Exploring the British & Irish Isles Cruise

Adventure Life
Sheep walking on the road in the British countryside.
Stewart Cohen
Hiking through the countryside of the British Isles.
Michael S. Nolan
Shetland pony in the Shetland Isles.
Michael S. Nolan
Explore the incredible arches of St. Magnus Cathedral.
Michael S. Nolan
Ring of Brodgar is a unique stone circle in Scotland.
Relax in the luxurious sauna aboard the National Geographic Explorer.
Relax in the National Geographic Explorer's lounge.
Encounter fascinating layers of history on this 14-day voyage. Though the countries you are about to explore are linked by the north Atlantic, each has a unique historic narrative, and a distinct contemporary character. From the importance of Portsmouth in British naval history, to the Scottish Clearances, and the early Celtic monk/explorers, there are fascinating stories to satisfy every interest. Join the National Geographic Explorer to discover all of this - and more!

Day 1

    Arrive in London, U.K. / Embark

    Upon arrival in London, embark National Geographic Explorer along the Thames River, seeing the iconic Tower Bridge. (D)

    Day 2

      Portsmouth

      Set along the south coast of England, Portsmouth plays a major role in British naval history. The rich heritage is evident at the Historical Dockyard which houses HMS Victory, the three-masted flagship in which Lord Nelson led the victorious Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and the Mary Rose, a Tudor-era warship. Aside from its marine heritage, Portsmouth is also known for its literary history as the birthplace of Charles Dickens. (B,L,D)

      Day 3

        Fowey / Eden Project

        Steeped in maritime history, Drake, Raleigh and Cook have all passed through Fowey (pronounced “Foy” by the locals). Stroll the winding, medieval streets and browse unique shops, art galleries and pubs, before heading to the Cornwall countryside and the Eden Project, where your botanical journey continues. A celebration of nature, the Eden Project is more than a garden walk — with vast biomes (greenhouses), it emphasizes man’s connection to and dependence on the natural world. Or opt to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Lost for almost 75 years after WWI, the private gardens at Heligan were the seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years. (B,L,D)

        Day 4

          Isles of Scilly

          According to Arthurian legend, the Isles of Scilly are all that remain of Lyonnesse, a land off Cornwall that vanished beneath the Atlantic. Meander through Tresco Abbey Gardens, where an astounding variety of subtropical plants flourish. (B,L,D)

          Day 5

            The Skelligs and Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

            Rising abruptly from the sea, the rocky isle of Skellig Michael was once an important center of Celtic Christianity. From the ship, gaze up to see the beehive huts of its seventh-century monastery, clinging to the jagged peak 600 feet above the sea. After lunch, explore the ancient sites of beautiful Dingle Peninsula and wander through the village of Dingle. (B,L,D)

            Day 6

              Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands

              View the towering Cliffs of Moher as your ship sails by them this morning. Continue to the Aran Islands, known for their limestone moonscapes and strong Gaelic identity. Visit Dun Aengus, an enigmatic Celtic ring fort perched on the edge of a cliff. (B,L,D)

              Day 7

                County Donegal, Ireland

                Explore the fishing harbor of Killybegs, gateway to the Donegal's famous woolen mills, or discover some of the region’s ancient archaeological sites. Sail past the 2,000-foot cliffs of Slieve league. (B,L,D)

                Day 8

                  Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

                  On Iona, venture into an ancient nunnery and a 13th-century abbey. Examine the Celtic high crosses of kings such as Duncan and Macbeth. This afternoon, explore Staffa, an island famed for its geometric basalt columns and deep-sea caves. It was here that Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write his “Hebrides Overture.” (B,L,D)

                  Day 9

                    Outer Hebrides: St. Kilda and Callanish

                    Visit the Outer Hebrides, where Scottish Gaelic is still spoken and artisans weave traditional woolen fabrics. Weather permitting, explore the cottages of remote St. Kilda, a UNESCO World Heritage site inhabited from the Bronze Age. Later, see the neolithic Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis. (B,L,D)

                    Day 10

                      Inverewe

                      Stroll through Inverewe Gardens, where colorful subtropical flora thrives. Explore the charming fishing village of Ullapool in the afternoon. (B,L,D)

                      Day 11

                        Orkney Islands

                        Encounter a sophisticated Stone Age culture on visits to the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step into the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. (B,L,D)

                        Day 12

                          Fair Isle and Mousa

                          Visit the bird research station, located on the migration flyway. Hike to a nearby beach to look for puffins. Then, on the uninhabited island of Mousa, see one of the best examples of an Iron Age broch. (B,L,D)

                          Day 13

                            Shetland Islands

                            Dock at the Shetland Islands, an archipelago of about 100 islands and islets. Drive through a rolling landscape with Shetland ponies. Explore the ruins at Jarlshof, which reveal 4,000 years of near-continuous settlement. (B,L,D)

                            Day 14

                              Disembark in Bergen, Norway

                              Following breakfast on boar, disembark in Bergen and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
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                              Places
                              Europe, Norway, Scotland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Isles of Scilly, Iona, St. Kilda, Orkney Islands, Fair Isle, Mousa, Shetland Islands, Killybegs, Bergen, Portsmouth, London, Fowey, The Skelligs, Dingle, Aran Islands, Inverewe Gardens, Staffa, Cliffs of Moher, Inner Hebrides, Callanish
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