Celtic Cruise: British Isles & Northern Ireland - 2020

London • 10-night small ship cruise with Bristol, Fishguard, Holyhead, Isle of Man, Belfast, Tobermory, Isle of Skye, Ullapool, Stornoway, Stromness, Inverness • Edinburgh
  • $615
  • 13
  • 23
14 DAYS FROM $7,999
Moderate Deluxe
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Edinburgh, Scotland

4 DAYS FROM $1,399

London, England

4 DAYS FROM $1,099

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What a journey it's been to explore the great British Isles and beyond on the m/y Variety Voyager. However, we are now on its final voyage in 2020 — so join us for this brilliant conclusion!

For centuries, humans have made the pilgrimage to Stonehenge. But what if you could travel even further back in time, to the site of the Callanish Stones? Unshroud the enigma of this ancient monument for yourself — and myriad others — on a departure of Celtic Cruise: British Isles & Northern Ireland, enhanced for 2020. The UNESCO-listed biosphere of the Isle of Man, the rare tropical flora and fauna of historic Inverewe Garden, and pristine, unspoiled landscapes await for travelers looking for an intimate experience far off the beaten path of Europe’s most-traveled sites. Your cruise tour includes 11 unforgettable ports, enchanting fishing villages and stunning landscapes, complemented by a relaxing cruise on board the 72-traveler exclusively chartered small ship, the m/y Variety Voyager. There you'll enjoy all included meals, and a plethora of enhanced Cultural Connections, like local musical entertainment, enchanting folk tales, and Vantage-exclusive lectures that fully immerse you in the region's history.

So, step onto the shores where larger ships can’t sail, and step back in time to the emerald shores of Northern Ireland, the land of the Vikings, and thatched-roof villages that enchant and engage you. Added discoveries are yours when you add on more time in Edinburgh and London. Uncover the hidden gems of the British Isles and Northern Ireland with Vantage!

London to Edinburgh

Pre-Trip Extension

London, England

FROM: $1099 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $275 PER DAY
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DAY 1:

Fly overnight to London, England

Your British Isles vacation begins with an overnight flight to London.

DAY 2:

Arrive in London in time to relax, and enjoy a Welcome Dinner

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:


DAY 3:

Make a splash in Bath, embark the m/y Variety Voyager

This morning, head for Bath, where you’ll visit the circa 79 AD grand complex for socialization and some of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world, the eponymous Roman Baths (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Continue on with a guided walking tour and admire 18th-century Georgian architecture; perhaps your insightful local guide will take you to Bath Abbey, whose Victorian-Gothic interior belies its medieval exterior. There are several art galleries and two universities. Discover the city’s fascinating culture with free time on your own for lunch (we’ll provide you the local currency); and independent exploration.

You’ll embark the m/y Variety Voyager later this afternoon, and enjoy your first dinner on board this evening.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day walking tour of Bath

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Make the pilgrimage to St. David’s, the spiritual heart of Wales

After a relaxing morning of sailing and breakfast, your ship arrives in Fishguard. You’ll then venture to St. David's, 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 pubs, as well as folks who flock here for St. Davids’ position along the water, forming part of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

This evening before dinner, learn about Wales and its relationship with the British Empire over the centuries, then be enchanted by the sounds of a Welsh harp performance on board.

Included Feature:

  • Guided tour of St. David’s
Cultural Connections:
  • Lecture on Wales and its relationship with the British Empire
  • Onboard entertainment: Welsh harp performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5:

Step into medieval Wales at Holyhead and Caernarfon Castle

This morning, the Variety 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. 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, then unwind with a musical performance. As a contrast to yesterday's classical music performance, you'll hear Welsh folk music tonight, as well as folktales, local history, and other interesting tidbits about the music!

Vantage Exclusive:

  • Visit to Caernarfon Castle
Cultural Connections:
  • Demonstration of slate-splitting at the National Slate Museum
  • Onboard Captain’s Dinner with Welsh folk music performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Peel back layers of history on the Isle of Man

An ancient port with an imposing castle lording over the inner harbor, Peel’s economy has for centuries been linked to the fishing industry. You’re likely to see the rustlings of the quaint commercial culture hauling in herring as the Voyager navigates toward shore. We'll dock here before a morning sightseeing excursion southwest toward Cregneash Village, where the old ways of life are preserved with thatched-roof cottages, and villagers happy to share the ways and the days of yore with you. Make your way back admiring the stunning landscape, with a stop in Castletown. It’s most famous eponymous structure was built for a Viking king. Learn about its history as a mint and as a prison before heading back to your ship for a late lunch.

The Isle of Man’s unique ecological conditions collectively form a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its biosphere. This afternoon, you’re free to discover more of it. Explore Peel Castle, and the House of Manannan, a museum dedicated to the island’s mythological sea god and its rich Celtic, Viking, and maritime history. You may also join our optional tour to Port Erin, where after a historical train ride you’ll visit Tynwald Hill, one of the oldest continual parliaments in the world.

After dinner tonight, enjoy local entertainment on board.

Included Feature:

  • Isle of Man sightseeing excursion
Cultural Connection:
  • Onboard entertainment: local performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Port Erin, Dougles & St Johns

Port Erin, Dougles & St Johns

  • Approximate Cost: $93 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England
  • When: Afternoon tour

Discover Port Erin on an optional afternoon tour. Just one picturesque square mile, it offers beaches and a large medieval castle. Board a train ride to Dougles for a transfer to St. John, where you’ll visit Tynwald Hill, site one of the oldest continual parliaments in the world. First held by the Vikings, today this representative system that allowed disputes to be settled peacefully still lives on in some areas. The four-tiered hill is a sight to behold, and your local guide will tell you more as you stroll the grounds.

DAY 7:

See the best of Belfast, with Giant’s Causeway

Enjoy a short panoramic 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 another side of Northern Ireland when you head toward the eerie Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site created when basaltic lava from an ancient eruption solidified into thousands of hexagonal columns. You’ll savor an included lunch before your visit to the geological wonder, and stop along the stunning Antrim coast, before heading back to the Voyager.

Today you’re also in a unique position to learn more from a local expert on the peace process in Northern Ireland during a fascinating lecture from someone who lived through “The Troubles.”

Included Feature:

  • Panoramic tour of Belfast and visit to the Giant's Causeway
Cultural Connection:
  • Lecture on the peace process in Northern Ireland

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Get a taste of Tobermory

This morning, you’ll anchor at Tobermory, whose colorful homes and sheltered bay are the stuff of postcard dreams. You'll have some time at leisure to explore the harbor and the small arts and crafts shops here. Perhaps you’ll grab a coffee or tea, visit the aquarium, or try to spot whales, dolphins, sharks, and rare seabirds along the shore. Or, you can join our optional tour to Duart Castle, an 18th-century wonder, with magnificent views and a historic, soaring Great Hall.

Later, enjoy some spicy sips at a sampling session at Tobermory Distillery. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the differences between Irish and Scotch whisky — along with what single-malt means — this is your chance.

Included Feature:

  • Whisky sampling session at Tobermory Distillery
Cultural Connection:
  • Cheese tasting in Tobermory

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Duart Castle

Duart Castle

  • Approximate Cost: $95 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: hours
  • Location: Tobermory, Mull, Scotland
  • When: Afternoon tour

The ancestral home of the Maclean clan is yours to discover on this self-guided tour of the castle, but inside and out. After a picturesque drive through the Island of Mull coastline, you’ll learn about the history of the original structure, dating back to the 13th century. After being restored a few years ago, it’s since been featured in several popular movies. The Great Hall with its soaring ceilings, historic artifacts, and bedrooms and dressing rooms are like taking a fascinating trek back in time.

DAY 9:

Misty, magical Isle of Skye: the “cloud island”

Anchoring or docking (weather permitting) at the port of Portree, we’ll 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 shoreline.

Head back to your ship for lunch and scenic sailing (weather-dependent) around the Summer Isles or Shiant Isles archipelagos, where you’ll thrill to the splendor of local flora, and fauna like shorebirds. This is sure to be a highlight for shutterbugs and photography novices alike!

Included Feature:

  • Half-day scenic tour of Isle of Skye
Vantage Exclusive:
  • Scenic sail around the Summer Isles or Shiant Isles archipelagos (weather permitting)

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Dive into Ullapool excursions

Get out your cameras — your excursion today features some of the region’s loveliest vistas. You’ll head to Inverewe Garden for a guided walking tour of the rare tropical species that thrive thanks to the effects of the Gulf Stream meeting the Highlands. Rainbows of colors and bouquets of scents drift throughout this historic heritage garden, which was built by a father and daughter. Today, everything from prehistoric trees from China to Tasmanian eucalyptus thrive here in the Highlands. You’ll savor a lunch with local products in the garden’s café, before transferring back to the ship in Ullapool. Take advantage of your free time in this pretty port on the shores of Loch Broom and its temperate climate, perhaps strolling to admire the harbor views and whitewashed homes.

Tonight we'll take you out after dinner for some local pub atmosphere and music.

Included Feature:

  • Walking tour of Inverewe Garden
Cultural Connection:
  • After-dinner visit to a local pub

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Viking might and Celtic customs: the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

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.Next, visit the thatched-roof cottages of Gearrannan 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 MacLeod of Lewis before returning to the ship for lunch. This afternoon, get in the spirit with a show by a troupe of Scottish dancers.

Included Feature:

  • Tour of the Callanish Stones, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Cultural Connections:
  • Demonstration of tweed-weaving at Gearrannan Blackhouse Village
  • Onboard entertainment: performance by Scottish dancers

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 12:

Ancient seafarers and WWII heroism on Stromness in the 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 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 on board or join an optional tour to Skara Brae, a 3,000-year-old village of stone dwellings 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 Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Stromness

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Skara Brae

Skara Brae

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Mainland, Orkney, Scotland
  • When: Midday
Called the “Scottish Pompeii,” the Neolithic village of Skara Brae dates back to 3000 BC. Discovered by a wealthy landowner after a storm on his property, 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 13:

A scenic ride through the Scottish Highlands to romantic Inverness and Edinburgh

Disembarking in the 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 an included lunch in the town of Pitlochry, which blossomed as a tourist destination after Queen Victoria visited in 1842. Our destination is unforgettable Edinburgh; the Old and New Town here are collectively a UNESCO site. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers a final time for a Farewell Dinner, filled with revelry and delight. An immersive "Address to the Haggis" at dinner honors centuries-old culinary traditions, featuring musical entertainment from a traditional bagpiper. You’ll admire their tunes, learn about playing these fascinating instruments hands-on, and learn about how this savory “pudding” is made.

Included Feature:

  • Scenic drive through the Scottish Highlands and Cairngorms National Park
Cultural Connection:
  • Farewell Dinner with musical entertainment from a traditional bagpiper

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Fly home from Edinburgh or stay a while longer with our optional post-trip extension

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.

Post-Trip Extension

Edinburgh, Scotland

FROM: $1399 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $350 PER DAY

Important Notice: The 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, weather conditions, tides, and day of the week (in which case, an alternative port will be visited).

Please note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew.

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Celtic Cruise: British Isles & Northern Ireland - 2020

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