Hidden Gems of the British Isles & Ireland - 2018

London • Poole • Tresco • Fishguard • Holyhead • Dublin • Belfast • Oban • Isle of Skye • Stornoway • Stromness • Inverness • Scottish Highlands • Edinburgh
  • St. Davids Cathedral
  • Caernarfon Castle
  • Edinburgh
  • London
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$6,399
  • $492
    PER DAY
  • 13
    DAYS
  • 11
    TOURS
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Base prices are factored using double-occupancy rooms; supplemental fees may apply for those traveling independently.
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To really know the British Isles, you must explore them by sea. Join us on this revamped journey and you’ll visit England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland — calling at remote islands, strolling in ancient fortified ports, and exploring London, Dublin, Belfast, and Edinburgh. The updated itinerary now visits Northern Ireland, as well as Scotland’s spectacularly scenic Isle of Skye, and includes an excursion through the rugged Scottish Highlands. You’ll enjoy at total of 12 guided tours and shore excursions, and visit up to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, depending upon whether you join us for extensions and optional tours.

You’ll enjoy an intimate, convivial cruising experience of just 72 travelers aboard the elegant my Variety Voyager, which has been exclusively chartered by Vantage. Along the way, tap your foot to traditional music, sip aged whiskeys, savor regional dishes, and visit castles and churches that have witnessed centuries rolling by. One thing you can count on: This voyage will forever change your perception of the British Isles!

Poole to Edinburgh

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DAYS 1-2:

Depart home / Overnight flight / London, England

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

Included Meals:

Dinner

DAY 3:

London / Stonehenge / Poole / Embark ship

From the bustling heart of London we’ll head southwest to the open Salisbury Plain and the great circle of standing stones known as Stonehenge. The ancient ritual site, part of vast complex of prehistoric burial mounds, earthworks, and avenues, attracts modern-day Druids for summer and winter solstice celebrations. You’ll also enjoy a pub lunch in Salisbury. Continue to the port of Poole on the Dorset coast, which lies at the head of a large natural harbor. Many of the troopships involved in the D-Day landings launched from Poole for their rendezvous with history. After embarking the M/Y Variety Voyager, join the Captain and crew for a welcome briefing, followed by your first dinner aboard ship.

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 glorious day as you board a small vessel tendered by locals to be transferred onto shore.  Cultural Connection: 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 subtropical species not native to the UK because of its mild winters and long hours of summer sunshine, as well as high walls and hedges that shield them from fierce Atlantic winds.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5:

Fishguard, Wales

After a relaxing morning of sailing and breakfast, your ship arrives in Fishguard. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll then venture to St. David’s, the religious capital of Wales and 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, pubs, and visiting and resident outdoor enthusiasts, who appreciate St. David’s position along the water forming part of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.


Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Holyhead, Wales

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 Connections: Your Cruise Director will tell you more about the castle’s fascinating history before you depart for a traditional pub lunch. Then visit the National Slate Museum, nestled into a mountainside, for a Victorian-era demonstration of this vanishing trade. Later this evening, enjoy a Captain's dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Dublin, Ireland

One of Ireland’s 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. Cultural Connections: Afterwards, learn all about a different sort of national treasure, on an entertaining and informative tour of the Irish Whiskey Museum, followed by a comparison tasting of several varieties of the smooth spirit. You’ll then return to the ship for lunch, or opt to stay in the city for free time before an included shuttle bus transports you back to the Voyager this afternoon. This evening enjoy traditional Irish entertainment, including storytelling, music, and dancing.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Enjoy a morning walking tour of Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland. The city that launched the Titanic was an industrial powerhouse from the Victorian Era through World War II, but is often remembered today for the Troubles, the decades-long conflict between Loyalists and Republicans over the political status of Northern Ireland. As you’ll discover on your tour, with those days well behind it, Belfast bubbles with activity, centered on a revitalized Victoria Square. Enjoy the afternoon free to explore the city on your own, or see another side of Northern Ireland by joining our optional tour to the Antrim Coast and the eerie Giant’s Causeway, created when basaltic lava from an ancient eruption solidified into thousands of hexagonal columns. Cultural Connection: Learn about the Northern Ireland peace process, facilitated in part by former U.S. Secretary of State Ed Muskie, which brought the Troubles to an end. 


Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

  • Approximate Cost: $ USD per person
  • Approximate Time:
  • Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • When: Afternoon tour
Take an excursion through the lush green pastures of Northern Ireland’s County Antrim to the spectacular coastal landscape known as the Giant’s Causeway. Here, ancient lava flows have solidified into tens of thousands of hexagonally shaped columns. The tightly interlocked columns, washed by the waves, fostered legends of giants striding from the sea. In more recent times, the study of the formation has contributed greatly to scientific knowledge about the behavior of volcanic action. The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their “global geological importance.” Enroute to the remarkable seascape, you’ll view the dramatic ruins of Dunclue Castle. The return to Belfast takes you through the tiny village of Bushmills, where the Old Bushmills Distillery has long been producing the Irish whiskey of the same name.

DAY 9:

Oban, Scotland

Located on the west coast of Scotland, Oban is known as the “Gateway to the Isles.” In the morning, you’ll be welcomed by kilted guides for your walking tour. Cultural Connection: Afterwards, visit the Oban Distillery — one of the oldest in Scotland — where you will learn all about whiskey and perhaps have a “wee dram.” In the afternoon, you may take time to explore Oban at your leisure, perhaps hearing locals speaking Gaelic, or opt for the optional tour of Inveraray Castle, ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell. This iconic Scottish castle, set on the banks of Lock Fyne, also has bonnie grounds and gardens for you to enjoy. 


Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

  • Approximate Cost: $ USD per person
  • Approximate Time:
  • Location: Oban, Scotland
  • When: Afternoon tour
Step into the world of Scotland’s great clans on this visit to Inveraray Castle, ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. Overlooking Loch Fyne, a long narrow inlet, the imposing gray stone castle, with its four turrets, is surrounded by lush gardens that provide a beautiful display at any season of the year. Your tour includes transportation between Oban and the castle, and full access to the house and grounds for a self-guided tour. Among the attractions are lavishly decorated period rooms, extensive art galleries, a room dedicated to the history of Clan Campbell, and the soaring Armoury Hall, with its collection of muskets, broadswords, pikes, and other arms dating to the 16th century.

DAY 10:

Kyle of Lochalsh (Isle of Skye)

Docking at the port of Kyle of Lochalsh, we’ll cross the Skye Bridge to spend the day touring the Isle of Skye, the rugged, mountainous island just off Scotland's west coast. During your tour, marvel at dramatic sea cliffs, sharply ridged mountain peaks, medieval castles, and fishing villages that nestle along the deeply indented coast. For lunch, we’ll stop in the picturesque town of Portree, set on a harbor fronted by pastel shops and houses. You’ll receive money for dining on your own at a local pub or restaurant.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Stornoway, Outer Hebrides Islands

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 prehistoric Callanish Stones —  a hilltop, cross-shaped arrangement of standing stones even older than 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 colorful patterns and eye-catching tartans of the clan of Lewis before feasting on a picnic. During your countryside repast, you’ll be entertained by a troupe of Scottish dancers.


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:

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. Cultural Connections: You’ll discover Stromness’ maritime heritage and fascinating archaeological history today after breakfast during an included visit to the Stromness Museum. Then visit a local farm to view some of the impressive fossil specimens that were discovered here and learn about the Churchill Barriers, a series of four causeways linking the Orkney Islands that were built as naval defenses in WWII. Today, they serve as vital roads. World War II left a spiritual mark 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 join an optional tour to Skara Brae, a 3,000-year-old village of stone dwelling that was discovered in 1850 when a coastal storm stripped away the earthen covering. The site is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Inverness / Scottish Highlands / Edinburgh

Disembarking in picturesque port of Inverness, set off on a tour through the rugged Scottish Highlands. This land of high mountain valleys, rushing trout streams, and pastures dotted with sheep, was once the stronghold of Gaelic-speaking Scottish clans. Following the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, small farmers were largely driven from the land, and today this remote region is one of the least-populated areas in Europe. Our route today takes us through wildly scenic Cairngorms National Park, the largest in the U.K. We’ll stop for lunch in the town of Pitlochry, which blossomed as a tourist destination after Queen Victoria visited in 1842. Our destination is unforgettable Edinburgh. Check into your hotel and enjoy an orientation walk around the historical center. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers a final time for a Farewell Dinner. 


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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Vantage Tauck Noble Caledonia Vantage Advantage
Journey Hidden Gems of the British Isles & Ireland Treasure of the British / Irish Isles Spring in the British & Irish Isles
Cruise-Only Prices* $6,399 $7,390 $3,351 One of few deluxe cruises around United Kingdom. Save $2,382 per couple compared to competition
Trip Length 13 days 12 Days 8 Days Pay less & enjoy one additional day
Per Diem $471 per day $615 $479 Save $278 per couple per day!
Cabin Upgrades $200-$800 increments $120-$2280 increments Starting at $250 Lowest cabin upgrades in the market!
Ship Accommodations 10 nights cruising on the 68 meter/36 cabin Variety Voyager was launched in 2012. This sleek high-tech looking yacht accommodates up to 72 guests in 36 cabins. 28 cabins are located at the Marina and Riviera Decks and 8 staterooms at the Horizons Deck. 7 nights cruising on the 132 stateroom Le Soléal. Stateroom amenities include individually controlled air conditioning, video on demand, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, electronic safe and hair dryer. 6 nights aboard the Ocean Nova with all shore excursions and the services of the Noble Caledonia Expedition Team Refurbished in 2006, expedition ship with up to 84 passengers on two decks with single, double, and triple cabins with sea-views Informal table service and buffet dining More intimate, small ship experience, better value in deluxe category with more upscale dining. Smaller size allows for access to less-visited ports of call
Included Tours and Special Features 13-day deluxe small-group cruise in the United Kingdom and Ireland with just 72 total travelers. Explore lesser-visited ports, highlights of capitals like Dublin and Edinburgh, and incredible marine and wildlife. Shore excursions in Belfast, the Isle of Man, Liverpool, Cork, Kinsale, the Isles of Scilly, Guernsey, and Portsmouth Choice of tours in the Channel Islands free time at Tresco's Abbey Gardens Cruise to the Cliffs of Moher Longer cruise and more time in ports, plus more shore excursions and greater value
Meals 33 meals: 11 breakfast, 10 lunches, and 12 dinners, including Welcome and Farewell Dinners 28 meals: 9 breakfasts, 11 lunches, and 8 dinners, plus beverages including house wine & spirits all meals onboard daily THE MOST included meals featuring local cuisine
Single Travelers Reduced single supplements on all dates no special single offers no special single offers The most single-friendly prices
Extend Your Trip 3-days Edinburgh, Scotland, $829 $276 per day 3-days London, United Kingdom, $899 $300 per day no extension choices no extension choices The best choices at the best price
10 Ways to Save New for 2018—including gratuities for local guides and drivers! Enjoy traveler referral rewards & SmartPay early-payment savings plan: Save up to $1800 per couple combining maximum SmartPay savings and Past Traveler Discounts (based on a $6,000 trip cost) None None THE MOST WAYS TO SAVE!

*Prices are subject to change and based on comparable departure months.
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