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Exploring the British & Irish Isles

British Isles Cruise

  • National Geographic Explorer
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 148 Capacity
  • 15 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $13,640

Summary : History, Culture and Unexpected Wildness: This adventure through England, Ireland and Scotland takes you to wild and beautiful islands like Staffa and Orkney— and adds culture and history to your appreciation of the spectacular landscapes. Everywhere on the journey you will encounter many surprises: the immense tropical gardens in the otherwise classicly English Isles of Scilly. The stunning geological architecture of Fingal’s Cave on Staffa. The cloistered quiet of Iona, the capital of ancient Celtic Christianity. The way the 5,000-year-old dwellings at Skara Brae in Orkney banish forever any lingering notions of early man as “primitive.” And the spectacular scenery along the British island cruise adventure. Each day you'll see and learn more. This departure is a Photo Expedition, see end of page for details.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography


Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!

Prices from
$13,640 to $24,900

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Day 1 – 2
U.S. / London, England / Embark

Depart on an overnight flight to London, and upon arrival, embark National Geographic Explorer along the Thames River, seeing the iconic Tower Bridge.

Day 3

Set along the south coast of England, Portsmouth 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 Island / Eden Project

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

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

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

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

Donegal, in Gaelic Dun na nGall or ‘fort of the foreigners’ (i.e. the Vikings), is an ancient and dramatically beautiful area. Board Zodiacs to explore lovely Donegal Bay and drive to Glencolumbkille, one of the most traditional areas in Ireland, where Gaelic is still the primary language. In the evening, cruise past the 2,000-foot-high cliffs of Slieve League, the highest in Europe.

Day 9
Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

St. Columba called Iona “love of my heart” and chose it as the site for his monastery. Walk through the ancient nunnery to 12th-century Iona Abbey, where sixty kings lie buried, including Duncan and MacBeth. In the afternoon, explore Staffa, an island famed for its great basalt columns and deep sea caves. It was here in Fingal’s Cave that Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write his haunting Hebrides Overture.

Day 10
Outer Hebrides: St. Kilda and Callanish

Along the wild, western coast of Scotland are the Outer Hebrides, islands steeped in history and legend, where Gaelic is still widely spoken. The day is open for exploration. Weather permitting, explore remote St. Kilda. A World Heritage Site, it was occupied from the New Stone Age through 1930. You then venture to the Isle of Lewis to see the massive neolithic Standing Stones of Callanish.

Day 11

Visit the famous Inverewe Gardens. Tempered by the Gulf Stream, the delightful gardens are an anomaly of sub-tropical color—grown at the same latitude as St. Petersburg! Explore the charming fishing village of Ullapool in the afternoon.

Day 12
Orkney Islands

Few places in the world have the impact of the Stone Age sites of Orkney. The standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar and the 6,000-year-old stone-slab village excavated at Skara Brae are stunning manifestations of a culture older than the Pyramids of Egypt. Later, see the massive Cathedral of St. Magnus, built by the Vikings, and stately Balfour Castle on Shapinsay Island, where you recharge with a hearty Scottish tea.

Day 13
Fair Isle and Mousa

Fair Isle claims to be the most isolated settlement in the British Isles. The seventy or so inhabitants are a rugged yet amiable people, proud of their island and, of course, their world-renowned woolen crafts. After a pleasant walk around the island, join your island friends for tea. Later, Zodiac in to the uninhabited island of Mousa, where you find one of the best examples of an Iron Age broch (fortified farm).

Day 14
Shetland Islands

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
Bergen, Norway / Disembark / Home

Arrive at Bergen, Norway, disembark, and transfer to the airport for your return flights home.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Photo Expedition:
The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.

Optional Pre- / Post-Trip Extension: (6 Days)
Exploring Wales: Expore the distinct Welsh culture and a wealth of castles, gardens and abbeys, including Tintern Abbey, made famous by the poet Wordsworth, and so much more. From $4,750 per person. Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

All accommodations aboard ship; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; meals on land as indicated; shore excursions; sightseeing and entrance fees; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks; tips, except to ship’s crew; taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician on most voyages; services of your expedition staff.

Not Included:
Air transportation; extensions; passport, visa, immigration fees; meals not indicated; baggage/accident/travel insurance; items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages; email; laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; optional extensions; fuel surcharge may apply.