Wild Scotland cruise travelers in blue jackets with guide in red parka ride a Zodiac boat into a cave in turquoise water.
Mother Shetland pony & 2 adolescents, all with brown & white coats, graze green grass, seen on a Wild Scotland cruise.
Small white expedition ship with pointed bow sits in calm water by green cliffs on a cloudy day of the Wild Scotland cruise.
Small group of Wild Scotland cruise travelers in blue jackets walk among primitive tall stone structures in a grassy field.
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.
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Europe Northern Europe Cruise

Wild Scotland Cruise

Discover the wild isles of Scotland, from the windswept Hebrides, inhabited for over 8,000 years, to the verdant Orkney Islands, where ancient Neolithic and Viking sites conjure images of civilizations long gone. Zodiac-cruise past sea-sculpted coastlines watching for dolphins and seals, and photograph seabirds in one of Europe’s largest seabird colonies. Visit charming villages, meet the friendly locals and maybe even sample a wee dram of Scotland’s finest.

The highlights are many on this Wild Scotland itinerary. Visit Britain’s highest sea cliffs at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Kilda. Take a Zodiac cruise to Staffa’s world-famous Fingal’s Cave. Discover the Shetland Islands and their fascinating history. Look out for otters, dolphins and seals. And discover some of Scotland’s genuinely far-flung and rugged islands, where few adventurous souls dare visit.

In 2025, an alternative 26-day ultimate adventure—Northern Isles: Scotland & Iceland—offers a combination of the Wild Scotland Cruise + the 2025 Iceland Circumnavigation Cruise.

Cruise aboard 132-guest, adventure-ready expedition ship Greg Mortimer. This ship offers stable design and technology for open ocean cruising, plus excursion-minded preparation rooms and multiple boarding platforms for efficient embarkation and disembarkation. Along with Greg Mortimer comes an educational and engaged team of expedition guides providing programming aimed at immersion into the special regions being sailed.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Northern Europe cruises and Northern Europe trips.



Itinerary

Wild Scotland Itinerary

On this Wild Scotland cruise, start in Edinburgh with an overland transfer to embark in Troon. Sail the west and northern coast up to the Shetland Islands, before disembarking in Aberdeen on the east coast.

Route map of Wild Scotland cruise, operating from Edinburgh overland to embark in Troon, then up the west coast to the Shetland Islands before ending in Aberdeen on the east coast.
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Day 1
Arrive Edinburgh, Scotland

Having made your way to Edinburgh, be met by a ship representative and transferred to the group hotel. Upon arrival at the included hotel, please visit the hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with the ground operations team, who may have information to share about pre-embarkation and where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last-minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket. The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.

Accommodations

Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh Hotel (or similar)

Meals

n/a

Read More
Day 2
Tour Edinburgh, Transfer to Troon, West Scotland & Embark

After breakfast, check-out and bring your luggage to the foyer. Please place any items required today in your hand luggage as your main bag will be transferred to the ship.

Edinburgh awaits this morning as a local guide welcomes with stories of Scotland’s capital city. Stretching just over one mile, five cobblestoned streets make up the walking precinct of the Royal Mile. Starting at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, step back in time to hear tales of princes, poets and politicians while strolling past some of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings including the Church of Canongate and Scotland’s own parliament house.

Perched atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle dominates the capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s long and colorful history. This instantly recognizable fortress is a powerful national symbol and part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. Your audio tour brings the castle’s inhabitants alive as you discover highlights such as the Royal Palace, the Crown Jewels, Mons Meg and the Scottish National War Memorial. You’ll have time to explore the castle precinct and Royal Mile which are scattered with friendly pubs and charismatic restaurants (lunch at own expense).

After, a two-hour transfer takes you to the west coast port of Troon where the expedition team will welcome you aboard the ship in the late afternoon. Once on board, settle into your cabin before some important briefings. Set sail along Scotland’s northwest coast in the evening and meet your expedition team and crew at the captain’s welcome dinner.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, dinner

Read More
Days 3 - 4
Inner Hebrides

From golden beaches to jagged peaks, bleak moors and heather-clad hills; from abandoned settlements to picturesque villages, these days in the Hebrides archipelago will be packed with variety. Possibly explore remote lochs beneath some of Britain’s most untamed mountains and wander between unusual rock formations. Possibly watch for whales, dolphins, otters, seals and the increasingly rare basking sharks. Possibly land at an island reserve that is home to red deer and white-tailed sea eagles.

Pre-booked kayakers will be introduced to their craft and briefed for their adventures, before picking up paddles to circumnavigate tiny islets or glide into narrow waterways that intertwine the islands. Hikers may opt for panoramic views from summits and ridges. Early the next morning, aim for the tiny island of Iona. Barely 3 miles (5 kilometers) long, Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also a burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish monk, St Columba and twelve disciples, landed here and founded a monastery in 563 CE. From this base, St Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity.

On Staffa, hope to have the chance to explore Fingal’s Cave (2024 only), where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Mendelssohnn’s Hebridean Overture. Possibly enter the cave in Zodiacs, or clamber ashore to walk into the mouth of the cave. On shore you will also find puffins in abundance.

Plan to land on remote Isle of Eigg and on the rugged Isle of Skye for wonderful hikes among stunning wildflowers. Skye is a center of Gaelic culture and some islanders still speak the language. The wildlife, history, geology and beautiful scenery make it a favorite island to explore. Hope to make the following landings: The Cuillin Hills have earned a reputation as Britain’s most untamed and challenging mountains. The rocky jagged Black Cuillins attract rock climbers. The smoother conical granite peaks of the Red Cuillins are crowned with heather. Possibly land at Loch Scavaig in the heart of the Cuillins and take a short hike, perhaps to Loch Coruisk, for spectacular views and a glimpse of the range’s grandeur. Keener hikers may be able to venture further afield, weather permitting. Meanwhile, kayakers may paddle around Loch Scavaig, into Loch Coruisk. They may explore the island of Soay and an abandoned shark fishing station–all against the backdrop of classic views of the Cuillins.

To the south of the Cuillin hills, possibly visit Rubha’ an Dùnain, a small uninhabited peninsula on the southwest corner of Skye that commands an impressive view of the sea routes nearby. As a result of its strategic position, you can see archaeological remains—from a Neolithic chambered cairn to a Viking canal and more recent black houses. Depending on weather conditions, you may choose to visit the small island of Canna in search of the rare basking sharks, common seals and bird cliffs.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 5 - 7
Outer Hebrides

From the Inner Hebrides the ship makes its way to the Outer Hebrides–also known as the Western Isles–that stretch for 128 miles (209 kilometers) and look out on their western side to the Atlantic Ocean. The first stop is at the Isle of Lewis, the largest and northernmost island in the Outer Hebrides. Plan to make a stop at Callanais, where archaeology buffs will be keen to see the fascinating group of Standing Stones, dating from around 3,000 BCE. Nearby, possibly visit Bostadh House, a remarkable reconstruction of an Iron Age dwelling tucked away just above a beautiful white beach.

Weather permitting, hope to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage site) of St Kilda, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food—and to pay their rent in the form of wool, meat and feathers. The isles hold Europe’s most important seabird colony and is 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. Home to breeding seals and some of Europe’s largest seabird colonies, Sula Sgeir, North Rona and Flannan boast spectacular cliffs, fantastic rock stacks, hidden beaches and luxuriant heaths where sheep once grazed.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 8 - 9
Shetland Islands

Britain’s most northerly islands lie almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the Scottish mainland, at a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland, or Bergen in Norway. Kept relatively warm by the Gulf Stream, Shetland’s 100 islands experience almost 24 hours of daylight in summer. They abound with nature reserves and archaeological sites and offer a taste of traditional island life. Plan to explore some of the following sites:

Foula
The island of Foula is the most remote inhabited island in the UK. Its small community of about 30 residents welcome you to their island to enjoy the magnificent scenery, large seabird colonies, beautiful wildflowers and remarkable community life. Papa Stour offers some of the best sea caves in Britain where you may explore with Zodiacs and kayaks.

Jarlshof
Jarlshof is one of Shetland’s best preserved and most complex archaeological sites. It was exposed by storms in the late 19th century. The Old House of Sumburgh, built here in the 17th century, was named Jarlshof by Sir Walter Scott in his novel The Pirate. The record of human occupation dates from around 3,200 BCE. Jarlshof’s main Bronze Age site is the house of a bronzesmith working around 800 BC. Clay moulds into which molten bronze was poured revealed that he was casting axe heads and short swords. It seems that Shetland suited early Norse settlers, for they quickly settled here and left their mark on Shetland’s history for ages to come.

Mousa Broch
Mousa Broch, on the small uninhabited island of Mousa, is the best preserved of Scotland’s 570 brochs (fortified Iron Age towers). 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 and you may spot otter (Dratsi, in Shetland dialect).

Hermaness National Nature Reserve (2024 only)
Close to Britain’s most northerly point, this reserve is a place of bird cries and sea smells, of myth and mist. The cliffs rise 558 feet (170 meters) above the Atlantic. During summer they are alive with the cacophony and raw guano smell of over 100,000 breeding seabirds: kittiwakes, shags, snipe, dunlin, golden plover and arctic skua, making this one of Europe’s most diverse colonies. The grasslands, moors and cliff tops are a tapestry of colorful wildflowers–gentians, heather, orchids and thrift are a few of the species here.

Muckle Flugga
This rocky islet is Britain’s most northerly point and only 170 miles (274 kilometers) from Norway. A lighthouse was established here in 1854, to protect navy ships during the Crimean War.

Noss
With its mile-long seabird cliffs, the Island of Noss is a National Nature Reserve. In breeding season, the sound of around 150,000 birds and chicks fills the air. Millions of years of wind and ice have honeycombed thousands of nesting ledges in sandstone cliffs almost 656 feet (200 meters) high. Resident seals and visiting otters feed in dense kelp around the shores.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 10 - 11
Orkney Islands

Fair Isle
Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station, and is also famous for knitwear and historic shipwrecks. About 3×2 miles (5×3 kilometers) in area, it 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 bird watchers’ 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 possibly take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit these waters around Fair Isle, while sharp eyes may spot harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, killer whales (orcas) and minke whales.

Orkney Islands
Orkney’s archipelago of 70 windswept islands, 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of the Scottish mainland, offers a rich tapestry of archaeology, history and wildlife. Follow the passage of time—from 5,000-year-old World Heritage Neolithic sites, past relics from Vikings and reminders of World War II occupation—to present-day crofting communities. Imposing sea cliffs teem with seabirds and cliff top paths beckon keen hikers. Kayakers explore sections of Orkney’s fascinating coastline. At the Knap of Howar on Papa Westray lies the earliest known house in Northern Europe, occupied by Neolithic farmers over 5,000 years ago. At the east end of Scapa Flow, remnants from World War II include an Italian chapel, created by Italian prisoners of war made out of two Nissen huts, and the Churchill Barriers, constructed on the orders of Winston Churchill to keep out U-Boats.

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 artifacts 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 you 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 blew away the dunes, the site dates from approximately 5,000 years ago and was occupied for about 600 years, showing a unique picture of the lifestyle of the original inhabitants.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 12
Disembark Aberdeen, Scotland

On arrival in Aberdeen, disembark in the early morning and bid a fond farewell to fellow travelers before a transfer to the airport to continue your journey.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Arrival transfer from airport to hotel on Day 1; one night’s hotel accommodation in Edinburgh on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2); half-day tour of Edinburgh prior to embarkation on Day 2; 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; crew gratuities (suite guests only).

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; automatic crew gratuities of $15 per person, per day (non-suite guests) which may be removed or amended at the end of the cruise.

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 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:
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.

Arrival & Departure

The Wild Scotland cruise begins in Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI) and ends in Aberdeen, Scotland (ABZ). An arrival transfer from the Edinburgh 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. 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 2024 per-person prices starting at: kayaking $900; and paddling $580. For the kayaking program, join 20 like-minded paddlers (in small groups of 10 per guide) to fully experience nature at its wildest. For the Stand-Up Paddleboarding program, join a small group (3-8 paddlers per guide) on a daily outing (weather permitting); prior experience may be required. 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.

Northern Isles: Scotland & Iceland Itinerary

This comprehensive, 26-day Ultimate Adventure (a combination of the 2025 Iceland Circumnavigation itinerary + Wild Scotland Cruise) begins with a pre-cruise overnight in Edinburgh, Scotland, before embarking in Troon and sailing around Iceland to end in Reykjavik, by way of the Shetland & Orkney Islands. This itinerary adds time sailing from Scotland to Iceland.

Route map of Northern Isles: Scotland & Iceland cruise from Edinburgh to Reykjavik by way of Orkney & Shetland Islands & a circumnavigation of Iceland.
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Day 1
Arrive Edinburgh, Scotland

Having made your way to Edinburgh, be met by a ship representative and transferred to the group hotel. Upon arrival at the included hotel, please visit the hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with the ground operations team, who may have information to share about pre-embarkation and where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last-minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket. The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.

Accommodations

Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh Hotel (or similar)

Meals

n/a

Read More
Day 2
Tour Edinburgh, Transfer to Troon, West Scotland & Embark

After breakfast, check-out and bring your luggage to the foyer. Please place any items required today in your hand luggage as your main bag will be transferred to the ship.

Edinburgh awaits this morning as a local guide welcomes with stories of Scotland’s capital city. Stretching just over one mile, five cobblestoned streets make up the walking precinct of the Royal Mile. Starting at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, step back in time to hear tales of princes, poets and politicians while strolling past some of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings including the Church of Canongate and Scotland’s own parliament house.

Perched atop an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle dominates the capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s long and colorful history. This instantly recognizable fortress is a powerful national symbol and part of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. Your audio tour brings the castle’s inhabitants alive as you discover highlights such as the Royal Palace, the Crown Jewels, Mons Meg and the Scottish National War Memorial. You’ll have time to explore the castle precinct and Royal Mile which are scattered with friendly pubs and charismatic restaurants (lunch at own expense).

After, a two-hour transfer takes you to the west coast port of Troon where the expedition team will welcome you aboard the ship in the late afternoon. Once on board, settle into your cabin before some important briefings. Set sail along Scotland’s northwest coast in the evening and meet your expedition team and crew at the captain’s welcome dinner.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, dinner

Read More
Days 3 - 4
Inner Hebrides

From golden beaches to jagged peaks, bleak moors and heather-clad hills; from abandoned settlements to picturesque villages, these days in the Hebrides archipelago will be packed with variety. Possibly explore remote lochs beneath some of Britain’s most untamed mountains and wander between unusual rock formations. Possibly watch for whales, dolphins, otters, seals and the increasingly rare basking sharks. Possibly land at an island reserve that is home to red deer and white-tailed sea eagles.

Pre-booked kayakers will be introduced to their craft and briefed for their adventures, before picking up paddles to circumnavigate tiny islets or glide into narrow waterways that intertwine the islands. Hikers may opt for panoramic views from summits and ridges. Early the next morning, aim for the tiny island of Iona. Barely 3 miles (5 kilometers) long, Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also a burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish monk, St Columba and twelve disciples, landed here and founded a monastery in 563 CE. From this base, St Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity.

Plan to land on remote Isle of Eigg and on the rugged Isle of Skye for wonderful hikes among stunning wildflowers. Skye is a center of Gaelic culture and some islanders still speak the language. The wildlife, history, geology and beautiful scenery make it a favorite island to explore. Hope to make the following landings: The Cuillin Hills have earned a reputation as Britain’s most untamed and challenging mountains. The rocky jagged Black Cuillins attract rock climbers. The smoother conical granite peaks of the Red Cuillins are crowned with heather. Possibly land at Loch Scavaig in the heart of the Cuillins and take a short hike, perhaps to Loch Coruisk, for spectacular views and a glimpse of the range’s grandeur. Keener hikers may be able to venture further afield, weather permitting. Meanwhile, kayakers may paddle around Loch Scavaig, into Loch Coruisk. They may explore the island of Soay and an abandoned shark fishing station–all against the backdrop of classic views of the Cuillins.

To the south of the Cuillin hills, possibly visit Rubha’ an Dùnain, a small uninhabited peninsula on the southwest corner of Skye that commands an impressive view of the sea routes nearby. As a result of its strategic position, you can see archaeological remains—from a Neolithic chambered cairn to a Viking canal and more recent black houses. Depending on weather conditions, you may choose to visit the small island of Canna in search of the rare basking sharks, common seals and bird cliffs.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 5 - 7
Outer Hebrides

From the Inner Hebrides the ship makes its way to the Outer Hebrides–also known as the Western Isles–that stretch for 128 miles (209 kilometers) and look out on their western side to the Atlantic Ocean. The first stop is at the Isle of Lewis, the largest and northernmost island in the Outer Hebrides. Plan to make a stop at Callanais, where archaeology buffs will be keen to see the fascinating group of Standing Stones, dating from around 3,000 BCE.

Weather permitting, hope to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage site) of St Kilda, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food—and to pay their rent in the form of wool, meat and feathers. The isles hold Europe’s most important seabird colony and is 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. Home to breeding seals and some of Europe’s largest seabird colonies, Sula Sgeir, North Rona and Flannan boast spectacular cliffs, fantastic rock stacks, hidden beaches and luxuriant heaths where sheep once grazed.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 8 - 11
Shetland Islands & Orkney Islands

Britain’s most northerly islands lie almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the Scottish mainland, at a similar latitude to the southern tip of Greenland, or Bergen in Norway. Kept relatively warm by the Gulf Stream, Shetland’s 100 islands experience almost 24 hours of daylight in summer. They abound with nature reserves and archaeological sites and offer a taste of traditional island life. Plan to explore some of the following sites:

Foula
The island of Foula is the most remote inhabited island in the UK. Its small community of about 30 residents welcome you to their island to enjoy the magnificent scenery, large seabird colonies, beautiful wildflowers and remarkable community life. Papa Stour offers some of the best sea caves in Britain where you may explore with Zodiacs and kayaks.

Jarlshof
Jarlshof is one of Shetland’s best preserved and most complex archaeological sites. It was exposed by storms in the late 19th century. The Old House of Sumburgh, built here in the 17th century, was named Jarlshof by Sir Walter Scott in his novel The Pirate. The record of human occupation dates from around 3,200 BCE. Jarlshof’s main Bronze Age site is the house of a bronzesmith working around 800 BC. Clay moulds into which molten bronze was poured revealed that he was casting axe heads and short swords. It seems that Shetland suited early Norse settlers, for they quickly settled here and left their mark on Shetland’s history for ages to come.

Mousa Broch
Mousa Broch, on the small uninhabited island of Mousa, is the best preserved of Scotland’s 570 brochs (fortified Iron Age towers). 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 and you may spot otter (Dratsi, in Shetland dialect).

Hermaness National Nature Reserve
Close to Britain’s most northerly point, this reserve is a place of bird cries and sea smells, of myth and mist. The cliffs rise 558 feet (170 meters) above the Atlantic. During summer they are alive with the cacophony and raw guano smell of over 100,000 breeding seabirds: kittiwakes, shags, snipe, dunlin, golden plover and arctic skua, making this one of Europe’s most diverse colonies. The grasslands, moors and cliff tops are a tapestry of colorful wildflowers–gentians, heather, orchids and thrift are a few of the species here.

Muckle Flugga
This rocky islet is Britain’s most northerly point and only 170 miles (274 kilometers) from Norway. A lighthouse was established here in 1854, to protect navy ships during the Crimean War.

Noss
With its mile-long seabird cliffs, the Island of Noss is a National Nature Reserve. In breeding season, the sound of around 150,000 birds and chicks fills the air. Millions of years of wind and ice have honeycombed thousands of nesting ledges in sandstone cliffs almost 656 feet (200 meters) high. Resident seals and visiting otters feed in dense kelp around the shores.

Fair Isle
Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station, and is also famous for knitwear and historic shipwrecks. About 3×2 miles (5×3 kilometers) in area, it 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 bird watchers’ 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 possibly take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit these waters around Fair Isle, while sharp eyes may spot harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, killer whales (orcas) and minke whales.

Orkney Islands
Orkney’s archipelago of 70 windswept islands, 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of the Scottish mainland, offers a rich tapestry of archaeology, history and wildlife. Follow the passage of time—from 5,000-year-old World Heritage Neolithic sites, past relics from Vikings and reminders of World War II occupation—to present-day crofting communities. Imposing sea cliffs teem with seabirds and cliff top paths beckon keen hikers. Kayakers explore sections of Orkney’s fascinating coastline. At the Knap of Howar on Papa Westray lies the earliest known house in Northern Europe, occupied by Neolithic farmers over 5,000 years ago. At the east end of Scapa Flow, remnants from World War II include an Italian chapel, created by Italian prisoners of war made out of two Nissen huts, and the Churchill Barriers, constructed on the orders of Winston Churchill to keep out U-Boats.

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 artifacts 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 you 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 blew away the dunes, the site dates from approximately 5,000 years ago and was occupied for about 600 years, showing a unique picture of the lifestyle of the original inhabitants.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 12
Aberdeen

Disembark in Aberdeen and bid a fond farewell to expeditioners ending their journey here. Enjoy an excursion while your crew and expedition team prepare the vessel for your sailing north to Iceland later this afternoon.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 13 - 15
At Sea

As you sail the wild North Atlantic Ocean to Iceland, enjoy informative and entertaining talks and presentations from your knowledgeable expedition team, or stay active in the fitness center before relaxing in the sauna. Your state-of-the-art vessel offers a choice of observation lounges and a well-stocked library for you to enjoy.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 16
Turnaround in Reykjavik, Iceland

On arrival in Reykjavik, Iceland’s cosmopolitan capital, your crew and expedition team prepare to welcome expeditioners joining on the Iceland: Encircling a Land of Fire and Ice voyage, while you enjoy a day trip to Iceland’s famous Golden Circle. In the late afternoon, reboard the vessel and meet your fellow expeditioners to begin the next part of your Arctic adventure around Iceland.

Note: In order to experience some of the incredible scenery of Iceland, a number of the shore excursions on the Iceland portion of this voyage require coach travel away from the coast.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 17
Arnarstapi & Grundafjordur

At Arnarstapi, take a Zodiac tender ashore. Located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, this area features diverse landscapes characterized by lava fields, glistening fjords and home to Breidafjordur Bay which is rich in birdlife. The area is crowned by the magnificent, ice-capped Snæfellsjökull volcano, a 700,000-year-old dormant subglacial volcano, visible from Reykjavik on a clear day and immortalized in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. You can choose from a selection of shore excursion options that best suits your interests and level of fitness. Options include a bus tour to Mount Kirkjufell, one of the most famous mountains in Iceland, or a choice of hikes including a glacier hike at Snæfellsjökull Glacier.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 18 - 19
Westfjords & Látrabjarg Cliffs

Over the next 2 days, explore the Westfjords region featuring outstanding landscapes with jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea and pristine North Atlantic vegetation.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 20
Akureyri & Husavik

Picturesque Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest city outside the capital area and is blessed with a superb snow-capped mountain backdrop. Choose from a selection of shore excursions in Akureyri to best suit your interests and level of fitness. Choose to visit Godafoss Falls and soak at Myvatn Nature baths, an outdoor hot spring bathing complex surrounded by mountain views. Alternatively, explore both Godafoss and Dettifoss waterfalls, the Mývatn region and Krafla. In the late afternoon, reboard the ship in Husavik, the whale watching capital of Iceland.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 21
Grímsey Island

Located approximately 25 miles off the mainland, Grímsey is a verdant grassy island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many people travel to Grímsey just to say they have stepped across the imaginary line. With a tiny population of approximately 100 inhabitants, it’s a fantastic place for Zodiac cruising, kayaking and photographing seabirds such as guillemots, gulls and puffins.

Leaving Grímsey to return closer to the mainland, spend time scanning the waters of Skjálfandi Bay around Húsavik, a town known as the Iceland’s whale watching capital, home to up to 24 different whale species, as well as dolphins and 30 varieties of birds. The largest animal on earth, the blue whale, has also been spotted in Skjálfandi Bay, and if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of this magnificent creature as well as others, such as orcas, fin whales and pilot whales.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 22
Seydisfjordur

Spend some time exploring Seydisfjordur, a picturesque fishing village that is renowned for its charming
collection of colorful wooden buildings located around the lagoon. Take a stroll around town and discover the timber houses that are remnants from when the Norwegians settled here and established the herring fishing facilities from 18701900. From the valley above the town, the river Fjardara tumbles down in beautiful cascades to the lagoon. There are a number of delightful hiking trails to explore, or alternatively, you can discover a flourishing cultural scene with an arts center, the famous blue church that stages music concerts and the only two cinemas in the east of Iceland. Back in town, browse the stores where you will discover handicrafts by local artists and artisansperfect as a souvenir or gift.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 23
Djupivogur

In Iceland’s east, disembark in Djupivogur, the gateway to Vatnajokull National Park, home to Europe’s largest
glacier. Drive to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, a glacial lagoon filled with floating icebergs that wash up on shore and stand gleaming on the nearby black-sand beach, dubbed Diamond beach. At Jokulsarlon, you can choose from a boat excursion on the lagoon, try a hike on the glacier or hike to a canyon, visiting a number of waterfalls along the way.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 24
At Sea

As you sail along the south coast, enjoy a sea day to catch up on editing your photos and enjoy an informative lecture from your knowledgeable expedition team.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 25
Westman Islands

Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman Islands were formed by volcanic eruptions around 10,000 years ago. Sail past Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site that emerged from the sea in 1963 and is one of the youngest land masses on earth. Westman Islands are surrounded by 15 other uninhabited islands and around 30 rocks and skerries offering refuge for a rich array of seabirds. Westman Islands are considered to have the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world, and when sailing around the islands it is not uncommon to see puffins but also whales and seals.

Heimaey is the main island in the archipelago, and it has a population of around 4,200. Ashore on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the archipelago, see half-buried houses that remain from a violent 1973 eruption of Eldfell volcano, which you can hike up if you wish. A visit to the weather station offers bird-watching opportunities and splendid views of the surrounding islands.

Eruptions are a big part of the history of the Westman Island, where there are two volcanoes–one that erupted some 6,000 years ago, and Mount Eldfell that erupted in 1973, forcing all of the island’s inhabitants to evacuate for the mainland. Serendipitously, due to bad weather the day prior to the eruption, all the fishing boats remained in the harbor and were able to help transport the inhabitants of Heimaey to the mainland. You can learn more about the story of the eruption and the aftermath at the fascinating Eldheimar museum, which includes a display of a house that was buried in ash during the eruption.

Accommodations

Greg Mortimer

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 26
Disembark Reykjavik, Iceland

During the early morning, cruise into Reykjavik and disembark at approximately 8:00am. Say farewell to your
expedition team and fellow passengers as you continue your onward journey. A transfer is included to Keflavik airport or to your centrally located hotel.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

All transfers mentioned in itinerary; one night’s hotel accommodation in Edinburgh on Day 1 (including breakfast on Day 2); half-day tour of Edinburgh prior to embarkation on Day 2; 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; crew gratuities (suite guests only).

Exclusions

International or domestic flights, unless specified in the itinerary; transfers not mentioned in the itinerary; airport arrival or departure taxes; passport, visa, reciprocity 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; automatic crew gratuities of $15 per person, per day (non-suite guests) which may be removed or amended at the end of the cruise.

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 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:
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.

Arrival & Departure

The Northern Isles: Scotland & Iceland cruise begins in Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI) and ends in Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF). An arrival transfer from the Edinburgh 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 Reykjavik no earlier than 12:00pm noon on disembarkation day. A group transfer to 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, a polar plunge & all trips ashore are included in the rate. Various optional activities may be available, with per-person 2025 prices starting at: kayaking $900. For the kayaking program, join 20 like-minded paddlers (in small groups of 10 per guide) to fully experience nature at its wildest. 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

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditions, wildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Arctic expedition.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

May 18 - May 29, 2025
Greg Mortimer • 12 days
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From $11995USD
Per Person
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May 18 - Jun 12, 2025
Greg Mortimer • 26 days
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From $23695USD
Per Person
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Accommodation

Learn All About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Greg Mortimer

The Greg Mortimer is a new, icebreaker polar expedition ship. Carrying an average of 132 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.

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

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12 - 26 Day Cruise
Iceland Circumnavigation Cruise

Circumnavigate Iceland aboard the 132-guest Greg Mortimer on a flexible route that includes plenty of time ashore, plus add-on activities like kayaking.

Special Offer
From $13195USD
May Jun
Add to Wishlist
12 Day Cruise
Svalbard Odyssey

A flexible itinerary allows the 132-guest Greg Mortimer to follow the best weather and wildlife-spotting opportunities. The option to add on scuba diving and kayaking is particularly unique for expeditions in this region.

Special Offer
From $12695USD
Jul Aug
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