The Jewels Of The Scottish Isles

On this special voyage, you will get a unique chance to visit no less than seven Scottish islands. None of these fascinating Scottish history-filled islands are easy to get to.


North Atlantic Isles
© ALB

As a tiara of rough dark-brown rubies, small islands adorn the Scottish coastline all the way from Glasgow in the west to Aberdeen in the east.

Duration: 8 days
Starts: Greenock, Scotland
Ends: Aberdeen, Scotland
Language: English Speaking Voyage

*Optional excursions are offered on this trip. Please check Itinerary and Exclusions


Included
Optional

Itinerary

© ALB
© ALB
© ALB

DAY 1 | BOARDING IN GREENOCK, PORT CITY OF GLASGOW
The journey begins in Greenock, where M/V Ocean Atlantic is located by the dock. If you arrive early it is recommended that you take a walk on the Esplanade, which is a road right down by the water. From the road you can see across the Clyde to the Highlands, Kilcreggan and Helensburgh. Fine views to start your adventure with.
Boarding is in the afternoon, where the cabins are designated. After the mandatory security review and drill, you sail out along the coast of Greenock that has seen active fishing boats since as far back as year 1164.

DAY 2 | BEAUTIFULLY LOCATED BUNNAHABHAIN DISTILLERY ON THE ISLAND OF ISLAY
The smell of peat and smoke fills your nostrils as you approach Islay. For decades, the peat has been the primary source of fuel on this small Inner Hebride island. This, the most southernmost of the island group is known as the Queen of the Hebrides. The island has around 3200 inhabitants and an impressive 130 miles of beautiful coastline.

Ship's Zodiacs are used to land at the Bunnahabhain distillery where you will take a short tour of the distillery, learning about the process of whisky making from start to finish. Afterwards a tasting is well deserved. A visit including tasting typically takes 30 minutes.

Islay is probably best known for its malt whiskies and has a total of eight working distilleries. Whisky is one of the most important sources of income for the island.

The whisky they produce is soft, dry, smoked and dusty at the same time. For this reason, Islay is the most visited of all the inner Hebrides in proportion to its size.

Be sure to be on the lookout for wildlife while you navigate around Islay and the Hebrides, where seals, otters, geese, waders and golden eagles amongst others, have their home.

DAY 3 | THE PILGRIMAGE ISLAND OF IONA AND CLASSIC CITY OF OBAN
Today’s first visit will be steeped in Christian history as you visit the small pilgrimage island of Iona. It is considered the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland with the arrival of St. Columba in AD 563 and the founding of the Abbey. The Abbey’s long history is rich with Viking attacks, foreign monks and even abandonment at one time, before being reconstructed to its present state. Today, Iona remains a place of pilgrimage and spirituality. The visit entails a walk around the small town and free time around the Abbey.

The capital on the Scottish west coast is Oban. A picturesque Scottish harbor town called "The Gate of the Hebrides", Oban offers typical Scottish city life. If you want more exercise, it is highly recommended to walk up to McCaig’s Tower, built in the 19th century. A monument that resembles the Colosseum of Rome. Whisky is of course present here: In Oban, clearly, they have ‘Oban’, a small town distillery with a big whisky production (open every day, including Sundays). A more historical visit could be the Oban War and Peace museum that has excellent displays depicting Oban over the years (not only during the war).

After the afternoon visit, you continue northbound towards Staffa.

DAY 4 | THE SMALL ISLANDS OF STAFFA AND RÙM. FINGALS CAVE AND KINLOCH CASTLE
Venturing south around Mull during the night, you come upon a truly marvelous natural oddity. It is planned to land at the small isle of Staffa. The islands hexagonal basaltic pillars were formed many million years ago, and look breathtaking as you inspect them. If the weather conditions allow it, you will make your way into Fingal’s cave. Staffa is uninhabited but many visitors come to see the natural wonders and formations. One such guest was the composer Felix Mendelssohn. So inspired by the sounds and views, that the composition “the Hebrides” was composed shortly after his visit. It will be seen if you can spot puffins, herring gulls or other flyers whilst you traverse the wonderful little island.

While navigating the waters to Staffa and beyond, you must keep your eyes open for sightings of dolphins, porpoises and minke whales, who are all regular guests of this area in the warm periods.

After the first stop of the day, you set your sights on the more northerly isle of Rúm. The mountain filled island allows you to take a walk in the nature or join the group tour to the famous Kinloch Castle. Easily the most famous building on the island, the castle was built by George Bullough who inherited the whole island from his father. The island was a private sporting estate from 1845-1957.

If you opt to take a walk, the rugged landscape offers great trails and views.

You board the ship and set off towards the remote St. Kilda.

DAY 5 | TOWERING AND REMOTE HIRTA IN ST. KILDA ARCHIPELAGO. PUFFINS, DESERTED VILLAGES AND UNESCO HERITAGe
Today you arrive to the dramatic and isolated island of Hirta, famous for its 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 29 August 1930 because life had become too difficult on the remote archipelago. Today there are summer residents in a mix of staff from owners National Trust for Scotland, volunteers and scientists.

The volcanic archipelago that consists of the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray has made its way on the UNESCO world heritage list, holding a dual status of both natural and cultural treasure. The spectacular natural landscapes, hidden coves, rugged terrain and bird rich coasts are what you will spend your time on during the visit.

St Kilda is a breeding ground for many important seabird species. So you will be on the 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 seaborne your eyes are as always peeled for sea mammals, which in these areas also could include humpbacks and even orcas.

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

DAY 6 | PORT OF STORNOWAY, OPTIONAL LEWIS EXCURSION WITH THE CALLANISH STANDING STONES & WILDLIFE ALONG THE SHIANT ISLES COAST
As the Jewels of the Scottish Isles continue, you navigate through the northwestern part of Scotland. You find yourself 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; home to the main harbor town of Stornoway.

Arriving at the main town in the early morning, an optional excursion is offered,taking you along the wild scenery of the Outer Hebrides and ancient history in the form of 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 you board the ship to 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 its protected marine area make it what some would call “paradise for observations”. Some time is spent on the breathtaking scenery before you move on.

DAY 7 | ORKNEY ISLANDS AND HISTORIC KIRKWALL- POSSIBILITY TO VISITING SKARA BRAE
During the night you’ll have sailed out into the waters between Outer and Inner Hebrides, and in the morning you’ll reach the town of Kirkwall on the windy Orkney off the mainland of Scotland. Orkney is old Norse for the "seal islands", and, like the other North Atlantic islands, Orkney has a rich Viking story.

You depart Kirkwall and head into the west of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Along the way you will pass through rolling gentle landscapes into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney, an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of prehistoric archaeology. Passing the Standing Stones of Stenness, you will stop at the 5000 year old ceremonial circle: the Ring of Brodgar. From here you continue as history goes even further back to one of the oldest European civilizations. Skara Brae, Northern Europe's Pompeii, which was hidden for almost 5000 years before a massive storm (150 years ago) revealed the ancient settlement. The 10 small homes are almost ready for moving into, fully furnished and with sanitation - all made in stone.

Back in Kirkwall, you will visit one of the local distilleries for a tasting of some of the northernmost drops in Scotland. A fitting end to an excursion with such an amazing historical backdrop.

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

In the afternoon you depart south to Aberdeen.

DAY 8 | THE JOURNEY ENDS IN ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND
The captain will lead the ship southwards along the east coast of Scotland, and you’ll arrive in Aberdeen, Scotland's third-largest city. At this time you’ll say farewell to the ship and its crew before departing for the airport and beginning the return journey.

Itinerary

DAY 1 | BOARDING IN GREENOCK, PORT CITY OF GLASGOW
The journey begins in Greenock, where M/V Ocean Atlantic is located by the dock. If you arrive early it is recommended that you take a walk on the Esplanade, which is a road right down by the water. From the road you can see across the Clyde to the Highlands, Kilcreggan and Helensburgh. Fine views to start your adventure with.
Boarding is in the afternoon, where the cabins are designated. After the mandatory security review and drill, you sail out along the coast of Greenock that has seen active fishing boats since as far back as year 1164.

DAY 2 | BEAUTIFULLY LOCATED BUNNAHABHAIN DISTILLERY ON THE ISLAND OF ISLAY
The smell of peat and smoke fills your nostrils as you approach Islay. For decades, the peat has been the primary source of fuel on this small Inner Hebride island. This, the most southernmost of the island group is known as the Queen of the Hebrides. The island has around 3200 inhabitants and an impressive 130 miles of beautiful coastline.

Ship's Zodiacs are used to land at the Bunnahabhain distillery where you will take a short tour of the distillery, learning about the process of whisky making from start to finish. Afterwards a tasting is well deserved. A visit including tasting typically takes 30 minutes.

Islay is probably best known for its malt whiskies and has a total of eight working distilleries. Whisky is one of the most important sources of income for the island.

The whisky they produce is soft, dry, smoked and dusty at the same time. For this reason, Islay is the most visited of all the inner Hebrides in proportion to its size.

Be sure to be on the lookout for wildlife while you navigate around Islay and the Hebrides, where seals, otters, geese, waders and golden eagles amongst others, have their home.

DAY 3 | THE PILGRIMAGE ISLAND OF IONA AND CLASSIC CITY OF OBAN
Today’s first visit will be steeped in Christian history as you visit the small pilgrimage island of Iona. It is considered the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland with the arrival of St. Columba in AD 563 and the founding of the Abbey. The Abbey’s long history is rich with Viking attacks, foreign monks and even abandonment at one time, before being reconstructed to its present state. Today, Iona remains a place of pilgrimage and spirituality. The visit entails a walk around the small town and free time around the Abbey.

The capital on the Scottish west coast is Oban. A picturesque Scottish harbor town called "The Gate of the Hebrides", Oban offers typical Scottish city life. If you want more exercise, it is highly recommended to walk up to McCaig’s Tower, built in the 19th century. A monument that resembles the Colosseum of Rome. Whisky is of course present here: In Oban, clearly, they have ‘Oban’, a small town distillery with a big whisky production (open every day, including Sundays). A more historical visit could be the Oban War and Peace museum that has excellent displays depicting Oban over the years (not only during the war).

After the afternoon visit, you continue northbound towards Staffa.

DAY 4 | THE SMALL ISLANDS OF STAFFA AND RÙM. FINGALS CAVE AND KINLOCH CASTLE
Venturing south around Mull during the night, you come upon a truly marvelous natural oddity. It is planned to land at the small isle of Staffa. The islands hexagonal basaltic pillars were formed many million years ago, and look breathtaking as you inspect them. If the weather conditions allow it, you will make your way into Fingal’s cave. Staffa is uninhabited but many visitors come to see the natural wonders and formations. One such guest was the composer Felix Mendelssohn. So inspired by the sounds and views, that the composition “the Hebrides” was composed shortly after his visit. It will be seen if you can spot puffins, herring gulls or other flyers whilst you traverse the wonderful little island.

While navigating the waters to Staffa and beyond, you must keep your eyes open for sightings of dolphins, porpoises and minke whales, who are all regular guests of this area in the warm periods.

After the first stop of the day, you set your sights on the more northerly isle of Rúm. The mountain filled island allows you to take a walk in the nature or join the group tour to the famous Kinloch Castle. Easily the most famous building on the island, the castle was built by George Bullough who inherited the whole island from his father. The island was a private sporting estate from 1845-1957.

If you opt to take a walk, the rugged landscape offers great trails and views.

You board the ship and set off towards the remote St. Kilda.

DAY 5 | TOWERING AND REMOTE HIRTA IN ST. KILDA ARCHIPELAGO. PUFFINS, DESERTED VILLAGES AND UNESCO HERITAGe
Today you arrive to the dramatic and isolated island of Hirta, famous for its 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 29 August 1930 because life had become too difficult on the remote archipelago. Today there are summer residents in a mix of staff from owners National Trust for Scotland, volunteers and scientists.

The volcanic archipelago that consists of the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray has made its way on the UNESCO world heritage list, holding a dual status of both natural and cultural treasure. The spectacular natural landscapes, hidden coves, rugged terrain and bird rich coasts are what you will spend your time on during the visit.

St Kilda is a breeding ground for many important seabird species. So you will be on the 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 seaborne your eyes are as always peeled for sea mammals, which in these areas also could include humpbacks and even orcas.

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

DAY 6 | PORT OF STORNOWAY, OPTIONAL LEWIS EXCURSION WITH THE CALLANISH STANDING STONES & WILDLIFE ALONG THE SHIANT ISLES COAST
As the Jewels of the Scottish Isles continue, you navigate through the northwestern part of Scotland. You find yourself 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; home to the main harbor town of Stornoway.

Arriving at the main town in the early morning, an optional excursion is offered,taking you along the wild scenery of the Outer Hebrides and ancient history in the form of 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 you board the ship to 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 its protected marine area make it what some would call “paradise for observations”. Some time is spent on the breathtaking scenery before you move on.

DAY 7 | ORKNEY ISLANDS AND HISTORIC KIRKWALL- POSSIBILITY TO VISITING SKARA BRAE
During the night you’ll have sailed out into the waters between Outer and Inner Hebrides, and in the morning you’ll reach the town of Kirkwall on the windy Orkney off the mainland of Scotland. Orkney is old Norse for the "seal islands", and, like the other North Atlantic islands, Orkney has a rich Viking story.

You depart Kirkwall and head into the west of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Along the way you will pass through rolling gentle landscapes into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney, an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of prehistoric archaeology. Passing the Standing Stones of Stenness, you will stop at the 5000 year old ceremonial circle: the Ring of Brodgar. From here you continue as history goes even further back to one of the oldest European civilizations. Skara Brae, Northern Europe's Pompeii, which was hidden for almost 5000 years before a massive storm (150 years ago) revealed the ancient settlement. The 10 small homes are almost ready for moving into, fully furnished and with sanitation - all made in stone.

Back in Kirkwall, you will visit one of the local distilleries for a tasting of some of the northernmost drops in Scotland. A fitting end to an excursion with such an amazing historical backdrop.

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

In the afternoon you depart south to Aberdeen.

DAY 8 | THE JOURNEY ENDS IN ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND
The captain will lead the ship southwards along the east coast of Scotland, and you’ll arrive in Aberdeen, Scotland's third-largest city. At this time you’ll say farewell to the ship and its crew before departing for the airport and beginning the return journey.


© ALB
© ALB
© ALB


INCLUSIONS

• 8-day/7-night cruise in a shared outside/inside double stateroom with private bathroom/toilet in the category chosen
• English-speaking expedition team.
• Zodiac landings.
• Whisky tasting on the island of Islay.
• Near-port town walks with expedition team.
• Information briefings and lectures by expedition team.
• Full board on the ship.
• Free coffee, tea and afternoon snacks on the ship.
• Special photo workshop.
• Welcome and farewell cocktails.
• Digital visual journal link after voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list and more!
• Taxes and tariffs.

EXCLUSIONS

• International flights to Glasgow /from Aberdeen.
• Hotel accommodations in Scotland, before or after the cruise.
• Travel insurance.
• Cancellation insurance.
• Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary.
• Single room supplement.
• Meals not on board the ship.
• Beverages (other than coffee and tea).
• Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day).
• Personal expenses.
• Anything not mentioned under 'Inclusions'.


* The prices are per person expressed in US Dollars.
** All prices will be re-confirmed by email at the time of booking.
NOTE: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.

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