Mousa Broch seen among green grass waterfront on Mousa island in Shetland, Scotland, is the finest preserved example of an Iron Age broch or round tower.
Two female travelers, one holding up binoculars to her eyes, standi n front of stone pillars at the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, Scotland.
A from-the-water view of St. Michaels Mount in Penzance, Cornwall, seen with bright blue water and a sunny sky with wispy clouds lit by the sun.
An Atlantic puffin seen in Fair Isle, Scotland with a fish in its mouth and pink flowers over a green mossy ground.
A wild goat stands with its fully body and big horns seen in profile view on a cliff above the water in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
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Europe Northern Europe Cruise

Jewels of the British Isles

Discover some of the British Isles’ most historically significant and wildlife-rich destinations on one of two voyages. Both routes hug the western and northern coastlines of Scotland to end in Aberdeen, but choose to either start your journey in England or Ireland. The 14-day itinerary aboard 126-guest Greg Mortimer includes the entire western coastline of the United Kingdom, and the 17-day itinerary aboard 132-guest Sylvia Earle nearly circumnavigates Ireland. Both Norwegian-designed sister ships are ideal for exploring these iconic coastlines.

On the 14-day Jewels of Coastal UK itinerary, focus on the United Kingdom, sailing from Portsmouth, England, to Aberdeen, Scotland. With numerous islands located in the Atlantic Ocean, a vast amount of the UK coastline is ideal for exploration by ship. In England, Wales and Scotland, there are designated Heritage Coasts, some which fall within national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and some standalone coastal strips that are protected simply because they are part of a particular location’s heritage. Stroll through charming fishing villages, visit majestic castles, cathedrals, historical homes and gardens, encounter magnificent archaeological sites, witness a dazzling array of birds, and soak up the remarkable history of a land that has been continuously inhabited for over 5,000 years. 

On the 17-day Ireland & Scotland Discovery route, focus on Ireland and Scotland, embarking in Dublin, Ireland, and sailing to Aberdeen, Scotland. Explore the rugged west coast of Ireland, journeying through hundreds of islands and enchanting peninsulas. See some of the highest cliffs in Europe and discover unique flora and fauna. Blessed with fine weather, cruise around the Skellig Islands that includes a 6th century beehive hut monastery – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a large colony of puffins and gannets. In Scotland’s equally wild and wind-ravaged west coast, marvel at striking basalt columns at Fingal’s Cave, learn about the country’s Christian origins at Iona Island, revel in remarkable archaeological treasures and encounter some of the largest breeding colonies of northern gannets in the world.   

Read on for details about the Jewels of the British Isles expeditions, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises in Northern Europe and Northern European tours.



Itinerary

Jewels of Coastal UK Itinerary

This 14-day itinerary aboard Greg Mortimer sails the entire western coastline of the United Kingdom and Scotland, before rounding the top of Scotland to disembark in Aberdeen.

A cruise route map showing the Greg Mortimer's itinerary and many stops from Portsmouth, England, to Aberdeen, Scotland.
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Day 1
Arrive London, England

Having made your way to London, you will be met by a ship representative and transferred to the group hotel. Upon arrival at the included hotel, request cabin tags from the hotel check-in staff, and label the tags with your name and ship cabin number. This evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and PreEmbarkation Briefing. Afterwards, dine at your leisure (dinner not included).

Accommodations

Sheraton Grand London Park Lane

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
Embark Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

This morning, ensure any cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags and take it down to hotel reception. Luggage will be collected from the hotel and transferred directly to port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of embarkation. Keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.

Depart London as you travel to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This ancient dockyard is home to two of the most iconic ships in British maritime history: Mary Rose and HMS Victory. The Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship, which capsized while fighting the French in 1545, was recovered from the seabed in 1982. In dry dock alongside the Mary Rose, is HMS Victory. Constructed in the 18th century and famed for her part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Victory was the flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson, who was infamously fatally shot by a sniper while on deck.

On arrival at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, your guide will escort you to your lunch venue inside the grounds for a two-course meal. Enjoy some free time after lunch to explore at your leisure.

Rejoin your guide as you depart on a panoramic tour of the city. Portsmouth is rightly famed for its naval heritage and harbor but there is so much more to discover. Head out to Portsdown Hill, where you will have (weather permitting) one of the best views in England, overlooking the whole of Portsmouth. On a clear day, you will be able to see as far as Southampton, Chichester and the Isle of Wight.

Learn about the events and people that have shaped Portsmouth across the centuries, including Charles Dickens, who was born in Portsmouth, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who started writing his Sherlock Holmes stories while practicing as a doctor in Southsea. Driving through the 19th-century seaside resort of Southsea with its naval memorials, we glimpse Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII in the 16th century.

The panoramic tour continues to Old Portsmouth, including Spice Island, where Portsmouth first started. Here you will discover some of the city’s historical buildings and defenses as well as the headquarters of Britain’s America’s Cup team, before arriving at Portsmouth Port and your awaiting ship.

Settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings and enjoy the thrill of departure as the crew “throws the lines” and sets sail.

This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and the friendly Expedition Team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, dinner

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Day 3
Fowey, Cornwall

Located on the south coast of Cornwall, Fowey has a strong Celtic connection and is steeped in maritime history. The buildings of Fowey tell the tales of its past. The ancient castles at the deep-water entrance once guarded the harbor from Spanish fleets. In the heart of the town, the towers of the 14th-century St Fimbarrus Church and the 15th-century Place House still stand proud. Your ship moors right in the heart of Fowey as you immerse yourself in the Cornish lifestyle.

Choose two of the following shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day.

Coastal Hike

Depart Fowey Harbour by coach for the scenic drive to the fishing village of Gorran Haven. Set off on foot through the narrow medieval streets towards the beach, before continuing uphill to the cliffs from where the hike along the southwest coast path begins. The route takes you through wild meadows and along clifftop paths, offering magnificent panoramas.

The coastal path descends towards Turbot Point, where the sheer cliffs are known as Bodrugan’s Leap, after Sir Henry Bodrugan, who made his escape from his pursuing enemy, Sir Richard Edgcumbe of Cotehele, by leaping from the cliff into a boat that took him to safety in France. Taking in Chapel Point en route, continue to Port Mellon, a delightful cove with a long history of boat building.

As the route nears closer to the end of the walk, glimpse a first view of Mevagissey and the lovely sweep of Mevagissey Bay. As the lane descends, see splendid views of the picturesque harbor, before arriving for free time to enjoy Mevagissey at leisure. Perhaps explore the village, relax and soak up the scenery, or visit one its many charming cafes for a Cornish cream tea (not included).

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Depart Fowey this morning for the one-hour journey to the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan, a two-time winner of the British Travel Award for Best UK Leisure Attraction. Your route crosses a peaceful countryside of small villages and granite farmhouses, giving you glimpses of life here in days gone by and the hedged fields that give way to rolling downs as you approach Heligan, which is the Cornish name for the willow tree.

The Lost Gardens, situated near the fishing village of Mevagissey, are set on 200 acres and include a complex of walled gardens, greenhouses and a huge vegetable garden. The gardens are claimed as the site of the largest garden restoration in Europe.

As if from a fairytale, the 57-acre gardens were lost for 70 years beneath a mass of ivy, brambles and fallen timber. In 1991, they were “rediscovered” and have been beautifully restored to incorporate rockeries, summerhouses and a crystal grotto. Explore the gardens on your own and marvel at this once-forgotten world.

Fowey by Foot

Join your guide for a walking tour of Fowey, a picturesque port town dominated by its links to fishing, shipbuilding, trading and privateering. Stroll along the narrow streets, dating back as far as the 15th century, to Fowey Town Quay, from where you can enjoy fantastic views of Polruan on the opposite shore. See the “Rook with a Book” sculpture created to celebrate the famous writer Daphne du Maurier, who lived in Fowey – the local area being the inspiration and setting for her well-known novels RebeccaMy Cousin Rachel and her short story, The Birds, famously adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Continue to Readymoney Cove onto the southwest coast path, walking through woodland to the ruins of St Catherine’s Castle. Hear tales of pirates, and privateers – individuals commissioned by governments to carry out quasi-military activities. They would sail in privately owned armed ships, robbing merchant vessels and pillaging settlements belonging to a rival country.

On returning to Fowey town, enjoy some free time to explore independently before rejoining your guide and returning to Albert Quay.

Pit to Port: Wheal Martyn & Charlestown

Explore Cornwall’s unique mining history, see vintage trucks and working waterwheels, discover modern machines in action in the working clay pit and visit the pristine working Georgian port of Charlestown.

Wheal Martyn tells the story of Cornwall’s largest mining industry – china clay. Found in very few places around the world, the deposits of china clay in Cornwall and Devon are the largest globally. The mining of china clay in Cornwall continues today and was the largest driver of the local economy for 100 years. Cornish china clay has been exported worldwide and is used in a wide array of everyday products, ranging from ceramics to paper and paint, to the more unusual such as spacecraft components.

Based around two former Victorian-era china clay works, much of which have been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Wheal Martyn takes you through the story of china clay production from 1800 to the present day.

Set off on the historic trail for a tour of the preserved Victorian China Clay works that reveals Wheal Martyn’s past life at the heart of this global industry. Follow in the footsteps of the clay workers and learn about the lives of the men, women and children who lived, worked and played in the shadows of the Cornish “white pyramids” in Cornwall’s dramatic clay country. Explore ancient buildings such as the crib hut and flat rod tunnel, see industry tools, vintage commercial vehicles, and walk around the fascinating settling pools. This unique site includes Cornwall’s largest remaining working waterwheel.

Enjoy some free time following the trail to the top of the site for an impressive view of a modern, working clay pit. From the observation deck, watch giant machinery in action and see how the historical china clay mining methods have evolved over the years. There’s also a gift shop and cafe.

Continue the discovery of Cornwall’s rich industrial past with a visit to nearby Charlestown. Originally called Polmear, and consisting of just a few tiny cottages, it was developed in the late 18th century by entrepreneur Charles Rashleigh, who built a harbor and increased the size of the settlement. Charlestown, as it was then known, was designed to meet the growing transport needs of the region’s mining boom. The beautifully preserved Georgian port is the oldest china clay port in the world. China clay was transported from the “dries” in and around St Austell to Charlestown in horse-drawn wagons and exported throughout the world. The approach to the port, known as Great Charlestown Road, was designed to take six horse-drawn carts abreast: three going uphill and three going downhill. The road was, and still is, the widest approach road of any port in Cornwall.

Enjoy free time to delve deeper into the history of Charlestown’s links to Cornish mining, or simply relax by the picturesque harbor, the unspoiled charm of which has made it very popular as a setting for historical period TV programs and films.

At the end of your visit, enjoy a scenic coach trip through the Cornish countryside, arriving back at the pier to board your ship.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Penzance, Cornwall

Nestled in a corner of glorious Mount’s Bay, Penzance has long been one of Cornwall’s gems. Soak up the olde-worlde pirate atmosphere as you discover the cobbled alleyways, winding streets, subtropical gardens and dockside taverns for which the town is famous. And do not forget to try an authentic Cornish pastie while in town.

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day:

Penzance Walking Tour

Penzance is the principle town on the Land’s End peninsula and is only 10 miles from the Land’s End landmark itself. With a population of approximately 20,000, it is both a market town and a popular tourist destination, and features an attractive promenade on the sea front. On this walking tour today, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the town and some free time in Penzance.

One of the remarkable things about the town is the abundance of palm trees, and gardens filled with subtropical plants, sure signs you have arrived somewhere unique. This is made even more special by the sight of St Michael’s Mount out to sea. The town has the most westerly major harbor on the English Channel. A ferry service to the Isles of Scilly is available here.

Penzance prospered from the 16th century onwards, when markets were established and the town and harbor drew business away from nearby Marazion, the main port and market town on Mount’s Bay at the time. Penzance became a tin-trading town in later centuries.

Walk through Penzance and experience the interest and charm of this famous Cornish town, as your guide takes you down the winding streets to see both historical and contemporary buildings. Listen and marvel as your guide makes the town come alive through tales of a time when pirates and smugglers where aplenty, and how its long tradition of music and song inspired Gilbert and Sullivan to name their famous comic opera The Pirates of Penzance.

After your walking tour, enjoy some free time before taking the short walk back to the pier. Today’s options include:

Pendeen to Botallack Coastal Walk

After a short transfer by coach from Penzance port, arrive at Pendeen, where the Pendeen Watch Lighthouse has been guiding passing vessels and warning of the dangerous waters around Pendeen for nearly 100 years. Head off on a guided exploration hike of Cornwall’s fascinating mining heritage, stopping at the dramatic clifftop setting of Levant. Levant was known as “the queen of Cornwall’s submarine mines” because of its undersea levels at a depth of over 1,968 feet, which stretched over a mile out to sea. Today, the surviving buildings and ruins offer a window to another world, where men and women toiled to extract the riches of the earth from beneath the crashing waves. 

Enjoy the delightful walk along the coastal path dotted with iconic mine chimneys and engine houses, to Botallack Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Botallack’s World Heritage status testifies not only to the importance of its historical features, but also to the importance of the mining landscape and the technological developments and scientific research that took place here. The Cornish had a huge influence on the development of mining throughout the world, with over 250,000 people having left Cornwall between 1815 and 1915 to work in other mining areas. It is estimated that there are six million people of Cornish descent globally. The Botallack Mine Count House and the world-famous Levant Beam Engine have both been restored by the National Trust and are key monuments at the Cornish and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.

Land’s End & St Ives

Transfer by coach from Penzance to arrive at iconic Land’s End, where England’s westernmost point on the mainland plunges into the sea at the end of the Cornish peninsula. Stroll around the rocky plateau where, if the day is clear, fine views of the steep granite cliffs and rugged coastal scenery can be enjoyed. For generations of English mariners, sighting Land’s End meant the end of a long, often arduous journey, while watching it fade from view over the stern meant the beginning of unknown adventures to come.

Next, set off on a scenic drive to the north coast and the picturesque artists’ haven of St Ives. The dazzling jewel in Cornwall’s crown, St Ives is a charming seaside town and fishing harbor. Generations of artists have been inspired by the area’s undeniable natural beauty, and seduced by the clarity of light unique to St Ives and its romantic coastal scenery. A group of artists, informally known as the St Ives School, made the town the center of abstract and modern art development in British art from the 1940s to the 1960s. Since then, the tiny fishing village has been transformed into a thriving artists’ colony, becoming a magnet for the world’s greatest painters, sculptors and ceramicists.

Upon arrival at St Ives, join your guide on a brief orientation walk where they will point out places of interest before you set off to explore independently. There are plenty of galleries and creative hubs to discover. Perhaps visit the renowned Tate St Ives, or call in at its next-door neighbor, the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Museum. Stroll the narrow streets, with their tiny fishers’ cottages, browse for souvenirs in the boutique shops, or sample a delicious Cornish ice cream while overlooking one of the award-winning white-sand beaches.

Scenic Drive of Cornwall’s Highlights

Your scenic exploration of Cornwall’s highlights begins with a drive to St Ives Bay on the north coast. Passing near to author Rosamunde Pilcher’s birthplace of Lelant, the journey heads east towards Camborne and Redruth. Threading through narrow country lanes, past small granite cottages and stern Methodist chapels, with old, abandoned engine houses dotting the undulating landscape, we get a sense of a time when this area was the beating heart of Cornwall’s mining industry.

Rising high over Camborne and Redruth is the spectacular tor, Carn Brea, a 90-foot granite column built in 1836 as a tribute to Francis Bassett, a philanthropist and member of the most important mining family in the area.

Arrive in the maritime port of Falmouth, which sits on the county’s south coast at the end of the Carrick Roads Estuary. Falmouth is the traditional gateway to the Atlantic and one of the world’s greatest sailing harbors. After a comfort break, your journey continues towards historical Pendennis Headland, where the route ascends, offering a view over the dockyard below and a spectacular vista out across Falmouth Harbour. The headland is dominated by Pendennis Castle, one of the finest of the mighty fortresses built by Henry VIII to defend the Cornwall against invasion.

The route ventures past the golden sand of Gyllyngvase Beach as you set off west to the quaint market town of Marazion. From here, pause to enjoy spectacular views of the world-renowned St Michael’s Mount. Separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway, this is no dusty museum or dormant relic of a past life. Home to a bustling island community, life on this craggy island is ruled by the tides and weather, with crystal-clear waters lapping the shores during the summer months and waves lashing the steep cliffs during winter storms.

Trebah Garden & Cornish Cream Tea

After crossing the Cornish countryside by coach from Penzance, with views out to sea of the renowned St Michael’s Mount, arrive at Trebah, a beautiful subtropical Cornish ravine garden. Rated as one of the 80 finest gardens in the world, Trebah’s 26 acres are home to a stunning collection of rare and exotic plants, trees and shrubs, which cascade into a private and secluded beach on the tranquil Helford River.

Upon arrival at Trebah, set off on a guided tour of the stunning garden, which begins with a spectacular view across the valley. En route to the water gardens with their waterfalls and koi carp, pass under canopies bursting with blooms. See glades of 100-year-old tree ferns, and giant gunneva (rhubarb) that is 18 feet high, as your memorable walk through this fascinating space continues to Rhododendron Valley and Hydrangea Valley. The journey down through the sheltered garden leads to the private beach, a lovely spot to take in the views of one of the world’s most beautiful sailing spots.

The gardens at Trebah boast almost 200 years of history. During World War II, the beach was concreted to allow tanks access, while the garden was used as an ammunition store. On June 1, 1944, a regiment of US infantry sailed from Trebah Beach through raging seas to the D-Day landing in Normandy, but suffered huge casualties. There is a memorial at the bottom of the garden commemorating their bravery.

After your tour of the garden, pause to indulge in a delicious Cornish tradition, a scrumptious cream tea consisting of a freshly baked scone, strawberry jam, thick Cornish clotted cream and a cup of tea or coffee. Free time follows, so explore the garden at your leisure or perhaps shop for souvenirs in the charming gift shop before boarding the coach for the journey back to Penzance.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Tresco & Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous uninhabited rocky islets situated 28 miles from Land’s End, the most south-westerly point of the English mainland. With a population of just over 2,000, an exceptionally mild climate, beautiful flowers and powder-soft, white sandy beaches, the isles are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty, ancient historical sites and high-quality, fresh seafood. Spend the day exploring the second largest of the islands, Tresco, which is privately owned and a subtropical gem.

Tresco offers dramatic rocky outcrops, Bronze Age burial sites, romantic castle ruins, and the world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden, which was established in the 1830s by Augustus Smith. The garden also includes the Valhalla Museum, which features a collection of ships’ figureheads salvaged from the islands’ many shipwrecks.

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day:

Tresco Abbey Gardens

This incredible, subtropical botanical paradise was established by Augustus Smith in the 19th century, around the ruins of a Benedictine abbey. A wealthy merchant banker, Smith purchased the island from the Duchy of Cornwall in the mid-1830s and began working on the gardens in 1834. Today, this horticultural paradise hosts a spectacular collection of over 20,000 exotic plants from more than 80 countries across the world’s Mediterranean climate zones. The temperate, wet, almost subtropical climate in Scilly has allowed the plants to flourish when they would not have survived in other parts of the UK. A walled enclosure around the abbey ruins acts as a windbreak, providing shelter during the winter months, when more than 300 plants are in flower.

After an hour’s guided tour, stroll the gardens at leisure to uncover the many treasures, including the magnificent Valhalla Museum, before returning to the pier.

St Mary’s Coastal Walk

St Mary’s is the largest island in the archipelago and it is from the quayside in St Mary’s harbor that this stunning walking tour commences. Starting out through the tiny ‘capital’ of Hugh Town, with its small cluster of shops, restaurants and cafes set mere moments from the soft, powdery sands and sparkling turquoise waters of Porthcressa Bay, the route continues up to Buzza Hill, home to a Bronze Age burial cairn, and a defensive gun tower built in 1803. Pause here to soak up the magnificent sweeping views over Hugh Town and across to Samson, Bryher and Tresco, before continuing to Peninnis Head, passing the 18th-century ruins of Peninnis Mill. Venture to the end of the headland and be rewarded with the glorious vista over to the Western Rocks and Bishop Rock Lighthouse, standing tall and proud at the very westerly edge of the British Isles.

Peninnis Head is the southernmost point of St Mary’s and is characterized by rugged granite outcrops that have eroded over time into rather spectacular and unusual shapes. It also provides fantastic views of Peninnis Lighthouse, perched on the very tip of the headland, as well as the islands of St Agnes, Gugh and Annet, the latter of which is uninhabited and serves as a sanctuary for many species of seabirds.

The entire Isles of Scilly is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and while it is one of the UK’s smallest designated areas, it is also one of the richest and most diverse. Marvel in the peace and wonder offered by these isles, before retracing steps back to Hugh Town and enjoying views of Old Quay, a scheduled monument built in 1601. The walk concludes back at the quayside in the bustling working harbor.

St Mary’s Garrison Walk

From the bustling quay in Hugh Town, you will meet your local guide who will provide an introductory talk about the rich history of the isles. Traces of human life here stretch back over 8,000 years to when the islands were a single large landmass and home to nomadic hunter-gatherers, whose flint tools are still occasionally uncovered while beachcombing or walking through the fields.

With a perimeter of only 9 miles, the island is best appreciated on foot. Perched high on a hill just above Hugh Town, the impressive 17th-century coastal fort, St Mary’s Garrison, offers spectacular vistas across the water. Walk the thick stone walls, exploring the storehouses and gun batteries before heading to Star Castle.

Part of an impressive coastal defense system, Star Castle is surrounded by a dry moat and was constructed in 1593 under strict instruction from Queen Elizabeth I to protect the islands. Take a well-earned break in this historical castle, with a tea or coffee, before returning down the cobbled walkway to the quay for the Zodiac ride back to the ship. If there is time, you can explore Hugh Town at leisure. For those keen to feel some sand between their toes, head to the soft white sands of Porthcressa, a mere three-minute stroll from the centre of Hugh Town.

Wildlife Cruise

The clear waters surrounding the Isles of Scilly support myriad marine life and migrant birds, drawn by the temperate climate, winds and oceanic current. Discover what Scilly has to offer, with a cruise around the eastern isles, a group of 12 uninhabited islets forming part of the Scilly Heritage Coast. With their raw, rugged edges, these islets are a haven for wildlife and keen eyes may spot gannets, cormorants, shearwaters and the friendly Atlantic grey seals, which are among the rarest seals in the world. From mid-April, the puffin returns to breed and the Isles of Scilly is one of only a handful of sites in the UK where puffin spotting is possible. Learn more about this popular seabird as well as discovering why this fantastic natural habit is so hugely important.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
Lundy Island, England

Lundy Island is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust. The island enjoys a milder climate than the mainland, with more hours of sunshine and less rain. The diversity of the island’s flora and fauna attracts walkers, climbers and divers from near and far.

Despite its small size, Lundy Island offers a diverse range of activities to visitors. Its 4,000 years of human history comes to life through the 42 scheduled monuments and its clutch of listed buildings. Lundy’s position, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Bristol Channel to the east, creates a unique combination of environmental conditions, which have created habitats that support a variety of rare and spectacular wildlife. The rugged cliffs of the west coast are carpeted with sea grass species and are home to important seabird colonies, including puffins and Manx shearwaters. In comparison, the relatively sheltered and calm east coast boasts spectacular displays of wildflowers and provides sanctuary to migrating birds in the spring and autumn.

The diversity of marine life is as equally impressive as the life on land, with many rare and remarkable species protected in both reef and sandbank habitats. Lundy has a population of approximately 200 Atlantic grey seals that are often seen hauled out on the rocks enjoying the sun or frolicking in the water. During summer, basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish, often come to Lundy to feed in the island’s plankton-rich waters. The clifftops on the south-east coast of Lundy are said to be the best place on the island to see dolphins, whales and porpoises. Large numbers of feeding gannets can indicate the presence of a shoal of fish, which can entice a passing whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
Pembrokeshire Islands, Wales

Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm are a trio of neighboring islands named by ancient Viking visitors. They are located off the coast of southern Pembrokeshire and are celebrated for their exceptional wildlife. The islands are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are included within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in West Wales.

Skomer, the larger island, has a thriving puffin colony and these quirky birds with their iconic black and orange beaks are a big draw for visitors. Manx shearwaters are also found on the island, and at night, listen out for the cacophony of eerie sounds they make as they return from hunting.

Nearby Skokholm is more rugged. Its cliffs slant into the Irish Sea, which crashes around its edges, creating a wild and dramatic landscape for photographers.

Tiny, isolated Grassholm is the westernmost point of Wales and is situated 11 miles from the Pembrokeshire mainland. It is known for its famous gannet colony and the dolphins, porpoise and grey seals that visit the area.

To protect the wildlife on the Pembrokeshire Islands, daily visitor numbers are heavily restricted. You will be very fortunate to be able to explore the splendid coastline of the islands from your ship, or in Zodiacs or kayaks.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Holyhead, Wales

Expect a warm Welsh welcome in North Wales. Holyhead is the largest town on the island of Anglesey and has a reputation for being a busy ferry port. It is also the gateway to Snowdonia and the North Wales coast.

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day:

Caernarfon Castle

Take the scenic journey across Anglesey and the Menai Strait to Caernarfon, with its famous castle dating from 1283. Standing at the mouth of the Seiont River, the fortress with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and color-banded masonry, dominates the walled town.

Of the four castles in northern Wales built by the order of Edward I, Caernarfon Castle is the most magnificent. The grandeur of Caernarfon Castle signifies King Edward I’s intent that it should serve as the powerful seat of English government in Wales. It is said to have been designed to echo the walls of Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome, and “the fairest that ever man saw” dream-castle of Welsh myth and legend.

Caernarfon’s symbolic status was emphasized when Edward I made sure that his son, the first Prince of Wales, was born here in 1284. A statue of King Edward II can be seen above the entrance at the King’s Gate. In more recent times the heir to the UK throne, Prince Charles, was crowned Prince of Wales here in 1969.

Enter this once-impregnable castle and explore its magnificent ruins with your guide. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore further, or visit the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, housed in two of the castle’s towers.

Caernarfon town is adjacent to the castle and a good option to spend free time before returning to Holyhead.

Discover Anglesey

Discover the Isle of Anglesey with its unparalleled beauty, and vivid history bestowed by its Celtic, Roman, Viking and medieval settler ancestry.

Drive to Llangefni, located at the center of the island, to visit the Gallery of Anglesey. Here you will learn about Anglesey’s cultural history, the industries that thrived here, the rich archaeological finds and the tragic shipwrecks off the island’s rugged coast. See exhibitions displaying work from local artists and collections on loan from renowned organizations.

Traveling south, arrive in the Welsh village famous for having the longest place name in Britain: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which means “the Church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio near a red cave.” The name is usually shortened to Llanfair PG by the locals. Enjoy a short stop and take the opportunity to photograph the world’s longest railway station sign.

Head to the Menai Strait, where you can see Thomas Telford’s suspension bridge (Menai Bridge). Opened in 1826, it was the world’s first iron suspension bridge.

Enjoy a scenic return journey to Holyhead via the west coast of Anglesey, which is renowned for its beautiful beaches.

Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path

The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path is a 130-mile route that follows most of the island’s coastline and goes through 20 of Anglesey’s coastal villages. The path is within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes stunning landscapes of farmland, coastal heath, golden sandy beaches, saltmarshes, cliffs and woodlands. It takes about 12 days to walk the entire path, which comprises 12 defined sections.

Starting at Breakwater Country Park situated on the site of an old quarry, join the coastal path and head to North Stack. Passing an old foghorn station, take the track to the summit of Holyhead Mountain, where you can enjoy superb views from the highest point on the coastal route. On a clear day, you can see Ireland to the west and Isle of Man to the north.

Farther along the coast, enjoy spectacular views of the famous South Stack Lighthouse, built in 1809 to warn ships of the treacherous rocks on Holyhead’s coast and still in operation today.

At the Ellen’s Tower lookout, enjoy more spectacular views of the coastline and observe numerous species of seabirds. Walking inland, follow the ancient medieval field boundaries to return to Breakwater Country Park.

South Stack RSPB Reserve

Anglesey is a wonderful place to see seabirds! On Holy Island, you will discover the wonderful South Stack Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Reserve. The area is covered in heathland on a stretch of beautiful, dramatic sea cliffs.

South Stack RSPB Reserve is an important nesting site for seabirds. The number of seabirds that nest on the cliffs here is impressive. Here you will find puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes and fulmars.

South Stack is one of the best places to see the chough (pronounced ‘chuff’). The chough is the rarest member of the crow family in the British Isles and can be seen swooping along the cliffs year-round. An important conservation project is currently underway at the reserve to encourage choughs to breed.

Other wildlife that you may see include the rare silver-studded blue butterfly and basking adder. If you look out to the sea, you may spot porpoises and dolphins.

In summer, the heathland, which is part of the largest maritime heathland in North Wales, has an abundance of plant species, including the spotted rock rose, the county flower of Anglesey, and spathulate fleawort, which is endemic to Anglesey but only found at South Stack.

After the guided walk, enjoy some time to explore independently.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 9
Douglas, Isle of Man, England

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. Its coastline features cliffs, stacks, islets and long beaches, while the hills hold important peat reserves and are deeply cut by wooded glens in the east. In recognition of its rich marine biodiversity, the Isle of Man has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below to create your experience for the day.

Volcanoes & Vikings Walking Tour

This is one of the most beautiful walks on the island, renowned for its stunning coastal scenery, birdlife and archaeological remains. Leaving the port at Douglas, travel via the famous Fairy Bridge to Castletown, the former capital of the Isle of Man.

Follow part of the Way of the Gull, the Isle of Man’s long-distance coastal footpath around Scarlett Head, where there is an opportunity to see seabirds and various plants against a stunning backdrop of limestone outcrops and volcanic rocks. This part of the exposed southern coast has an abundance of historical sites. There are traces of ancient forts, chapels, old farms, a WWII radar station and a now disused flooded quarry, which once supplied stone for the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The historical highlights of the walk are at Chapel Hill, Balladoole. Here you can see a Bronze Age burial site, an Iron Age hillfort, a Viking ship burial site, and Keeill Vael, the remains of St Michael’s Chapel, which dates back to the 12th century. Chapel Hill has panoramic views over the south of the Island and the Iron Age Norse fort at The Enclosure of the Stallion.

Cregneash & The Sound

Depart Douglas and travel via the scenic Plains of Heaven and the Southern Hills, from where the magnificent panorama of the southern coast can be seen on the descent to Port St Mary village and the heritage hamlet of Cregneash.

Cregneash is one of the last strongholds of the Manx language, and this small village of white-washed, stone-walled thatched cottages (crofts) is one of the most picturesque villages in the Isle of Man. The residents of Cregneash play an important role in preserving the Manx heritage by using traditional methods of farming such as horse-drawn ploughs and allowing livestock to roam free. Expect to see sheep, shorthorn cows and Manx cats. Stroll around the village, venture inside the crofts to get a glimpse of traditional life and speak with the friendly folk that keep this wonderful heritage alive.

Afterwards, travel to The Sound, the most southerly point on the island and one of the most scenic places in the British Isles. Seals are often spotted lying on the rocky islet of Kitterland, and dolphins and basking sharks are also spotted in the water here. Look across to the Calf of Man, a renowned bird sanctuary where many migrating birds stop for a rest on their long journey to or from warmer climates.

Scenic Isle of Man

On a scenic drive south-east out of Douglas, head to Castletown, the original Manx capital until 1869, where you can admire the magnificent Castle Rushen (from the outside), one of the finest examples of a medieval castle in the British Isles. Enjoy a short stroll along the picturesque harbor.

Departing Castletown, continue to the southern tip of the island, to the pretty bay at Port Erin, before traveling along the western coast of the island to Peel, affectionately known as Sunset City. The striking ruins of Peel Castle overlook the small fishing port with its quaint narrow streets and delightful harbor.

Continue to Tynwald Hill. Located in the village of St Johns, this grass-topped, tiered hill was established by Norse Viking settlers over a thousand years ago, with the hill thought to have been built in the 13th century, making it the oldest continuous parliament in the world. Each year, on  July 5, all the laws enacted in the previous year are publicized to the gathered government officials and the public at large, both in Manx (Gaelic) and English languages.

On the drive back to Douglas, pass through the Plains of Heaven, the beautiful central valley of the Island.

Birdwatching Expedition

Note: This is a full-day excursion and is limited to 24 people. Bookings are confirmed on a first-to-book basis.

The Isle of Man is home to spectacular wildlife and birdlife. Bird species such as hen harrier, red-billed chough, peregrine, black guillemot, Manx shearwater, puffin, arctic tern and many more can be spotted on the island in remarkable habitats of exceptional beauty. Join your guide, a specialist ornithologist, to explore some of the wonderful wildlife areas and nature reserves on the island and discover the Isle of Man’s rich, diverse birdlife. Lunch at a local pub or restaurant is included.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 10
Islay, Scotland

Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and is known as the “Queen of the Hebrides.” The island has a population of approximately 3,200 inhabitants and an impressive coastline that stretches for 130 miles.

Islay is probably best known for its malt whiskies and has eight working distilleries. Whisky is one of the most important sources of income for the island. On the south coast of Islay we visit Ardbeg Distillery, which was established by local farmers, and distiller John MacDougall began commercial production in 1815. Today, it is one of the island’s fastest-growing distilleries and prides itself for using entirely traditional methods of production. Using malted barley sourced from the maltings at Port Ellen, Ardbeg claims to produce the peatiest whisky in Islay.

Besides whisky, Islay has an abundance of wildlife and is an important location for migrating birds. You will visit the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart, where you join the ranger for a guided walk through a variety of wetland habitats. With over 200 species of birds visiting Islay, you may see oystercatchers, gannets, terns, cormorants, buzzards, barnacle geese, white-fronted geese, hen harriers and even white-tailed eagles. From the beaches, seals, dolphins and basking sharks are sometimes spotted, and if you are patient, you might even see otters.

History abounds on Islay. Standing stones, and a stone circle, show that the island was inhabited during Neolithic times. Islay was once known as the Lordship of the Isles, and you can explore the 14th-century settlement at Finlaggan, which remains the most important archaeological site on the island. A number of Celtic crosses can also be found.

You will also visit the Islay Woollen Mill, which was established in 1883 and is Isla’s only mill. The mill is a traditional family-run business and uses two looms dating from Victorian times. The mill has made designs that were featured in Hollywood blockbuster films such as Braveheart and Forrest Gump.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 11
Iona & Staffa, Scotland

Barely three miles long, the tiny island of Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also the burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish abbot Saint Columba and 12 disciples landed here and founded a monastery in 563. From this base, Saint Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity. The plan today is to visit the Abbey and see the cloisters, graveyard (burial site of numerous early Scottish, Irish and French kings) as well as the impressive collection of more than 180 medieval carved stones and crosses.

On Staffa, explore Fingal’s Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture. You may enter the cave in Zodiacs, or clamber ashore to walk into the mouth of the cave. On shore find puffin in abundance.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 12
St Kilda, Scotland

Weather permitting, plan to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage Site) of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique Soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food – paying their rent in the form of wool, meat and feathers. The isles hold Europe’s most important seabird colony and are home to Britain’s highest sea stacks (rock columns). Island hopping northeast, aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of violent Atlantic storms and rarely see visitors.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 13
Fair Isle & Papa Westray, Scotland

Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station and is also famous for knitwear and historical shipwrecks. About five kilometres by three kilometres (three miles by two miles), Fair Isle is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mainly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island.

A birdwatcher’s paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins. The isle is an excellent place to view seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Fair Isle also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. We will be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and may take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit the waters around Fair Isle, and sharp eyes may spot harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, orcas and minke whales.

On Papa Westray, you can choose to visit the 5,500-year-old Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farm building that claims to be the oldest standing house in Europe and the 12th century St Boniface Kirk. Alternatively, enjoy a walk at North Hill reserve in the north of the island. The reserve is home to Arctic terns and skuas and the extremely rare Scottish primrose. In the early evening meet at the Papay Pub for a drink with the locals.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 14
Disembark Aberdeen, Scotland

During the early morning, cruise into Aberdeen, where you will be free to disembark at approximately 8:00 am. Say farewell your Expedition Team and fellow passengers as you all continue your onward journeys. Transfer to Aberdeen airport or to your centrally located hotel.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Arrival transfer from airport to hotel on Day 1; welcome reception/pre-embarkation briefing on Day 1; one night’s hotel accommodation in London on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2); transfer from London to Portsmouth, including a tour of Portsmouth, prior to embarkation on Day 2; group transfer from pier to airport or hotel on Day 14; onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service; all meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage; beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner; all shore excursions; educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team; complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult); a 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket; complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage; comprehensive pre-departure information; port surcharges, permits and landing fees; gratuities for ship’s crew.

Exclusions

International or domestic flights, unless specified in the itinerary; transfers not mentioned in the itinerary; airport arrival or departure taxes; passport, visa and vaccination charges; travel insurance, emergency evacuation charges or personal insurance (required); hotels and meals not included in itinerary; optional excursions not included in the itinerary; optional activity surcharges; all items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, WiFi, email or phone charges, discretionary expedition team gratuities (USD cash only).

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a nonrefundable deposit of $2,500 is required per person at time of booking (additional nonrefundable $250 deposit is required for optional activities). The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
91 days or more – 100% of deposit
90 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

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.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot), including a booster shot for those eligible. There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Jewels of Coastal UK Cruise begins in London, England (LHR) and ends in Aberdeen, Scotland (ABZ). We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. At the latest, plan flights to arrive to London by midday or early afternoon on Day 1 to have time to attend the welcome reception and pre-embarkation briefing. An arrival transfer from central London airports to the group hotel is included. Plan flights to depart Aberdeen no earlier than 12:00pm noon on disembarkation day. A group transfer from the pier to hotels or the airport is included following disembarkation. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Birdwatching, walking, Zodiac cruising, photography tips, lectures & all trips ashore are included in the rate. Various optional activities may be available, with per-person 2023 prices starting at: kayaking $900; snorkeling $440; scuba diving $940; stand-up paddleboarding $360. To participate in polar diving, you must be a trained, certified scuba diver with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating as well as experience in dry-suit diving at a minimum of 30 dives. Please contact AdventureSmith for details on which activities are available on your specific departure date and to reserve space with your booking.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at a 50% supplement of the per-person listed rate in select cabins upon availability. Solo travelers willing to share may be matched with a person of the same gender, and if the other cabin berth goes unsold, will only pay the standard double-occupancy rate. 

Families & Children

Kids 8 years and older are welcomed aboard all departure dates. Children between 8-17 years of age must pay the adult price of the expedition.

Travel Insurance

A medical form for all travelers, signed by their doctor, is required for every departure. Comprehensive travel insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum required coverage of $250,000 USD per person, covering medical, accident and repatriation/emergency evacuation, as well as baggage loss and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. In addition, we highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. 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.

Ireland & Scotland Discovery Itinerary

This 17-day itinerary aboard Sylvia Earle nearly circumnavigates Ireland before sailing on the west and northern coastline of Scotland.

A cruise route map showing the Sylvia Earle's stops from Dublin, Ireland, to Aberdeen, Scotland.
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Day 1
Arrive Dublin, Ireland

Having made your way to Dublin, you will be met by a ship representative and transferred to the group hotel. Upon arrival at the included hotel, request cabin tags from the hotel check-in staff, and label the tags with your name and ship cabin number. Enjoy free time, and this evening dine at your leisure (dinner not included).

Accommodations

The Alex Hotel (or similar)

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
Tour & Embark Dublin

This morning, ensure any cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags and take it down to hotel reception. Luggage will be collected from the hotel and transferred directly to port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of embarkation. Keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day.

Enjoy an excursion of Dublin before transferring to the port to board the Sylvia Earle in the late afternoon. After embarkation, settle into your cabin before attending mandatory safety briefings and enjoy the thrill of departure as the crew “throws the lines” and sets sail.

This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and your friendly expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, dinner

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Day 3
At Sea

As you sail south along the east coast of Ireland, a series of onboard lectures begins with informative and entertaining talks from the ship’s team of experts, who will share their knowledge of the culture, history and nature of the places you will be visiting. Take the opportunity to discover the state-of-the-art vessel; explore the science center and lounge, borrow a book from the library or keep active in the gym.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Skellig Islands

Off the coast of County Kerry, two rocky pinnacles rise from the Atlantic Ocean. The spectacular Skellig Islands are world-renowned for their ornithological and archaeological significance. Skellig Michael is known throughout the world of archaeology as the site of a well-preserved monastic outpost of the Early Christian period – now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Little Skellig is equally renowned in matters of ornithology as the home of roughly 27,000 pairs of gannets – the second largest colony of such seabirds in the world.

Approximately 1,400 years ago a small group of men were searching for a place to practice their religion in complete solitude and isolation. These remarkable men ventured into the open ocean off southwest Ireland determined to build a monastery on one of the most extraordinarily remote locations on earth. Generation after generation of monks helped to hand-carve the 600-stone step with the simplest tools, to build a hilltop monastery 656 ft above the pounding waves. The monastery has six corbel stone beehive huts and two boat-shaped oratories. The survival of the terraces and drystone walls to this day are testament to the skill and dedication of the monks. The monastery is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a striking example of Early Christian architecture. The archaeological remains show the dramatically spartan conditions in which the monks lived, and after enduring several Viking raids, the monks eventually left the island in the 13th century. The site has subsequently become a place of Christian pilgrimage.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) manages the Skelligs, and they no longer allow cruise ships to land on Skellig Michael. Visitor numbers to Skellig Michael in recent years have reached the maximum permitted by UNESCO and any violation of UNESCO criteria will affect the future UNESCO status of the island. From the comfort, safety and elevated height of our vessel, we will enjoy a ship cruise around both Little Skellig to get a glimpse of the incredible gannet colony, and the UNESCO World Heritage listed monastery on Skellig Michael, with onboard commentary about the islands from a local expert.

After lunch and a rest, enjoy a late-afternoon hike on Bere Island, which features more than 130 miles of trails. Bere Island features sites with rich military heritage, as well as spectacular breathtaking scenery across to Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountains.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Inishmore

The largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore has attracted visitors to its rugged shores for generations. The island is home to over 50 different monuments of Christian, pre-Christian and Celtic mythological heritage. The geology is an extension of the famous limestone rocks of The Burren, where limestone pavements crisscrossed with grikes, host a plethora of, often extremely rare, wildflowers such as gentian violets and orchids. The landscape of Inishmore is a patchwork of fields hemmed in by precariously balanced drystone walls.

An exploration of Inishmore includes a visit to the island’s most celebrated monument, Dún Aonghusa. Occupying a site of 14 acres, Dún Aonghusa is a fort that consists of three terraced walls surrounding an inner enclosure containing a platform on the edge of a 300-ft-high cliff. The views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding areas from Dún Aonghusa are breathtakingly spectacular. Excavations carried out in the 1990s indicated that people had been living at the hilltop from c.1500 BC with the first walls and dwelling houses being erected round 1100 BC. A remarkable network of defensive stones known as a Chevaux de Frise surround the whole structure.

Late Bronze Age objects such as rings, tools, beads and foodstuffs found on site are now in Dublin’s National Museum. Archaeologists and scholars from all over the world visit the site annually, and some scholars suggest that the platform overlooking the Atlantic Ocean may have had ritual significance. The Dún Aonghusa Visitor Centre is located on the edge of Kilmurvey Craft Village and provides a wealth of information about Dún Aonghusa, the cliffs, and the Aran Islands in general. It has a number of exhibits and educational materials which are set out in a simple way affording visitors a good understanding of Dun Aonghasa prior to entering the site itself.

At Kilronan village, enjoy free time to explore the local shops and perhaps pick up some local mementos.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 6 - 7
Connemara

Dubbed a place of “savage beauty” by Oscar Wilde, the Connemara lets you experience authentic Ireland. Connemara is Irish landscape at its most dramatic. With soaring mountains, scattered loughs and an intricate coastline, this remote part of Galway offers superb hiking.

Carved by glaciers, Killary Harbour has been described as Ireland’s only true fjord. It forms the border between Galway and Mayo counties and features some of the most spectacular scenery on the west coast. This deep-water inlet from the Atlantic was once a hiding place for U-boats in World War II. The sheltered fjord is also a real treat for birdwatching, with nationally important populations of many species, including ringed plover, mute swan, whooper swan, mallard duck, tufted duck, and barnacle goose. Dolphins are often seen in the fjord, along with otters, a protected species that are known to breed at Killary Harbour. From Rosroe pier, a number of walks are possible including the Killary Harbour Coastal Walk.

Also enjoy hiking at Connemara National Park. Choose the more challenging 4.3-mile Diamond Hill Loop walk that offers blanket bog ecology, wildlife viewing, extensive heather and stunning views of the mountains, Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark islands and coastline. To the north and east, the Twelve Bens are nothing short of sensational. To the northeast, Kylemore Abbey’s gothic turrets stand out from neighbouring Kylemore Lough; and directly north, the summit of Mweelrea, Connaught’s highest mountain, can be seen peeping out. There are some steep sections that require the use of hands. Terrain includes stone steps, trail and surfaced minor road. It can be quite windy on top so bring appropriate clothing.

For those after an easier and shorter hike, the Lower Diamond Hill trail is an excellent option. It’s a 1.9-mile hike that takes 1-1.5 hours. The walk offers some fantastic views of the surrounding Connemara countryside, coastline and islands. Two other shorter walks starting from the visitor center are also available if you’re after easier options.

Also on tap is a visit to Clare Island, a mountainous island guarding the entrance to Clew Bay in County Mayo. It is famous as the home of the pirate queen Grace O’Malley (Granuaile), who was known as a tyrant of the ocean, clan chieftain, mother, wife, survivor and brilliant politician. Although her deeds are relatively unknown outside of Ireland, the legacy of her mastery survives in the ruined monuments and the folk-consciousness on Clare Island.

Clare is the largest and highest of Clew Bay’s many islands, with dramatic coastal cliffs and spectacular views of one of Ireland’s best-known peaks, Croagh Patrick. Its spectacular cliffs are home to large numbers of nesting seabirds, and its hills, bogs and woodlands make it ideal for walks.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
Mullaghmore

Jutting out of Sligo’s northern edge, the small peninsula of Mullaghmore sits dramatically out into the North Atlantic. Land and sea meet in dramatic confluence along the coast of County Sligo, a dazzling landscape of jagged mountain peaks that inspired the work of Nobel-winning poet William Butler Yeats. Mullaghmore resides in the shadows of iconic Benbulben mountain, undoubtedly Ireland’s most distinctive mountain, sometimes referred to as Ireland’s own Table Mountain. The most distinctive peak among the Dartry range, it was formed during the ice age by massive glaciers segmenting the landscape.

On the Benbulben Forest Walk (1.5 hours, suitable for all ages and abilities), the trail begins in a secluded forest area before opening out to stunning views of Benbulben head. Further along the walk offers superb panoramic views of Donegal Bay, Slieve League Cliffs, Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle. And, of course, Yeats himself is buried “Under bare Ben Bulben’s head,” as he predicted in one of his poems. His grave can be found in Drumcliff cemetery, not far from the foot of the mountain. The mountain’s most noted reference in Yeats’s poetry is in the work Under Ben Bulben, in which he describes horsemen who “ride the wintry dawn/where Ben Bulben sets the scene.”

Alternatively, choose the Mullaghmore Head Walk (2.5 hours, suitable for all ages and abilities). This is an easy walk along the stunning coastline of Mullaghmore which consists of a mixture of footpaths, off-road walking trails and public roads, which offer stunning panoramic views of Donegal Bay and Slieve League beyond, as well as of Benbulben and the Dartry Mountains.

Mullaghmore village, is largely the vision of Henry John Temple, better known as Lord Palmerston, who served two terms in office as British Prime Minister. He inherited a large estate of 10,000 acres in north Sligo, and not only instigated the building of Classiebawn Castle, the dominant landmark of the area, but also the magnificent stone harbor and the main buildings that characterize the village today.

After a morning of hiking, return to the ship for lunch and rest. Late afternoon, walk in a magical setting near Sligo town, to step out of the modern world, into a peaceful, green and natural land that feels a million miles away. Tall walls of mossy rock trickling with water surround you, while an array of trees, shrubs and ferns creep up from the ground. The sounds from the world outside are silenced, leaving you alone in this fairy tale wonderland.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 9
Malin Head & Giant's Causeway

Ireland is blessed with impressive natural scenery: vast valleys, glittering lakes, and cliffs hoisted up from the Atlantic. The jewel in the crown of Donegal is the Inishowen Peninsula. At the peninsula’s tip is Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point. Soak in the dramatic scenery and see for yourself why Malin Head was chosen as a filming location for the Star Wars movie The Last Jedi.

In the afternoon, visit Northern Ireland’s most famous natural attractions, the Giant’s Causeway. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway consists of some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns to create what looks like a giant pathway of stepping-stones that start on land and disappear into the ocean.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 10
Argyll Coast & Islands

Crossing the North Channel into Scotland, we sail north to the Argyll Coast and Islands, recognized as a Mission Blue Hope Spot, the first one in mainland UK. Sail among dramatic landscapes of rolling green hills, where stone castles overlook the sea that conceal shipwrecks from the Spanish Armada to WWII losses. There is an abundance of marine biodiversity within the waters of the Argyll Coast and Islands. The region is home to dolphins, whales, seals, otters and birds. The Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura Marine Protected Area was created in 2014 to protect the area’s deep, glacier-carved seabed troughs and a critically endangered species – the flapper skate, the largest of all the world’s skates.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 11
Iona & Staffa, Scotland

Barely three miles long, the tiny island of Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also the burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish abbot Saint Columba and 12 disciples landed here and founded a monastery in 563. From this base, Saint Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity. The plan today is to visit the Abbey and see the cloisters, graveyard (burial site of numerous early Scottish, Irish and French kings) as well as the impressive collection of more than 180 medieval carved stones and crosses.

On Staffa, explore Fingal’s Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture. You may enter the cave in Zodiacs, or clamber ashore to walk into the mouth of the cave. On shore find puffin in abundance.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 12
St Kilda, Scotland

Weather permitting, plan to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage Site) of St Kilda in the Outer Hebrides, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique Soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food – paying their rent in the form of wool, meat and feathers. The isles hold Europe’s most important seabird colony and are home to Britain’s highest sea stacks (rock columns). Island hopping northeast, aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of violent Atlantic storms and rarely see visitors.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 13
Papa Westray & Fair Isle, Scotland

On Papa Westray, you can choose to visit the 5,500-year-old Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farm building that claims to be the oldest standing house in Europe and the 12th century St Boniface Kirk. Alternatively, enjoy a walk at North Hill reserve in the north of the island. The reserve is home to Arctic terns and skuas and the extremely rare Scottish primrose. In the early evening meet at the Papay Pub for a drink with the locals.

Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station and is also famous for knitwear and historical shipwrecks. About three miles by two miles, Fair Isle is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mainly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island.

A birdwatcher’s paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins. The isle is an excellent place to view seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Fair Isle also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. Be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit the waters around Fair Isle, and sharp eyes may spot harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, orcas and minke whales.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 14
Isle of Noss, Lerwick & Mousa

In the Shetland Islands, enjoy a ship cruise at the Isle of Noss, a National Nature Reserve and Special Protection Area that offers breathtaking coastal scenery of sandstone cliffs where thousands of seabirds come to nest. Come alongside at the port of Lerwick on Mainland, the largest of the Shetland Islands, and explore the old town on a walking tour. On the south of Mainland, plan to visit the historic lighthouse at Sumburgh Head. The storm-ravaged cliffs attract a large number of seabirds, and puffins can often be found among the grassy slopes that are adorned with wildflowers.

Then visit Mousa Broch (a fortified Iron Age tower), located on the small uninhabited island of Mousa. The fortification is the best preserved of Scotland’s 570 brochs, and one of the best-preserved prehistoric buildings in Europe. Storm-petrels nest among its stones, which can be seen when visiting the broch at night. In daylight, a large colony of common and grey seals basks on its shores where you might also spot otter.

You will also visit the Islay Woollen Mill, which was established in 1883 and is Isla’s only mill. The mill is a traditional family-run business and uses two looms dating from Victorian times. The mill has made designs that were featured in Hollywood blockbuster films such as Braveheart and Forrest Gump.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 15
Kirkwall

Discover the rich history in Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney Islands. Initial impressions are misleading, as the harbor area looks modern, but the narrow winding streets and lanes of the old town, which have remained relatively unchanged over the centuries are appealing.

Explore magnificent St Magnus Cathedral built from red and white sandstone and considered the finest medieval building in the north of Scotland before popping across the road to Tankerness House and Gardens, a restored 16th century former manse, now housing the Orkney Museum featuring archaeological artefacts from Neolithic times to the Vikings. The exhibition is a great way to whet your appetite for the archaeological gems you will find on the mainland including the unique and well-preserved 5,000-year-old semi-subterranean village of Skara Brae.

Everything west of Kirkwall is known as West Mainland, an area of rich farmland, rolling hills and moorland, with dramatic cliffs along the Atlantic coastline. Some of the main archaeological attractions we may see include the standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, and the chambered tombs of Maes Howes that to this day still have unresolved mysteries.

One of the mainland’s main attractions is Skara Brae, the best-preserved Stone-Age village in northern Europe, located in the spectacular white sands of the Bay of Skaill. Revealed in 1850 after a storm below away the dunes, the site dates from approximately 5,000 years ago and was occupied for about 600 years, affording visitors a unique picture of the lifestyle of the original inhabitants.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 16
Bass Rock

Gannets are a dazzling-looking seabird. With the distinctive blush on its head and neck, black-rimmed blue eyes and beak and white plumage with black-tinged tips, it is one of the most elegant-looking seabirds in the world. On the small, uninhabited volcanic rock of Bass Rock, you can find an enormous population of northern gannets – more than 150,000 individuals, making it the largest colony of this creature in the world. Be prepared to be enthralled by the unforgettable sight and sound of thousands of these stunning creatures in flight.

Accommodations

Sylvia Earle

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 17
Disembark Aberdeen, Scotland

During the early morning, cruise into Aberdeen, where you will be free to disembark at approximately 8:00 am. Say farewell your Expedition Team and fellow passengers as you all continue your onward journeys. Transfer to Aberdeen airport or to your centrally located hotel.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Arrival transfer from airport to hotel on Day 1; welcome reception/pre-embarkation briefing on Day 1; one night’s hotel accommodation in Dublin on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2); day tour of Dublin prior to embarkation on Day 2; group transfer to airport or hotel on Day 17; onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service; all meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage; beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner; Captain’s Welcome and Farewell receptions including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages; all shore excursions & zodiac cruises; educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team; complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult); a 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket; complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage; comprehensive pre-departure information; port surcharges, permits and landing fees; gratuities for ship’s crew.

Exclusions

International or domestic flights, unless specified in the itinerary; transfers not mentioned in the itinerary; airport arrival or departure taxes; passport, visa and vaccination charges; travel insurance, emergency evacuation charges or personal insurance (required); hotels and meals not included in itinerary; optional excursions not included in the itinerary; optional activity surcharges; all items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, WiFi, email or phone charges, discretionary expedition team gratuities (USD cash only).

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a nonrefundable deposit of $2,500 is required per person at time of booking (additional nonrefundable $250 deposit is required for optional activities). The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
91 days or more – 100% of deposit
90 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

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.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot), including a booster shot for those eligible. There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Ireland & Scotland Discovery Cruise begins in Dublin, Ireland (DUB) and ends in Aberdeen, Scotland (ABZ). An arrival transfer from the Dublin airport to the group hotel is included on Day 1, but we recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to depart Aberdeen no earlier than 12:00pm noon on disembarkation day. A group transfer from the pier to hotels or the airport is included following disembarkation. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Birdwatching, walking, Zodiac cruising, photography tips, lectures & all trips ashore are included in the rate. Various optional activities may be available, with 2023 per-person prices starting at: kayaking $620; snorkeling $440; scuba diving $650; stand-up paddleboarding $360. To participate in polar diving, you must be a trained, certified scuba diver with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating as well as experience in dry-suit diving at a minimum of 30 dives. Please contact AdventureSmith for details on which activities are available on your specific departure date and to reserve space with your booking.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at a 50% supplement of the per-person listed rate in select cabins upon availability. Solo travelers willing to share may be matched with a person of the same gender, and if the other cabin berth goes unsold, will only pay the standard double-occupancy rate. 

Families & Children

Kids 8 years and older are welcomed aboard all departure dates. Children between 8-17 years of age must pay the adult price of the expedition.

Travel Insurance

A medical form for all travelers, signed by their doctor, is required for every departure. Comprehensive travel insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum required coverage of $250,000 USD per person, covering medical, accident and repatriation/emergency evacuation, as well as baggage loss and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. In addition, we highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. 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

May 04 - May 17, 2023
Greg Mortimer • 14 days
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From $12195USD
Per Person
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May 17 - Jun 02, 2023
Sylvia Earle • 17 days
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From $14695USD
Per Person
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Accommodations

Learn All About the Small Ships on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Sylvia Earle

Due to sail in December 2022, Sylvia Earle offers a robust menu of adventure activities from kayaking and polar diving to mountaineering and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Cruise responsibly knowing this brand new icebreaker polar expedition ship was built with cutting edge nautical technology including one of the lowest polluting marine engines in the world.

Expedition Ship
Greg Mortimer

The Greg Mortimer is a brand new, icebreaker polar expedition ship. Carrying an average of 126 guests, this small ship features a unique bow designed for efficiency. It features active programming with adventure gear for backcountry skiing, polar diving, snowshoeing, climbing and kayaking.

Deal

Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires October 31st, 2022
Save Up to 20% Aboard Greg Mortimer & Sylvia Earle

For a limited time, save up to 20% on 2023 voyages in Europe and the Arctic aboard Greg Mortimer and Sylvia Earle.

Expert Review

Reviews From Our Experts So You Know What To Expect

Todd Smith • January 19th, 2021
Expert Aboard: Sylvia Earle & Greg Mortimer Ship Review

Read a detailed ship review about the identical polar sister ships Greg Mortimer & Sylvia Earle and what they offer travelers. Our expert has been aboard and writes this from his firsthand experience.

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

Book short, 3-day extension tours in conjunction with this cruise to make the most of your time in Ireland and Scotland, with included hotels, tours and private transfers. Choose from: Taste of Dublin, to experience the city’s magnificent Anglo-Norman churches, admire the elegant Georgian architecture, stop for lunch in a traditional Irish pub and visit the Jameson Whiskey Distillery. Taste of Edinburgh, to jump the queue at the remarkable Edinburgh Castle, perched high above the city and dominating the skyline, and stroll the cobblestone streets of the old town, learning about its rich history on a guided walk.

Or, extend your time in Scotland hiking in Cairngorms National Park, one of the top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places according to National Geographic. The 8-day Cairngorms National Park Explorer operates round-trip from Aberdeen and aligns pre- or post-cruise with just 14 trekkers on the journey. Hike through glorious mountain scenery on the Queen’s Highland Estate; discover the majesty of deep glens, clear rivers and wild lochs on expertly guided walks; and sample Scotch whisky in its geographical home. Daily hikes range from 5-10 miles over relatively flat terrain; no hiking experience necessary. Contact AdventureSmith for more details and to reserve space.

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12 - 15 Day Cruise
Svalbard Odyssey

A flexible itinerary allows the 126-guest Greg Mortimer and 132-guest Sylvia Earle to follow the best weather and wildlife-spotting opportunities. The option to add on scuba diving, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and snorkeling, as well as an alternative itinerary that includes Scotland, are particularly unique for expeditions in this region.

Special Offer
From $11895USD
May Jun Jul Aug
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7 Day Cruise
Classic Ireland River Cruise

On this 7-day Ireland barge cruise aboard 10-guest Shannon Princess, enjoy Irish music, falconry, castles, pubs, the world's oldest licensed whiskey distillery, artisan craft villages and the welcoming people of The Emerald Isle.

From $4850USD
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
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7 Day Cruise
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 $5190USD
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
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8 - 9 Day Cruise
Treasures of Ireland & The British Isles

Select from various British Isles itineraries to explore charming port towns along England, Ireland and Scotland. Experience the romance of gardens and lush landscapes, colorful houses made of timber and slate, and rich cultural and historic heritage. Aboard luxury ships L'Austral, Le Bellot or Le Dumont D'Urville, cruise in absolute style and comfort.

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Ancient Isles: England, Ireland & Scotland

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Classic Scotland Barge Cruise

On this relaxed 7-day barge cruise, meander through the Scottish Highlands, taking in castles, bagpipes, whiskey and rich cultural heritage. The 8-guest Scottish Highlander or 12-guest Spirit of Scotland offer cozy respite, gourmet food and wine, and bikes on board.

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Jewels of the British Isles

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