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21 nights
from £11795

Secrets of Melanesia

A voyage from Fiji to Cairns including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea aboard the MS Island Sky

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  • Expedition Cruising
  • Wildlife Tours/ Natural World
  • Traditional dance, Solomon Islands

Travelling independently in Melanesia can be difficult, with little infrastructure in place to accommodate for tourists and information about getting around often scarce. This of course makes the region alluring to the genuine traveller who will encounter beautiful islands with unique features and customs that remain relatively unscathed by the modern world. The region is ideal for exploring by small ship, especially one as perfectly suited as the MS Island Sky.

For our unique exploration we begin in Fiji from where we head to the Vanuatu archipelago, home to rainforests bursting with a magnificent array of flora and fauna and a mesmerising underwater world of tropical fish and vibrant coral. From here our island hopping adventure continues to the Solomon Islands which were thrust on to the centre stage of world history when the Allied forces took the offensive in the South Pacific and air, land and sea battles ensued for their control. We will visit the outer islands of Vanikoro and Santa Ana before arriving in Honiara where we explore the war sites and head west to Tetepare and Morovo Lagoon. From these remote island paradises we will have the opportunity to visit tribal villages little changed for centuries, see astonishing ceremonial dances, enjoy nature walks inland or swim in the warm waters from isolated palm-fringed beaches.

Before arriving in Australia, the final part of our expedition takes us to Papua New Guinea, a land of striking natural beauty and a hybrid of diverse and unique cultures, with more than 1000 tribal groups, each with different traditions. The region possesses exotic wildlife, turquoise seas, tropical rainforest and steep sided volcanoes with breathtaking islands scattered to its east and north. In this land of contrasts we will witness an astonishing array of cultural ceremonies, enjoy fascinating underwater experiences and we hope to explore the beautiful D’Entrecasteaux Islands.

This voyage has something for everyone, whether your interest lies in natural history, military history, bird watching, the undersea world or simply just being one of the privileged few who are able to set foot on islands of astonishing richness and beauty. Afloat and ashore, our adventure will be filled with unforgettable images, remote idyllic islets, kaleidoscopic reefs and soaring white-tailed tropic birds. We hope you can join us in this faraway haven for an unparalleled opportunity to explore one of the most intriguing regions on the map.

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.  


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

Days 1 & 2 - London to Fiji.

Fly by scheduled indirect flight.

Day 3 - Fiji.

Arrive this morning and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is free to relax after our long journey.

Day 4 - Fiji.

Enjoy a relaxing morning at the hotel. After lunch we will transfer to the MS Island Sky moored in Lautoka and sail this evening.

Day 5 - Yasawa Islands.

This morning we will drop anchor amongst the twenty islands of the Yasawa group. In 1789 when Captain Bligh was set adrift from the HMS Bounty he passed by the Yasawa Islands from where two war canoes were sent to pursue them. They escaped and the waters are still known as Bligh Water. Today we can expect a friendlier welcome as we find a spot on a secluded beach to relax or enjoy a first opportunity to snorkel and swim. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy an afternoon at sea.

Day 6 - At Sea.

Join a lecture or find a spot on deck as we cruise towards Vanuatu.

Day 7 - Tanna, Vanuatu.

Our first call in Vanuatu is the island of Tanna, meaning earth in the local Kwamera language. Captain Cook was the first European to visit the island in 1774, landing at Port Resolution, having been attracted by the glowing light of Mount Yasur. This 361 metre active volcano is situated in the south east of the island and dominates the landscape. The more adventurous amongst us may wish to join a journey to the crater taking local trucks through the rainforest that covers the mountain before walking to the rim. Alternatively, we hope to have the chance to visit local villages where traditional lifestyles are maintained and the local culture has been largely unaffected by western influences. We will learn of the customs, traditional medicines, crafts and cooking styles.

Day 8 - Port Havannah.

Awake this morning off Port Havannah, situated on the north coast of Efate Island and our base for today’s activities. There are a number of outer islands that we may be able to explore depending on weather and sea conditions. Lelepa Island is 160 acres of unspoilt tropical rainforest and palm fringed beaches. On a nature walk we will see the herbs used in local medicines before exploring Feles cave, thought to be the resting place of the legendary Polynesian Chief, Roi Mata. Meanwhile on Moso Island we meet the volunteers at the Tasiriki Turtle Sanctuary who will teach us about the rehabilitation of the Hawksbill turtles and the attempts to increase their numbers. If time and weather permit, we will also set up a snorkelling platform or offer a chance to swim from the beach.

Day 9 - Pentecost Island.

Named after the day on which it was first sighted by Europeans, Pentecost is a mountainous, tropical island. There are no towns on Pentecost and many areas remain relatively untouched by Western influences, where local traditions are strong. The island is also the home of nanggol (land diving) - the original bungee jump - which is known throughout the world. The nanggol ceremony takes place between April and June to celebrate the first yam crop emerging and we hope to coincide our call with one of these events. From tall towers constructed of saplings and branches held together with forest vines, the men leap forward and down to touch the earth below. A good jump helps ensure a bountiful yam harvest.

Day 10 - Espiritu Santo Island.

Espiritu Santo is the largest of Vanuatu’s islands with some of the most beautiful white sand beaches, amazing blue holes, caves and renowned snorkelling. It was also a huge military base during World War II. This morning join an island tour including the Nekar Custom Village where we will learn about local traditions and customs, including their unique water music and cava making, before enjoying time to swim in the nearby Riri Blue Hole. Return to the ship for lunch and in the afternoon snorkel amongst the corals and fish of the region at Million Dollar Point, named after the value of the military equipment dumped into the sea.

Day 11 - Mota Lava & Rah Island.

Our final call in Vanuatu will be the island of Mota Lava and Rah Island in the Banks Island group. These tiny island communities are still off the main tourist routes but the locals are happy to share their culture, stories and ways of life with the visitors that make the journey to their islands. From our anchorage point we will Zodiac ashore and see a traditional snake dance where the men paint themselves black and white as sea snakes before being welcomed into the village. We also hope to have the chance to snorkel on the reef and enjoy nature walks on the island.

Day 12 - Vanikoro, Solomon Islands.

This morning we arrive in the Solomon Islands and the island of Vanikoro. Situated in the Temotu Province, Vanikoro was where French explorer Jean-Francois de la Perouse became stranded after both his vessels, La Boussole and the Astrolabe, hit the then unknown reefs of the island in 1788. Learn more about the island’s history and the mystery of the lost La Perouse expedition that captured the imagination of the European public. We will be welcomed ashore by the local villagers before choosing to explore the village further, join a nature walk where we can look out for the endemic birds, the Vanikoro Monarch and Vanikoro White-eye, or enjoy a swim or snorkel from the beach. Return to the MS Island Sky for lunch and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at sea.

Day 13 - Santa Ana.

After a morning cruising, over lunch we anchor off Port Mary on Santa Ana Island. We will be welcomed with a stunning dance by the villagers with spears and mud face masks. After the performance we have the opportunity to explore the town further with its plethora of local handicrafts, join a nature walk through the forests, meet the students at the village school or swim from the local beach.

Day 14 - Honiara.

During World War II the British founded Honiara as a military base. The town and Mataniko River, which runs through it, were the front for many months during the battle of Guadalcanal. Today, this is a bustling town with lovely hibiscus and palm tree lined avenues. After breakfast we will join a city tour of Honiara including the central market, parliament building and National Museum where we get an insight into the history of the Solomon Islands. Enjoy lunch before continuing to the World War II sites including Henderson Field, the Japanese Peace Park and the US Memorial at Skyline Ridge. This evening we will cruise through Iron Bottom Sound, the site of intense naval battles during World War II and so named for the large numbers of Japanese and American ships and aircraft that sank beneath the sea.

Day 15 - Tetepare Island.

Tetepare is the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere and home to one of the Solomon Islands leading conservation projects. Managed by the Tetepare Descendants Association, they have ensured the island was saved from the threat of loggers and many areas remain untouched. A wide variety of plants and animals live in the 120 square kilometres of lowland rainforest that blankets the island. A total of 76 bird species, 25 reptile and 13 mammal species have been recorded here including skinks, dugongs and the endemic Tetepare White Eye whilst the beaches support three species of turtle including the endangered leatherback. Today we will enjoy guided walks in the rainforest with the local conservationists who will educate us on the work they are doing on the island.

Day 16 - Marovo Lagoon.

Marovo Lagoon is the largest double barrier lagoon in the world. Thousands of islands scatter the lagoon, from tiny coral islets on the fringing reef to massive 1600 metre volcanic islands. Inside the lagoon, the islands are surrounded by spectacular coral formations and white sand beaches, the lagoon waters shimmering in every shade of blue, turquoise and jade green. We have a full day here to explore the villages which produce some of the finest wood carvings in the region. We will also find a suitable spot to snorkel and swim from the beaches as well as enjoying nature walks in the local forests.

Day 17 - At sea.

Enjoy a relaxing day at sea.

Days 18 & 19 - Papua New Guinea.

We have two days in the islands of this fascinating country. Our itinerary will be in the hands of our Expedition Leader and Captain and the local weather conditions but during our time here we hope to visit the the D’Entrecasteaux islands. We will use our Zodiacs to land on Fergusson Island, the largest of the chain, in a small fishing village. From here we will walk to the local hot springs and bubbling mud pools surrounded by lush vegetation and birders can keep a lookout for parrots and cockatoos. A welcome dance will be accompanied by local foods cooked in the hot pools. We may cruise through the spectacular Dobu passage and use our Zodiacs to explore and snorkel or alternatively we will land to meet the villagers and visit the local church. On the island of Bonarua, in Milne Bay, we may go ashore to view fishing and weaving demonstrations and to wander through the enchanting village, sampling local delicacies. Birders will have the chance to trek into the thicket whilst the warm inviting waters of the Coral Sea offer a perfect chance to explore the underwater world. We may also visit Alotau, the provincial capital. As the centre for Milne Bay many of the islanders come here to sell their wares and the vibrant local market is a trove of local artefacts including Trobriand carvings. We will have time to explore the town whilst our naturalists will lead walks to explore the surrounding rainforest.

Day 20 - At Sea.

Relax on board as we sail towards Australia.

Day 21 - Cairns, Australia to London.

Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.

Day 22 - London.

Arrive this morning.

Dates and Prices

SPECIAL OFFER - SAVE £500 PER PERSON FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY
Prices per person based on double occupancy
4 to 25 May 2019
Category Brochure Price Special Offer Price
Magellan Deck Standard Suites £12295 £11795
Columbus Deck Superior Suites £12595 £12095
Marco Polo Deck Premium Suites £12795 £12295
Marco Polo Deck Corner Suites £12995 £12495
Erikson Deck Deluxe Balcony Suites £13795 £13295
Explorer Deck Owner's Balcony Suite £13995 £13495
Explorer Deck Island Suite £14995 £14495
Magellan Deck Standard for sole occupancy £15495 £14995
Columbus Deck Superior for sole occupancy £16495 £15995

Tour Reference Code: SCISK040519

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, overnight hotel accommodation on bed and breakfast basis in Fiji, 17 nights aboard the MS Island Sky on a full board basis with house wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, Noble Caledonia onboard team, shore excursions, gratuities, group transfers and port taxes.

Not Included: Travel insurance, visas.

  • Deckplan up to February 2018

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  • Deckplan from March 2018

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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 59 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies, whilst those on the Marco Polo Deck feature tinted, sliding glass doors allowing greatly enhanced viewing opportunities from your suite and quick access to the deck when a pod of whales or dolphins is spotted. 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 walkin 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. The comfortable beds in each suite can be configured as either double or twin.

    The impressive Island Suite located on the Explorer Deck features an extra large balcony stretching the length of the suite. Additional features of this marvellous suite include complimentary internet usage, complimentary minibar stocked with your preference of beverages and complimentary laundry.

  • 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 and talks given by the Noble Caledonia onboard team 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 complimentary internet access can also be found in the Library. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Throughout the vessel you will find a fine selection of artwork and photography, many of which have been drawn or taken by members of our expedition team.

    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. Whilst heaters and blankets make dining al fresco comfortable in cooler climates. 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 spotting wildlife. The walk around promenade on the Marco Polo Deck provides a unique circular view of the passing seascapes. There is also a small hairdressers on board offering a small selection of beauty treatments. For your comfort, there is also a clinic with doctor onboard 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 MS Island Sky 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. 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 onboard, 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.

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     Click on image above to view a sample menu.

  • 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

    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. You will also find on your suite television a navigation channel showing the routing of the vessel as well as the view from the Bridge. 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.

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

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  • Deck plans
    • Deckplan up to February 2018

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    • Deckplan from March 2018

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