the palazzo itself. Spend a leisurely afternoon at sea as we sail for Catania.

Day 8 - Catania, Sicily.

After a morning at sea arrive in Catania, an attractive port which lies in the shadow of Mount Etna. The architecture here is particularly impressive but a little forbidding being mainly constructed from black lava stone from Mount Etna. After lunch on board visit the fabulous gardens of Princess Borghese who will personally show us around and introduce us to a vast array of Mediterranean fauna including yuccas, palms, flowering trees (Jacaranda and Judas), together with more exotic plants such as Xanthorrea Arborea and Encephalartos Horridus.

Day 9 - Syracuse, Sicily.

Syracuse once rivalled Athens as the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world. Our tour will begin in the Archaeological Zone and include the well preserved spectacular 15,000 seat Greek theatre. Paradise quarry is now an attractive garden and orange grove but was the primary source of limestone and the site is famous for the curious ‘Dionysus Ear’, a vast grotto with an amplifying resonance. We then continue to the old town to the remains of the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Arethusa and the Temple of Athena which is located in the cathedral. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon enjoy a private visit to the gardens of the Marquess of San Giuliano. See the Mediterranean, Arabian and Tropical gardens which owe much to the head gardener, Rachel Lamb.

Day 10 - Giardini Naxos and Stromboli, Sicily.

We anchor this morning in Giardini Naxos, the oldest Greek settlement in Sicily which dates from 735 B.C. and our base for our visit to Taormina, a walled town lying the shadow of Mt Etna. The town has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century and our guided tour will include walking the characteristic alleys before visiting the 15th century Palazzo Corvaja and the impressive Greek Theatre, from where there are marvellous views over the town and coast. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon we sail towards Stromboli, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, in time to scenic cruise off the island and hopefully see it lit up in the evening light.
Please note that we will anchor off Giardini Naxos and local tenders will be used to transport us ashore.

Day 11 - Naples, Italy.

Arrive in the port of Naples during lunch and this afternoon choose between a tour to nearby Herculaneum. This wealthy Roman town was completely submerged by volcanic mud following the A.D.79 eruption of Vesuvius. Since its rediscovery in 1709, excavations have revealed beautiful public baths, villas and gardens of noble families decorated with murals and floor mosaics, and the remains of a theatre. Alternatively spend the afternoon on the island of Ischia to see La Mortella, a wonderful garden originally designed by architect Russell Page for the composer Sir William Walton and his wife.

Day 12 - Naples to London Gatwick.

Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.

Dates and Prices

Prices per person based on double occupancy
22 April 2017 to 3 May 2017
Category Price
Magellan Deck Standard Forward Suites £5595
Magellan Deck Standard Suites £5695
Columbus Deck Superior Suites £5895
Marco Polo Deck Premium Suites £6195
Marco Polo Deck Corner Suites £6295
Erikson Deck Deluxe Balcony Suites £6495
Explorer Deck Owner's Balcony Suite £6795
Magellan Deck Standard for sole occupancy £7595
Columbus Deck Superior for sole occupancy £7895

Tour Reference Code: SCISK22417

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, 11 nights aboard the MS Island Sky on a full board basis including wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, shore excursions, gratuities, transfers, port taxes, onboard team including Cruise Director, Tour Manager and Guest Speaker.

Not Included: Travel insurance.

N.B. It was not possible to secure return, scheduled direct flights from and to the same London airport for this holiday, however we will be providing a complimentary transfer between the two airports, details of which will be confirmed with your final documentation.

  • All Decks

  • Explorer Deck

  • Erikson Deck

  • Marco Polo Deck

  • Columbus Deck

  • Magellan Deck

Island Sky

The MS Island Sky is one of our three flag ships and sister vessel to the MS Caledonian Sky and MS Hebridean 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.

  • MS Island Sky
  • Standard Suite (Magellan Deck)
    Standard Suite (Magellan Deck)
  • Superior Suite (Columbus Deck)
  • Premium Suite (Marco Polo Deck)
  • Corner Suite (Marco Polo Deck)
  • Premium Balcony Suite (Erikson Deck)
  • Owner's Balcony Suites (Explorer Deck)
  • Lido Deck
  • Lido Deck
  • Restaurant
  • The Lounge
  • Library
  • Restaurant
  • Your Suite

    On board there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. All feature a sitting room area and some 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. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring marble-topped vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower, a large wardrobe, dressing table with large mirror and stool and excellent storage. There is a mini-fridge, flat screen television with inbuilt DVD/CD player and a telephone in each suite. Bottled water, dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Other facilities include a programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted Molton Brown toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. The suites on each deck have their own colour theme. Soft hues and blended tones enhance the traditional maritime style making the passenger accommodation an inviting and relaxing place to be.

  • Your Space

    The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge on the Columbus 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. For your convenience, it is also possible to follow the onboard lectures from the comfort of your suite.

    In addition to the main Lounge on the Columbus Deck, there is also The Club, located on the Marco Polo Deck which features the main bar where the onboard pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The Club also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. Towards the aft of the ship on the Marco Polo Deck is The Library. Well stocked with reference books pertaining to the destinations the vessel is visiting and a selection of essential reads, you will not find yourself short of excellent literature on board. A selection of games and two computers complete with internet access can also be found in The Library. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability.

    The main dining room which can seat all guests at one sitting is located on the Magellan Deck and outside there is a rear Lido Deck located on the Erikson Deck, complete with deck tables and chairs where meals are served in warm weather under shade. Further to this on the top Explorer Deck the observation area complete with sun loungers is ideal for sun bathing, relaxing with a book or catching up with fellow travellers. There is also a small hairdressers on board with appointments made on request. For your comfort, there is also a clinic with Doctor and a lift which serves all decks.

    As is the joy of small ship cruising, we hope to offer the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers on the Bridge to check the progress of the vessel (subject to weather or security conditions).

  • Dining

    It is quite a task to create a dining experience as that found on board our 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 all three vessels 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 canapes 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.

  • 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.

  • For your comfort

    The MS Island 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.

  • Inclusions

    Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Island Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included this in your holiday price. In addition we tip all our guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you. We also include excursions and drinks with meals onboard.

  • 360's

    Island Sky Balcony 


    Island Sky Bathroom



    Island Sky Bridge


    Island Sky Cafe



    Island Sky Club


    Island Sky Magellan Deck Cabin 



    Island Sky Restaurant


    Island Sky Lounge



    Island Sky Library


  • Cabin Plans


  • Ship Directory
    The booklet below contains some further details pertaining to the vessel.
    Please click on the booklet to view. 


  • Deck plans
    • All Decks

    • Explorer Deck

    • Erikson Deck

    • Marco Polo Deck

    • Columbus Deck

    • Magellan Deck

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