Tour begins 6:00 PM. A transfer is included from Glasgow International Airport to Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, Glasgow or VOCO Grand Hotel Glasgow, each centrally located near must-see sights. Join us for a welcome reception and dinner at your hotel.
Explore Glasgow and embark your ship as your cruise begins
A tour of city sights includes the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, George's Square, Buchanan Street, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, and Princes Square. This afternoon, visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the city's most popular attractions, featuring a wide-ranging collection of art and artifacts of cultural history, ancient history, natural history, and more. You'll also visit the Glasgow Riverside Museum, an award-winning, state-of-the-art museum of transport, where you can climb aboard a tram, train, or bus, help put out a fire with an interactive fire engine, and discover Glasgow's shipbuilding history. Drive to Greenock or Fairlie and embark your ship, your home for the next seven nights. Tonight you sail for the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.
The Isle of Mull
Sail to the Isle of Mull, a popular destination for naturalists and photographers in search of Britain's more elusive birds and wildlife. Anchor in Tobermory on a morning arrival for a choice of three excursions. Take a guided nature walk walk along the coastal cliffs for a great opportunity for sighting and photographing wildlife; drive along the scenic coastline to Duart Castle, a medieval landmark on the sea cliffs, home of the Maclean Clan – restored in the 20th century – a rare opportunity to visit a clan seat that is still owned by its members; or enjoy a short but scenic drive to Aros Park* for a guided nature hike. This evening, join us aboard ship for the Captain's welcome reception followed by dinner as you sail for the Isle of Skye.
Skye castles and storybook landscapes
Known in Gaelic as "isle of mist," Skye is steeped in Celtic and Norse legend, a land of faerie glens, storybook mountains, and otherworldly landscapes that seem to spring from Tolkien's Middle Earth. At Portree, a fishing town in a harbor sheltered by cliffs, take your choice of shore excursions. Take a cruise around Portree Bay and the Sound of Raasay on a wildlife safari which may include seals, otters, dolphins, and sea eagles along with enchanting coastal views. Alternatively, travel to Kintail where iconic Eilean Donan Castle stands on a small tidal island; destroyed in 1719 and restored in 1932, it is the most photographed castle in Scotland, and you can explore it while learning its turbulent history. Your third choice is a visit to medieval Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the MacLeod Clan, rising four stories high on a promontory overlooking Loch Dunvegan and the sea. The fourth choice takes you to the Kyle of Lochalsh, a scenic area of castles, hills, and lochs – and the site of Armadale Castle and Gardens, the spiritual home of the Clan Donald. The estate includes 40 acres of formal gardens, walking trails, and an award-winning Museum of the Islands that tells the 1,500-year history of the clan and the Highlands. Afterwards, you'll have the opportunity to spend the afternoon in colorful Victorian Portree to explore on your own, or you can return to the ship. Late afternoon, a professional photographer will give a presentation of his works and discuss photography on the Scottish Isles. Set sail this evening for the Isle of Lewis.
Lochs, brochs and standing stones
The Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides offers a dreamlike landscape of windy rolling hills, moors, vivid colors, and dramatic, rugged shores. Dock in the town of Stornoway, founded by Vikings in the 9th century, and take your choice of excursions. Set off on a sea safari* to view marine life and some of the most magnificent coastline in Scotland; the coastal waters warmed by the Gulf Stream are known to draw porpoises, bottle-nosed dolphins, pilot whales, orcas, grey and common seals, basking sharks, and seabirds including puffins, gannets, fulmars, shearwaters, and petrels. Alternatively, hike* with a local guide along the coast, with a possibility to see otters, seals or sea eagles; or take a panoramic coach excursion that includes the Standing Stones of Callanish, Dun Carloway Broch, one of the best-preserved stone-built circular constructions, and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village situated in a beautiful secluded bay. Another excursion features a visit to Carloway Harris Tweed Mill with an opportunity to see tweed being woven on the traditional hattersly loom. Spend some time at leisure in Stornoway before a private tasting of Scottish gin.Your ship sails for the Orkney Islands this evening.
Orkney Islands & Stromness
The Orkney Archipelago belonged to Norway until 1468 when the king of Norway gave them to the king of Scotland as collateral for a loan. When Norway tried to repay the loan, Scotland wouldn't give the islands back. But after all, who would? Arrive in Kirkwall, once a medieval Norwegian port, now the largest town on the Orkney Mainland, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Take a guided walking tour of Kirkwall that includes its medieval cathedral and bishop's palace, then visit Scapa Flow and the stunning Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II. Drive to Marwick Head Nature Reserve, one of the best places in the UK to see wildlife, and take a clifftop walk above a seabird city of as many as 25,000 birds, including razorbills, kittiwakes, guillemots, and puffins. Or discover the remarkable range of food and drink found throughout the Orkneys on an excursion that combines the finest local produce with the beautiful landscapes and coastline. Our final excursion offers an exploration of the four monuments that make up the heart of Neolithic Orkney and includes lunch in a historic country hotel as well as a visit to the best-preserved Neolithic settlement, Skara Brae. Join us for a lecture aboard ship, featuring a local historian and storyteller well-versed in local myths and legends.
Treasures of the Shetland Islands
The Shetland Islands are an archipelago of more than a hundred windswept islands, of which only 16 are inhabited; the rest are havens for wildlife. Towns and villages are few, but there are thousands of archaeological sites throughout the islands, including the remains of prehistoric fortresses and settlements. Arrive dockside at Lerwick on the largest island, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Drive to the southern tip of mainland Shetland to visit the uninhabited island of Mousa*, site of a 2,000-year-old broch (round stone tower), 43 feet high, the best preserved in the world; explore its beehive-like chambers and climb the internal staircase to the top for panoramic views; cross to Shetland's east coast for a view of St. Ninian's Isle, where a cache of Pictish treasure was discovered in the 1950s (the Picti were tribes known to the Romans as "painted people".); visit Jarlshof near Sumburgh Head to see a 5,000-year-old settlement with remains dating from the Stone Age to the 17th century AD, a microcosm of Shetland history; then ride to the top of Sumburgh Head for views of the sea, seabird colonies, and Shetland's first lighthouse, built in 1821 by Robert Stevenson (grandfather of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson); lighthouses were the family business, and there are Stevenson lighthouses all over the Highlands. Alternatively, you can visit Mousa Broch, then explore its island, a breeding ground for European storm petrels, arctic terns and guillemots; a 2-mile walk includes a visit to a seal pool, and sweeping views of wildflowers and the North Sea – or head to the west mainland for a visit to Scalloway, its 17th-century castle, and the Scalloway Museum; learn about the village's clandestine role in World War II, and visit a farm that breeds Shetland Ponies. A tour through Lerwick takes you to its lifeboat station, lodberries (waterside houses for unloading ships), the town hall, and the Shetland Museum and Archives, followed by time to explore the town on your own. Aboard ship this evening, a local historian will lecture on the "Shetland Bus," a secret operation during World War II that smuggled agents in and refugees out of occupied Norway at night by way of fishing vessels.
A Day at Sea
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea today as we sail towards the Shetland Islands. A full schedule of activities will be offered throughout the day for you to choose from or simply sit back and enjoy a relaxing cruising day.
Edinburgh Castle & the Royal Mile
Under the watch of its lofty clifftop castle, Edinburgh rambles over rocky hills beside the sea, inviting you into its captivating maze of crooked medieval streets, cozy passages, avenues, shops, pubs, townhouses, and monumental palaces. Disembark and tour the iconic Edinburgh Castle, standing on a crag of volcanic rock above the city skyline; over one thousand years of turbulent history have played out within its venerated halls, gates, courtyards, and battlements. Then enjoy a guided walk along the Royal Mile, the cobbled main street lined with shops, pubs, museums, and intriguing alleyways called "closes" and "wynds," as well as churches, law courts, the Parliament house and St. Giles Cathedral.
Holyroodhouse and a day well spent in Edinburgh
Begin the day with a visit to Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland (Tauck has arranged a private early opening) where you'll explore the magnificent state apartments, the royal gardens, and the royal art collection. A guided walking tour introduces you to more Edinburgh city sights, including medieval Old Town with its enticing nooks and crannies; stately New Town with its wide streets and Georgian townhouses; the Royal Botanic Garden; see Robert Louis Stevenson's birthplace; Charlotte Square with its gracious Victorian mansions and park; Princes Street, the main shopping thoroughfare; and Inverleith Terrace, one of the city's most exclusive residential neighborhoods. The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner.
Tour ends: Edinburgh, Scotland. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, the Balmoral Hotel, or the InterContinental Edinburgh The George Hotel to Edinburgh Airport or the Edinburgh Waverley train station. Allow three hours for flight check-in.