Bright green grass tops ancient stonework dwellings at Skara Brae in the Orkneys Scotland
Three standing stones of the ancient and mysterious Ring of Brodgar underneath a dramatic sunset.
Skara Brae on Orkney Island, Scotland, with bright green grass & blue sky & a deteriorating stone structure atop ground dwellings.
Four white, brown, and black haired Shetland ponies in a green field in the Shetland Isles of Scotland
Man with camera taking a photograph On the Isle of Westray with mossy rocks and purple flowers surrounding him
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Europe Northern Europe Cruise

Exploring Scotland’s Wild Isles: Shetlands, Orkneys & Inner Hebrides

From the lively streets of Dublin to the rolling hills of the remote Shetland Islands, encounter vivid histories and stunning scenery on this expedition cruise from Dublin to Edinburgh by way of the Scottish Isles. Discover archaeological sites and wild landscapes steeped in ancient mythology in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Sail past the Isle of Noss’ 180-meter-high sea cliffs teaming with tens of thousands of seabirds. Tour medieval castles, Viking ruins and early Christian sites, and encounter colonies of puffins and other seabirds on rugged Rathlin Island.

Encounter many iconic and remote sites on this educational Scotland cruise. Your expedition ship cruises from Dublin after a city tour, making the start of your journey already rewarding before you even embark. Peer into the past visiting the prehistoric homes of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands and Jarlshof in the Shetland Islands. Ride Zodiacs for a close-up view of the unique geometric basalt columns of Staffa, a tiny island in the Inner Hebrides. Join the ship’s naturalists on excursions to watch for puffins, gannets, fulmars, razorbills, kittiwakes and more. Venture to the ruins of Dunnottar Castle, set dramatically on an isolated headland on Scotland’s east coast.

Choose from departures on the 126-guest National Geographic Resolution or the 148-guest National Geographic Explorer. Both ships offer a home base that is perfect for exploring the best of Scotland’s sweeping shorelines. Equipped with National Geographic guides, historians, photographers and expert leaders, and built as polar expedition vessels, the Nat Geo Explorer and Resolution slice 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 these cruises from Dublin to Edinburgh, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Northern Europe cruises and Northern Europe trips.



Itinerary

2023 Exploring Scotland's Wild Isles: Shetlands, Orkneys & Inner Hebrides Itinerary

This Scotland cruise aboard National Geographic Resolution embarks in Dublin, Ireland, and disembarks in Leith/Edinburgh, Scotland.

Route map of Scotland's Wild Isles cruise from Dublin, Ireland, to Edinburgh, Scotland, with visits along the coasts of both countries.
Read More
Days 1 - 2
Fly to Dublin, Ireland & Embark

Arrive in Dublin on an overnight flight. More living museum than city, traces of Dublin’s past are on display at every turn. Discover the city’s medieval castles and cathedrals, one of the oldest universities in Europe, Trinity College, and perhaps enjoy a sip of Ireland’s famous brew, Guinness. Tour the city before embarking the ship in the late afternoon. Settle into life on board while the ship cruises from Dublin to Rathlin Island.

Accommodations

n/a (day 1); National Geographic Resolution (day 2)

Meals

n/a (day 1); lunch and dinner (day 2)

Read More
Day 3
Rathlin Island

Kick off the expedition on Rathlin Island, home to Northern Ireland’s largest puffin colony, as well as thousands of seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars. Visit the Rathlin West Light, the “upside down lighthouse” built between 1912-1917, and learn about the 40+ shipwrecks in the island’s surrounding waters. It is in a cave on Rathlin Island that Robert the Bruce, the famous Scottish King, is said to have taken refuge during a fight against the English in 1306, where he was inspired to keep up the struggle for Scottish independence.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Iona & Staffa, Scotland

Sail through the Sea of the Hebrides to the isle of Iona, the site of Scotland’s first Christian settlement. Venture into an ancient nunnery and a 13th-century abbey and explore St. Oran’s Chapel with its royal burial grounds, where Celtic high crosses mark the graves of generations of Scottish kings. In the afternoon, continue to Staffa, famed for its geometric basalt columns and deep-sea caves. Conditions permitting, take a Zodiac into the awe-inspiring Fingal’s Cave, where Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write his “Hebrides Overture.” Atop the island, look for puffins coming to and from their burrows as they search for fish in the surrounding waters.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Inverewe

Anchor in Loch Ewe and bring a camera along to stroll the winding paths of Inverewe Garden, created in 1862. Tempered by the warm Gulf Stream, these splendid gardens are home to hundreds of exotic sub-tropical plant species. Spot some Scottish wildlife while meandering through the gardens—red squirrels, otters, red deer and golden eagles. Choose to kayak in the waters alongside the gardens for an alternative view.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 6
Noss & Lerwick, Shetland Islands

Far from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, the Shetland Islands exude a languid remoteness that begs to be discovered. Sail past the Isle of Noss, known for its nearly-600-foot-tall sea cliffs teaming with tens of thousands of seabirds. Join the naturalist on deck to watch for gannets, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes. Explore Lerwick, a town where Norse and Gaelic cultures intermingle, and see the countryside dotted with Shetland ponies. Then examine Bronze Age ruins at the extraordinary prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof, a UNESCO candidate which is part of “The Crucible of Iron Age Shetland.” Later, take in a cacophony of birds while walking to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 7
Papa Westray & Rousay, Orkney Islands

The Vikings held a strategic foothold in the Orkney Islands for hundreds of years, and their Norse heritage is apparent in local legends and traditions that endure today. Start today on the island of Papa Westray, the cradle of Christianity in Orkney. Visit Boniface Kirk, a church founded in the 8th century and surrounded by a picturesque graveyard, and Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farmstead that was occupied from 3,700 BC to 2,800 BC—earlier than similar houses found at Skara Brae. Then, discover the island of Rousay with an iron-age Midhowe Broch and explore the woodland and water gardens of Trumland House. Sail to Kirkwall later this afternoon and arrive at the Ring of Brodgar’s megaliths in time for sunset —when crowds have dispersed and the light is perfect to capture the best photos. Enjoy a whisky tasting this evening.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Kirkwall

Explore a treasure trove of Stone Age sites, including the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step inside the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, which took nearly 300 years to complete. Choose to join the naturalist on a birdwatching excursion with the opportunity to spot over 30 species of birds, including black-headed gulls, gannets and guillemots.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 9
Stonehaven, Scotland

From the Orkney Islands, the ship makes her way to the eastern shore of Scotland to Stonehaven. Choose a coastal cliff walk to explore the storied ruins of Dunnottar Castle, perched on a rocky promontory headland high above the North Sea. Steeped in history, this dramatic and evocative fortress dates to the 13th century with various parts being added over a period of 500 years. Alternatively, venture farther down the coast to the cliffs at Fowlsheugh, where over 130,000 breeding seabirds spend the spring and summer months.

Accommodations

National Geographic Resolution

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 10
Disembark Edinburgh, Scotland

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

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations; meals indicated; excursions; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks; entrance fees; all port charges and service taxes. Gratuities for all departures of National Geographic Explorer, Orion, Endurance, Resolution, Sea Cloud, Jahan and Lord of the Glens. Complimentary beer & wine on National Geographic Venture, National Geographic Quest, National Geographic Sea Lion, National Geographic Sea Bird, with a complimentary full bar on all other ships.

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

For expeditions prior to April 1, 2024:
In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $1,500 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may 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:
180 or more days – $750 of deposit retained (may be applied to future trip by trip operator)
179 to 120 days – 100% of deposit
119 to 90 days – 25% of total trip cost
89 to 60 days – 50% of total trip cost
59 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 guests 5 years and older must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot). 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 Exploring Scotland’s Wild Isles: Shetlands, Orkneys & Inner Hebrides cruise begins in Dublin, Ireland (DUB), and ends in Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI). Group flights are recommended for this cruise and your AdventureSmith Specialist can assist with group flight details. General recommendations are to arrive to Dublin anytime on Day 2 of the itinerary. Disembarkation is after breakfast on the final day of the itinerary. Plan to depart Edinburgh on the final day of the cruise no earlier than 2:00pm. 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 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.

2024 Exploring Scotland's Wild Isles: Shetlands, Orkneys & Inner Hebrides Itinerary

This Scotland cruise aboard National Geographic Explorer embarks in Dublin, Ireland, and disembarks in Leith/Edinburgh, Scotland.

Route map of Scotland's Wild Isles cruise from Dublin, Ireland, to Edinburgh, Scotland, with visits along the coasts of both countries.
Read More
Day 1
Embark Dublin, Ireland

Arrive in Dublin and transfer from the airport to the city. More living museum than city, traces of Dublin’s past are on display at every turn. Discover the city’s medieval castles and cathedrals, one of the oldest universities in Europe, Trinity College, and perhaps enjoy a sip of Ireland’s famous brew, Guinness. Tour the city before embarking the ship in the late afternoon. Settle into life on board while the ship cruises from Dublin to Rathlin Island.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 2
Rathlin Island

Kick off the expedition on Rathlin Island, home to Northern Ireland’s largest puffin colony, as well as thousands of seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars. Visit the Rathlin West Light, the “upside down lighthouse” built between 1912-1917, and learn about the 40+ shipwrecks in the island’s surrounding waters. It is in a cave on Rathlin Island that Robert the Bruce, the famous Scottish King, is said to have taken refuge during a fight against the English in 1306, where he was inspired to keep up the struggle for Scottish independence.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 3
Iona & Staffa, Scotland

Sail through the Sea of the Hebrides to the isle of Iona, the site of Scotland’s first Christian settlement. Venture into an ancient nunnery and a 13th-century abbey and explore St. Oran’s Chapel with its royal burial grounds, where Celtic high crosses mark the graves of generations of Scottish kings. In the afternoon, continue to Staffa, famed for its geometric basalt columns and deep-sea caves. Conditions permitting, take a Zodiac into the awe-inspiring Fingal’s Cave, where Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write his “Hebrides Overture.” Atop the island, look for puffins coming to and from their burrows as they search for fish in the surrounding waters.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Inverewe

Anchor in Loch Ewe and bring a camera along to stroll the winding paths of Inverewe Garden, created in 1862. Tempered by the warm Gulf Stream, these splendid gardens are home to hundreds of exotic sub-tropical plant species. Spot some Scottish wildlife while meandering through the gardens—red squirrels, otters, red deer and golden eagles. Choose to kayak in the waters alongside the gardens for an alternative view.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Noss & Lerwick, Shetland Islands

Far from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, the Shetland Islands exude a languid remoteness that begs to be discovered. Sail past the Isle of Noss, known for its nearly-600-foot-tall sea cliffs teaming with tens of thousands of seabirds. Join the naturalist on deck to watch for gannets, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes. Explore Lerwick, a town where Norse and Gaelic cultures intermingle, and see the countryside dotted with Shetland ponies. Then examine Bronze Age ruins at the extraordinary prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof, a UNESCO candidate which is part of “The Crucible of Iron Age Shetland.” Later, take in a cacophony of birds while walking to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 6
Papa Westray & Rousay, Orkney Islands

The Vikings held a strategic foothold in the Orkney Islands for hundreds of years, and their Norse heritage is apparent in local legends and traditions that endure today. Start today on the island of Papa Westray, the cradle of Christianity in Orkney. Visit Boniface Kirk, a church founded in the 8th century and surrounded by a picturesque graveyard, and Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farmstead that was occupied from 3,700 BC to 2,800 BC—earlier than similar houses found at Skara Brae. Then, discover the island of Rousay with an iron-age Midhowe Broch and explore the woodland and water gardens of Trumland House. Sail to Kirkwall later this afternoon and arrive at the Ring of Brodgar’s megaliths in time for sunset —when crowds have dispersed and the light is perfect to capture the best photos. Enjoy a whisky tasting this evening.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 7
Kirkwall

Explore a treasure trove of Stone Age sites, including the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step inside the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, which took nearly 300 years to complete. Choose to join the naturalist on a birdwatching excursion with the opportunity to spot over 30 species of birds, including black-headed gulls, gannets and guillemots.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Stonehaven, Scotland

From the Orkney Islands, the ship makes her way to the eastern shore of Scotland to Stonehaven. Choose a coastal cliff walk to explore the storied ruins of Dunnottar Castle, perched on a rocky promontory headland high above the North Sea. Steeped in history, this dramatic and evocative fortress dates to the 13th century with various parts being added over a period of 500 years. Alternatively, venture farther down the coast to the cliffs at Fowlsheugh, where over 130,000 breeding seabirds spend the spring and summer months.

Accommodations

National Geographic Explorer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 9
Disembark Edinburgh, Scotland

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

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations; meals 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. 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

For expeditions departing April 1, 2024 onward:
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 which only may be applied towards final payment on any future booking; the certificate does not expire.

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 guests 5 years and older must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot). 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 Exploring Scotland’s Wild Isles: Shetlands, Orkneys & Inner Hebrides cruise begins in Dublin, Ireland (DUB), and ends in Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI). Group flights are recommended for this cruise and your AdventureSmith Specialist can assist with group flight details. General recommendations are to arrive to Dublin anytime on Day 1 of the itinerary. Disembarkation is after breakfast on the final day of the itinerary. Plan to depart Edinburgh on the final day of the cruise no earlier than 2:00pm. 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 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. Please contact AdventureSmith for the most up-to-date pricing.

Apr 24 - May 03, 2023
National Geographic Resolution • 10 days
themed trip icon of a blue bird flying
From $12350USD
Per Person
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May 28 - Jun 05, 2024
National Geographic Explorer • 9 days
From $9960USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
themed trip icon of a blue bird flying Themed
Accommodations

Learn About the Small Ships 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.

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Resolution

The 126-guest National Geographic Resolution is one of the newest additions to the National Geographic fleet. This expedition ship is specifically designed for stability, efficiency, scholarship and long-range exploration in the polar regions.

Deals

Current Deals on This Trip

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires January 31st, 2023
Groups Save 5% On National Geographic Expeditions

Save 5% when traveling as a group of 8 or more on National Geographic expeditions in this special deal.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires January 31st, 2023
Save 10% On Two Consecutive National Geographic Expeditions

Save 10% when you book two consecutive cruises aboard a National Geographic expedition ship.

Expert Review

Reviews From Our Experts So You Know What To Expect

Todd Smith • June 17th, 2022
Expert Aboard: National Geographic Resolution & Endurance Ship Review

Firsthand review of the National Geographic Resolution & Endurance. Learn what makes these the best-in-class next generation expedition ships. From X-Bow design to on deck igloos, this in depth ship review covers what you need to know.

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

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From $4890USD
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
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Exploring Scotland’s Wild Isles: Shetlands, Orkneys & Inner Hebrides

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