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Hebridean Island Odyssey

An expedition voyage exploring the majestic beauty of the remote Hebrides aboard the MS Hebridean Sky

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  • Wildlife Tours/ Natural World
  • Iona

You can travel the world visiting all manner of exotic and wonderful places without realising that some of the finest scenery, fascinating history and most endearing people may be close to home. Nowhere is this truer than around Scotland’s magnificent coastline, an indented landscape of enormous natural splendour with offshore islands forming stepping stones into the Atlantic. The sheer diversity of the landscapes and lifestyles will amaze you, as will the spirit and warmth of the small communities we will encounter. With our fleet of Zodiacs we are able to visit some of the most remote and uninhabited islands that surround the Scottish Coast including St Kilda, North Rona and Mingulay as well as the small island community of Iona.

This is not a cruise in the conventional sense, more an exploration with like-minded companions to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the islands. Learn something of their history, see the abundant bird and marine life, but above all revel in the timeless enchantment that these islands exude to all those who appreciate the natural world. There is no better way to explore this endlessly fascinating and beautiful region than by small ship and ashore, with our local experts we divide into small groups thereby enjoying a more comprehensive and peaceful experience. Having arranged hundreds of small ship cruises around Scotland, we have learned that everyone takes something different from the experience. We are indeed fortunate in having such marvellous places so close to home. Now, more than ever there is a great appreciation for the peace, beauty and culture of this special corner of the UK.

Useful links & Travel Advice

Please find a selection of useful websites to refer to for information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, on visa requirements, NHS travel health advice and other useful travel tips.  

  • What To Expect…

    Staffa

    Flexibility is the key to an expedition cruise; sometimes the whole day’s schedule may be changed to maximise your experience based on weather or wildlife sightings, something that would not be possible on a large cruise ship. Each day holds something new and below are some extracts from our vessel’s logs from our last Hebridean voyages which will provide you with an idea of what to expect should you choose to join our Hebridean adventure:

    21st June - Shiant Islands: By breakfast the ship had anchored amongst the Shiant Islands in the Minch – Eilean Mhuire (Mary’s Isle) to the north, Eilean Tighe (House Island) and the spectacular Garbh Eilean (Rough Island) to the south, the two joined by a boulder beach. Once more we were viewing tertiary basalt columns just like Staffa and Canna but this time several hundred feet tall and thronging with seabirds, many of whom sat on the calm sea as our Zodiacs cruised close off shore. The islands are owned by Adam Nicholson who wrote about them so eloquently in his book ‘Sea Room’ and are uninhabited. We made first for the tall basalt cliffs where we enjoyed a fly-past of a white-tailed sea eagle which then landed near its mate on a grassy ledge. They sat side by side for the rest of our visit. This very cliff housed one of the very last breeding pairs early in the 20th century but a highly successful reintroduction programme (begun on the Isle of Rum in 1975) has resulted in some 60 pairs now nesting in Britain (mainly the Hebrides) once again. We saw some grey and common seals hauled out ashore, and investigated some interesting sea caves before turning along the huge boulder scree along the east side of Garbh Eilean with its huge numbers of razorbills, puffins and shags. There were also some great skuas flying around, looking for an opportunity to rob the auks of the food they carried to feed chicks.

    22nd June - St Kilda: The early risers were rewarded with fine views of our approach to the archipelago of St Kilda, its tops draped mysteriously in mist. It had been a calm crossing and some dolphins and minke whales had been spotted on route. We breakfasted quickly so as to hear an introduction to the islands by the ranger. Soon after the Zodiacs began shuttling people ashore to the pier, although several options had been offered, many people opted first to join John on a guided historical walk along the village street from the Manse (now the staff quarters which also housed the shop). Many then progressed up The Gap to find Jamie and his party of longer walkers, while Karin had led an energetic walk up the road to the summit ridge and the radar installation. John’s group then dispersed to explore on their own and most of us, of course, found time to visit the shop for postcards and souvenirs.

    More information

Hebridean Sky

Hebridean Sky

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.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Oban.

Embark this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow Central Railway station and Glasgow International Airport at a fixed time. Sail this evening.

Day 2 - Colonsay & Oronsay.

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. Oronsay is separated from Colonsay by a wide expanse of shell sand -The Strand- that can be crossed by foot when the tide is out. The ruins of a fine Augustinian Priory in 1380 contain the tall Oronsay Cross, a superb example of late Medieval artistry from Iona. This island is owned by Mrs. Frances Colburn and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who run a trim, environmentally friendly farm.

Day 3 - Mingulay & Pabbay.

Today we explore the remote islands at the tip of South Uist including Mingulay and Pabbay. We will use the Zodiacs to explore and hope to make some beach landings. Mingulay, which is nearly 1,600 acres and the largest of the group of islands south of Barra boasts towering cliffs and stacks that face the Atlantic while the east side slopes gradually down to the sandy beach of Mingulay Bay. Despite there being a continuous population on the island for at least two thousand years, evacuation began in 1907 and the island was completely abandoned in 1912.

Day 4 - St Kilda, Stac Lee & the Flannan Islands.

Arrive at first light in 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 a number of guided walks on the island. Later, cruise past one of the largest gannetries in the world, Stac Lee and the Flannan Isles where we hope to see the famous lighthouse.

Day 5 - North Rona & Sula Sgeir.

Spend the morning around North Rona, an isolated island some fifty miles north of Cape Wrath. The last islanders left North Rona in 1844 and today it is home to thirteen species of breeding seabirds including large colonies of great black-backed gulls, great skuas and puffins. There is also a large population of grey seals which we hope to observe on a Zodiac cruise. If weather permits this afternoon we will also visit the gannet colony on Sula Sgeir home to over 5,000 breeding pairs and renowned as the least visited national nature reserve in Britain.

Day 6 - Isle of Lewis & Shiant Islands.

On leaving the island capital of Stornoway, today’s tour takes you across the island to the beautiful west coast of the island and to Callanish. Described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, the Callanish Standing Stones date from around 3000B.C. 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. Visit the excellent visitor centre to learn more about the site and venture out amongst the stones themselves to experience their mysterious atmosphere. Continue around the west coast to the site of Dun Carloway Pictish Broch. Probably built sometime in the last century B.C., it would have served as an occasionally defensible residence for an extended family complete with accommodation for animals at ground floor level. We then head north to Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, a reconstructed settlement of traditional black houses where people and animals lived in close proximity. The houses are 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 at this dramatic site on the wild Atlantic coast. Sail after lunch and this afternoon we will board the Zodiacs for a cruise around the spectacular basalt cliffs of the Shiant Islands, a group of little islands located a few miles off the shores of Lewis.

Day 7 - Canna & Loch Scavaig.

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. 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 horn-shaped haven. Canna and Sanday have an amazingly rich archaeological landscape with remains dating to all periods of settled occupation in Scotland. 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, once the home of the previous owners, John and Margaret Fay Campbell and wander across grassy basalt plateaus to the 600 foot cliffs on the north shore. Sail during lunch to lovely Loch Scavaig. Just beyond is the freshwater Loch Corruisk with its breathtakingly beautiful view over the Cuillins. This is great walking country, but for those who prefer a less energetic afternoon our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals.

Day 8 - Loch Moidart.

Spend the day in Loch Moidart, a beautiful area renowned for its wild, remote and rugged landscapes. We will offer a number of different activities including Zodiac cruising, hiking with our expedition team or simply exploring the area at leisure including the stunning white beaches and Castle Tioram, built in the 13th century and the ancient fortress of the MacDonalds.

Day 9 - Iona & Staffa.

This morning call into 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. This afternoon we hope to drop anchor off Staffa, the south side 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.

Day 10 - Oban.

Disembark this morning after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Glasgow International Airport and Central Station at a fixed time.

Dates and Prices

Prices per person based on double occupancy
29 August 2018 to 7 September 2018
Category Price
Amundsen Deck Standard Suite Fully Booked
Byrd Deck Superior Suite Fully Booked
Mawson Deck Premium Suite Fully Booked
Mawson Deck Corner Suite Fully Booked
Scott Deck Deluxe Balcony Suite Fully Booked
Shackleton Deck Owner's Balcony Suite Fully Booked
Shackleton Deck Hebridean Suite Fully Booked
Amundsen Deck Standard for sole use Fully Booked
Byrd Deck Superior for sole use Fully Booked

Tour Reference Code: SCHKS290818

Price Includes: Nine nights aboard the MS Hebridean Sky on a full board basis, house wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board, expedition team, shore excursions, gratuities, transfers, port taxes.

Not Included: Travel insurance.

  • All Decks

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Hebridean Sky

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.

 
  • MS Hebridean Sky
    MS Hebridean Sky
  • Library
    Library
  • Reception
    Reception
  • The Lounge
    The Lounge
  • The Club
    The Club
  • Hair & Beauty Salon
    Hair & Beauty Salon
  • Restaurant
    Restaurant
  • Restaurant
    Restaurant
  • At sea
    At sea
  • Sun loungers on Observation Deck
    Sun loungers on Observation Deck
  • Owners Balcony Suite - Cabin 601
    Owners Balcony Suite - cabin 601
  • Deluxe Balcony Suite
    Deluxe Balcony Suite
  • Deluxe Balcony Suite
    Deluxe Balcony Suite
  • Corner Suite
    Corner Suite
  • Premium Suite
    Premium Suite
  • Hebridean Suite
    Hebridean Suite
  • Superior Suite
    Superior Suite
  • Premium Suite
    Premium Suite
  • Staff On Board
    Staff On Board
  • Staff On Board
    Staff On Board
  • Food & Drink On Board
    Food & Drink On Board
  • Artwork On Board
    Artwork On Board
  • Lido Deck
    Lido Deck
  • MS Hebridean Sky
    MS Hebridean Sky
  • Owner's Balcony Suite
    Owner's Balcony Suite
  • Owner's Balcony Suite
    Owner's Balcony Suite
  • 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 mini-fridge, flat screen television and a telephone in each suite. Bottled water, 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 will 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. Additonal benefits of booking this marvellous suite include complimentary internet usage, complimentary mini-bar stocked with your preferences and complimentary laundry.

     

  • Your Space

    The spacious and finely decorated public rooms 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 main Lounge, there is also The Club, located on the Mawson Deck which features the main bar where the on board 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. 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 complimentary internet access can also be found in The Library.

    The main 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. 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. There is also a small hairdressers on board with appointments made on request.

    Throughout the vessel you will notice a wide selection of artwork. With the assistance of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, we were able to secure some wonderful prints from the expeditions of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

  • Your 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.

  • 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.

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

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  • Cabin Plans

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    {MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}Suite 601 is located on the Shackleton Deck and measures approximately 22 square metres with a large private balcony of 8 square metres with table and chairs. The configuration of the suite varies to the other suites on the Shackleton Deck and is as shown in the cabin plan above.

  • Review

    Click below for a review on Silver Travel Advisor of our La Dolce Vita cruise aboard MS Hebridean Sky.

    Cruising the coast of Sicily with Noble Caledonia

  • Deck plans
    • All Decks

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What To Expect…

Flexibility is the key to an expedition cruise; sometimes the whole day’s schedule may be changed to maximise your experience based on weather or wildlife sightings, something that would not be possible on a large cruise ship. Each day holds something new and below are some extracts from our vessel’s logs from our last Hebridean voyages which will provide you with an idea of what to expect should you choose to join our Hebridean adventure:

21st June - Shiant Islands: By breakfast the ship had anchored amongst the Shiant Islands in the Minch – Eilean Mhuire (Mary’s Isle) to the north, Eilean Tighe (House Island) and the spectacular Garbh Eilean (Rough Island) to the south, the two joined by a boulder beach. Once more we were viewing tertiary basalt columns just like Staffa and Canna but this time several hundred feet tall and thronging with seabirds, many of whom sat on the calm sea as our Zodiacs cruised close off shore. The islands are owned by Adam Nicholson who wrote about them so eloquently in his book ‘Sea Room’ and are uninhabited. We made first for the tall basalt cliffs where we enjoyed a fly-past of a white-tailed sea eagle which then landed near its mate on a grassy ledge. They sat side by side for the rest of our visit. This very cliff housed one of the very last breeding pairs early in the 20th century but a highly successful reintroduction programme (begun on the Isle of Rum in 1975) has resulted in some 60 pairs now nesting in Britain (mainly the Hebrides) once again. We saw some grey and common seals hauled out ashore, and investigated some interesting sea caves before turning along the huge boulder scree along the east side of Garbh Eilean with its huge numbers of razorbills, puffins and shags. There were also some great skuas flying around, looking for an opportunity to rob the auks of the food they carried to feed chicks.

22nd June - St Kilda: The early risers were rewarded with fine views of our approach to the archipelago of St Kilda, its tops draped mysteriously in mist. It had been a calm crossing and some dolphins and minke whales had been spotted on route. We breakfasted quickly so as to hear an introduction to the islands by the ranger. Soon after the Zodiacs began shuttling people ashore to the pier, although several options had been offered, many people opted first to join John on a guided historical walk along the village street from the Manse (now the staff quarters which also housed the shop). Many then progressed up The Gap to find Jamie and his party of longer walkers, while Karin had led an energetic walk up the road to the summit ridge and the radar installation. John’s group then dispersed to explore on their own and most of us, of course, found time to visit the shop for postcards and souvenirs.

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