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Visit Neolithic sites of the Orkney islands

The Jewels of the Scottish Isles

Roundtrip Aberdeen - Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Ocean Albatros
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Get on the Ocean Albatros for a 9-day cruise and learn about the interesting history of nine Scottish islands. Learn about their past, from hot molten lava millions of years ago to Stone Age settlements and the creation of single malt whisky just 12 years ago. Leave the Shetland Islands and go to Ullapool, the Isles of Mull, Iona, and Lunga. At night, the Expedition Team will give interesting lectures. The cruise also includes stops at the remote St. Kilda archipelago, the Isle of Lewis, and the rugged islands of Orkney, known for their ancient dwellings and whisky distilleries. The cruise ends in Aberdeen, on the Scottish mainland.
Discover ancient cultures of the Orkney islandsIsle of Iona, ScotlandIona Abbey on the Isle of IonaSeabirds flying over dramatic ocean island cliffs St KildaVisit Neolithic sites of the Orkney islands
  • Explore the charming fishing village of Lerwick and its Iron Age dwellings in the Shetland Islands
  • Experience the tranquil waters and wildlife of Loch Broom in Ullapool, gateway to the Northwest Highlands
  • Discover the picture-perfect town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, home to artists and creatives
  • Explore the ancient Neolithic heartland of Orkney, full of standing stones and ancient archaeology
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Aberdeen, Scotland | Embark

Your journey begins in Aberdeen, where the MV Ocean Albatros is located by the dock. Aberdeen, the Scottish city of adventure, is known for its many titles, the most famous being the Granite City. With its glittering Victorian buildings, it's easy to see why the city was once the world's granite capital. Now a lively cultural center, Aberdeen has a variety of museums, galleries, theaters, shops, cafes, and restaurants for visitors (who arrive early) to discover.

Boarding is in the afternoon, when the cabins are designated. After the mandatory security review and drill, sail out along the coast of North East Scotland.

Day 2: Shetland Islands, Scotland

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You are set to approach Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, in the morning. Shetland consists of more than 100 islands, of which only 15 are inhabited year-round. The islands form the northernmost part of the United Kingdom and are located approximately 300 kilometers north of the mainland of Scotland.

Once securely docked at the port, depart through Lerwick towards Scalloway for a short scenic drive. From up high, you can see both the charming village and the impressive Scalloway Castle. After a short photo stop, continue eastwards through the area that is locally known as the Black Gates—an area where peat is still cut and used as fuel.

Following the road northward, your main destination of Clickimin Broch is only a short drive. There will be free time to discover this well-preserved and restored Broch and learn more about life in the Iron Age.

(Please note: The coach excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip.)

Afterwards, return to Lerwick and the ship around lunchtime.

As you finish your meal, the ship moves to the nearby Isle of Noss, home to some of Scotland's busiest seabird colonies. Depending on the weather, you may hope to make either a Zodiac cruise or a landing with a shorter hike on the island.

From here, depart the Shetland Islands and set sail towards the Scottish mainland at Ullapool, gateway to the Northwest Highlands.

Day 3: Ullapool

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Situated in the Ross and Cromarty region of the Scottish Highlands, Ullapool is a small village and harbor boasting a population of roughly 1,500. 45 miles north-west of Inverness, this is the largest settlement for miles around, despite its relatively tiny size.

Positioned in the tranquil waters of Loch Broom, Ullapool enjoys some of the most spectacular scenery in the United Kingdom. The Northwest Highlands have a population density comparable to Mongolia, and Ullapool sits almost alone amid thousands of square miles of untouched wilderness. As the ideal gateway to Assynt, Ullapool is a magnet for geologists, who for centuries have visited this region of Scotland attempting to unravel the mysteries of the Earth. The area bears witness to billions of years of geological evolution, from meteorite impacts to the opening and closing of oceans and the rise and fall of mountains. While geologically fascinating, anyone can appreciate the spectacular mountainous landscape of Assynt, sculpted by millennia of glacial grinding, volcanic eruptions, and tectonic collisions. The best way to experience this dramatic landscape is on foot, with excellent hiking opportunities beginning right from the harbor. Meanwhile, Loch Broom brims with wildlife best discovered on a zodiac cruise with your knowledgeable Expedition Team. The approach to Ullapool passes the Summer Isles, which are a magnet for dolphins; keep your binoculars at the ready!

Day 4: Tobermory

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Serving as the only town on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland until 1973, Tobermory is the capital of the region. Positioned near the northern entrance of the Sound of Mull on the east coast of Mishnish, this village was originally founded as a fishing port in 1788 and has an approximate population of 1,000. Its formation was shaped according to the designs of Thomas Telford, a civil engineer from Dumfriesshire.

Tobermory defines most people's thoughts when they consider the Scottish Islands. Bright, multicolored homes and businesses overlook the town's bustling harbor front, backed by forbidding hills mantled in thick forest. Tobermory is a true Scottish jewel and is home to a large community of artists and other creatives, as well as those seeking an escape from the rigors of the world. The picture-perfect town belies an adventurous spirit; Tobermory is the ideal gateway to the vast wilderness of the Isle of Mull, with excellent hiking options across the island, many beginning from the harbor itself. The rich waters and strong currents of the Sound of Mull nourish the abundant sea life of the area; seals, dolphins, and eagles are all resident in the area, and more exotic visitors such as basking sharks can also be found nearby. Of course, no self-respecting Scottish isle would be complete without a distillery, and the Isle of Mull distillery produces two renowned varieties: smooth, mellow Tobermory and smoky, intense Ledaig (pronounced Leh-Chig). With several warm and cozy pubs also situated around the bay, connoisseurs are utterly spoiled for choice. Sláinte!

Day 5: Iona | Lunga

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Follow in the footsteps of generations of saints, holy men, and pilgrims. Despite its tiny size, Iona stands large in history as the site where Christianity arrived in Scotland, brought from Ireland by Saint Columba. Arriving in a pagan wilderness at Port na Curaich, St. Columba began to preach on the site where the Abbey of Iona would be built. Parts of the Abbey complex date to around 800 A.D., making it one of the oldest Christian sites in Western Europe; relics stored in the excellent Abbey Museum tell the fascinating story of this isle. Centuries of Viking raids, geographic isolation, and the Scottish Reformation led the abbey to fall into disrepair until the buildings were transferred to the ownership of the Iona Cathedral Trust in 1899, beginning the long and arduous process of rebuilding. Today the island is a popular destination for those seeking the tranquility of its crystal-clear sapphire seas and wild green hills, as well as modern-day pilgrims seeking the wisdom of this ancient site. Your visit entails a walk around the small town and free time around the Abbey. To reach the Abbey, pass through the charming village of Iona (more frequently known simply as "the village,", which hosts several galleries, shops, and cafes.

The Isle of Iona is also a great place to hike and has a wide range of natural habitats that are home to several rare species, such as the hard-to-find corncrake.

Return to the ship for lunch, and the ship leaves for the island of Lunga.

The tiny, uninhabited Isle of Lunga sits amid the Treshnish Isles, a set of rugged rocks west of the Isle of Mull. The island has been assigned the special designation of Site of Special Area of Conservation due to its abundant wildlife. Residents left the island during the Highland Clearances, leaving Lunga to be reclaimed by nature, and today it hosts one of the largest seabird colonies in the Scottish Isles. In a gash in the rocks, thousands of guillemots and razorbills cluster on rocky perches, while iridescent shags and puffins claim nests and burrows on the grassy slopes above. The birds here have never been hunted and exhibit a remarkable fear of people. Move slowly and quietly to be rewarded with some of Scotland's most intimate nature encounters with these charismatic feathered friends.

Note: This activity is designated as moderate; the landing on the rocky beach is not suitable for those with mobility issues.

After your afternoon visit, continue northbound towards St. Kilda.

Day 6: St. Kilda

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, you get to the beautiful and remote island of Hirta, which is known for having the highest sea cliffs in the United Kingdom. You have traversed 45 miles west of the Outer Hebrides coast to reach this most remote part of the United Kingdom. The uninhabited island has remnants of human heritage in the shape of medieval villages and architecture. The islands were mainly used for seabird hunting and grazing. The last 36 St. Kildans left on August 29, 1930, because life had become too difficult on the remote archipelago. Today, there are summer residents comprised of staff from the National Trust for Scotland, volunteers, and scientists.

The volcanic islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay, and Boreray are on the UNESCO World Heritage List as both natural and cultural treasures. The spectacular landscapes, hidden coves, rugged terrain, and bird-rich coasts are what you can spend your time on during your visit.

St. Kilda is a breeding ground for many important seabird species. So, lookout for northern gannets, Leach’s petrels, puffins, and the northern fulmar, and if you are extremely lucky, you may find the endemic St. Kilda wren pecking for insects in the thick vegetation around the cliffs and rocky slopes. When at sea, your eyes are always peeled for sea mammals, which in these areas could also include humpbacks and even orcas.

In the afternoon, continue your voyage towards the Outer Hebrides.

Day 7: Stornoway

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
As your journey through the Jewels of the Scottish Isles continues, navigate through the northwestern part of Scotland. Find yourselves in the remote string of islands known as the Outer Hebrides; herein lies the Isle of Lewis and Harris, a rugged and bleakly beautiful land of heather and moor, loch and stream, and home to the main harbor town of Stornoway.

When you get to the main town early in the morning, you can go on an optional tour that takes you through the wild landscape of the Outer Hebrides and back in time to the Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones. Expect the guides to share many stories behind the sights you pass.

(The excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip.)

Back in Stornoway, board the ship to set sail during lunch, so you can circumnavigate the Shiant islands before setting off towards the Orkney islands.

The Shiant Isles translate from Gaelic to something like "enchanted isles". The privately owned islands have large populations of seabirds, and their protected marine area makes them what some would call "paradise for observations". Spend some time enjoying the breathtaking scenery before you move on.

Day 8: Orkney Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
As the night progresses, the boat will travel northeast beyond the Outer and Inner Hebrides, and by morning, it will have arrived at the port of Kirkwall on the breezy Orkney Isles off the coast of Scotland. Orkney's name originates from Old Norse for "seal islands," and like other northern Atlantic isles, the region is rich in Viking history.

Set out from Kirkwall to the west side of the largest isle, Mainland. As you move through the serene hillsides, navigating the World Heritage Site of the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney, full of ancient archaeology, your journey takes you past the Standing Stones of Stenness to the 5000-year-old ceremonial Ring of Brodgar, an enduring vestige of one of the earliest European civilizations.

(The excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip.)

In the afternoon, be on your way south to Aberdeen.

Day 9: Aberdeen | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
The Captain will lead the ship southwards along the east coast of Scotland, and arrive in Aberdeen, Scotland's third-largest city. At this time, say farewell to the ship and its crew before departing.


Ocean Albatros

The Sauna
Pool Deck
The lounge

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
Ocean Albatros Category G Stateroom
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Category G
Single Stateroom (Porthole) - 14 m2 Standard single Stateroom onboard, located on deck 3. This is a conveniently located State Room close to the Mudroom which facilitates access to the Zodiacs during embarkation and disembarkation to begin your adventures.
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Category F
Triple Stateroom (Porthole) - 22 m2 There are four Triple Staterooms on board Ocean Albatros featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms. Triple staterooms are normally with twin beds however a double bed can be accommodated.
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Category E
French Balcony Suite - 16 m2 The French Balcony Suite is a standard Stateroom with a French balcony, a double bed, floor-to-ceiling windows and a bathroom. All French Balcony Suites are located on Deck 7.
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Category D
Albatros Stateroom (Porthole) - 22 m2 The standard Stateroom on Ocean Albatros is close to the Mudroom and has quick access to the Zodiac platforms for disembarkation during landings. This is very convenient if you have more limited mobility and would like a short distance to the Zodiacs. The State Rooms are perfect for those who wish a comfortable base during their stay onboard Ocean Albatros. The standard State Rooms all have a double bed or 2 single beds and a bathroom. The State Rooms are located on deck 3 and 4.
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Category C
Balcony Stateroom - 24 m2 The most abundant type of Stateroom on Ocean Albatros located on decks 4 & 6. They have a balcony, a double bed or two single beds, a bathroom and a sofa that can be used as a bed for a child if traveling as a family. If you desire to book two staterooms with connecting doors, this is also a possibility within this category.
Ocean Albatros Category B Suite
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Category B
Balcony Suite approximately - 32 m2 Ocean Albatros has 6 Balcony Suites on board located on decks 4 & 6. The suites feature double or twin beds and a seating area, bathroom, and a large balcony. The balcony suites can host 2 people.
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Category A
Junior suite - 42 m2 The 4 junior suites aboard Ocean Albatros have a great view from their location high up on the ship on deck 7. The suites feature a double bed or twin beds, sofa bed, seating area, a spacious bathroom and a private balcony. The suite can accommodate up to 3 people.
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Premium Suite
Premium suite - 45 m2 – FS (Freydis Suite) The second largest of all the staterooms on board the Ocean Albatros is the Premium Suite. This 2-bedroom suite features a double bed (or twin beds), a sofa bed, table and chair, a balcony and a spacious bathroom. Located on deck.4. This category is available upon request. Please refer to Albatros Expeditions for price.
Ocean Albatros Family Suite
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Family Suite
Family suite - 52 m2 – BS (Brynhilde Suite) The largest of all the staterooms on board the Ocean Albatros is the Premium Suite. The Double-Bedroom, Family Suite is going to be located on Deck 7, featuring two interconnecting French Balcony Suites, accommodating up to 5 people on two double beds and a sofa bed. This category is available upon request. Please refer to Albatros Expeditions for price.


Kayaking activities available on both Arctic and Antarctic voyages. 
Although kayaking opportunities are possible in most locations during each excursion in the Antarctic region, weather, sea, and ice conditions will dictate the when and where to ensure your safety and improve your experience.
In order to sign up for this activity, you need to have previous kayaking experience and attend a mandatory safety briefing by the Kayak Master. The cost is $250/person per outing and it can only be booked onboard.
  • 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Welcome and Farewell Cocktails   
  • Digital visual journal link after voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list and more.
  • English-speaking expedition team
  • Information briefings and lectures by expedition team
  • Special photo workshop
  • Near-port walks with the expedition team
  • Dinner drink package
  • 9-day/8-night cruise on Ocean Albatros in a shared outside double stateroom with a private bathroom in the category chosen
  • Full board on the ship
  • Free coffee, tea, and afternoon snacks on the ship
  • Taxes, tariffs, and landing fees
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Beverages (other than coffee and tea)
  • Anything not mentioned under 'inclusions'
  • Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals not on board the ship
  • Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day)
  • Emergency Evacuation insurance of at least $200,000 per passenger is required. Please bring a copy of your insurance onboard.
  • International Flights
  • Shore landings by zodiac
  • Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
  • Transfer to/from the ship
  • Travel, cancellation, and senior insurance



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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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