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13 nights
from £6995

South to Serendib

A voyage exploring Southern India & Sri Lanka aboard the MS Island Sky

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  • History and Culture
  • Wildlife Tours/ Natural World
  • Majestic Churches of Old Goa

We are delighted to be working with our US associates, Criterion Travel who have chartered our very own MS Island Sky for this exploration of three of India’s southern states and Sri Lanka, a gem of an island once known as Serendib.

During this 11-night voyage from Chennai to Mumbai, visit the stunning rock-cut shore temples of Mamallapuram; Trivandrum’s Napier Museum, a city landmark with its Gothic roof and minarets; the tiny Paradesi Synagogue, beautifully appointed with hand painted blue willow floor tiles, in Kochi; Soans Farm, a centre for innovative agriculture; the imposing Basilica of Bom Jesus, the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier in Goa; and the lush backwaters of Kerala. Also enjoy an exciting, colourful performance of Kathakali, a stylised classical Indian dance-drama, and opportunities to sample Southern India’s distinctive cuisine, flavoured by a unique blend of spices, coconut, and rosewater.

Then there’s Serendib, known today as Sri Lanka and the inspiration behind the word “serendipity.” From the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa to Bundala National Park, a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, and the Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics, Sri Lanka offers much that is both unexpected and fascinating.

Our journey will take us along some of the world’s most beautiful coastlines and into the hinterlands of iridescent paddy fields, lush green spice plantations, onion-domed mosques, ornately carved Hindu temples and well-worn Baroque and colonial style buildings. This will be a true feast for the eyes and all the senses as we visit streaming, eye-popping bazaars, witness daily life and learn something of the colourful cultures.

Voyage Highlights

  • Visit five UNESCO World Heritage sites: The rock-cut temples of Mamallapuram; the Basilica of Bom Jesus; the ruins of Polonnaruwa; Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth; and the Old Town of Galle.
  • Explore Sri Lanka’s Bundala National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
  • Navigate aboard a traditional houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala, a vast network of canals, lakes, and lagoons.
  • Witness a spellbinding performance of Kathakali, a classical Indian dance-drama Noted for elaborate costumes, refined gestures, and raga-based music.
  • Study Leaders

    Michael Golay is a professor in the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, where he has made his career working on problems of energy and the environment, particularly those of nuclear power and responses to climate change. He leads what is likely the largest interdisciplinary course at MIT, Sustainable Energy, which attracts students from most of MIT and many local universities. He is active internationally in energy-related research, educational and advisory service, as well as media commentary. His research emphasis is strongest concerning risk and the intersection of energy technologies and society. During the program, Professor Golay will discuss the dominating roles of rapidly developing countries, such as those that we shall visit, in driving global climate change, and their policies concerning using energy technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases. In our travels we shall see evidence of both.

    Martha Crenshaw is a senior fellow at two prestigious, international focused institutions at Stanford University: the Centre for International Security and Cooperation, and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Her primary areas of interest are international conflict and, in particular, political violence. She has also been a speaker for the U.S. State Department, including in India and Sri Lanka, and during this program she will discuss the conflict between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, which led at one point to Indian military intervention, as well as India’s place in the world.

    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

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Chennai, India.

Fly by scheduled overnight flight.

Day 2 - Chennai.

On arrival transfer to the Taj Coromandel (or similar) for an overnight stay.

Day 3 - Chennai.

Today visit Mamallapuram, an ancient sea port and home to the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Picturesquely situated between beach and lagoon are chariot-shaped temples, cave sanctuaries, giant open-air rock reliefs, and the Shore Temple, embellished with thousands of sculptures dedicated to Lord Shiva. Carved mainly out of granite, these are the oldest existing examples of Dravidian (South Indian) architecture. Later today we will embark the MS Island Sky and set sail.

Day 4 - At sea.

Relax and enjoy the on board lecture programme as we sail to Sri Lanka.

Day 5 - Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

Explore the 12th-century ruins of what was once the magnificent walled capital of Polonnaruwa. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sri Lanka’s magnificent Medieval capital is surrounded by lush greenery that provides habitat for monkeys and many species of birds.

Day 6 - Hambantota for Bundala National Park.

Explore Bundala National Park, an important wintering ground for migratory water birds. Bundala harbours nearly two hundred species of birds, including the greater flamingo, which migrates in large flocks. Started as a wildlife sanctuary in 1969, Bundala was reclassified as a national park in 1993 and designated a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 2005. In addition to abundant birdlife, park residents include Asian elephants, langurs, jackal, leopards, mongooses, wild boars, and spotted deer.

Day 7 - Galle.

Delve into Galle’s colonial past at the Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1588 and extensively fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the fort resembles a walled town complete with a rectangular grid of streets, Dutch colonial style houses adorned with gables and verandas, historic churches and mosques, and commercial and government buildings.

Day 8 - Colombo.

Dock in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city and commercial capital. Choose to explore the city’s colonial byways and visit the Gangaramaya Temple or take a full-day trip to Kandy, the last capital of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka. Kandy has UNESCO World Heritage designation as the site of the Temple of the Tooth, where one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics is housed. En route to the temple, which is part of the royal palace complex, visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, where the largest herd of captive Asian elephants in the world is nurtured and protected.

Day 9 - Trivandrum, India.

Built on seven hills, Trivandrum is a city of pagoda-shaped buildings, red-tile roofs, and narrow winding lanes. View the exterior of Padmanabha Swami Temple, an intricate fusion of indigenous Kerala and Dravidian styles and the richest Hindu temple in the world. Visit the Kuthira Malika palace, constructed of teakwood, rosewood, marble, and granite and renowned for the 122 horses carved into the wooden wall brackets supporting the southern roof. Also explore the Napier Museum, which houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artefacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, ivory carvings, and a temple chariot.

Day 10 - Kochi.

Kochi was an important spice trading centre on the west coast of India as early as the 14th century, and the main seat of Portuguese India until 1530. It is still an active port, as well as a significant centre for technology and industry. Visit the Portuguese/Dutch Mattancherry Palace, which has a series of remarkable murals painted on its wooden walls. Cruise through the “backwaters,” a network of canals, lakes, and lagoons, on a traditional houseboat for a peek at traditional, rural lifestyles. In the evening enjoy a spellbinding Kathakali dance performance on board.

Day 11 - Kochi.

The graceful, cantilevered Chinese fishing nets along the shoreline of Kochi are the legacy of a centuries-old fishing custom now more dependent on tourism than fish. Visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India and the original resting place of Portuguese explore Vasco da Gama, and the tiny Paradesi Synagogue, with its hand painted, blue-willow floor tiles. Spend time walking through the Jewish quarter of Kochi before returning to the ship.

Day 12 - Mangalore.

At renowned Soans Farm, learn about its innovative agricultural techniques and taste some of the pineapples and other produce grown here. Continue to Moodabidri to see the 15th-century thousand-pillared Jain temple, and in Karkala marvel at the monolithic statue of Bhagawan Bahubali, a much-revered figure by adherents of the Jain religion.

Day 13 - Goa.

Goa was the capital of Portugal’s eastern empire for 400 years, and then enjoyed Portuguese overseas province status until 1974. In Old Goa, where Catholic priests rather than Portuguese conquistadors ruled the day, a complex of churches, monasteries, and convents were built to emulate European Renaissance styles. Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which contains the silver casket of St. Francis Xavier, and then explore the State Archaeological Museum, housed in the convent potion of the church of St. Francis of Assisi. Its collections of portraits, wooden sculptures, architectural fragments, and ephemera highlight the Portuguese period in Goa.

Day 14 - Mumbai to London.

Disembark in Mumbai and transfer to the airport for the return scheduled flight to London.

Dates and Prices

LIMITED AVAILABILITY – SPECIAL OFFER PRICES
Prices per person based on double occupancy
24 March 2017 to 6 April 2017
Category Price
Magellan Deck Standard Forward Suites Sold Out
Magellan Deck Standard Suites £6995
Columbus Deck Superior Suites £6995
Marco Polo Deck Premium Suites £6995
Marco Polo Deck Corner Suites Sold Out
Erikson Deck Deluxe Balcony Suites £7995
Explorer Deck Owner's Balcony Suite Sold Out
Magellan Deck Standard for sole occupancy £7995
Columbus Deck Superior for sole occupancy Sold Out

Tour Reference Code: SCISK24037

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, overnight hotel accommodation in Chennai with breakfast, 11 nights aboard the MS Island Sky on a full board basis, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board, shore excursions, guest speakers, transfers, gratuities, airport taxes, port taxes. 

Not Included: Travel insurance, Indian Multiple Entry visa, Sri Lankan visa.

  • All Decks

  • Explorer Deck

  • Erikson Deck

  • Marco Polo Deck

  • Columbus Deck

  • Magellan Deck

Destinations

  • Indian Sub Continent

    To see our current selection of tours in Indian Sub Continent click here.

  • India

    To see our current selection of tours in India click here.

  • Sri Lanka

    To see our current selection of tours in Sri Lanka click here.

  • Sri Lanka

    To see our current selection of tours in Sri Lanka click here.

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
  • Library
  • The Lounge
  • 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 

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    Island Sky Bathroom

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    Island Sky Bridge

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    Island Sky Cafe

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    Island Sky Club

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    Island Sky Magellan Deck Cabin 

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    Island Sky Restaurant

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    Island Sky Lounge

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    Island Sky Library

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  • Cabin Plans

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  • Deck plans
    • All Decks

    • Explorer Deck

    • Erikson Deck

    • Marco Polo Deck

    • Columbus Deck

    • Magellan Deck

Study Leaders

Michael Golay is a professor in the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, where he has made his career working on problems of energy and the environment, particularly those of nuclear power and responses to climate change. He leads what is likely the largest interdisciplinary course at MIT, Sustainable Energy, which attracts students from most of MIT and many local universities. He is active internationally in energy-related research, educational and advisory service, as well as media commentary. His research emphasis is strongest concerning risk and the intersection of energy technologies and society. During the program, Professor Golay will discuss the dominating roles of rapidly developing countries, such as those that we shall visit, in driving global climate change, and their policies concerning using energy technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases. In our travels we shall see evidence of both.

Martha Crenshaw is a senior fellow at two prestigious, international focused institutions at Stanford University: the Centre for International Security and Cooperation, and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Her primary areas of interest are international conflict and, in particular, political violence. She has also been a speaker for the U.S. State Department, including in India and Sri Lanka, and during this program she will discuss the conflict between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, which led at one point to Indian military intervention, as well as India’s place in the world.

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