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Colorful sunset over the Scottish Highlands

Ancient Isles: England, Ireland, and Scotland

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Explorer
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Walk through Stone Age village ruins 5,000-years-old, Zodiac cruise around the stunning island of Staffa, and hoist a pint or two with spirited natives in cozy pubs throughout the land. You’ll explore ancient sites in moody landscapes to learn about culture and history in lands that have been continuously inhabited since Stone Age times. You'll discover the British & Irish Isles in the most engaging ways possible. Every day you can join naturalist or historian-guided hikes—choosing the individual whose interest and personality matches yours. Meet the lively characters who make up the contemporary scene in towns along the way. Or simply enjoy the open decks and glorious views from National Geographic Explorer.
Rocky shores of the AtlanticBig Ben on a sunny day in LondonSkellig Michael boasts some of the most beautiful views in all of IrelandRing Of Brodgar, OrkneyColorful sunset over the Scottish Highlands
Highlights
  • Explore the beautiful places where Celtic and Viking influences still thrive
  • Sail around magical Skellig Michael
  • Zodiac cruise into Fingal’s Cave in Scotland
  • Discover the seabird colonies of Scotland's Outer Hebrides
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed
0

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: London, U.K. | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Embark on your ship from the city center in time for lunch as you set sail down the Thames. 

Day 2: Portsmouth

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and climb inside the HMS Victory, and visit the partially restored Tudor warship Mary Rose, deployed by King Henry VIII. Alternatively, join our naturalists for a drive to the lively estuary at Titchfield Haven to walk the trails and look for visiting birds. 

Day 3: Fowey

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Stroll the medieval streets of Fowey before visiting the Eden Project, a botanical garden with vast biomes. In the afternoon, visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, left derelict after WWI and recently restored, or choose to explore the quaint town center.

Day 4: 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 5: Cobh, Ireland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive in colorful Cobh, a place steeped in Maritime history.  Visit the fascinating Heritage Centre and walk in the footsteps of the many Irish who fled the hardships of the 19th century Ireland and immigrated to America.  

Day 6: The Skelligs | Dingle

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sail by Skellig Michael, a Celtic Christian hermitage where beehive huts and remains of a 7th-century monastery still stand. Spend the afternoon discovering the picturesque seaside town of Dingle.

Day 7: Inishmore | Exploring Aran Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visit Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Known for its religious and cultural heritage, we make a visit to Dun Aengus, a Celtic stone fort perched on a cliff’s edge. 

Day 8: Exploring Northwestern Ireland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you discover northwestern Ireland: a wild and windswept region where Gaelic is still spoken. Steeped in history and folklore, the dramatic landscape of counties Sligo and Donegal inspired the works of W.B. Yeats. 

Day 9: Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visit the sacred island of Iona and its 12th Century abbey, believed to be the origin of the Book of Kells. Explore Staffa Island, famed for its geometric basalt columns, and Zodiac into dramatic Fingal’s Cave. 

Day 10: St. Kilda & Callanish

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visit the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, boasting incredible seabird colonies. Conditions permitting; we hope to make a landing at uninhabited St. Kilda, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Later, see the Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis. 

Day 11: Orkney

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stoneslab village of Skara Brae. Step into medieval St. Magnus Cathedral, crafted from local red and yellow sandstone. 

Day 12-13: Exploring the Shetland Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Shetland Islands archipelago is characterized by incredible cultural traditions and dramatic landscapes. Experience this for yourself as you step ashore at one of the many remote islands in the region. 

Day 14: Shetland | At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Drive through a rolling landscape with Shetland ponies. Explore the ruins at Jarlshof, which reveal 4,000 years of near-continuous settlement.

Day 15: Bergen, Norway | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Disembark after breakfast and transfer to airport for your flight home.

Ship/Hotel

National Geographic Explorer

The National Geographic Explorer

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$16,590
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

Included:
Aboard ship
  • All meals and non-alcoholic beverages**
  • Your bar tab and all crew gratuities are included in the voyage price on all National Geographic Explorer voyages. Please call for details.
  • Cappuccinos, lattes & filtered water
  • 24-hour coffee, tea & soda on demand 
  • Hors d’oeuvres & snacks during Recap
  • Fitness center or exercise equipment, depending on the ship
  • Fully stocked library, and other gracious public spaces
  • The guidance and company of our expedition staff
  • The services of a physician on certain ships/destinations
Ashore
  • Hotels ashore as indicated in itinerary
  • Meals on land, as indicated in itinerary
  • Sightseeing & entrance fees
  • Special access permits, park fees, port taxes
  • Transfers to and from group flights
  • The expertise of expedition staff
Activities
  • All excursions
  • Zodiac & kayak explorations
  • Presentations and guest speakers in the lounge
**Alcoholic beverages (except on the National Geographic Explorer; certain super-premium brands not included)

Not Included:
Airfare
  • International and internal airfare
Pre- and post-expedition
  • Additional hotel nights
  • Private transfers
  • Travel Protection Plan
  • Passport, visa, and immigration fees
  • Expedition extensions
  • Gratuities
Aboard ship
  • Spa treatments
  • Laundry
  • Internet and phone
  • Gift shop items and any other items of personal nature


Rates are capacity-controlled and are subject to change without notice.

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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