The ship's fleet of Zodiacs is put to good use on Zegrahm trips, with a mix of scheduled and spontaneous stops a hallmark of Zegrahm's expedition style of cruising. Via the Zodiacs, passengers can access remote islands and undeveloped shorelines, or go snorkeling or diving in reefs scouted by crew along the way. A warm-weather itinerary will typically include half-day shore visits and half-day water activities; sub-Antarctic trips might involve multiple landings to explore different aspects of each destination. All passengers take part in the same schedule of shore excursions and activities, so no reservations or extra payments are necessary. A minimum level of fitness is required, but crew are careful to brief passengers ahead of time as to the level of exertion required or conditions to be expected the next day. As a guide, guests should be able to walk 1 to 3 miles over mildly uneven surfaces.
With an emphasis on natural history and a love of nature, Zegrahm onboard experts are the right people to have around on a cruise -- and the smaller vessel means good accessibility to harder to reach spots. You will generally have at least one ornithologist, plus extended briefings about coral, turtles and sea life are usual for tropical itineraries, for example.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Apart from a crew member who not only sings and plays the piano in the Caledonian Lounge but can be seen outside those times pitching in with the Zodiacs or other ship duties, entertainment on the ship is somewhat on an ad hoc basis. The Swedish captain and first officer might whip up an afternoon tea of Swedish pancakes, or the largely Filipino service staff might hold a Filipino theme night on the Lido Deck. There is an "open bridge" policy onboard, meaning passengers can visit to see the captain in action, but in reality, a red sign is often up on the door asking passengers to keep out during maneuvers.
Nightly voyage briefings add to the intimate, expeditionary atmosphere, with opportunities to discuss any questions or experiences from the day's adventures. Zegrahm Expeditions crew are typically knowledgeable and well-qualified -- there are usually a few Ph.D.s onboard -- and they take turns delivering a small reflection on the day's cultural and natural sights and experiences at these briefings. They answer any questions and accommodate requests for information or experiences as they arise; for example, in a spontaneous session, the onboard anthropologist was able to assess and explain the significance of wooden artworks purchased by passengers on this reviewer's Melanesian voyage. The noticeboard outside the Caledonian Lounge is kept updated with not only maps and itinerary information but extra tidbits such as a profile of the "fish of the day" spotted during snorkeling, or cultural or etiquette tips for the local peoples encountered along the way. There are also extra lectures by the crew and special guests whenever shore excursions are on hold and on sea days, on topics that shoehorn in with the itinerary's focus.
Caledonian Sky is not the ship for you if you wish to party into the night. The Caledonian Lounge is busiest in the early evening leading up to the nightly briefing time, though it is open for the few post-dinner stayers who might like a nightcap before bed, while the Panorama Lounge is a spacious hangout spot where the few passengers, popping in to use the computers or quietly read a book, generally keep to themselves.
Caledonian Lounge (Deck 3): A reasonably priced cocktail menu, friendly staff and piano entertainment in busier times characterizes this tastefully appointed get-together space. Special dessert nights and afternoon tea take place here too. If you feel like a drink outside of mealtimes -- at an extra, but reasonable, cost -- this is your space, though it is generally only staffed from the afternoon.
Panorama Lounge (Deck 6): Encompassing a small library, an honesty bar and two free-access computers that offer internet usage with no charge, this lounge overlooks the top deck area (used for diving gear on warm-weather cruises) and offers a quiet alternative to the more popular Caledonian Lounge.
The top sun deck located outside the Panorama Lounge was refreshed during the 2016 refurbishment, making it a more user-friendly space for catching some sun in the small furnished area. Apart from that, the wraparound promenade on Deck 4 is popular for watching dockings, sunsets and the like, while those who wish to smoke tend to congregate at the tables in the compact aft areas on the same deck.
The foyer outside the Caledonian Lounge on Deck 3 is occupied not only by the ship's reception desk but by a Zegrahm desk for further information on future trips and bookings as well as on the current trip -- for example, there were reference books to identify tropical fish and birds on this reviewer's trip to Melanesia. The reception desk also stocks a limited range of ship-unique merchandise such as collared shirts and caps, and doles out the Wi-Fi cards. Yes, there is internet access onboard the Caledonian Sky, but it is low-speed and very much dependent on the location of the ship -- in short, don't count on it. Zegrahm Expeditions does, on occasion, choose to cover passengers' internet fees depending on the cruise. There is also a paid laundry service.
The modest onboard beauty salon is tucked away in the aft section of Deck 4. Thanks to its tiny size and the fact there are limited other onboard diversions, the salon can book up very quickly -- especially on sea days. The ladies' treatment menu focuses mainly on hair and nails, including gel polish. Men can also enjoy a haircut or moustache and beard trimming. Massage treatments are reasonably priced and run from a 20-minute head shiatsu massage through to 60-minute Swedish, shiatsu, deep tissue or signature treatment.
There is a diminutive gym alongside the salon on Deck 4 as well, but it pays little more than lip service considering passengers are asked not to use the treadmill, cross trainer and cycle during nighttime to early morning hours, and expedition excursions can take up most of the daylight hours. Zegrahm keeps the promenade that circles Deck 4 clear and open, making it a popular spot on the ship to take a little exercise with walking or jogging on Zegrahm cruises.
There is no provision for families on the ship during Zegrahm voyages, and the ship generally discourages passengers under about 10 years of age -- there are no special meals or activities offered for kids.