“One of the finest small ships in the world” – step aboard the MS Island Sky
Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited aboard Noble Caledonia’s MS Island Sky, which was conveniently (for me) docked in nearby Portsmouth. Having travelled down to the south-coast, I made my way through the impressive International Cruise Terminal and was welcomed onboard by one of the ship’s representatives for a guided tour of what Noble Caledonia claim to be “one of the finest small ships in the world”.
Constructed in 1992 and newly refurbished at the beginning of the year, MS Island Sky is a vessel bursting with character and it’s apparent upon entering the lobby that Noble Caledonia really has considered every facet of the ship’s layout and design with their guests in mind.
MS Island Sky – a tour of the public spaces
The MS Island Sky’s public areas are neatly appointed and it feels surprisingly spacious for a vessel that has a capacity of just 114 guests. There’s a tasteful art deco influence that runs throughout the ship – which was I felt was apt considering the release and popularity of the recent film The Great Gatsby.
The MS Island Sky’s main dining room – complete with framed batik artwork on the walls – is a cosy silver-service restaurant that provides enough space for all of the ship’s guests to dine in one sitting. It would appear the dining room is one of the recent refurbishment’s main benefactors, with the brass upholstery shimmering under the lights overhead and the neutral coloured fabrics contrasting nicely with the use of dark woods.
The food served in the dining room is designed to please all palettes and one look at the menu is enough to convince me that I could quite happily enjoy a 2 or 3 week cruise on the MS Island Sky without ever wanting to eat elsewhere. The ship’s chefs pride themselves on the cuisine they prepare, with many of the dishes incorporating regionally-sourced produce.
The ship also caters well for those who are seeking a more informal dining experience and the Lido Deck offers a BBQ/Salad/Pasta bar along with a small menu showcasing à la carte options.
Noble Caledonia is a line famed for offering culturally immersive itineraries and therefore it’s no surprise that one of the most pleasing rooms on MS Island Sky is the lecture theatre. Grand, and with more than enough seating to ensure great vantage points for everyone , it’s the perfect venue for hosting expert lecturers and guest speakers.
Other public spaces on the ship include the library and the bar area, both of which also showcase a level of warmth and intimacy that will appeal to guests who wish to seek out some quiet time during their voyage.
On a related point, I was extremely interested to hear that every piece of artwork used on MS Island Sky is original and sourced at auction by the ship’s owners. I find little flourishes like this really add to a ship’s ambience.
MS Island Sky – onboard accommodation
Following my tour of the public spaces, I went off to explore the ship’s accommodation options. All the suites on MS Island Sky come equipped with an en-suite shower, though sadly there are no baths (however, these are available on her sister ship Caledonia Sky).
Standard Suite (Forward) – Lead-In –Suite Number 250 – Magellan Deck
The lead-in category of suite, the Standard Suite is of a reasonable size but appears larger due to the three porthole windows.
Standard Suite (Mid Ship) – Suite Number 262 – Magellan Deck
With four porthole windows, this is a bright and airy option that offers plenty of light. It is possible to have a 3rd guest in the suite, but arrangements would need to be made at the time of booking so that a sofa bed can be provided (there is a sofa, but it’s not a sofa bed).
Premium Suite (Mid Ship) – Suite Number 428 – Marco Polo Deck
Located on one of the ship’s upper decks, the Premium Suite is a great choice for those looking for a bit more space. However, those seeking a high-level of privacy should be made aware that the Outside Deck is accessible around the whole of the ship, so it is possible for other guests to look inside the suite as they pass by – unless the curtains are closed. Not ideal for everyone.
Deluxe Balcony Suite (Mid Ship) – Suite Number 511 – Erikson Deck
A touch smaller than the Premium option, the Deluxe Balcony Suites offer a walk-in wardrobe and private balcony along with a table and chairs – perfect for a spot of relaxation and fresh air during lazy days at sea.
Owners Suite (Mid Ship) – Suite Number 603 – Explorer Deck
MS Island Sky offers a choice of four Owners Suites, each one offering a large balcony and a separate living area with a curtain. Lavishly furnished and extremely spacious, the only downside is the lack of a walk-in wardrobe.
MS Island Sky: “The Orient Express of the Seas”
With my tour of MS Island Sky now drawing to a close, I was left to consider what I had seen and to which of my clients I might recommend this fine vessel. The best way I can think of describing MS Island Sky is as “The Orient Express of the Seas”, which sounds rather grandiose, though I truly believe the comparison has some merit.
If you’re a cruise enthusiast who has passion for smaller luxury vessels and interesting itineraries that promise experiences beyond the more traditional schedules, then it would be hard to go wrong with booking a voyage on MS Island Sky. Upcoming itineraries include tours of the Black Sea, Russia and the Cape Verde Islands, so there’s plenty of choice and diversity for those who are interested in enjoying the Noble Caledonia experience.
If you would like further information on the MS Island Sky – or if you have any questions you’d like answering regarding my ship visit, then please call me on 0800 008 6677. Alternatively, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you shortly.
Paul Andrews, Cruise Expert, The Cruise Line. Copyright 2013.
Have you seen our MS Island Sky photo gallery? Have a look here