by Kevin Griffin of The Cruise People writing for cybercruises.com
Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites, 23 of which have private balconies. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature bathtubs, making them deserving of the title luxury. There are two restaurants, a club, small gym, library, clinic, salon and lounge/lecture room across five decks.
Noble Caledonia Ltd proudly showed off its newly-acquired 114-berth small ship Caledonian Sky to the public and the trade in May 2012 in London’s Docklands
This vessel has recently arrived in Australian waters not long after the 85th anniversary of APT, the Australian family-owned business that bought a strategic stake in Noble Caledonia last year.
Formed in 1991, APT’s latest interest Noble Caledonia operates river cruises, expedition cruises, small ship cruises and land tours in fifteen world regions, including Antarctica and the Arctic, with seven vessels in its fleet. While it owns two vessels it operates five others on long-term charters, marketing its holidays predominantly in the UK.
Meanwhile APT, a family-owned company since its auspicious conception in 1927, and once known as Australia Pacific Touring, and before that as Australia Pacific Coaches, had its beginnings with Bill McGeary. Bill had started by building a bus body on a truck during a tram strike in Melbourne in 1924.
Through Bill’s son Geoff, APT then pioneered Australia’s touring industry in the 1960s and 1970s with a diverse range of modes. Over 85 years later, APT Group is a multi-brand business with a global portfolio of touring and cruising products, and still owned and controlled by the McGeary family.
APT’s biggest interest in cruising is its interest in AMA Waterways, founded in 2002 by river cruise executives Rudi Schreiner and Jimmy Murphy of Brennan Tours in the US. APT’s investment in AMA dates to 2005, only three years after it was formed. The company offers unique itineraries for a variety of destinations throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, although the majority of its cruises take place in Europe.
AMA Waterways’ Amadagio
With a fleet of fifteen ships carrying an average of 140 passengers each, AMA Waterways introduced all-weather panoramic balcony suites to Europe’s waterway. It had also pioneered full-size French balconies, with 75% of all cabins on board its European fleet having them by 2008.
Since that time APT has expanded further, taking a 51% interest in 2009 in GW Travel, now known as Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, operating Russia’s only fully-en suite train, and in 2012 taking its strategic interest in Noble Caledonia.
In addition to operating the 114-passenger Caledonian Sky and Island Sky, which are managed by Salen Ship Management of Sweden, Noble Caledonia operates five other small ships on charter on itineraries worldwide, hosting between 50 to 160 passengers each, the most recent of which is the 107-passenger ex-Hurtigruten ship Serenissima.