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Sheep walking on the road in the British countryside.

Exploring the British & Irish Isles

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Explorer
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This expedition reveals an England, Ireland and Scotland few people know. There is a rich wildness to the isles — extraordinary wildlife, stunning archaeology, and history in a land that has been continuously inhabited for over 5,000 years. This is a voyage to the physical and cultural reaches of the modern world that also reveals the outline of the ancient world that still exists.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in London, U.K. / Embark
Day 2 : London, U.K.
Day 3 : Portsmouth
Day 4 : Fowey/Eden Project
Day 5 : Isles of Scilly
Day 6 : The Skelligs and Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Day 7 : Cliffs Of Moher And Aran Islands
Day 8 : County Donegal, Ireland
Day 9 : Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
Day 10 : Outer Hebrides: St. Kilda & Callanish
Day 11 : Inverewe
Day 12 : Orkney Islands
Day 13 : Fair Isle and Mousa
Day 14 : Shetland Islands
Day 15 : Disembark in Bergen, Norway / Return Home

Highlights

  • Explore wild and beautiful places where Celtic and Viking influences thrive
  • View one of the world’s most complete pre-historic villages at Skara Brae
  • Journey along the Thames, and pass under London's iconic Tower Bridge
  • Visit ancient standing stones off-the-beaten path at Callanish and St Kilda

Ship

National Geographic Explorer

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Sheep walking on the road in the British countryside. Hiking through the countryside of the British Isles. Shetland pony in the Shetland Isles. Explore the incredible arches of St. Magnus Cathedral. Ring of Brodgar is a unique stone circle in Scotland.

Day 1 Arrive in London, U.K. / Embark

Upon arrival in London, embark National Geographic Explorer along the Thames River.

Day 2 London, U.K.

Cruise along the Thames River, seeing the iconic Tower Bridge as you embark on your journey.

Day 3 Portsmouth

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Set along the south coast of England to see Portsmouth, which 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.

Day 4 Fowey/Eden Project

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 5 Isles of Scilly

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 6 The Skelligs and Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Rising abruptly from the sea, the rocky isle of Skellig Michael was once an important center of Celtic Christianity. From the ship gaze up, 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.

Day 7 Cliffs Of Moher And Aran Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
View the towering Cliffs of Moher as you sail 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.

Day 8 County Donegal, Ireland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 9 Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.”

Day 10 Outer Hebrides: St. Kilda & Callanish

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 11 Inverewe

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Stroll through Inverewe Gardens, where colorful
subtropical flora thrives. Explore the charming
fishing village of Ullapool in the afternoon.

Day 12 Orkney Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 13 Fair Isle and Mousa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 14 Shetland Islands

  • 1 Breakfast
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.

Day 15 Disembark in Bergen, Norway / Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, disembark in Bergen and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

National Geographic Explorer

Per person starting at
$13,640
National Geographic Explorer's Category 1 Cabin.
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Cat 1
Main Deck with one or two portholes. #301-308
National Geographic Explorer's Category 2 Cabin.
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Cat 2
Main Deck with window. #317-320, 335-336.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 3 Cabin.
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Cat 3
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340,342, 344, 346, 348, 350.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 4 Cabin.
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Cat 4
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. # 103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 5 Upper Deck Cabin.
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Cat 5
Upper Deck with Balcony. #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224.
National Geographic Explorer's Category 6 Cabin.
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Cat 6
Veranda Deck Suite #101-102; Upper Deck Suite with Balcony #213.
Luxurious Catagory 8 Suite
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Cat 7
Upper Deck Suite with Balcony. #215, 219, 230.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SA
C Deck Solo - Cabins 309-312, 329-334. Single cabins with window.
National Geographic Explorer's Category SA and SB.
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Cat SB
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window. #105-106, 203, 208.

Notes

Travelers under the age of 18 save $500 per person.

Costs Include:
All accommodations aboard ships or in hotels per itinerary or similar, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship, meals on land as indicated, air transportation where indicated as included, shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits, use of kayaks (where available), gratuities (except to ship’s crew), taxes and service charges, services of a ship physician on most voyages, and services of our expedition staff.

Not Included:
Air transportation, private charter flight from Kangerlussuaq to Ottawa on day 12 of the itinerary, extensions, passport, visa, immigration fees, scuba diving (where available), meals not indicated, travel protection plan, items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, internet access, and laundry. Gratuities to ship's crew are at your discretion.

Included

  • 13 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 13 Dinners
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