"Our voyage will be one of contrasts, from lush rainforests to diverse cultures, spectacular wildlife and an intriguing history, all of which will be made all the more captivating by our on board expedition team who are experts in the natural world."
Join us aboard the MS Caledonian Sky as we circumnavigate Sumatra, the world’s sixth largest island. Separated from mainland Asia by the Strait of Malacca and from Java by the Strait of Sunda, Sumatra lies at the heart of geological and cultural crossroads. Spectacular volcanoes and mysterious calderas are many along the Barisan Mountains, the long spinal range of the island following Sumatra’s west coast. Perpetual warmth and the presence of high peaks have made the natural environment of this large landmass one of the most diverse in the world: the many national parks of the island are an attempt to protect this increasingly endangered treasure.
With the Indian Ocean to the west and the south-east Asian archipelagos to the east, Sumatra’s history is rich and the island is home to many fascinating peoples. Our voyage will explore their cities, towns and villages, from Aceh at the northwestern tip of Indonesia, to the Bataks and Minangkabau of the central highlands, and the Nias of offshore archipelagos. Sumatra was revealed to the western world by Marco Polo and is often referred to as the Isle of Gold: sailing around its diverse shores, exploring its coastal communities and occasionally venturing inland, we will be able understand why. The privilege of exploring this remarkable land from a small ship and in the company of knowledgeable expedition team members and local guides is an opportunity not to be missed.
Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the Shangri La Hotel (or similar) for an overnight stay. The remainder of the evening is free.
Enjoy a leisurely morning to either explore independently or relax at the hotel. In the early afternoon there will be a guided tour of Singapore which will include the National Orchid Garden and Chinatown before we transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky. Enjoy a Welcome drink and later sail the Malacca Strait which was named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 and 1511. It is from here that early traders from Arabia, Africa and Persia would trade glassware, camphor, ivory, sandalwood, and perfumes and today the Strait is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.
Before setting off for Sumatra we spend the morning in the historic port of Malacca. With more than its fair share of colonisers from Malaysian princes to the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese, this strategically placed city has a fascinating history brought vividly to life in the excellent Ethnographical Museum. On a guided walk other visits will include the 16th century Portuguese fortress, the former Dutch Governor’s house and the impressive Christ Church. We return to our vessel by rickshaw for lunch and continue up the Strait of Malacca.
From the port of Belawan our first discovery in Sumatra is to the iconic Lake Toba. At over 1145 square kilometres it is the largest lake in South East Asia found amidst the volcanic peaks of the island. After an early breakfast we will start our journey inland to Parapat, the gateway town located in the beautiful and fertile volcanic basin at the northern end of Bukit Barisan mountains’ range. The scenery is stunning and after lunch in a local restaurant we will board our boat to cruise across the lake to the central island of Samosir, passing lovely coves with white sandy beaches to where colourful Toba Batak villages cling to the shore. We visit the traditional beautiful houses and ancient tombs of Laga Siallagan, the first raja of Ambarita. In front of the traditional houses we find the Banyan tree with the stone chair of King Siallagan, the location where all important judicial and village matters where traditionally administered. Continue to the local market before returning to the MS Caledonian Sky in the early evening and moor overnight.
There will be a choice of excursions today, either choose from a long but rewarding day as we leave the vessel at sunrise and drive inland to the eastern side of the Gunung Leuser National Park and visit the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre at Bukit Lawang. This is now one of the world’s most important conservation projects as orphaned orangutans are brought here to learn how to live in the wild again. We can watch them at play and feeding and learn how the six month rehabilitation programme works. We will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to the ship in the late afternoon. Alternatively explore the highlights of Medan, the nearby capital of North Sumatra. Here we visit the 19th century Maimoon Palace, a 30 room palace featuring Malay, Mogul and Italian influences before continuing to the Mesjid Raya (Grand Mosque). We will explore the collections at the Museum of Northern Sumatra including stone carvings from Nias Island, artefacts from the Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic periods as well as exhibits on colonial and military history. Our guided tour will end at the Chinese pagoda before returning to the ship.
After a busy couple of days we have a day to relax as we cruise the coast to the northern tip of Sumatra. Maybe take in a lecture by the onboard experts or find a spot to relax on deck.
We will berth this morning in Sabang, the main port of Pulau Weh and you can choose to either join a glass bottomed boat trip to nearby Rupiah Island where we will spend the morning swimming or snorkelling amongst the tropical fish and coral. Alternatively an island drive will include views of the historic Dutch buildings and the geothermal volcanic valley. We will sail over lunch to Banda Aceh where we will visit the Tsunami Museum, memorial and educational centre and the Blang Padang Park. We will also visit the State Museum that exhibits many cultural artefacts including the ‘Lonceng Cakra Donya’ bell, a gift from the Chinese Emperor, which dates from the 15th century.
After a morning at sea we arrive in the archipelago of the Simeulue Islands at lunchtime. Located 100 miles from the Sumatran coast and with white sand beaches, vast coral reefs and a pristine blue sea dotted with a multitude of seamounts, atolls and small islets, the Simeulue Islands are well off the traditional tourist route. We will use our Zodiacs to land on one of the local beaches for swimming, snorkelling and nature walks.
We continue south and land on the island of Nias some 70 miles from the west coast of Sumatra. Its very isolation has protected its cultural heritage and we will see some wonderful examples of tribal art and unique architecture. After an island drive we will witness a stone jumping demonstration in a traditional village. Here, talented local villagers leap over six foot tall stone megaliths in a rite of passage. The higher they jump, the better chance they have of acquiring a wife. However, the tradition originated to train them for warfare and defence. This colourful culture developed separately to mainland Sumatra and the island has a history of head hunting, warfare, slaves and gold. After lunch on board your expedition team will arrange a Zodiac cruise before continuing our journey south in the late afternoon, crossing the equator this evening.
We return to the Sumatran mainland today at the port of Padang, our base for a choice of full day excursions. This part of Western Sumatra, in the Bukkitinggi Highlands, is home to the Minangkabau culture which, despite their Islamic faith has the largest matrilineal society where the woman is the head of the house and controls family affairs. We will head inland passing the magnificent Anai Valley and visit the Pagaruyung Palace, one of the most important socio-historical projects in Tanah Datar. The palace building is a duplicate of the original that was burned by Dutch Colonials in 1804 and was rebuilt to preserve the historical culture of Minangkabau. Here we will witness the cultural performances of Minangkabau and try some local delicacies. The region is also home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia Arnoldii which can grow to nearly one metre across and weigh up to 11 kilogrammes. These typically bloom between August and November so on an alternative full day excursion you can visit the Batang Paluph Nature Reserve where we will enjoy a series of walks in search of the flower.
This morning we will anchor off the Mentawai archipelago. Like Nias, these islands have a unique culture, flora and fauna due to their isolation from the rest of the country. On arrival local boats will take us upriver through the tropical forest to a small village where we will be invited to the meeting house to enjoy a cultural performance before spending time walking though the village. The island is rich in wildlife and as we return along the river we will keep an eye out for some of the 140 bird species and monkeys which frequent the forest. Over lunch we sail to the islands off the coast and will find a suitable landing site to enjoy a beach walk or swim off the beach.
After a morning at sea we reach the southern half of the island and the city of Bengkulu. The British East India Company established a garrison here in 1685 but with little success until Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in 1818 and established a market in pepper, coffee and nutmeg. The British remained until 1824 when the city was traded with the Dutch for Malacca. On a city drive we will view Fort Marlborough built by the British between 1714 and 1719, the British cemetery and explore the bustling local market.
Just a few miles separate Sumatra from the island of Java. In the early afternoon we will land at the far western tip of Java for an afternoon of exploration in the Ujung Kulon National Park which is a World Heritage Site. It is a stunningly beautiful area and contains the largest remaining area of lowland rainforest on the Java Plain. It is a wonderful area for bird watching and wildlife spotting. Alternatively join us for a swim or snorkel from the beach.
This morning we sail into the Suna strait and the island of Krakatoa. The volcano famously exploded in 1883, killing 36 417 people. The explosion is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard in modern history, with reports of it being heard nearly 3000 miles (4800 kilometres) from its point of origin. We will use our Zodiacs to land on the island where you can choose to join a nature walk at the base, climb up the lower slopes of the volcano or swim in the surrounding waters. Sail over lunch and maybe enjoy a lecture this afternoon as we continue cruising.
This afternoon we arrive in the idyllic Belitung Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Sumatra famed for their long clean beaches and crystal clear sea water. We have the afternoon to enjoy the fine white sandy beaches and the coral reefs. Snorkelling platforms will allow us to swim with a multitude of colourful fish. Meanwhile nature walks will take place to explore the island for birdlife or you may prefer to simply stay on the beach or walk to the nearby lighthouse.
Enjoy a relaxing day as we cruise towards Singapore. Maybe join a lecture, relax with a book or find a spot on deck.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for the scheduled flight to London. Arrive this evening.
Castle Standard Forward Suite
The two Standard Forward Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 metres and feature two portholes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.
Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.
Caledonian Superior Suite
Suites on the Caledonian Deck measure 21.6 square metres and feature en-suite bathrooms with bath tub and shower (except for suites 329, 330 and 331 which feature only a shower), spacious wardrobe and large window.
The Premium Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a spacious wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower (cabins 431 and 432 feature a bathtub) and a large window.
Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite
Balcony Suites The Premium Balcony Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower and a private balcony measuring 5.6
Castle Standard Suite Sole
Sole Occupancy. Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.
Promenade Owner's Corner Suite
The two corner suites on the Promenade Deck measure 22.6 square metres and feature one window facing to the side and two forward facing portholes, a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom with shower.
Caledonian Superior Suite Sole
Sole Occupancy. Suites on the Caledonian Deck measure 21.6 square metres and feature en-suite bathrooms with bath tub and shower (except for suites 329, 330 and 331 which feature only a shower), spacious wardrobe and large window.
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 90 metres
Passenger Capacity: 114 (in 57 suites)
Built: 1991 / refurbished 2012
The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows.
If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere.
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub.
Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort.
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request.
With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board.
For your comfort, safety and security
The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers 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 outside decks only.
Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.