British Isles – Remote Islands, Natural Wonders and a Diverse Coastline

British Isles – Remote Islands, Natural Wonders and a Diverse Coastline

British Isles – Remote Islands, Natural Wonders and a Diverse Coastline

British Isles – Remote Islands, Natural Wonders and a Diverse Coastline

Travel information 13 days MS Maud
Departures
April 12, 2022
May 18, 2022
August 8, 2022
September 3, 2022
Price from $ 6,355
$ 3,813
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Check prices and availability Request a quote

Enjoy a unique coastal exploration along the full length of the British Isles and beyond, discovering wildlife, nature, and the distinct heritage of these wide-ranging destinations.

Nature and heritage

From Dover, we sail along the England’s southern coast and then up the west coast of the British Isles to the Hebrides before returning to Dover, featuring stops in different ports as we travel in this direction. Discovery is the name of the game in this expedition, where you’ll visit amazing locations in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, and the Hebrides Islands. See how nature and heritage distinctly shaped the culture of each destination. These picturesque towns and historical landmarks are set among wild landscapes, scenic coastal paths, and impressive natural landforms.

Experienced Expedition Team

Bird enthusiasts will be in awe of the birdlife on Rathlin Island and at the largest seabird colony in Europe on the UNESCO-listed archipelago of St. Kilda. You’ll learn about the ancient history of the Isle of Man and Ireland’s Waterford, and marvel at the Devon’s scenic beauty. Drink in the views of the whisky island of Islay, while the natural acoustics of Fingal’s Cave will have you singing on Staffa.

The true meaning of expedition cruising will become apparent as we head for rarely visited destinations and take you on nature landings, with our knowledgeable and experienced Expedition Team always on hand to guide you.

British Isles – Remote Islands, Natural Wonders and a Diverse Coastline
  • Day 1
    Dover, England

    Your Cruise Begins

    Estimated time of departure is 6:00 PM

    Before embarking on the ship, take some time to explore the coastal town of Dover with its magnificent, medieval castle.

    Your comfortable expedition ship, MS Maud, will be ready and waiting for you in the port of Dover. Once you board the ship and check in, you’ll receive your complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket. As the weather is unpredictable, it may come in handy. Take time to settle into your cabin and explore the ship before attending a mandatory pre-departure safety drill.

    With that, we’re off! MS Maud sets sail from Dover and makes its way along the southern coast. The adventure winds all the way up to Hebrides, around the diverse islands and coastline of the British Isles, and beyond.

    You’ll be greeted by your friendly and energetic Expedition Team. They will prepare you for the exciting days ahead, but their first priority is taking you through important health and safety protocols to make sure you and your fellow explorers are safe and healthy throughout the cruise.

    Stretch your sea legs on deck and further acquaint yourself with the different areas of the ship, your home away from home for the next 13 days. Enjoy your first dinner aboard the ship, one of many more delicious meals to come. Raise your glass and join the captain and crew in a toast to an enjoyable expedition.

    This is an expedition cruise, so please note that the order of stops may change, depending on local circumstances.

    Day 1
    Dover, England

    Your Cruise Begins

  • Day 2
    At Sea

    Relax and Learn

    Enjoy an idyllic day at sea. You’ll have time to unwind and find the perfect mindset for this expedition cruise. Admire the views from MS Maud’s expansive Observation Deck or settle into the Fredheim restaurant with a good book and a freshly baked pastry. Don’t forget to take full advantage of the gym and hot tubs!

    You’ll also be invited to talks hosted by the Expedition Team, experienced explorers who will enthusiastically share their extensive knowledge of the British Isles with you. Topics change each day and are often relevant to the area we are sailing in at the time. On this day, for example, you might learn about Welsh history or the Pembrokeshire coast. These added insights will enhance your experience, filling your sense of discovery with enticing details. The onboard professional photographer will also be available to give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos.

    Day 2
    At Sea

    Relax and Learn

  • Day 3
    Fishguard, Wales

    Quaint villages and prehistoric forts

    Our first port of call on our exploration of the British Isles is the charming fishing village of Fishguard, between the Preseli Hills and the Pembrokeshire coast. Split in two by a steep, winding hill, Lower Town is home to the original hamlet and harbor, while the ‘new’ town enjoys spectacular views from a clifftop.

    Fishguard is actually the infamous site of the ‘Britain’s Last Invasion’ by the French in 1797. The local library houses a 100-foot-long commemorative ‘Bayeux’-style tapestry depicting the invasion.

    From Lower Town, explore the ancient woodlands of the Gwaun Valley, which stretch toward the Preseli Hills. The walking trail winds past the River Gwaun, medieval Llanychllwydog pillar stones, St. Brynach’s Church and the Dyffryn Arms pub, run by local legend Bessie. Do you appreciate beautiful, landscaped gardens? Head toward the gardens at Dyffryn Fernant.

    On the outskirts of Fishguard, walk up the hill to Castle Point to see the ruins of Fishguard Fort and have incredible views over the harbor. From here, you can take a walk along a stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

    Further west of Fishguard, you can take a walk along a stretch of the coastal path on the Pencaer Peninsula, looking out to the Strumble Head lighthouse. This is also a great place for spotting seabirds, seals, and porpoises.

    The area is also home to a number of Iron Age hillforts, settlements, and Neolithic burial mounds. The reconstructed roundhouses of Castell Henllys sit about 30 minutes from Fishguard, where costumed guides share the history of the local Demetae people, an indigenous Celtic tribe of the Iron Age and Roman periods.

    Day 3
    Fishguard, Wales

    Quaint villages and prehistoric forts

  • Day 4
    Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

    Seabirds, choughs, and corncrakes

    Just off the north coast of County Antrim, the rugged cliffs, lakes, and vast natural grasslands of Rathlin Island boasts Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony.

    At just six miles long and one mile wide, this L-shaped island, home to just 140 inhabitants, is ideal to explore by bike or on foot. Take a scenic clifftop walk or follow the many interesting trails with varied sections (typically of intermediate level of difficulty; consult with Expedition Team for more information), where you can admire the island’s natural beauty amid peace and tranquility. Stroll to Mill Bay, where you might see seals frolicking in the water or basking on the rocks.

    Visit the RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre and the functioning ‘upside-down’ lighthouse perched on the cliffs. Here, you can also enjoy close-up views of the seabird colonies, as well as spectacular coastal panoramas.

    From late April through July, tens of thousands of seabirds congregate on the island to breed, including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, and fulmars. Sadly, Rathlin Island is also home to Northern Ireland’s only pair of breeding choughs. But on the upside, the calls of the secretive corncrake have been heard here for the first time in 30 years.

    Pay a visit to the Rathlin Island Visitor’s Centre to learn about island life, local history, and the many historical shipwrecks that lie in the waters. Local legend has it that Robert the Bruce took refuge on the island in 1306, the sight of a spider inspired him to return to Scotland and fight for his crown.

    Just a short ferry ride and drive away is the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s top attraction. It’s a mesmerizing sight: Over 60 million years ago, volcanic activity formed these 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns.

    Day 4
    Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

    Seabirds, choughs, and corncrakes

  • Day 5
    Isle of Iona, Scotland, and Staffa, Scotland

    Pilgrims and puffins

    Famed for its mystical Christian associations, Iona is a peaceful little island off the coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. The restored abbey here is a place of pilgrimage and peace. There’s much more to see here, though, including picturesque beaches, wonderful wildlife, and beautiful St. Columba’s Bay.

    Iona has been a center for Christian worship since the 6th century, but the abbey was sacked several times by Vikings between 795 and 825. Today you can explore this sacred site, including the restored church. Supposedly, 48 early Scottish kings are buried in the graveyard, alongside Irish and Norwegian kings—see if you can find them!

    From the abbey, take the popular hike uphill to Dun I (pronounced “Dun Eee”). At the top, you’ll be at Iona’s highest point, where you can see St. Columba’s Bay and the Treshnish Isles. While you’re up there, look for the ‘Well of Eternal Youth’ and splash your face with its allegedly miraculous waters. You can find it in a cleft between two rocks as you walk downhill, facing north.

    From here, it’s off to the remote beauty of the Treshnish Isles. This group of distinctive skerries are home to a wealth of wildlife, including nesting Atlantic Puffins, colonies of Black-legged Kittiwakes, razorbills, and Common Guillemots, as well as and Atlantic gray seals.

    Fingal’s Cave, immortalized through Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, is on the cave-riddled island of Staffa and is noted for its amazing natural acoustics. The basalt columns inside are a northern extension of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. On a calm, clear day, we might even be able to land and see the color of the water inside the cave, though its rising columns can also be viewed from the sea.

    Day 5
    Isle of Iona, Scotland, and Staffa, Scotland

    Pilgrims and puffins

  • Day 6
    St. Kilda, Hirta Island, Scotland

    A UNESCO treasure reclaimed by nature

    One word sums up the tiny, rocky St. Kilda: Wild. As such, our visit to this storm-tossed archipelago—its breathtaking sea cliffs, and the boiling seas that surround it—totally depends on the weather.

    Visiting St. Kilda is an unforgettable experience. This UNESCO double World Heritage Site is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Trust for Scotland The outlying stacks and islands, which are the remains of a volcanic crater, provide ledges for thousands of nesting seabirds. This region is also frequented by minke whales. If luck’s on your side, you may spot one in the swirling waters surrounding the rocky outcrop. Once home to Britain’s most remote island community, in 1930, after 4,000 years of continuous habitation, the people living on St Kilda’s Hirta Island were evacuated at their own request. The tiny museum that remains is a record of how hard life was on this exposed island.

    Once you set foot on St. Kilda, you’ll soon see that the island is far from deserted. It’s home to a multitude of seabirds, including over 60,000 pairs of Northern Gannets—the second largest gannet colony in the world! There are plenty of other seabirds to spot, including Atlantic Puffins, Northern Fulmars, Common Guillemots, and Black-legged Kittiwakes. St. Kilda is considered one of the most important seabird colonies in Europe.

    Birdlife aside, you might see other island inhabitants as well. An ancient breed of sheep, the Soay sheep, lives wild here, as do a number of other rare species, including the St. Kilda mouse and the St. Kilda Wren. See if you can spot them!

    Explore the abandoned village and see the distinctive ‘cleits’, circular stone buildings used to store peat, eggs and smoked puffins. Then head back to the ship and happily indulge in less primitive dining options.

    Day 6
    St. Kilda, Hirta Island, Scotland

    A UNESCO treasure reclaimed by nature

  • Day 7
    Stornoway, Lewis, Scotland

    The Capital of the Outer Hebrides

    Stornoway is the capital of the Isle of Lewis & Harris, famed for its pristine beaches, Neolithic sites, and tweed workshops. Step back in time as you investigate ancient ruins and gaze in wonder at the mysterious Callanish Standing Stones. Then explore the bustling waterfront and streets of the island’s main town.

    Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway is the main town on Lewis & Harris—a single island with two names, denoting the north and south parts. It’s the largest and most northerly island in the Outer Hebrides—aka the Western Isles. Check out Lews Castle, with an impressive Gothic-revival style, overlooking Stornoway Harbor. You can visit the museum here, or simply wander the grounds for unbeatable views of the inky blue seas. Why not drop in for a ‘wee dram’ in the castle’s very own whisky bar?

    Harris is famed for its woolen tweed fabric. Peruse the tweed jackets, pants, and hats that are for sale in the shops all over the island—perfect for gifts or mementos. After visiting the castle and its museum, and visiting some shops, blow the cobwebs off with a walk.

    No visit to Lewis & Harris is complete without seeing the Callanish Standing Stones (Calanaisin Gaelic), a magical ring of monoliths whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Another atmospheric site is the Blackhouse at Arnol, a completely restored thatched traditional dwelling which provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.

    If you feel like taking a nice walk, there are plenty of routes to choose from, with Lewis being less hilly. As you explore the island, look out for red deer, eagles, otters, gannets, and butterflies. No wonder why nature lovers from around the world flock to the wild side of this peaceful island.

    Day 7
    Stornoway, Lewis, Scotland

    The Capital of the Outer Hebrides

  • Day 8
    Islay, Scotland

    Scottish island life, distilled

    Heighten your spirit of adventure on this island, famed for its whisky, wildlife, and woolen garments.

    Islay isn’t called ‘whisky island’ by coincidence. There are nine working distilleries here, and their peaty single malts are sold around the world. One of the larger Inner Hebrides islands, there are 130 miles of coastline here, along with numerous quiet, sandy beaches. Expect superb clifftop walks, and if you’re a golf fan, there’s a rather beautiful and famous yet difficult golf course on the Oa Peninsula.

    History abounds on Islay, with standing stones and a stone circle showing traces of inhabitants on the island in Neolithic times. Islay was once known as the Lordship of the Isles. Explore the enigmatic settlement at Finlaggan, the island’s most important archeological site, where you can even spot a number of Celtic crosses.

    Islay is also a wildlife paradise, with over 200 species of birds. These include oystercatchers, gannets, terns, and cormorants, as well as buzzards, Hen Harriers, and even White-tailed Eagles. You might spot dolphins and basking sharks from the beaches, and even the occasional otter.

    Delight in the charming town of Bowmore, whose shops, interesting round church, and several cozy pubs and restaurants are worth a visit. It’s probably the only place in the world with ‘Hebridean pizza’—‘peat-za’—topped with crab and lobster.

    Bowmore is full of art and handicrafts, and you can visit potters, quilters, and artists in their workshops. Visit Islay Woolen Mill, near Bridgend, which made tartan clothes for Mel Gibson in Braveheart, and Liam Neeson’s kilt in Rob Roy.

    No trip to Islay would be complete without a visit to one of its famous distilleries. Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain, Ardbeg, and Bowmore are among the best known.

    Day 8
    Islay, Scotland

    Scottish island life, distilled

  • Day 9
    Douglas, Isle of Man

    Viking history on a Celtic island

    Grab your camera and head out on deck as we sail into Douglas. You won’t want to miss this scenic approach! Get ready to explore the capital of the Isle of Man, a quirky island full of character. Learn about the island’s Celtic and Viking heritage; trace its development as a Victorian tourist resort; and discover its stunning, rugged coastline.

    To conserve its diverse marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as its unique cultural heritage, the Isle of Man is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This indicates a unique environment and a population committed to keeping it that way through sustainable development and informed environmental awareness, to help ensure a healthy future for its economy, people, and natural environment. Discover the geology, marine life, and maritime history of its shorelines on the island’s three Blueways Trails.

    For railroad and motorcycle enthusiasts, this island is a treat. Motorcyclists flock to the island to attend its annual TT races. You can hop on board a historic steam train, vintage electric (cable car), or horse-drawn trolley. Or visit the local Motor and Motorcycle Museums.

    In Douglas, you can get an overview of the island’s history at the Manx Museum, then stroll through town and the local surroundings at your leisure. Pop into St. Thomas’ Church to see the unique and colorful Nicholson Murals.

    Nearby, the rocky Douglas Head overlooks the harbor and has some of the best views of the island. Look for the Tower of Refuge in Douglas Bay, originally built as a sanctuary for shipwreck victims. Visit the unusual Grand Union Camera Obscura, a tourist attraction since 1892.

    Across the island from Douglas, visit the impressive Peel Castle. It was originally a stronghold of Viking King Magnus Barelegs in the 11th century, then later run by Christian missionaries. It’s rumored to be haunted. If you’re lucky, you might even see seals and basking sharks from the castle.

    Day 9
    Douglas, Isle of Man

    Viking history on a Celtic island

  • Day 10
    Waterford, Ireland

    Vikings of old Ireland

    Welcome to the Emerald Isle. Set foot in Ireland’s oldest city, founded by the Vikings in the 10th century by a fjord on the River Suir. Waterford is a well preserved and walkable small city, famed for its production of beautiful crystal glass and its Norse roots. Don’t forget your camera—you’ll want to capture the incredible street art adorning the walls and houses of this city of culture.

    Walk the Viking Triangle, named for the three-sided shape made by the thousand-year-old walls that once surrounded the city. Enjoy the great views from the top of Reginald’s Tower and stop at the Bishop’s Palace Museum, an exquisite architectural jewel that houses treasures from Waterford’s colorful past.

    For an authentic taste of times past, enter the atmospheric ruins of a medieval monastery and visit the King of the Vikings museum, where you can experience an amazing virtual reality adventure featuring bearded warlords, battle axes, and dragon boats.

    Visit one of the earliest Norman stone castles at the nearby 12th century Kilkenny Castle, or take in the beautiful scenery with a bike ride along the Waterford Greenway. A visit to the Copper Coast UNESCO Geopark offers spectacular scenery, as well as castle ruins and an ancient dolmen.

    Waterford is home to some of the world’s finest crystal glass, so don’t forget to stop by the House of Waterford Crystal visitor’s center. Consider grabbing a pint at a traditional Irish pub like The Munster Bar or The Gingerman before heading back to the ship.

    Day 10
    Waterford, Ireland

    Vikings of old Ireland

  • Day 11
    Isles of Scilly, England

    Beauty and history, brimming with wildlife

    This enchanting archipelago 30 miles off the tip of Cornwall is home to gorgeous, uncrowded, and unspoiled islands and islets. While many liken the Isles of Scilly a tropical paradise, the waters around it can be choppy. Sea and weather conditions permitting, we will spend the day here. Covered in heathland and with magnificent sand beaches, these islands are surrounded by turquoise waters and reefs and offer picturesque coastal walks.

    The island of Tresco is ideal for exploring on foot. It hosts the famed Tresco Abbey Gardens with its 20,000 plants, many of them subtropical species. Explore the castle ruins, the Valhalla Museum—which contains a quirky collection of ships’ figureheads, or stroll along the white-sand beaches. Should conditions allow, we aim to do a beach clean-up on this charming island.

    We will split our time in the area. You can also choose to visit St. Mary’s, the largest of the islands, which hosts rocky coves, archeological sites, and a charming Hugh Town. Explore the town and perhaps sample some freshly caught seafood while enjoying the island’s delightful views.

    Activities abound on St. Mary’s. You could visit the Phoenix Craft Studios, a cooperative of individual artists, and then check out the Tamarisk Gallery. Or, drop in to the Longstone Café for a cream tea or lunch.

    Alternatively, join one of our optional excursions for a trip around the islands. We will visit shipwreck sites, spy seals lying on the rocks, and cruise around the Annet bird sanctuary to check in on puffins and other breeding seabirds.

    Day 11
    Isles of Scilly, England

    Beauty and history, brimming with wildlife

  • Day 12
    Dartmouth, England

    The delights of Devon

    The picturesque banks of the River Dart mark our arrival into the delightful waterfront town of Dartmouth, steeped in maritime history and culture. This area is filled with castles, forts, stately homes, lush countryside, and incredible nature.

    We’ll anchor to shore by small boats (RIBs). Explore this enchanting town on your own or join one of our optional excursions to learn more about this fascinating town and its surroundings.

    Stroll through avenues and cobbled streets and browse the quaint shops, many of which are filled with art and handicrafts inspired by the beautiful setting. Enjoy the boats coming into the bustling harbor, which is dotted with pastel houses and Tudor buildings.

    Dartmouth has a long naval history. Sitting proudly in a commanding position above the town are the magnificent buildings of the Britannia Royal Naval College. Take a tour of this fascinating military college, set among over 125 acres of landscaped gardens, that continues to train some of the finest naval officers in the world.

    At the entrance to the Dart Estuary is Dartmouth Castle, a Grade 1 listed artillery fort. It’s well worth a visit. At low tide, you can enjoy views from the secluded Sugary Cove, just about 100 yards from the castle.

    Walking trails abound along the South West Coast Path, from easy to more challenging, where you can enjoy stunning scenery around the Dart Estuary or head inland for more glorious countryside. Or follow the Mayflower Heritage Trail around town, following in the footsteps and learning about the history of the Pilgrims’ historic voyage across the Atlantic in 1620.

    Your visit isn’t complete without sampling Devon’s edible treats. Seafood lovers, try the crab. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in the local fudge or the famous Devonshire cream tea. Just remember, in Devon, it’s cream first!

    Day 12
    Dartmouth, England

    The delights of Devon

  • Day 13
    Dover, England

    Return to England

    Estimated time of arrival is 9:00 AM

    The White Cliffs of Dover signal the end of this fascinating exploration of the British Isles. As we dock at its harbor, bid a fond farewell to MS Maud and all those who made your expedition so memorable.

    Day 13
    Dover, England

    Return to England

Departures

2022

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
April:
12.
May:
18.
August:
8.
September:
3.

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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in the Aune and Fredheim restaurants
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center, which has an extensive library, biological and geological microscopes, and samples
  • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna, and the indoor and outdoor gyms—all in accordance with health & safety guidelines
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

Landing Activities

  • Landings using our small boats (RIBs)
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers will help configure your camera settings before landings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Spa treatments

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities are expected
MS Maud
Your Ship

MS Maud

Year built 2003
Shipyard Fosen Mek. Verk. (N)
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Beds 500
Gross tonnage 16,151 T
Length 445 ft
Beam 70.5 ft
Speed 15 knots
MS Maud

Formerly the MS Midnatsol, the MS Maud is well-suited for expedition cruising.

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