- 13 Days from$2,873 p/p in USD
Guided, Large Group
For those who go off the beaten path, there are places in the British Isles where nature is still wild and history can be touched. This expedition-style voyage from Portsmouth to Edinburgh is your chance to discover some of the British Isles’ most historically significant and wildlife-rich destinations. Cruising aboard our small, luxury expedition ship is the perfect way to visit difficult-to-access locations where tourist value far exceeds tourist numbers. We begin with beautiful Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. In Scotland we explore early Christian history on the peaceful Isle of Iona, magnificent archeological sites in the Orkney Islands, and exciting birdlife on Shetland’s beautiful Fair Isle.
- Safari types:Birding Safari, Cruise Safari, Guided Safari, Wildlife Safari
- Activities:Walking Safari, Boat Cruise, Zodiac, Sightseeing Tour, Birding
- Getting around:Motor Boat, Expedition Ship
- Start/end:Start in London, end in Edinburgh
Whether your interest is botanical gardens or native wildflowers, the flora on this voyage is in full bloom. Unique in the British Isles, Tresco Abbey Garden boasts an outdoor collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from around the world. In Ireland, a walk through the intensively planted woodland at Mount Congreve Estate is one the world’s great botanical experiences.
Our British Isles cruise also coincides with spectacular wildflower displays on Fair Isle, where we find a surprising abundance and diversity of plant species adapted to the harsh environment and encouraged by traditional crofting methods.
In these surprisingly wild corners of the British Isles we find some of Europe’s best birding destinations. The birds at these world-renowned but little-visited sites are sure to impress and delight birders of all levels, from the casual birdwatcher to the most impassioned twitcher. Each day brings new opportunities as we discover the hidden treasures of the British Isles.
In Scotland, isolated Fair Isle is famous for its abundant local birdlife and frequent sightings of rarities. Our British Isles cruise is timed to coincide with the spring migration and the peak of the seabird breeding season.
In the earliest times, the only way to get around in the British Isles was by small boat. So it is not surprising that many of the most important historical sites are on islands more accessible by sea than by road, leaving them in relative peace today. With our small ship and fleet of Zodiacs, such sites are easily within our reach.
Destinations include gorgeous Iona Abbey, in Orkney we find a Neolithic village site, ancient henge monuments, a Romanesque cathedral, and the historic Burgh of Kirkwall. Throughout our voyage along the British coastline, we discover tastefully curated historical sites nestled in romantic landscapes; most of them are renowned World Heritage Sites.
- 08 May 2022
Price Per Person – GBP
From GBP 2,448 per person
- Triple Classic £2,448
- Main Deck Suite £3,248
- Classic Suite £3,498
- Superior Suite £3,548
- Deluxe Suite £3,998
- Premium Suite £4,348
- Owners Suite £5,598
Cruise rates are quoted per person and based on passengers sharing a cabin. Single supplement: 1.3 for Main Deck and Classic, Superior Suite; 2 for Deluxe, Premium and Owner’s Suite.
- 08 May 2022
- 1 pre-voyage night on Day 1 in Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2
- Group transfer to the ship for embarkation on Day 2
- Shipboard accommodation
- All meals on board throughout the voyage
- Tea and coffee station 24 hours daily
- All scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather conditions)
- Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader & Expedition Team
- Branded Poseidon Expeditions windbreaker jacket
- Rubber boots for shore landings for the time of the cruise
- Welcome and Farewell cocktails
- All port fees
- Group transfer to airport or central location right after disembarkation
- Pre-departure materials
- Digital Voyage Log
- Wi-Fi on board
- Visa and passport fees (if applicable)
- Luggage and trip cancellation insurance
- Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those for special events and celebrations
- Personal expenses such as laundry and telecommunication charges
- Tips for the local guides and drivers
- Emergency evacuation insurance to a minimum coverage of US$ 100,000 per person
- The cost of any applicable medical tests (such as COVID-19) or vaccinations required either by a national government or Poseidon Expeditions before, during or after the cruise
- Staff gratuities
- This itinerary is owned and delivered by ‘Poseidon Expeditions‘
- All prices are ‘From’ and may vary at the time of booking
- Display price is usually based on two people sharing
- ‘Poseidon Expeditions‘ reserves the right to change the content and price of the itinerary
- All itineraries are subject to availability
Day by Day Overview
Welcome to England and the start of your British Isles cruise! Our included pre-cruise hotel night at the Hilton Garden Inn, near Terminal 2, is designed to allow for a relaxing motorcoach transfer to Portsmouth the next morning. You’ll receive information about the time and place to meet the motorcoach at the hotel.
Look for the Poseidon representative in the hotel’s lobby, who will direct you to our chartered motorcoach that will take us to Portsmouth. Considered the home of the Royal Navy, its rich maritime heritage sets the mood for the beginning of our exciting voyage. In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the deluxe expedition ship Sea Spirit.
The Isles of Scilly is a group of small islands off the coast of Cornwall boasting mild weather, secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle. On the lovely, sand-fringed island of Tresco, Bronze Age burial sites and romantic 17th-century castle ruins reveal a long and dramatic history. On the hallowed grounds of a Benedictine abbey we discover the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden with its spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world. Here we also find the Valhalla Museum, a collection of colorful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks. Delightful cafés and local shops enrich your experience even further.
Dunmore East is a popular tourist and fishing village in County Waterford on Ireland’s southeastern coast. From here it is a short journey through scenic countryside to the House of Waterford Crystal. Here you can take a guided tour of the factory to see the master craftsmen at work as well as the world’s largest collection of their wares. Also nearby there are Lismore Castle gardens which are said to be the oldest continually cultivated gardens in Ireland and they offer spectacular views of both Lismore Castle and the surrounding countryside of the Blackwater valley. The lower garden was mostly created in the 19th century and the upper one was first constructed in about 1605, where most of the walls and terraces remain the same although the plantings have changed to suit the tastes of those living within the Castle. In April 2014 the Castle and Gardens were awarded an Eco-Merit, an award that recognizes the castle teams environmental policy and improvement plan, a system of performance monitoring and pollution prevention.
Our plan is to visit the the Saltee Islands. The larger island, Great Saltee, is the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland. These Islands are privately owned and are one of the world’s major bird sanctuaries. The Saltees are a haven for sea birds, nurturing an impressive array of gannets and gulls to puffins and Manx shearwaters. They also lie on an important migratory route and a popular stopping-off place for spring and autumn migrants.
Our port for today is the vibrant seaside town of Llandudno in the north of Wales. From here we embark on a scenic overland tour of Snowdonia National Park. We drive through some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain as we discover craggy mountains, stunning waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, dense woodlands and flowering meadows. Snowdonia is also renowned for wildlife including otters, water voles, wild ponies and rare birds such as dotterel and peregrine falcon. We enjoy a delightful stop at the charming and distinctively Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed in the Gwydyr Forest.
Visit to the Conwy Castle is also on our list. UNESCO considers Conwy to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Heritage site. Divided into an Inner and an Outer Ward, it is defended by eight large towers and two barbicans, with a postern gate leading down to the river, allowing the castle to be resupplied from the sea.
This morning, we disembark at the small seaside resort town of Portrush in Northern Ireland. We travel overland to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. Here we discover a geological masterpiece—40,000 closely packed hexagonal basalt columns of varying heights descending like a staircase into the sea. According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. In this area we are also able to spot various seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill.
This afternoon, we’ll pause at Rathlin Island, the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland with a population of about 150. It’s a popular spot for daytrippers, who come to see the tens of thousands of common guillemots, kittiwakes, puffins and razorbills. The island is of prehistoric volcanic origin, and is one of 43 Special Areas of Conservation in Northern Ireland.
Weather permitting, we also plan to visit the uninhabited island of Staffa. This island of volcanic origin is easily recognized by its striking colonnade of hexagonal basalt pillars. Here we hope to explore the island’s most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. Reaching deep into the island, the undulating sea plays upon the stunning matrix of columnar basalt to create an eerie melody which was the inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. The rugged island also provides nesting sites for seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and puffins.
Today we also explore beautiful and serene Iona, a small island in the Inner Hebrides just off the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. At the gorgeous Iona Abbey, founded in 563 AD, we are spellbound by one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites and indeed one of the oldest Christian religious centers in Western Europe. The adjacent graveyard is said to be the final resting place of numerous medieval kings, including Macbeth. In addition to its historical and religious significance, Iona is well known for its soul-soothing tranquility, white sand beaches and excellent birdwatching.
The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, are a chain of dramatically rugged islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The most isolated of these is St Kilda. This remote and storm-ravaged island was continuously inhabited for at least two millennia by peoples of extraordinary hardiness. But as the modern world closed in after World War I, the remaining inhabitants chose to evacuate. Now we find only their rough stone buildings and distinctive storehouses called cleitean, all set amidst some of the most dramatic island scenery in the British Isles. Nature-lovers will be delighted, as the island is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants.
We’ll also plan for a close cruise-by of Stac Lee, a sea stack about four miles northeast of St. Kilda’s main island of Hirta. It is home to part of the world’s largest colony of northern gannet. When St. Kilda had a permanent population, islanders would come here, precariously leaping ashore to hunt birds and gather eggs.
Today, we’ll disembark in Stromness for an overland tour of Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands off the northeastern coast of Scotland. Attractions such as the well-preserved 5000-year-old village site at Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar within the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” showcase the world-class cultural heritage of the island. We finish our island tour in the charming village of Kirkwall, where find the landmark Saint Magnus Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century. You will also have free time to roam the old streets of Kirkwall and enjoy its unique atmosphere before we head to our next destination.
On Fair Isle—an isolated island of rolling moorlands and rugged coastlines—one is easily enchanted by historic crofts, picturesque lighthouses, and friendly locals. The island is famous among birders for its abundance of British birds and for its numerous records of eastern rarities and migrants. Fair Isle is also one of Europe’s best places to watch seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Additionally, the island is notable for the abundance and diversity of its wildflowers. Seals are also commonly seen in its bays. Finally, during our visit it will be possible to see and purchase articles hand-knitted in the intricate and distinctive style for which Fair Isle has been celebrated for hundreds of years.
Both of these uninhabited islands are in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. The Isle of May is a national nature reserve and includes significant colonies of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, cormorants and terns. Harbor seals and grey seals can be spotted along the shores. There are also some historic architectural sites, including St. Ardin’s Chapel, the lighthouse and the Low and Light Cottages.
The island known as “the Bass” plays host to over 150,000 northern gannets in the breeding season, making it the world’s largest colony of these magnificent birds. The island’s steep walls are white with guano and the sky all around is darkened by the vast multitude of seabirds in flight. Our voyage is perfectly timed to coincide with this amazing spectacle—truly one of the wildlife wonders of the world.
After breakfast on board Sea Spirit we say farewell in Leith, Edinburgh’s vibrant port district. We provide transfers to the airport or to Edinburgh city center if you wish to spend more time in the wonderful capital of Scotland.