Hidden Gems of the British Isles & Ireland - 2017

Poole • Tresco • Fishguard • Holyhead • Dublin • Iona • Barra • Stornoway • Stromness • Aberdeen • Edinburgh
  • St. Davids Cathedral
  • Caernarfon Castle
  • Edinburgh
  • London
DATES & PRICES
Luxury
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Base prices are factored using double-occupancy rooms; supplemental fees may apply for those traveling independently.
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Edinburgh, Scotland

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London, England

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From the windswept coast of Barra to the craggy shores of Iona, discover the charms of the remote coastlines of England, Scotland and Wales, where few live and even fewer venture. Vantage takes you around the U.K. in style on an intimate sailing experience of just 70 travelers, and you’ll discover smaller ports that larger companies can’t sail into, all the while enjoying the historical and cosmopolitan highlights of Dublin and Edinburgh. You’ll sip whiskey and learn how it’s made, savor regional delights and the friendly conversation of locals, visit centuries-old castles and churches, and delight in the chance to witness some of the world’s most fascinating marine life during your daytime navigation. Join us to experience the maritime gems of the British Isles and Ireland in 2017!

Poole to Edinburgh

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DAYS 1-2:

Depart home / Overnight flight / London, England

Your UK vacation begins with an overnight flight to London, arriving on Day 2. On arrival, you’ll be greeted at the airport if you arranged your flights with us, and transported to your hotel for a Welcome Briefing, reception, and Welcome Dinner.

Included Meals:

Dinner

DAY 3:

London / Poole / Embark ship

This morning, enjoy a half-day panoramic city tour of London, riding past icons including Trafalgar Square, UNESCO Sites including Big Ben and Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and more. You’ll savor an included pub lunch — perhaps trying the popular local specialty, fish and chips — before departing for Poole, where you’ll embark the Variety Voyager this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Poole / Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Cultural Connection: This morning, after a mouthwatering buffet onboard ship, you’ll learn more about the UK during a lecture on immigration, as your ship sails toward Tresco, the second-largest of the Isles of Scilly. It’s sure to be a fascinating day as you board a small vessel tended by locals to be transferred onto shore. Cultural Connection: There you’ll be fascinated by the horticultural paradise of Abbey Gardens, home to more than 20,000 species of lush, colorful plants from 80 countries. The island is hospitable to species largely not native to the UK because of its mild winter climate, long hours of sunshine in summertime; and the abbey’s high walls and hedges protect it from the Atlantic winds.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5:

Fishguard, Wales

After a relaxing morning of sailing and breakfast, your ship arrives in Fishguard. You’ll then venture in St. Davids, the religious capital of Wales and the smallest city in the country. There, you will enjoy a guided tour of the 12th - century Cathedral of St. David, which has been a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of years. Other highlights include the 14th - century Tower Gate, charming art galleries, and cozy pubs.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Holyhead

This morning the Voyager arrives in Holyhead, where you’ll enjoy a short drive to Caernarfon Castle, built by King Edward I. Its impressive towers loom over the shoreline, and you can imagine why the monarch built this fortress centuries ago to control coastline supply routes and access to the agricultural resources of neighboring lands. Cultural Connection: Your Cruise Director will tell you more about the castle’s fascinating history before you depart for a traditional pub lunch. Cultural Connection: Then visit the National Slate Museum, nestled into a mountainside, for a Victorian-era demonstration of this local trade.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Dublin, Ireland

Cultural Connection: One of Ireland’s finest national treasures and a true artistic masterpiece—the Book of Kells—is yours to admire today during your discoveries in Dublin. Your guide will tell you more about this ninth-century tome on an included tour at Trinity College, where you’ll view the illuminated Gospel before toasting your taste of Ireland during a whiskey sample session at Jameson Distillery. You’ll then return to the ship for lunch, or opt to stay in the city for free time before an included transfer back to the Voyager this afternoon.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Iona

You’ll enjoy a leisurely morning of sailing, during which you’ll have the opportunity (weather-permitting) to spot some of the local marine life. Then disembark in Iona, the smallest of the inhabited Hebrides Islands. A short walk will take you to Iona Abbey, the site where Saint Columba established a monastery in 563 AD. (In fact, it’s believed that the monks of Iona worked on Book of Kells here until about 800 AD). Nearly two-and-a-half centuries after the monastery was formed, it was pillaged by Vikings, but Christianity remained strong in the region and the Abbey was established in the 13th century. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before returning to your ship for dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

Barra

This morning, enjoy a tour of the Isle of Barra, including the fishing community of Castlebay. Cultural Connection: After lunch onboard, you will have the opportunity to meet with local school children in the main square, as they entertain you with a short performance. The rest of the afternoon is free for independent explorations; perhaps you'll visit a grocer or candy shop to see why the toffee here is considered among the finest in Europe. Cultural Connection: Your Cruise Director will lead an enlightening talk about faith and local life on these remote islands this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Stornoway

Enchanting thatched-roof cottages await you today when you arrive on the Isle of Lewis, first settled as a trade port by the Vikings. You’ll have free time to explore independently here, then your group will visit the Celtic-cross-shaped Callanish Stones — one of Europe’s oldest monuments and one that predates Stonehenge. Cultural Connections: Next, visit the thatched-roof cottages of Gaerannan Blackhouse Village for a demonstration of the region’s most time-honored craft: tweed-weaving. Discover the eye-catching tartans of the clan of Lewis before enjoying a picnic. A local storyteller will entertain you with folktales before you round out your afternoon with a whiskey tasting.


Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Stromness, Orkney Islands

Named for the strong tides that rip past the Point of Ness, it’s no surprise that Stromness was once a vital whaling port - in fact, it was used by the British for shipping in times of war in lieu of the English Channel. You’ll discover Stromness’ maritime heritage and fascinating archaeological history today after breakfast during an included visit to the Stromness Museum. World War II left a spiritual mark here as well, and you and your fellow travelers will visit the ornate Catholic chapel built by Italian POWs.

This afternoon, enjoy leisure time onboard or an optional tour to Skara Brae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Skara Brae

Skara Brae

  • Approximate Cost:
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Mainland, Orkney
  • When: Mid-day

Called the “Scottish Pompeii,” the Neolithic village of Skara Brae dates back to 3000 BC. Discovered after a storm on his property by a wealthy landowner, this UNESCO World Heritage Site gives viewers a look into the past about what life was like five millennia ago—including stone furniture like cupboards, storage, and a sophisticated drainage system including plumbing. 


DAY 12:

Aberdeen

A cosmopolitan and truly international city thanks to its prosperous oil industry, Aberdeen boasts beautiful architecture, several museums, parks, and the “Granite Mile,” a thoroughfare with more than 800 restaurants, shops, and pubs, named for the stone used in the construction of so many of its lovely buildings. You’ll have a short sightseeing tour of the city, followed by a visit to Crathes Castle, a 16th - century tower house with almost 600 acres of colorful manicured gardens, rolling countryside, and wooded walking trails.

You can see more of Aberdeen’s downtown area this afternoon during leisure time, or rest up for what is sure to be a fun Farewell Dinner this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Edinburgh / Disembark ship

The unforgettable city of Edinburgh awaits you today, where you’ll learn more about the capital of Scotland during an included panoramic city tour featuring medieval Old Town and 18th-century New Town, together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This afternoon, check into your hotel and enjoy an afternoon at leisure with lunch and dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

DAY 14:

Edinburgh / Return home

This morning you’ll be transferred to the airport for your return flight home if you purchased your airfare through Vantage. Or, opt to enrich your journey with our optional post-trip extension in Edinburgh.

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Tour Director or regional expert.

Please Note: Port-of-call orientation walking tours are subject to change based on port time and weather conditions

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