Cruising the South Atlantic in grand comfort
Hans van Heukelum DECEMBER 2012 will see the arrival of one of the finest small ships in the world – MS Island Sky – after completing a journey from Cape Verde along Africa’s west coast with calls in Ghana, Cameroon and Namibia, among others. A great bonus to s t arti ng a great cruise will be embarkation right here in Cape Town.
With a passion f or the polar regions and small vessels, polar cruise specialist Unique Destinations is frequently asked for cruises which commence in Cape Town and explore the remote South Atlantic islands with their phenomenal bird life.
Unique Destinations encouraged Noble Caledonia to offer such a voyage, for which the demand is high. Island Sky will undertake a leisurely cruise of longer than three weeks from Cape Town to Punta Arenas in Chile, with calls at Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the Falkland islands from December 22, 2012 to J anuary 15, 2013. Lectures and entertainment will be offered on the leisurely cruising days.
Besides the experienced expedition teams, the lectures will be offered by award-winning journalist, t r a v e l wri t e r a nd a dventurer Matthew Paris and Dutch animal ecologist Albert Beintema, who has written four books on the birdlife of Antarctica and Tristan da Cunha. And in contrast to the scientific presentations, Rodney Trudgeon of Fine MAGNIFICENT: Island Sky is popular among those who prefer small ship cruising. Music Radio will present a series of talks focusing on music that has been influenced by these remote regions.
After six days at sea, accompanied by a variety of seabirds of the tropical and sub- tropical zones, Island Sky will arrive at Tristan for a five-day visit.
First settled in the early 1800s, the island was visited by naval vessels and whalers throughout the 19th century. Today it is home to some 260 hardy souls who make their living from the sea. New Year will be celebrated with the islanders and guests will also enjoy hiking with a local guide. A visit to nearby uninhabited Nightingale Island is also planned. This is a unique wildlife location and home to millions of seabirds.
Four days at sea will follow, i ncluding a circumnavigation of Gough Island and its seabird colonies. South Georgia, the next port of call, is also one of the world’s most magnificent wildlife destinations. As a subAntarctic island, it is home to thousands of king penguins, fur and elephant seals, a nd wandering albatrosses, against a backdrop of glaciers and snow-covered mountains. During the three-day call, a visit will be made to Grytviken, one of four historical whaling stations there.
Af t e r t wo days a t s e a , t he windswept Falklands will be in sight. Here yellow goarse-covered islands are the home of gentoo, magellanic, rockhopper and king penguins, with many nesting wandering and sooty albatrosses on higher ground. Visits will be made to Point Island, New Island, the capital Port Stanley and some of the sites associated with the Falkland War.
On disembarking at Punta Arenas, the flight home will be via Santiago and Buenos Aires.
Island Sky is popular among those who prefer small ship cruising. This is due to her maximum capacity of only 114 passengers, unusually large suites, luxuriously appointed public areas and spacious outside decks. Although she is capable of accommodating more, the owners realised the success of fewer passengers occupying more space. The atmosphere on board is akin to a private yacht or country hotel.
There are 57 suites spread over five decks, all with outside views and en-suite bathrooms with marbletopped vanities. Each suite has a flat screen TV with built-in DVD/CD player. The public rooms include a large lounge for lectures, an elegant bar, a well-stocked library with reference books pertaining to the destinations and two computers with internet access.
There is wi-fi access throughout the vessel. There is also a rear sun deck for outside mealss. The standard of cuisine is high, with one sitting per meal. A good selection of wines is included with lunch and dinner. Island Sky is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communication equipment.
This unusual journey will appeal to those who enjoy travelling “off the beaten track”. It offers amazing birdlife, interesting lectures, quality music, marvellous food and the experience of one of the most comfortable expedition vessels in the world.
For those “travellers of the mind” who prefer a unique land experience, Unique Destinations is offering an in-depth 19day journey to Bhutan in comfortable 4x4s. The journey will include unusual side valleys and colourful Buddhist festivals. The size of the group will be limited to 12 travellers. See the Unique Destinations advert on this page.