Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

SPECIAL OFFERS

Complimentary Bar Tab and Gratuities

Book a voyage on the National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Orion, National Geographic Endurance, Sea Cloud, or Lord of the Glens and we will cover your bar tab on board and all tips for the crew.

Offer is for new bookings only, may not be combined with other offers, and is subject to availability. Must book by July 31, 2019. Please call for details.

  • Search for whales, dolphins, and seals, and see vast seabird nesting sites, as we explore wild isles aboard the National Geographic Explorer.
  • Visit Macbeth’s gravesite at Iona’s 13th-century abbey, and ride a Zodiac into the dramatic cave on Staffa that inspired Mendlessohn’s “Hebrides Overture.”
  • Peer into the past in the prehistoric homes of Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands and visit Jarlshof, a 4,000-year-old settlement in the Shetland Islands.
  • Wander through timeless coastal villages including Fowey in Cornwall, England and Dingle in Ireland.

Itinerary

Itinerary

The windswept shores of England, Ireland, and Scotland offer a wild and beautiful landscape scattered with fascinating monuments and charming villages. Aboard the National Geographic Explorer, trace the path of the Vikings and the Celts from the Isles of Scilly to Norway. Witness prehistory juxtaposed with the present as you encounter the ancient relics of the Aran Islands, the early Christian settlements of Iona, and the beehive huts of Skellig Michael. Discover the unique culture and illustrious history of Scotland’s Hebrides, and marvel at Stone Age ruins on the Orkney Islands. From the unlikely subtropical gardens of Tresco Abbey to the ruins of the Shetland Islands, an extraordinary voyage awaits.

This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.

 

Days 1-2: U.S./London, England/Embark

Depart on an overnight flight to London and embark the National Geographic Explorer on the Thames River. As we sail out of London, stand on deck to catch a panoramic glimpse of London's iconic landmarks.

Meals Included:Day 2 (Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3: Portsmouth

Sail to Portsmouth, the naval port from which the Allied invasion was launched on D-Day. Delve into Britain's nautical history here. See the H.M.S. Victory, which helped defeat the French at Trafalgar, and the Tudor warship Mary Rose, deployed by King Henry VIII.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Fowey, Cornwall/Eden Project

Stroll the medieval streets of this charming coastal town where explorers Drake and Raleigh set sail. Then visit the Eden Project, an innovative nature center with vast biomes. In the afternoon, visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, left derelict after WWI and recently restored; or choose to explore Fowey's quaint town center.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: 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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Cobh, Ireland

Arrive in colorful Cobh, a Cork County seaport steeped in maritime history. Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, which features a fascinating exhibition on Irish history, including exhibits on maritime, naval, and military history; the potato famine and Irish emigration; and the ill-fated Titanic, which made its final port of call in Cobh.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Skellig Rocks/Valentia Island/Dingle Peninsula

Rising abruptly from the sea, the rocky isle of Skellig Michael was once an important center of Celtic Christianity. See the beehive huts of its seventh-century monastery, clinging to the jagged peak 600 feet above the sea. Then visit Valentia Island, known for its dramatic cliffs. Spend the afternoon exploring the picturesque seaside village of Dingle.

Day 8: Inishmore/Aran Islands

Continue to the Aran Islands, known for their peculiar limestone moonscapes and Gaelic culture. Disembark at Inishmore, the largest of the islands, and pay a visit to Dun Aengus, an astonishing Celtic ring fort perched on the edge of a cliff. Consisting of concentric walls, the site's purpose is still an enigma.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9: Exploring Northwestern Ireland

Today we discover the wild and windswept region of northwestern Ireland. Explore the dramatic landscapes of counties Sligo and Donegal, which inspired the works of W.B. Yeats, and delve into local history and folklore.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10: Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Disembark at Iona, site of Scotland’s first Christian settlement, and venture into an ancient nunnery and a 13th-century abbey. Examine the Celtic high crosses that mark the burial grounds of kings such as Duncan and MacBeth. Continue to Staffa, an island famed for its geometric basalt columns and deep-sea caves. Ride a Zodiac to the awe-inspiring Fingal’s Cave, the inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn’s "Hebrides Overture."

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11: Outer Hebrides/St. Kilda/Callanish

Visit the Outer Hebrides, where Scottish Gaelic is still widely 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 to the 20th century. Later, see the neolithic Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12: Orkney Islands

Built in the era of Stonehenge, the sites of Orkney reveal a sophisticated Stone Age culture. View the megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar, and glimpse an ancient way of life in the 5,000-year-old stone-slab village of Skara Brae. Step into the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, which took nearly 300 years to complete.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13: Shetland Islands

Dock at the Shetland Islands, an archipelago of about 100 islands and islets that is characterized by its rich cultural traditions and dramatic landscapes. Explore one of the many remote islands in the region.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14: Shetland/At Sea

Drive through a rolling landscape dotted with Shetland ponies. Discover the prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof—which reveals 4,000 years of near-continuous settlement—and examine Bronze Age ruins and Viking longhouses. Spend a leisurely afternoon onboard as we sail across the North Sea to Norway.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 15: Bergen, Norway/U.S.

Disembark in Bergen and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast

Optional Extensions

Optional Extensions

  • Scotland Extension
    4 days from $3,890
Scotland Extension

Pre-Voyage

Experience the rich tapestry of Scotland’s heritage and history on this six-day extension, journeying from the wave-lashed northern coast to the lush green lowlands. Cross the infamous battlefield of Culloden, and step inside impressive medieval structures from Cawdor Castle to Rosslyn Chapel. Visit a whisky distillery in the sweeping Highland landscape of the Cairngorms, and explore the narrow alleys and Victorian crescents of Edinburgh, Scotland’s ancient capital.

Days 1-2: U.S./Inverness, Scotland

Depart on an overnight flight and arrive the next morning in Inverness on Scotland’s northeast coast. Explore this cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands on your own this afternoon. Stroll the banks of the River Ness or climb the North Tower of Inverness Castle, a red sandstone structure that still houses the city’s sheriff and district courts. In the evening, gather with fellow travelers for a delicious welcome dinner.

Meals Included:Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Kingsmills Hotel
Day 3: Culloden/Cawdor Castle/Pitlochry

This morning, depart for Culloden, site of the last battle fought on British soil. The bloody Battle of Culloden took place on this barren field in 1746 between the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") and William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (“the Butcher of Culloden”). Visit the Culloden Visitor Centre and walk the historic battlefield. Head to Cawdor Castle for lunch, then explore the castle’s picturesque gardens, rooms, and collection of Scottish art. In the afternoon, continue south through the magnificent Cairngorm Mountains, a stark alpine landscape home to five of the six highest mountain peaks in the United Kingdom. Stop for a dram of whisky at the highest-altitude distillery in the region, and learn the secrets of this traditional craft. Spend the night in the quaint Victorian resort town of Pitlochry.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:The Pitlochry Hydro Hotel
Day 4: Stirling/Edinburgh

Set out on the scenic drive to Stirling Castle, perched high on a spur of volcanic rock above the River Forth. Explore the castle with your guide, learning about its strategic location on the main route between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands, earning it the title of “key to the kingdom.” Visit the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre and see where the renowned Robert the Bruce triumphed over superior English forces in 1314. In the afternoon, visit Rosslyn Chapel, built in 1446. Legend has it that fantastic holy relics, from the Ark of the Covenant to early gospels, are contained in its sealed vaults. Continue to the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh and take an orientation tour of historic landmarks in the old and new town, together a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Apex Waterloo Place Hotel
Day 5: Edinburgh

Ascend Castle Rock—overlooking the city’s historic center—to visit Edinburgh Castle, once the fortified home of Scotland’s kings and queens. Learn about the castle’s combination of architectural styles, and marvel at the colors of the crown jewels of Scotland, the oldest surviving set of crown jewels in the British Isles. Stroll down the sweeping Royal Mile to the National Museum of Scotland and explore the vast collections covering Scotland’s history, from the Neolithic to the modern era. In the afternoon, explore the elegant Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Queen when she visits Scotland, and then gather with your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:Apex Waterloo Place Hotel
Day 6: Edinburgh/London

Depart on an early morning flight to London, and transfer to our ship to begin your expedition cruise.

Meals Included:Breakfast