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caledonian sky cruise ship photos
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Caledonian Sky Facts & Figures
Owner/Operator:Noble Caledonia
Year built:1991
Builder:Nuovo Cantieri Apuania, Italy
Former names:Renaissance Six, MegaStar Capricorn, Sun Viva II, Hebridean Spirit, Sunrise
Gross Tonnage:4,280
Length:90.6 m (297.2 ft)
Beam:15.3 m (50.1 ft)
Passengers (normal):80
Passengers (maximum):98
Crew:72
Service speed:16.0 knots
Sister Ships:Island Sky, Sea Spirit, Hebridean Sky
Caledonian Sky Photo Gallery
Caledonian Sky cruise ship photos Caledonian Sky cruise ship photos
Country Home Cruising: a look at Hebridean Island Cruises' Hebridean Spirit

Text & Photos © 2005 Bart de Boer
Amenities, decor, charges and services have changed since this article was written

Chances are you have never heard of a ship called Hebridean Spirit, which at just 4,280 tons is the largest of the two ship fleet of Hebridean Island Cruises. Registered in Glasgow and proudly flying the Red Ensign, Hebridean Spirit was built in Italy in 1991 as Renaissance Six. Four years ago, the tiny vessel was purchased by Hebridean Island Cruises and was refurbished into an amazing floating Scottish country home.

Calling at remote locations all around the world, Hebridean Spirit can be considered the ultimate boutique vessel. With a twist... There is no casino and no organized entertainment. Live music is only offered on a few nights when the ship is in port. Drinks, all gourmet food and most shore excursions are included in one (hefty) cruise fare. All in all, a cruise on Hebridean Spirit is definitely not for everyone and a far cry from your typical 7-day Caribbean voyage. Instead of skating rinks, water slides and discos, this ship is all about reading a book, talking to fellow guests, drinking tea and a "wee dram". You can call it: Country Home Cruising.
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On a dull and wet June day, setting foot on Hebridean Spirit at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam feels a bit like coming home. Immaculately maintained, this vessel looks like a private yacht and is obviously treated with care by her crew. Incidentally, Hebridean Spirit carries British officers and mostly Eastern European service staff. As the vessel operates on an all-inclusive basis, tipping is actively discouraged.
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We start our Ship Tour topside. Panorama Deck is the highest of Hebridean Spirit's five passenger decks. All the way forward is a delightful sheltered sunning area with wooden lounge chairs and a raised lookout section. Sadly the area is decked in bright green Astroturf - on a ship of this caliber we would have expected a full teak deck!
The forward sun deck gives way to on of the most attractive rooms of Hebridean Spirit, the utterly charming Panorama Lounge. Colonial in look and feel, the semi-circular room makes you want to settle with a good book from any of the book shelves and a refreshing drink from the honor bar. Coffee, tea, fresh fruit and a well-stocked liquor cabinet are always available here, as is a photo book with pictures of Hebridean Spirit's christening and her many exotic travels. Down the corridor, there is a card room and an exquisite little Travel Library, featuring all the reference material you would need to read up on any of Hebridean Spirit's unique ports of call.
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Bridge Deck is home to eight balcony staterooms, plus an aft area housing the casual open-air Mizzen Brasserie, a bar and the vessel's dip pool. The Mizzen Brasserie serves al fresco breakfasts and lunches poolside. The  "pool" will hold four people. Standing up, that is! Apart from a number of outside staterooms and two suites, Promenade Deck also houses the vessel's Spa with steam room, hair dresser and gym.
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Hebridean Deck is the vessel's main deck, housing the Reception desk, a tiny shop selling sundries and a few souvenirs, plus Hebridean Spirit's main lounge. The Skye Lounge is named after the famous Scottish isle and is another triumph of the vessel's design team. Is seems so simple: you take an oversized (faux) fireplace, collect a potpourri of furniture in all sorts of shapes and colors, add some live green plants and a few oversized lampshades and viola, the ultimate seagoing country club is born. Actually, it must have taken a touch of genius to create such a gorgeous room that feels inviting and is so unlike anything you would find on the larger cruise ships. The Skye Lounge is a place you could easily spend most of your day in!
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Deep down in the ship Hebridean Spirit's taste buds come to live. On Castle Deck you will find the attractive, wood-paneled Argyll Restaurant. While portholes offer a view of the sea, it is obvious that the room's main "raison d'ętre" is food. Hebridean Spirit is known for its excellent food delivered by its British kitchen brigade. In a complete change from many cruise lines, most tables in the main dining room are for two. Should you wish to dine with friends, you will have to request a larger table at time of booking. The fact that Hebridean Spirit only carries 80 guests make that the Argyll Restaurant feels homely and extremely cozy. As you would expect from an ultra-luxury boutique vessel, most wines, spirits and champagne served on board are included in the fare.
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You will feel instantly at home in any of Hebridean Spirit's staterooms. With the smallest unit measuring a lofty 20.5 sq m (215 sq ft), you will have ample space to relax. As Hebridean cruises come without any form of scheduled entertainment or gambling, chances are you will spend more time in your stateroom than on high-action ships. All staterooms on Hebridean Spirit have names rather than numbers, which only add to the country home feeling that is so obvious around the whole vessel. With its distinctly different look on luxury cruising, Hebridean manages to operate a utterly charming vessel that is just about perfect for their discerning British clientele. Isn't it about time this gem of a vessel is discovered by the rest of the world?
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