Wild Scotland Cruise

Vicki Slinko
Hiking through the hills of St. Kilda.
Peter Juliff
Stone house on the shores of St. Kilda Scotland.
Al Bakker
Kayaking in Scotland.
Al Bakker
Sheep in the fields of Scotland.
Vicki Slinko
The Ring of Brodgar on the Orkney Islands.
Polar Pioneer's dining room.
Polar Pioneer's bar and lounge.


  • Explore the intriguing diversity of Scotland's wild islands
  • Uncover stories of heroes, villains, fallen monarchs, and bloody battles
  • Come across Neolithic settlements, Roman frontiers & more fascinating sites
  • Research your ancestry, prepare a family tree and discover your family line
  • See some of the world’s largest seabird colonies, seals, whales & dolphins

From the Hebrides in the west, to inhospitable windswept specks of land like St Kilda and Foula, and to the Orkney and Shetland islands in the north, explore the intriguing diversity of these wild islands on this unique 11-day cruise aboard the Polar Pioneer. Plan to take in Neolithic sites scarcely changed in 5000 years, and ponder the mystery of huge monoliths that marked seasonal change. Visit remote crofting communities, picturesque villages, and castles that were once strongholds of Scottish clans. Hope to see some of the world’s largest seabird colonies - raucous places filled with gannets, fulmars, Arctic terns and delightful puffins. Or sit quietly in Zodiacs as seals play nearby in waters patrolled by whales and dolphins.

Day 1

Embark in Oban, West Scotland

Board the Polar Pioneer around mid-afternoon in Oban. After settling in, set sail in the evening for your expedition cruise of the European Arctic.

Days 2-3

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Western Isles & Highlands

Overnight travel to Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Britain and a burial ground of early Scottish kings. At Staffa, visit Fingal’s Cave, set amidst spectacular basalt columns, and learn why it inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. In the Cuillin Hills, spiritual heart of Skye, follow a lonely track to Rubh’an Dunain, an ancient passage grave with a nearby Iron Age fort and stonelined canal, possibly built by Vikings. If conditions allow, take longer walks into the hills. Canna offers golden and sea eagles, basking sharks, dolphins, gray seals, and puffins.

Days 4-6

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Northwest Islands

Island hopping north and east, aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of ferocious Atlantic storms. If weather and seas permit, hope to land on Hirta, in remote St Kilda, home to Europe’s most important seabird colony and Britain’s highest sea stacks. Learn of the incredible islanders, who survived here for nearly 5000 years, and their heroic courtship rituals. The settlement’s last 36 residents were evacuated to the Scottish mainland in 1930, when the Scottish Office ceased to subsidize the community. The islanders had eaten seabird eggs, dried gannets and fulmars for winter food, and used their feathers, oil, bones and skins for fuel, tools and shoes. St Kilda is home to Britain’s largest colonies of gannets, fulmars, and puffins and remains home to Soay sheep, perhaps brought here by Stone Age man over 5000 years ago.

On Lewis visit the Callanish Stones, sombre slabs placed upright nearly 3000 years ago to mark burial sites. A Zodiac cruise takes you to pure white beaches where the brave might swim and to Bostadh’s reconstructed Iron Age house. Aim to visit Sula Sgeir and North Rona, tiny islands with dramatic coastlines inhabited by breeding seals and seabirds.

Days 7-8

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Shetland Islands

Britain’s most northerly islands lie almost 100 miles 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. The Shetland Isles also played a strategic role in Viking conquests. Visit the capital, Lerwick, and explore the complex Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof.

On Mousa, walk to the world’s best-preserved Iron Age structure known as a broch as your historian recounts its importance. Foula’s five dramatic peaks dwarf its crofting hamlets and its cliffs are alive with kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and skuas. Papa Stour’s coastline offers Zodiac exploration of dramatic caves.

Days 9-10

  • Ship
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Orkney Islands

Blessed with red, fertile soil, the Orkney archipelago has welcomed people since ancient times. From Kirkwall, visit 5000- year old archaeological wonders like Skara Brae, excavated less than 100 years ago. View relics of Viking occupation and World War II curiosities, including the exquisite Italian Chapel, built from scrap by Italian POWs. Sail past the giant sea stack Old Man of Hoy. On Papa Westray see the Knap of Howar, the oldest standing dwelling in Europe and on to Fair Isle, a birdwatchers’ paradise, where the few inhabitants still live in traditional crofts and welcome you to admire and buy their exquisite knitwear.

Day 11

  • Breakfast

Disembark in Aberdeen, Northeast Scotland

Upon arrival in Aberdeen, disembark and bid farewell to new-found friends.

Please note that all of Polar Pioneer itineraries are at the mercy of weather conditions and not all landings are guaranteed. These itineraries are flexible and will change voyage to voyage, allowing the best chance to make the most of surprising wildlife displays and unexpected opportunities.

- Rates represent costs per person, double or triple occupancy. Request the Twin or Triple Share Program where you are matched with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if a cabin mate is not found for you, no single supplement will be charged.

- Single costs are 1.7 times the twin rate

Please note: Rates are posted based off of the current exchange rates from Australian dollars. Please contact us for current rates.

Included in cruise fare:
• Accommodation during the voyage
• All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during the voyage
• All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
• Educational lectures and guiding services from an expert team
• Access to an on board doctor and basic medical services
• Complimentary custom-designed Polar Expedition jacket
• Use of gumboots during the voyage
• Daily cabin service
• Comprehensive pre-departure information
• Professionally produced electronic voyage journal
• Port taxes and charges
• All entry fees to historic landings sites
• 12-month membership to National Trust of Australia (NSW), including entry into over 300 properties within the United Kingdom

Not included in cruise fare:
• International or domestic flights to or from Polar Pioneer
• Airport arrival or departure taxes
• Any airport transfers or transfers to or from Polar Pioneer
• Visa, passport, and vaccination charges
• Travel insurance or any emergency evacuation charges
• Hotels and meals not included in voyage itinerary
• Optional excursions not included in the voyage itinerary
• Optional activity surcharge. Please contact us if you wish to book any optional activities
• All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, gratuities, and email or phone charges