Summary : Beginning in London, this journey offers adventure of a different kind. Head for the charming English Isles, before turning north to the lands of Gaelic hospitality. Enjoy one of the world’s greatest railway journeys through the beautiful highlands, land directly by Zodiac in one of Scotland’s surprisingly sub-tropical-esque beaches and perhaps even dance a traditional céilidh!
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$7,900 to $27,100
Embark Silver Cloud, settle in and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. Tonight enjoy the first of many memorable meals in one of the restaurants.
The morning is spent traveling down the River Thames, starting with the special highlight of Silver Cloud passing the impressive Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. Heading downriver you will be passing Canary Wharf, the superbly restored Cutty Sark, and Greenwich with its National Maritime Museum. Silver Cloud will be crossing the Greenwich Meridian, having a marvelous view of the University of Greenwich, the old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park just before the O2 will be rounded.
In the afternoon Silver Cloud will enter the North Sea, heading for the English Channel. Attend one of the lectures preparing you for the different natural and historic highlights awaiting you on this voyage.
Guernsey is only 25 square miles, but presents a surprising variety of beautiful and historic attractions.
For fit walkers a cliff walk will be offered. A long gradual climb of approximately 2 hours will lead to cliff tops affording great views overlooking the south coast cliffs. This walk will meander past an abundance of wildflowers along the pretty Petit Port Bay, arriving at the Jerbourg Hotel from where you will be driven to Les Cotils for a delicious Guernsey cream tea.
The second tour will depart the St Peter Port pier for a scenic drive to a silver and goldsmith’s workshop to see the craftsmen at work. The workshop and showroom are set in 8 acres of award-winning grounds. After browsing at leisure you will embark on a guided nature walk to truly appreciate the stunning grounds before enjoying a local refreshment called the Guernsey Gâche (a sultana fruit loaf served with Guernsey butter and tea or coffee).
The third excursion will take you back in time to see how life on Guernsey was during World War II. The Channel Islands were the only part of England to be occupied by the German forces and you will visit the La Valette Underground Museum which houses a mass of WW II memorabilia. Departing the museum the tour will continue along the beautiful West coast of Guernsey. On the return the charming “Little Chapel” will be briefly visited.
Silver Cloud will anchor between St. Mary’s and Tresco and during the morning local boats will take you ashore to explore the lovely St. Mary’s on your own. You might want to go birding or take a look at Star Castle, the Garrison Walls and the surrounding landscape.
To many, Tresco is the most attractive of the Isles of Scilly, especially with its Abbey Gardens. This afternoon go ashore by Zodiac for a guided tour of this world-renowned attraction which is home to thousands of exotic plant species from 80 countries (ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Myanmar to South Africa). Botanist and plant collector Augustus Smith began the gardens in the 1830s on the site of an old Benedictine Abbey by channeling the weather up and over a network of walled enclosures built around the Priory ruins. He had three terraces carved from the rocky south slope and, in this way, maximized Tresco’s mild Gulf Stream climate. Here, there are generally more hours of sunshine and less rainfall than the UK average, and many of these plants would stand no chance on the Cornish mainland, less than 30 miles away. Quite interesting is the collection of Galleon figureheads the garden has on exhibit.
Waterford was founded by Vikings some 1,100 years ago and contains various national monuments. Learn about the city’s history during a walking tour, visiting the Medieval Museum and the Bishop’s Palace.
Another excursion will take you to a more modern aspect of Waterford. The name Waterford comes from the Norse word Vadrefjord, but today the city is perhaps better known as the Crystal City. The original Waterford Crystal factory was closed in 2009, but a new “House of Waterford Crystal” was constructed where a limited production takes place. The showrooms and exhibition area will take you through the production process and the finished products are on display. Later you will be taken to the picturesque Suir Estuary and Faithlegg village where you can enjoy a delicious Irish coffee at a local hotel.
Waterford’s highlight for nature lovers and gardeners will certainly be to visit Mount Congreve Gardens during the morning. Expertly designed and tended for over 60 years, the 700 acres estate has 70 acres of woodland and a 4 acre walled garden with a remarkable collection of rare and unusual plants and trees and miles of paths through this exceptional estate. The collection of plants and the design is such that this is one of the “Great Gardens of the World”!
Have your camera ready for today’s scenic tour in the County of Wicklow, known as the “Garden of Ireland” for its domed granite mountains, deep glens and wooded valleys. Tour the 6th-century monastic ruins of Glendalough and learn of its history as a famous school with thousands of students. One of Europe’s finest examples of Round Tower architecture can be found here, as well as cathedral, stone churches and decorated crosses. Following lunch, visit the Mount Usher Gardens. Laid out along the banks of the River Vartry, Mount Usher has been designed in the Robinsonian style. Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants have been introduced from all parts of the globe and are planted in harmony with woodland and shade plants, all elegantly set off by the crystal waters of the river.
If you prefer to have a look at Dublin’s highlights, join your onboard Historian and local guides. Dublin is the capital of the Irish Republic and particularly rich in 18th-century architecture. Visit Trinity College. Founded in 1592, it is Ireland’s oldest college and houses the world famous Book of Kells, a hand illuminated manuscript of the Gospels. Continuing your tour, pass Georgian squares and Dublin Castle en route to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Founded in 1190, St. Patrick’s is perhaps best known for its association with Jonathan Swift, who was Dean here from 1713 to 1745. Other sites seen from the outside during the panoramic tour include the Customs House; River Liffey; the National Gallery of Ireland; and St. Stephen’s Green; The Mansion House and the General Post Office. Enjoy some free time in Dublin city before returning to the Silver Cloud.
This morning arrive at Iona Island. St Columba came here from Ireland in 563 AD and early Christianity spread through northern Britain from this remote island community. Forty-eight Kings of Scotland are buried here, including Duncan, Macbeth’s victim. Once ashore visit Iona Abbey, one of Scotland’s most sacred and historical sites. The abbey was restored during the early 20th century, and today the Iona Community continues the tradition of worship first established by St Columba.
The Tresnish Isles, protecting the western approaches to Mull, will be Silver Cloud’s afternoon’s destination. Lunga, the largest of them, has 2,000-plus pairs of Atlantic Puffins that breed on the island’s plateau of short turf. Other birds include storm petrels, Manx Shearwaters and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Guillemots, puffins, Corncrakes and Razorbills breed on Lunga and nearby Harp Rock, but the island is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its abundant plant life! Many rare and endangered plants are native to Lunga. These include Primroses, Birdsfoot Trefoil, and orchids, Sea Campion, Thrift and Tormentil.
Today combine a visit to the Scottish Highlands with one of the “Great railway journeys of the world”. Departing Oban head east by coach going through the Pass of Brander, past Loch Awe and stop for views of Kilchurn Castle towards Rannoch Moor, one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe. Through Glencoe you will again go along the shores of Lock Linnhe until you reach Fort William, the largest town in the West Highlands. After lunch at a local hotel, board the Jacobite train for an 84-mile route that covers some of Scotland’s “most/best” list: start near Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, and will pass close by of Loch Morar, Britain’s deepest freshwater loch, to end the journey next to the deepest seawater loch having crossed Britain’s shortest river. The train uses locomotives dating back to the 1930s and 1940s, while the coaches are 1960s ex-British Railways Mark 1s. Truly one of the great railway journeys of the world.
In Mallaig again board Silver Cloud.
While Silver Cloud anchors in Loch Ewe take the opportunity to see the National Trust for Scotland’s Inverewe Gardens. Sheltered by over 100 acres of woodlands Inverewe Gardens is considered one of Scotland’s most beautiful gardens. This is all the more surprising, considering that the gardens started in 1862 on bare rock. Today the garden houses rare Wollemi pines, Himalayan blue poppies, olearia from New Zealand, Tasmanian eucalypts, and rhododendrons from China, Nepal and the Indian subcontinent as well as plants from Chile and South Africa, giving the feel of an oasis within the rugged landscape of Wester Ross.
Aberdeen brands itself as the “Energy capital of Europe”, but is mainly known as the “Granite City”, based on the many buildings made out of locally quarried granite.
You can see a number of these impressive buildings during a panoramic drive to visit one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe, the David Welch Winter Gardens at Duthie Park. The gardens are home to a large collection of plants from around the world and include the Tropical House, Japanese Garden, Corridor of Perfumes, the Fern House, the Temperate House, and the Victorian Corridor. Choose the areas of interest to explore independently.
If you would like to visit a countryside garden and a castle, visit the stunning Crathes Castle and its gardens. You will drive through Royal Deeside to see one of the most beautiful and well-preserved castles in Scotland and the walled garden which is home to beautiful borders, ancient yew hedges, a rose garden, a fountain and a glass house.
In the afternoon Silver Cloud will continue its southbound voyage and the onboard Videographer will present the Voyage DVD recounting the many varied and interesting highlights of the “Gardens and Castles of Britain and Ireland”.
During the night Silver Cloud will go alongside in Leith.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Ship accommodation; most onboard meals (Le Champagne Restaurant excluded); butler service; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included internet access per guest/per day; Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in Le Champagne (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage segment. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at Le Champagne Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini, © Ray Stranagan