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Ancient Isles: England, Ireland and Scotland

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463
15 Days
Availability : May 07, 2019
London, England
Bergen, Norway
National Geographic Expeditions

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
 
  • Search for whales, dolphins, and seals as we explore wild isles aboard the National Geographic Explorer, and see vast seabird nesting sites.
  • 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, Ireland.

EXPEDITION TEAM

Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts – from naturalists to regional specialists – who will share their knowledge and insights the wildlife, landscape and local culture. Select a member of the expedition team below to see their bio and dates.

 
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, NORWAR/U.S.

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

Meals Included:Breakfast
 
WHAT TO EXPECT

Your expedition experience can be tailored to the activity level you choose, whether it’s light or moderate or a little of both. Travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time—sometimes on uneven terrain—and able to get in and out of expedition landing craft. Daily activities may include Zodiac cruises, easy hikes, walking tours, and visits to cultural or historic sites, with options each day for more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, or biking.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic photographer joins the expedition team on every departure aboard the National Geographic Explorer.

 
SHIPS & DECK PLANS

Traveling aboard the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, you’ll enjoy the daily thrill of discovery without sacrificing comfort. Each of our ships provides an inviting home base with superior amenities, personalized service, and a vibrant yet casual onboard atmosphere. Step aboard and you’ll find comfortable cabins, a well-stocked library, and dining rooms serving regionally inspired cuisine with fresh, local ingredients. Expansive decks provide an exceptional vantage point for spotting and photographing wildlife.

National Geographic Explorer –  Capacity 148 Guests

The National Geographic Explorer is arguably the finest expedition vessel on the seas. A state-of-the-art, ice-class expedition ship, the Explorer accommodates 148 guests in 81 spacious cabins, each with outside views; private bathrooms; and sleek, modern furnishings. Single cabins in Category 2 are highlighted in bright blue and include cabins 309-312 and 310-332. Single cabins in Category 3 are highlighted in bright pink and include cabins 105, 106, 203 and 208. 

The ship carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac motorized landing craft, as well as sophisticated video equipment that allows access to the underwater world. Public areas include a lounge and bar; a library; a spa; a fitness center; a sauna; and a selection of dining options that offer regionally inspired cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. Services include a full-time doctor, a wellness specialist, and an Internet cafe.

 
 
WHAT’S INCLUDED
  • Transfers upon arrival/departure for guests booked on recommended group flights
  • Accommodation aboard the world-class expedition ships of the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet or a luxury chartered ship
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities
 
 
Via Travel & Cruising
Via Travel & Cruising
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