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Hebridean Sky (Noble Caledonia) Cabins

Editor Rating
Sue Bryant

There are 59 cabins and they're one of the biggest selling points of the ship as they're spacious and very smartly appointed. All of them, even the most basic, are reminiscent of hotel rooms rather than ship accommodation. All have outside views and those on the upper Scott and Shackleton decks have private balconies.

Every cabin has a brand new bathroom, lined with cream travertine-effect tiles and a marble counter, with a walk-in, glass-enclosed shower (complete with seat) and two shower heads, one of them a rainforest shower. Other bathroom features include two large mirrors and a magnifying mirror, as well as a vanity unit with cupboard space for storage and hooks on the door. Molton Brown shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturiser are provided, in generous 100ml bottles rather than the miniatures, and the bath towels are enormous. None of the cabins has a bathtub, though.

All accommodation has been done out in shades of olive green, gold, silvery blue or mauve, with polished wood and brass and heavy damask drapes. All the cabinets and vanity units are in the same gleaming wood, and every cabin has either a sofa or a pair of armchairs with several colourful scatter cushions.

Every cabin has a large wardrobe (many walk-in) with plenty of hanging space and wooden hangers. Ours was somewhat crammed with lifejackets, full body immersion suits (for Antarctica) and Zodiac lifejackets, but we stashed these on the floor and put our shoes in drawers instead; there's no shortage of these. In fact, I counted 20, in addition to various cupboards and extra shelves in the cabinet. Because this is a 'proper' expedition ship, chairs can be fixed down to the floor and special rods are inserted into the drawers to stop them flying open in rough seas.

Waffle cotton dressing gowns and towelling slippers are also provided for all cabin grades. There's a daily turn-down service that includes a Swiss chocolate on the pillow and a copy of the daily newsletter. Other features include a TV showing BBC World, Sky News, Sky Sports, Prime and a free movie channel; hair dryer; safe; a mini-bar (charged for; £2 for a Coke and £2.75 for a miniature gin), bottled water (free), atlases, a box of welcome chocolates and multiple charging points, including one for the Quietvox devices used on all tours. There are five USB ports and several sockets scattered around but British passengers beware; they are 110V, not 240V, so things take longer to charge and items like heated rollers and personal hair dryers are not allowed. One adaptor was provided to make the hair dryer work, which was a life saver as we had failed to read the pre-boarding information and had come with European adaptors. Spares are available from reception, though.

The beds in each suite can be configured as twins or doubles with the exception of suites 601 and 602 which feature fixed double beds, although these both have twin mattresses.

One negative, and probably the only one, is that a fairly normal sized suitcase won't fit under the bed; we had to stash ours in a corner, which to me, spoils the home-away-from-home feeling, so I covered it up with a scarf.

Standard Suites: Located on the lower Amundsen Deck, the 11 Standard Suites measure 225 square feet and have large portholes. The colour scheme is mainly pale gold, grey and blue, and big mirrors behind the bed create a feeling of light and space. These cabins are in demand on Antarctic sailings as they're low down in the ship and as such, feel the movement less.

Superior Suites: On Byrd Deck, Deck 2, the 19 Superior Suites are slightly bigger, at 237 square feet, with the bonus of a large picture window. There's an olive colour scheme and most have a walk-in wardrobe as well as a sofa and armchair. The two furthest forward, 329 and 330, are a slightly different configuration as they're squarer in shape.

Premium Suites: Located on Mawson Deck, Deck 3, these 13 cabins are very similar to the Superior category, with a large picture window that looks out over the wraparound promenade. They're smaller, at 225 square feet (because of the promenade), and cost more than the Superior category purely because they're located on a higher deck. Given that you can't get out from your suite directly onto the promenade, it's questionable whether it is worth paying more to be one deck higher. Two, 415 and 414, are designated Corner Suites on this deck, with dual aspect windows and 237 square feet of space.

Balcony Suites: These eight balcony cabins are highly coveted and sell fast. They're located on Scott Deck, Deck 4, which is lined with wonderful photography of Scott's epic journey, procured with the help of the Scott Polar Research Institute. The cabin space is actually a bit less than elsewhere, at 225 square feet, but there is a 43 square feet private balcony with two teak chairs and a small table.

Owner's Balcony Suites: On the top Shackleton Deck, the five Owner's Balcony Suites are 237 square feet, each with a much bigger balcony than those one deck down, at 86 square feet, complete with loungers as well as chairs and a table. Again, the deck has some of the most interesting photography in the corridors, with Frank Hurley's legendary photographs telling the story of Shackleton's ill-fated Antarctic expedition.

Hebridean Suite: Also on Shackleton deck, this is the ship's biggest and most prestigious accommodation, at 264 square feet, with a separate living room, an extra-large balcony stretching the length of the suite and added perks such as complimentary Internet (for what that's worth; it was pretty slow most days), Nespresso machine, included laundry and stocked mini-bar.

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