Embark on a holistic circumnavigation that encompasses Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Discover the wild, rugged, seldom-seen islands of the west, as well as refined Edinburgh, historic Portsmouth and Lindisfarne, and dramatic Iona and Skellig Michael. Walk through Stone Age village ruins 5,000-years-old, examine the history of WWII up close, Zodiac cruise beneath the towering Cliffs of Moher, and hoist a pint or two with spirited natives in cozy pubs throughout the land. You’ll explore ancient sites in moody landscapes to learn about culture and history in lands that have been continuously inhabited since Stone Age times.
Indulge your personal interests
How you spend your expedition time is vital to us. We want to bring you to and through the British & Irish Isles in the most engaging ways possible. Every day you can join naturalist or historian-guided hikes—choosing the individual whose interest and personality matches yours. Meet the lively characters who make up the contemporary scene in towns along the way. Or simply enjoy the open decks and glorious views from National Geographic Explorer.
Travel with some of the best and brightest
The encyclopedic knowledge of our historians adds insight, depth, and clarity to each geography. Our naturalists will describe the geology of these rich coastlines, sharing their knowledge daily. If improving your travel photos is a passion, than we recommend you spend time with the National Geographic photographer and the National Geographic certified photo instructor aboard ship and on walks ashore.
Arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland’s vibrant capital that enchants with its mix of medieval, Georgian and modern architecture. We have an overview of the city, dominated by its prominent castle set high on a bluff, before embarking our ship in the late afternoon. (D)
Today visit the Celtic monastic site at Lindisfarne Priory, where the exquisite Lindisfarne Gospels were copied and illuminated, and take the opportunity to stroll out to view the romantic outline of Lindisfarne Castle, built on a rocky outcrop to defend Holy Island against Scottish raids. Holy Island is an important nature reserve for marine birds, as well as a significant historic site. (B,L,D)
Today we explore the incredible 7th-century burial mounds at Sutton Hoo. Delve into this extraordinary collection of historic artifacts with a local scholar and learn how the archaeological site has shed light on a previously little-known period of history. Alternatively, stroll through the quaint town of Ipswich. (B,L,D)
Portsmouth is England’s great maritime capital, the birthplace of Charles Dickens, and the port from which the D-Day invasion was launched in WWII. The Historical Dockyard houses HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, and the Tudor warship Mary Rose. Wander the city’s atmospheric waterfront and perhaps stop for a pint at a traditional pub. (B,L,D)
Explorers Drake, Raleigh, and Cook have all passed through Fowey (pronounced “Foy” by the locals). Stroll the winding, medieval streets and visit art galleries and pubs before visiting the Cornish countryside and the Eden Project, a botanical garden with vast biomes. Or opt to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, left derelict after WWI and recently restored. (B,L,D)
According to Arthurian legend, the Isles of Scilly are all that remain of Lyonnesse, a land off Cornwall that vanished beneath the Atlantic. Meander through Tresco Abbey Gardens, where an astounding variety of subtropical plants flourish. (B,L,D)
Beautiful Skomer Island overflows with wildlife. Hop on a Zodiac to spot whales, dolphins, seals, and nesting seabirds. This afternoon stretch your legs along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, which winds along the cliffs and pristine beaches surrounding Fishguard. Or, discover the prehistoric archaeology of Pembrokeshire, the area that yielded the stones for Stonehenge. Or, venture to St. David’s Cathedral for a guided walk of the lovely little town. (B,L,D)
Our morning takes us to Cobh (pronounced “cove”), a historic community located on an island in the River Lee. It’s a significant place for many Irish Americans—the point from where many fled the potato famine for America—and we visit the interesting Heritage Museum here. (B,L,D)
An important center of Celtic Christianity, the beehive huts and seventh-century monastery of Skellig Michael still stand. Circle Skellig Michael in Zodiacs, if weather permits, and explore the ancient sites of the Dingle Peninsula and the colorful town of Dingle itself. Enjoy a pint and some local music in this vibrant city center where Gaelic culture flourishes in modern day. (B,L,D)
Visit the Aran Islands, known for their limestone moonscapes and Gaelic identity. Hike to Dun Aengus, a Celtic stone fort perched on a 200-foot cliff for a memorable view. Then, later in the day, pass the monumental Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. (B,L,D)
The tranquil and starkly beautiful region of Connemara is a great place to wander—the ultimate fulfillment of travelers’ romantic dreams of Ireland. Hiking with our naturalists (gentle walks or energetic hikes) or cycling on the quiet back roads—many of which were built to provide employment during the Famine—is probably the best way to get to know the area. (B,L,D)
Explore the fishing harbor of Killybegs in County Donegal, a wild, windswept peninsula and traditional Gaelic-speaking area. Learn more about the historical heritage of the region at nearby Stone Age and early Christian sites. Or hit the streets of Donegal for some independent exploration. Photograph the spectacular Slieve League cliffs, the highest in Europe, as we sail past. (B,L,D)
Iona is the epicenter of Celtic Christianity. Venture into 12th-century Iona Abbey with its stunning collection of Celtic high crosses. Explore Staffa Island, famed for its geometric basalt columns, and board Zodiacs into Fingal’s Cave, where Felix Mendelssohn was inspired to write his “Hebrides Overture.” (B,L,D)
Along the wild, western coast of Scotland lies the Isle of Lewis, steeped in history and legend, where Scottish Gaelic is still spoken. See the massive Neolithic Standing Stones of Callanish, which rival Stonehenge in the majesty of their setting. (B,L,D)
Explore the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stoneslab village of Skara Brae. Step into the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral.
On Fair Isle, known for its woolen crafts, we visit the bird research station, located on the migration flyway. On uninhabited Mousa, see an Iron Age broch (tower). (B,L,D)
Dock at Lerwick and drive through a rolling landscape dotted with Shetland ponies. Explore the ruins at Jarlshof, a 4,000-year-old near-continuous settlement. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Bergen and transfer to the airport for flights home or continue to explore Bergen on your own.(B)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
Main Deck with one or two Portholes #301-308
Main Deck with Window #317-320, 335-336
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 Triples: Main Deck with WIndow #341, 343
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228
Solo A Main Deck with Window #309-312, 329-334
Upper Deck with Balcony #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224
Solo B Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #105-106, 203, 208
Veranda Deck–Suite #101-102; Upper Deck-Suite with Balcony #213 Triples: #101-102
Upper Deck–Suite with Balcony #215, 219, 230 All cabins are available as triples.
National Geographic Explorer
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: All cabins face outside with windows or portholes, private facilities and climate controls.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.
Free Bar and Crew Tips Included on Voyages aboard National Geographic Explorer
Expeditions aboard National Geographic Explorer - Arctic, Antarctica, South America West Coast, British and Irish Isles and Canada.
Select Voyages 2017 - 2018.
Voyage Rates: AU$6 240 - AU$62 050
Special Offer: FREE BAR AND CREW TIPS INCLUDED
Beginning in April 2017, we will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Explorer voyages. Promotion subject to availability, contact us for further details.