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Ancient Isles: England, Ireland, and Scotland - National Geographic Explorer


Take this classic expedition ship through the wilds of Britain and Ireland exploring these rugged landscapes in a way other ships can't replicate.

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Britain & Ireland: Drink It In

Welcome Aboard the


National Geographic Explorer

Uncover the hidden side of well-known isles on a journey that encompasses Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. Enter coastal villages by Zodiac and land on remote beaches. Probe the secrets of Stone Age megaliths and Scottish sea caves. Visit historic dockyards, a futuristic biosphere, and Victorian botanical gardens. Stroll charming, remote towns and mingle with locals in cozy pubs throughout the land.
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    • Zodiac into Staffa Island's ancient Fingal's Cave, formed entirely from hexagonal basalt columns (conditions permitting), and observe a large puffin colony.
    • Discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae on Orkney.
    • Travel with a high-energy, world class expedition team and go behind the scenes and to wild and wooly places you could never go to on your own.

Travel Curator’s Insights:


From $11,887 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.

June 9-20, 2024
June 20-July 1, 2024
Ask us for later dates.

Hover here for specific dates


Trip Sustainability Awards 



Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.



On the East African Energy Renewal Board



Runs local educational facilities for children.


This itinerary sometimes operates in reverse:

Day 1 - Windsor,England/Portsmouth/ EmbarkShip

Arrive in London and spend the morning in the countryside of Windsor, known for its royal heritage and grand estates. This afternoon, transfer to Portsmouth to embark on our journey around the British and Irish Isles. 

Day 2- Fowey

Arrive in the Cornish port of Fowey (pronounced “Foy”) this afternoon. Visit the Eden Project, a collection of immense eco-garden biomes set within a 34-acre bowl—celebrating sustainability and botanical innovation. Alternatively, experience the grandeur of the Estates of Cornwall on a visit to the houses of Pencarrow and Lanhydrock. For those wishing for a more relaxed afternoon, spend time on your own in the village of Fowey or join the field staff for an expeditionary outing in the area.

Day 3 - Isles of Scilly

Revel in flourishing subtropical beauty at Tresco Abbey Garden, planted in the 19th century around the ruins of a Benedictine abbey in the Isles of Scilly. Today, it’s matured into a priceless botanical sanctuary for thousands of exotic species from across the southern hemisphere—from Brazil to New Zealand, Myanmar to South Africa. Yet here it is, on an islet just 28 miles off the Cornwall coast.

Day 4 - Cobh, Ireland

Arrive in this colorful port city on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, intimately tied to maritime history and the great Irish Emigration. Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre and learn about the momentous events that took place here—from the 1912 departure of the Titanic to the successful rescue of passengers from the torpedoed Lusitania and the millions of Irish who departed these shores in search of a better life. Enjoy an afternoon of Irish traditions, from music to sport, with locals.

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Days 5-6 - Wild West Coastelabd of Ireland

Over the next two days, enjoy the windswept landscapes of western Ireland. Be on deck as we sail past Skellig Michael, the protected Celtic Christian hermitage where beehive huts and remains of a seventh-century monastery still stand. Then, get photo tips from our National Geographic Photography Expert as we sail past the uninhabited Blasket Islands, on which you'll observe a wide array of birds including storm petrels, shearwaters, terns, gulls, and auks. Our exploration continues on land through the southern corner of Ireland with its cozy local pubs, cultural centers, and country walks.

Day 7 - Iona and Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Visit the sacred island of Iona and its 13th-century abbey, long revered as a Christian pilgrimage site and believed to be where the Book of Kells originated. Several Scottish kings, including the actual Macbeth, are buried in the royal graveyard here. Later, weather permitting, we explore uninhabited Staffa Island, famed for its perfect six-sided volcanic basalt columns and dramatic Fingal’s Cave. On Staffa, join one of our naturalists to learn about and observe a large puffin colony.

Day 8 - Outer Hebrides

Explore the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, boasting incredible seabird colonies. Conditions permitting, we make a landing at St. Kilda, a UNESCO World Heritage site and nature preserve. Uninhabited since 1930, the traditional stone village left behind by the island’s final residents now lies in ruins. But active occupants do remain: a huge population of gannets, domesticated sheep now gone wild, puffins, and wrens.

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Day 9 - Shetland Islands

The Shetlands are characterized by deep-seated cultural traditions and dramatic landscapes. Far north and near enough to Norway to speak Scottish with a Scandinavian accent, this 100-island archipelago has never been fully tamed by those who live here. Explore these rural islands with their mix of ponies, ruins, and windswept pastures.

Day 10 - Orkney Islands

Options this morning include a birdwatching trek in quest of Orkney’s remarkably varied birdlife or a walking tour of Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital and a showplace of ancient Viking history thanks to its proximity to Norway. Later, discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stone slab village of Skara Brae. And step inside majestic St. Magnus Cathedral, a sandstone landmark that took three centuries to build.

Day 11 - Aberdeen

Start off the day with a panoramic drive through “the Granite City” before exploring Aberdeenshire’s countryside. Choose to visit a local Highland cattle farm where you will learn about its award-winning products and practices. Or, dive into Highland traditions with a visit to the Gordon Highlanders Museum. Transfer back to the ship later this afternoon and enjoy your last evening at sea.

Day 12 - Edinburgh / Disembark Ship

Disembark in Edinburgh after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or choose to explore the Scottish Highlands on a post-voyage extension.

Please Note: Please confirm arrival and departure dates prior to booking flights. Some departures may travel in reverse.

Children: Take $500 off for each child under the age of 18.

Group Rates: Save 5% when traveling as a group of 8 or more people. Take advantage of these great savings, while enjoying traveling with your friends and family. This savings is applicable to voyage fares only, and is not valid on extensions or airfare. Deposit, final payments, and cancellation policies for group travel vary from regular policies.

National Geographic Explorer

Arguably one of the finest expedition vessels on the seas, a state-of-the-art, ice-class expedition ship, all cabins have outside views; private bathrooms; and beautiful furnishings. Public spaces include a library, a lounge, a bar, a spa, a fitness center, a sauna, an internet cafe, and delicious fresh cuisine is served in the dining room. The ship carries kayaks, a fleet of Zodiac motorized landing craft, as well as top-of-the-line video equipment that allows access to the underwater world.

• Capacity: 148 guests
• Cabins: 81
• Specialists: National Geographic Experts, National Geographic Photo Coach, Full-Time Doctor, Video Chronicler, and Wellness Coach


2019 Condé Nast Traveler - Best Small Ship Cruise Line in the World
2019 Travel + Leisure - Best Small Ship Ocean Cruise Line
2018 Cruise Critic - Best for Adventure

"The lovely National Geographic Explorer is a classic expedition ship delivering a very comfortable atmosphere, world-class guiding, and 50 years of experience which definitely make a difference in this complex yet unforgettable region. The NG Explorer has long represented one of the best experiences on offer, and if you don't have to have a brand-new ship, she'll offer you an outstanding trip."

Wild Nectar

Life On Board

Deck Plan

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#301-308:One or two portholes, two lower single beds or one queen-sized bed (303-306), desk, bath with glass-wall shower.

From in USD:


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#103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228 - Two single beds/queen, large window.

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#215, 219, 230 - Balcony, two lower beds/queen, seating area, triple ok, large bath with twin sinks.

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#317-320, 335-336 - Cabins feature two single beds/queen-sized bed, one large window, desk, bath with glass-wall shower.

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#209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224 - Balcony, queen bed, desk, chairs, large bath with shower.

From in USD:


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#309-312, 329-334 - One single bed, large window, desk, bath with glass-wall shower.

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#313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 - Two single beds/queen, large window, chairs, table, bath with glass-wall shower.

From in USD:


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#101-102, 213 - Triple ok, two lower beds/queen, desk, chairs, large bath with twin sinks. #213 has balcony.

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#105-106, 203, 208 - one lower single bed, large window, desk, bath with shower, central location.

From in USD:

$16,870 pp

This expert operator has been refining this program for over 2 decades. I highly recommend you take advantage of their expertise and insider access!

Joy Martinello, Founder



What’s Included & Cancellation Policy:

All accommodations; meals indicated; alcoholic beverages (except premium brands); excursions; services of Expedition Leader, Naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks; entrance fees; all port charges and service taxes; gratuities to ship’s crew.

Airfare (except flights when indicated as included); pre-and post-expedition extensions; additional hotel nights(except when indicated as included); private transfers; laundry, spa treatments ,Wi-Fi, and phone services (except when indicated as included); travel protection plans; and passport, visa, and immigration fees.

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