We call at Stornoway to see the unique and durable Harris Tweeds being woven, and pay a special pub visit in the bustling tiny port of Tobermory, capital of the Isle of Mull (known for its enticing range of craft shops and seafood). We walk the shores of one of Scotland’s most dramatic lochs, Loch Coruisk, surrounded by lofty mountains. Hike up island peaks for endless views over the ocean, kayak in sheltered lochs, or simply stroll through delightful gardens. These are all “ours” to explore.
- Day 1 Glasgow/Greenock (Scotland)
- Day 2 Isle of Arran (Scotland)
- Day 3 Islay (Scotland)
- Day 4 Isle of Gigha (Scotland)
- Day 5 Isle of Iona & Treshnish Isles (Scotland)
- Day 6 St. Kilda, Hirta Island (Scotland)
- Day 7 Stornoway and Shiant Isles (Scotland)
- Day 8 Loch Scavaig and Isle of Eigg (Scotland)
- Day 9 Sound of Mull (Scotland)
- Day 10 Isle of Colonsay (Scotland)
- Day 11 Glasgow/Greenock (Scotland)
Our voyage starts in Glasgow (Greenock), which means “Dear Green Place” in Gaelic. Glasgow boasts over 90 parks and gardens, is famous for Victorian as well as art nouveau architecture, and is home to such institutions as the Scottish Ballet, Opera and National Theatre. This is definitely a city you’ll want to explore before you board MS Spitsbergen.
Warmed by the North Atlantic Drift, this sheltered island with high peaks is a haven for wildlife. Dramatic mountains, a distinctive distillery and good hiking all add to a microcosm of Scotland. Brodick town has a 16th century red-sandstone castle, while the ruined castle at Lochranza was once a royal hunting lodge.
Once the seat of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, this is “whisky island,” world renowned for its peaty single-malt whiskies and many distilleries. As a stop-off for wintering geese and migrating birds, there is good bird spotting. In the charming little town of Bowmore, there are a handful of small shops, an interesting round church with no corners, plus superb cliff-top walks and a well-known golf course.
Tiny Gigha (pronounced Gee’a) is the “Good Isle” and owned by the islanders. Dairy cows produce a distinctive cheddar cheese, while Achamore House, set on 50 acres of woodland gardens, was once the home of Sir James Horlick who cultivated a colorful and impressive display of rhododendrons.
World famous for its religious connections, Iona was settled in 563 AD by the Irish missionary, St Colomba. The much-restored Abbey still remains a place of pilgrimage and peace. Wide views from the beach, known as “The Bay at the Back of the Ocean” stretch west towards the Outer Hebrides.
We will explore Treshnish Isles, a group of distinctive volcanic islands which are home to abundant wildlife, from nesting puffins to colonies of kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and Atlantic grey seals.
Fingal’s Cave, immortalized by Mendelssohn’s glorious “Hebrides Overture,” is on the cave-riddled island of Staffa. The basalt columns here are a northern extension of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Discovered by the Vikings, visited by Sir Joseph Banks, and viewed by Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Samuel Johnson, this is one of Scotland’s most famous islands. It is best viewed from the sea where the color of the water within the cave and its rising columns are at their most impressive
Any visit to this distant and wild archipelago, with its breathtaking sea cliffs, is totally weather-dependent. As a UNESCO double World Heritage site and the “jewel in the crown” of the National Trust for Scotland, St. Kilda is an unforgettable experience. The outlying sea stacks and islands, which are the remains of a volcanic crater, provide ledges for thousands of nesting seabirds. Minke whales are frequently seen in the swirling waters around the archipelago.
Once home to Britain’s most remote island community, it was evacuated in 1930 at the islanders’ own request after 5,000 years of continuous habitation. The tiny museum that remains is a record of how hard life was on this exposed island.
Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway is the main town of the Western Isles and the capital of the Isle of Lewis, which is the largest and most northerly of the Outer Hebrides. A bustling harbor and waterfront with museums and art galleries are overlooked by the handsome Lews Castle, which we invite you to explore with us. Further afield are mills and cottages where durable Harris Tweeds are woven. Discover tiny folk museums, the world-famous Callanish Standing Stones, and the mysterious Carloway Broch - the best preserved fort in Scotland dating back more than 2,000 years.
Late in the afternoon, we explore the Shiant Isles. Privately owned since 1937, this tiny archipelago set in the midst of the Minch, the area of sea between the Outer Hebrides and Skye, has numerous colonies of nesting seabirds. Puffins, razorbills, shags, eider ducks and guillemots all throng the surrounding waters, perching on volcanic ledges above basking sharks and seals.
Surrounded by the high peaks of the Skye Cuillins, Loch Scavaig leads to one of the most romantic and dramatic lochs in Scotland – freshwater Loch Coruisk. Painted by Turner and a popular destination for Victorians, this is a powerful landscape promising great hiking and kayaking.
We next head to the Isle of Eigg and spend the rest of our day on this craggy island. Settled since prehistoric times, it was once the seat of the Lord of the Isles, but is now owned by its inhabitants. The island has Iron Age forts, a 6th century church, and turbulent clan history with the massacre of 395 MacDonalds in a seashore cave. Soaring above the island is the crest of the “Sgurr of Eigg,” offering a great hike and stunning views across the waters of the Minch to the Outer Hebrides.
We will be anchored in the Sound of Mull which enables us to explore the fascinating town of Tobermory and Loch Sunart.
The Isle of Mull is a large island of vast moors, tiny hamlets and castles. Recognized as the island’s capital, Tobermory is a delightful deep-water fishing port where brightly painted Georgian houses ring the tiny bay. Nestled under the steep hillsides, the town has a good variety of cafés and restaurants, book shops, craft shops, a tiny museum and an ancient distillery.
Stretching inland opposite Tobermory and protected by the rugged point of Ardnamurchan, lies Britain’s most westerly mainland point, Loch Sunart. The deep, quiet waters of this long loch offer sheltered kayaking, while the lake shores provide superb walking, perhaps to the recently established distillery. Guarding the entrance of the loch stands 13th century Mingary Castle, once the stronghold of the MacIains. The castle has been frequently fought over, changing hands many times between the MacDonald and Campbell clans.
Home to over 200 bird species, including the rare and elusive corncrake, Colonsay is a gentle island of woods and pretty beaches, such as Kiloran Bay. Scalasaig is the main settlement on the island. Colonsay House is home to exotic gardens and the surrounding woods, moors and fields have over 400 species of flora. The island offers easy walking and kayaking in the surrounding waters.
Your voyage ends in the Scottish capital of Glasgow (Greenock), a city you’ll definitely want to explore more before you head home. Glasgow has a fascinating city museum, more than 90 parks and gardens, excellent examples of Victorian and art nouveau architecture, and countless pubs.
Included in Your Expedition
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi onboard. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations onboard
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities onboard and ashore
- Range of included excursions
- Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
- Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- Citizen Science program allows guests to assist with live scientific research
- Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
- Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna and indoor gym
- Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come
- Escorted landings with small expedition boats
- Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities
- Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings
Not Included In Your Expedition
- International flights
- Travel protection plan
- Luggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please ensure you meet all visa entry requirements
- No gratuities expected
|Year of refurbishment||2016|
|Shipyard||Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)|
|Length||100.54 m/ 330 ft|
|Beam||18.0 m/ 59 ft|
Our new ship, MS Spitsbergen will take you on a voyage beyond the ordinary.