ariel view of Insane cliffs in ireland right along the ocean
Zodiac boat with Scotland travelers cruises in narrow blue-green water between 2 shores with angular gray rocks.
Close up of an Atlantic puffin bird with a bright orange, red, and yellow beak
ariel view at the top of a grassy field overlooking a small lake with colorful buidlings.
Photographer takes photo on rope bridge in lush gardens of Cornwall, England during the Ancient Isles Nat Geo cruise.
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Europe Northern Europe Cruise

Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland

Explore the British and Irish Isles during this 12-day Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland cruise. Enter coastal villages by Zodiac and land on remote beaches. Witness prehistory juxtaposed with the present, probe the secrets of Stone Age megaliths, and discover early Christian settlements, Navigate through a picturesque sea cave, and observe colonies of migratory seabirds. Stroll charming, remote towns and mingle with locals in cozy pubs throughout the land.

From London, visit the countryside before embarking in Portsmouth, where King Henry VIII’s Tudor warship Mary Rose is on display, then to Fowey for a walk through the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan. The Isles of Scilly are known for the Tresco Abbey Garden, filled with historic ruins and subtropical plants. In Ireland, explore the maritime history of Cobh; and sail by Skellig Michael, a Celtic Christian hermitage where beehive huts and remains of a 7th-century monastery still stand (and the site of Luke Skywalker’s secret hideaway planet).

Scotland offers the sacred island of Iona and its 12th-century abbey, the incredible seabird colonies on Outer Hebrides,the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step into medieval St. Magnus Cathedral, possibly land on the uninhabited island of St. Kilda and Zodiac to the music-inspiring geometric basalt columns of Fingal’s Cave off Staffa Island. The Shetland Islands feature Shetland ponies, dramatic landscapes and 4,000 years of history and culture to discover. Aberdeen, Scotland offers a beautiful countryside to explore before disembarking in Edinburgh with nearly two weeks of unforgettable experiences locked in your memory bank. Select departures operate this itinerary in reverse, southbound from Edinburgh to London.

Departures are aboard the 148-guest National Geographic Explorer, a home base that is perfect for exploring the best of the region, including well-known visitor spots and rarely visited, hard-to-reach gems. Equipped with National Geographic guides, historians, photographers and expert leaders, and built as a polar expedition vessel, the Nat Geo Explorer slices through the North Sea waters with speed, stability and grace, navigating easily to small, ancient islands as well as larger city ports.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises in Northern Europe and Northern European tours.



Itinerary

Northbound Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland Itinerary

The main Ancient Isles cruise begins in London, with an overland transfer to embark the ship in Portsmouth, England, and disembarks in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Route map of Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland cruise northbound from London to Edinburgh with visits along all 3 countries.
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Day 1
Arrive London & Embark Portsmouth, England

Arrive in London and transfer to Portsmouth to embark on our journey around the British and Irish Isles.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

dinner

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Day 2
Fowey, England

Arrive in the Cornish port of Fowey (pronounced “Foy”) this afternoon. Hike a coastal trail or enjoy a guided walk through the village of Fowey with a local. Alternatively, learn about the history of a few beautiful Cornish estates on a visit to Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle, or get to know local producers and growers from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 3
Isles of Scilly, England

Hike a coastal trail or enjoy a guided walk through the village of Fowey with a local. Alternatively, learn about the history of a few beautiful Cornish estates on a visit to Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle, or get to know local producers and growers from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Cobh, Ireland

Arrive in this colorful port city on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, intimately tied to maritime history and the great Irish Emigration. Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre and learn about the momentous events that took place here—from the 1912 departure of the Titanic to the successful rescue of passengers from the torpedoed Lusitania and the millions of Irish who departed these shores in search of a better life. Enjoy an afternoon of Irish traditions, from music to sport, with locals.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 5 - 6
Wild West Coast of Ireland

Over the next two days, enjoy the windswept landscapes of western Ireland. Be on deck as we sail past Skellig Michael, the protected Celtic Christian hermitage where beehive huts and remains of a seventh-century monastery still stand. Then, get photo tips from your National Geographic Photography Expert as you sail past the uninhabited Blasket Islands, on which you’ll observe a wide array of birds including storm petrels, shearwaters, terns, gulls and auks. Your exploration continues on land through the southern corner of Ireland with its cozy local pubs, cultural centers and country walks.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 7
Iona & Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Visit the sacred island of Iona and its 13th-century abbey, long revered as a Christian pilgrimage site and believed to be where the Book of Kells originated. Several Scottish kings, including the actual Macbeth, are buried in the royal graveyard here. Later, weather permitting, explore uninhabited Staffa Island, famed for its perfect six-sided volcanic basalt columns and dramatic Fingal’s Cave. On Staffa, join one of your naturalists to learn about and observe a large puffin colony.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Explore the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, boasting incredible seabird colonies. Conditions permitting, make a landing at St. Kilda, a UNESCO World Heritage site and nature preserve. Uninhabited since 1930, the traditional stone village left behind by the island’s final residents now lies in ruins. But active occupants do remain: a huge population of gannets, domesticated sheep now gone wild, puffins and wrens.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 9
Shetland Islands, Scotland

The Shetlands are characterized by deep-seated cultural traditions and dramatic landscapes. Far north and near enough to Norway to speak Scottish with a Scandinavian accent, this 100-island archipelago has never been fully tamed by those who live here. Explore these rural islands with their mix of ponies, ruins and windswept pastures.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 10
Orkney Islands, Scotland

Options this morning include a birdwatching trek in quest of Orkney’s remarkably varied birdlife or a walking tour of Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital and a showplace of ancient Viking history thanks to its proximity to Norway. Later, discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone slab village of Skara Brae. And step inside majestic St. Magnus Cathedral, a sandstone landmark that took three centuries to build.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 11
Aberdeen, Scotland

Start off the day with a panoramic drive through “the Granite City” before exploring Aberdeenshire’s countryside. Choose to visit a local Highland cattle farm where you will learn about its award-winning products and practices. Or, dive into Highland traditions with a visit to the Gordon Highlanders Museum. Transfer back to the ship later this afternoon and enjoy your last evening at sea.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 12
Disembark Edinburgh, Scotland

Disembark in Edinburgh after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations; meals as indicated; beer, wine & full bar; excursions; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks; entrance fees; all port charges and service taxes; basic WiFi (enhanced and premium packages available for purchase). Gratuities for all departures of National Geographic Explorer, Orion, Endurance, Resolution, Sea Cloud, Jahan and Lord of the Glens.

Exclusions

Immigration fees; air transportation; extensions; meals not indicated; reserve wines & premium spirits; gratuities for all departures of Delfin II, Endeavour II, Islander II, Venture, Quest, Sea Bird and Sea Lion; personal items such as emails, laundry, voyage DVD, etc.; and insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 15% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special payment terms apply for groups of 8 or more; inquire for details. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person fees, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – 100% of deposit**
119 to 90 days – 50% of total trip cost
89 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost
**Advance payments will be credited in the form of a Lindblad Expeditions Travel Certificate, valid for 12 months from the date of cancellation, and which may only be applied towards final payment on any future booking. 

(For expeditions booked prior to May 1, 2023: Please refer to your invoice for your payment and cancellation terms.) 

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The main Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland cruise begins in London, England (LHR) and ends in Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan to arrive by 9:30 a.m. on embarkation day. Disembarkation is after breakfast, anytime after 11:00 a.m. on Day 12 of the itinerary. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include walking, hiking, kayaking, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography, wildlife observation and morning yoga and stretching.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Children under the age of 18 are eligible for $500 off the double occupancy rate. Skilled staff members trained with National Geographic Education organize activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Southbound Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland Itinerary

The reverse Ancient Isles cruise embarks in Edinburgh, Scotland and disembarks in Portsmouth, England with an overland transfer to end in London.

Route map of Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland cruise southbound from Edinburgh to London with visits along all 3 countries.
Read More
Day 1
Tour Edinburgh, Scotland & Embark

Arrive in Edinburgh and tour the city before embarking the ship.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

dinner

Read More
Day 2
Aberdeen, Scotland

Start off the day with a panoramic drive through “the Granite City” before exploring Aberdeenshire’s countryside. Choose to visit a local Highland cattle farm where you will learn about its award-winning products and practices. Or, dive into Highland traditions with a visit to the Gordon Highlanders Museum. Transfer back to the ship later this afternoon and enjoy an evening at sea as you head to the Shetland Islands.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 3
Shetland Islands, Scotland

The Shetlands are characterized by deep-seated cultural traditions and dramatic landscapes. Far north and near enough to Norway to speak Scottish with a Scandinavian accent, this 100-island archipelago has never been fully tamed by those who live here. Explore these rural islands with their mix of ponies, ruins and windswept pastures.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Orkney Islands, Scotland

Options this morning include a birdwatching trek in quest of Orkney’s remarkably varied birdlife or a walking tour of Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital and a showplace of ancient Viking history thanks to its proximity to Norway. Later, discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone slab village of Skara Brae. And step inside majestic St. Magnus Cathedral, a sandstone landmark that took three centuries to build.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Explore the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, boasting incredible seabird colonies. Conditions permitting, make a landing at St. Kilda, a UNESCO World Heritage site and nature preserve. Uninhabited since 1930, the traditional stone village left behind by the island’s final residents now lies in ruins. But active occupants do remain: a huge population of gannets, domesticated sheep now gone wild, puffins and wrens.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 6
Iona & Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Visit the sacred island of Iona and its 13th-century abbey, long revered as a Christian pilgrimage site and believed to be where the Book of Kells originated. Several Scottish kings, including the actual Macbeth, are buried in the royal graveyard here. Later, weather permitting, explore uninhabited Staffa Island, famed for its perfect six-sided volcanic basalt columns and dramatic Fingal’s Cave. On Staffa, join one of your naturalists to learn about and observe a large puffin colony.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 7 - 8
Wild West Coast of Ireland

Over the next two days, enjoy the windswept coastal landscapes of the Emerald Isle as we sail past the coast of County Donegal, Mayo, and Galway. Arrive long the Cliffs of Moher, which welcome us to County Kerry. Our exploration continues on land through the southern coast of Ireland with its cozy local pubs, cultural centers, and country walks. Stand out on deck with your National Geographic Photography Expert in the evening as we sail past the uninhabited Blasket Islands, on which you’ll observe a wide array of birds, including storm petrels, shearwaters, terns, gulls, and auks.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 9
Cobh, Ireland

Arrive in this colorful port city on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, intimately tied to maritime history and the great Irish Emigration. Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre and learn about the momentous events that took place here—from the 1912 departure of the Titanic to the successful rescue of passengers from the torpedoed Lusitania and the millions of Irish who departed these shores in search of a better life. Enjoy an afternoon of Irish traditions, from music to sport, with locals.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 10
Isles of Scilly, England

The Isles of Scilly can trace its roots back to prehistoric times. More than 140 different islands make up this designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Take the time to explore one of England’s most pristine beaches and watch for migrating birds that frequent the islands. Weather permitting, enjoy a Zodiac ride among some of the most popular residents of the islands: the local seal colony.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 11
Fowey, England

Arrive in the Cornish port of Fowey (pronounced “Foy”) in the afternoon. Hike a coastal trail or enjoy a guided walk through the village of Fowey with a local. Alternatively, learn about the history of a few beautiful Cornish estates on a visit to Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle, or get to know local producers and growers from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 12
Disembark Portsmouth to London, England & Depart

Disembark in Portsmouth after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations; meals as indicated; beer, wine & full bar; excursions; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks; entrance fees; all port charges and service taxes; basic WiFi (enhanced and premium packages available for purchase). Gratuities for all departures of National Geographic Explorer, Orion, Endurance, Resolution, Sea Cloud, Jahan and Lord of the Glens.

Exclusions

Immigration fees; air transportation; extensions; meals not indicated; reserve wines & premium spirits; gratuities for all departures of Delfin II, Endeavour II, Islander II, Venture, Quest, Sea Bird and Sea Lion; personal items such as emails, laundry, voyage DVD, etc.; and insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 15% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special payment terms apply for groups of 8 or more; inquire for details. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person fees, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – 100% of deposit**
119 to 90 days – 50% of total trip cost
89 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost
**Advance payments will be credited in the form of a Lindblad Expeditions Travel Certificate, valid for 12 months from the date of cancellation, and which may only be applied towards final payment on any future booking. 

(For expeditions booked prior to May 1, 2023: Please refer to your invoice for your payment and cancellation terms.) 

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The reverse Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland cruise begins in Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI) and ends in London, England (LHR). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan to arrive by 10:30 a.m. on embarkation day. Disembarkation is after breakfast, anytime after 1:00 p.m. on Day 12 of the itinerary. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include walking, hiking, kayaking, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography, wildlife observation and morning yoga and stretching.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Children under the age of 18 are eligible for $500 off the double occupancy rate. Skilled staff members trained with National Geographic Education organize activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Rates are variable per remaining availability and are subject to change.

May 02 - May 13, 2025
National Geographic Explorer • 12 days
arrows going opposite directions
From $12245USD
Per Person
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May 13 - May 24, 2025
National Geographic Explorer • 12 days
From $12245USD
Per Person
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Apr 15 - Apr 26, 2026
National Geographic Explorer • 12 days
From $12496USD
Per Person
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Apr 26 - May 07, 2026
National Geographic Explorer • 12 days
From $12496USD
Per Person
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Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary 

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Explorer

The National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship accommodating 148 guests in 81 outside cabins. She is fully stabilized, enabling her to navigate polar passages while providing comfort.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Cruise

In conjunction with this cruise, the following pre- and post-cruise options are available for a seamless land-and-sea group travel experience with National Geographic guides and fellow passengers. Contact AdventureSmith Explorations for pricing.

Scottish Highlands is a 5-day pre- or post-cruise guided adventure to witness Scotland’s rich history and culture come to life on a journey through the renowned Scottish Highlands. Explore some of the country’s most iconic mountain ranges—notably the Nevis range, home to the country’s highest mountain—visit Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal, and tour storied castles, including Urquhart Castle set along the shores of Loch Ness. Cap off the extension in the capital city Edinburgh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you will visit The Royal Yacht Britannia and sample Scotch Whiskey during a guided tasting.

Add to Wishlist
15 - 15 Day Cruise
Coastal Wonders of Norway, the Faroe Islands & Iceland

Follow the Viking trail on this expedition cruise from Norway to Iceland, visiting the Faroes & other far-flung North Atlantic islands.

From $20062USD
Jun Jul
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Norway's Fjords & Arctic Svalbard

Join National Geographic expert leaders aboard 138-guest Nat Geo Endurance or Resolution to see the Arctic's unparalleled beauty, exploring where polar bears prowl and walruses haul out on rocky shores.

From $24607USD
May Jun Jul
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Classic England River Thames Cruise

On this 7-day barge cruise in England, explore London, castles, gardens, churches, rural villages and the charming English countryside aboard the intimate and stylish 8-guest Magna Carta, with biking and walking options along the way.

From $6090USD
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Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland

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