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The Scottish Isles

This spring expedition cruise will introduce you to the rugged landscapes and ancient sites of the Scottish Isles, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, with highlights including UNESCO-listed St Kilda

Expedition Holiday

Call us now on 01756 706500 to secure your cabin!


Explore Scotland's rugged isles and unearth rich history on this springtime expedition voyage from Hanseatic Bergen, which also calls at the Isle of Man and Belfast.

The rugged landscapes and ancient sites have shaped the people and cultures of these much fought over northern islands, from Neolithic man to the Vikings and Scots. Between craggy, ruined castles, still-lived-in castles and gentle sub-tropical gardens, you’ll discover Scotland’s colourful history.

Highlights include the remote, UNESCO-listed archipelago of St Kilda, and a private reception at the stronghold of Clan MacLean at Duart Castle, with the Clan Chief himself, Sir Lachlan MacLean. You'll also visit the bird haven of Fair Isle, historic Iona with its impressive abbey, and the picturesque isles of Rum and Islay.

NE567 Operated by Hurtigruten Expeditions


The Scottish Isles Itinerary

Day 1 - Bergen (Norway)

Embark your ship in Bergen.

Day 2 - Lerwick (Shetland Islands)

Lerwick is the main port of the Shetland Islands and by far the northernmost town of Scotland. Founded in the 17th century as a fishing port, today Lerwick is a bustling, cosmopolitan town. The old waterfront is still active with visiting yachts and working fishing boats. The area boasts some of Shetland's most attractive scenery and an extraordinary concentration of archaeological sites, including two remarkable Iron Age villages.

Day 3 - Fair Isle

Lonely Fair Isle with its high red-sandstone cliffs and gentle rolling fields is a vital stop for migrating birds and has had a permanent Bird Observatory since 1948. Synonymous with unique geometric knitwear possibly of Spanish or Scandinavian origin, the island also boasts a mini ‘Lighthouse Keepers’ golf course and a friendly, self-sufficient population.

Day 4 - Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)

Kirkwall is the largest town and the capital of the Orkney archipelago. The first mention of a settlement here is in a saga from 1046, and the name Kirkwall derives from the Norse `Kirkjuvagr´ (Church Bay). Today, Kirkwall has a population of 8,500, and is one of the most attractive and well-preserved small towns in Scotland The town is dominated by the famous St. Magnus Cathedral. A local saga tells the story of how Magnus, kidnaped from the islands, refused to fight with the Vikings or condone their violence. Magnus eventually returned home, only to be put to death for his pacifism, and the church was named in his memory.

Day 5 - Stornoway (Isle of Lewis)

Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway is the main town of the Western Isles and the capital of the Isle of Lewis & Harris, which is the largest and most northerly of the Outer Hebrides. A bustling harbour and waterfront with museums and art galleries are overlooked by the handsome Lews Castle which we invite you to explore with us. Further afield are mills and cottages where hard-wearing Harris Tweed is woven. There are tiny folk museums, the world-famous Callanish Standing Stones, and the mysterious Carloway Broch - the best preserved fort in Scotland dating back more than 2,000 years.

Day 6 - Hirta Island (St Kilda Archipelago)

Any visit to this distant and wild archipelago, with its breathtaking sea cliffs, is totally weather-dependent. As a UNESCO double World Heritage Site and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Trust for Scotland, it is an unforgettable experience. The outlying stacs and islands, which are the remains of a volcanic crater, provide ledges for thousands of nesting seabirds. Minke whales are frequently seen around the swirling waters of the archipelago. Once home to Britain’s most remote island community, it was evacuated in 1930 at their own request after 5,000 years of continuous habitation. The tiny museum that remains is a record of how hard life was on this exposed island.

Day 7 - Barra Island - Isle of Rum

Once a prosperous herring port, Castlebay is dominated by the romantic medieval fortress of Kisimul Castle, acquired by Clan MacNeil as a reward for fighting with Robert the Bruce at Banockburn. The rugged interior of Castlebay is ringed by scenic beaches and is the inspiration for many artists and writers, as well as providing delightful walking and kayaking. We spend the morning exploring Castlebay before heading to the Isle of Rum later in the day. The wildlife haven of Rum is a Nature Reserve and research centre. The island was once the sporting estate for Lancashire cotton magnate, Sir George Bullough. He built Kinlock, a folly of an Edwardian castle which remains a time-capsule of Edwardian grandeur, complete with French silk wallpaper, antiques and atmospheric rooms. Otters are regularly seen around the island’s shores, and there is a large population of red deer.

Day 8 - Oban - Craignure (Isle of Mull)

Known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, the little town of Oban reached its heyday when the railway arrived, adding to its life as a busy fishing port. Now a popular holiday spot, Victorian buildings cluster round the port, ferries come and go, heading out to the distant Hebrides. Many cafés have seafood-focused menus, and the distillery provides tours to sample a local dram of whisky. This evening, we visit Craignure where we are fortunate to have a private guided visit to the dramatic 800-year-old Duart Castle, one of very few remaining in the ownership of the family. We will be hosted by Sir Lachlan MacLean, the Clan Chief himself. The Castle houses much MacLean memorabilia and our visit will include the kitchen, Sea Room and Edwardian bedrooms as well as a private reception in the Banqueting Hall. The Castle is very much the type of building you would expect a Highland Chief to live in; it is simply furnished, austere and has an air of no-nonsense solidity and age.

Day 9 - Isle of Colonsay

Home to over 200 bird species, including the rare and elusive corncrake, this is a gentle island of woods and pretty beaches, such as Kiloran Bay, and with Scalasaig being the main settlement. Colonsay House is home to exotic gardens and the surrounding woods, moors and fields have over 400 species of flora. The island offers easy walking and kayaking in the surrounding waters.

Day 10 - Islay

Once the seat of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, this is ‘whisky island’, world renowned for its peaty single malt whiskies and many distilleries. As a stop-off for wintering geese and migrating birds, there is good bird spotting. In the charming little town of Bowmore, there are a handful of small shops, an interesting round church with no corners, plus superb cliff-top walks and a well known golf course.

Day 11 - Peel (Isle of Man)

A seaside town, the pretty port of Peel was the 14th century capital of the island and seat to the King of Mann. Winding lanes of merchants’ houses bear witness to the 19th century fishing schooners built here which traded from Ireland to Shetland. Peel Castle, connected by causeway and reputedly built by Magnus Barelegs, King of Norway, dates from the 11th century. Museums in town display vintage bikes and cars; a connection to the more modern high-speed racing that occurs on the island.

Day 12 - Belfast (Northern Ireland)

A city of industry and elegance, Belfast is the birthplace of the Titanic, as well as being the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. It is a gateway to a glorious countryside of pretty villages and a beautiful rugged coast with pristine beaches and breathtaking clifftop walks. Experience Giants Causeway, hike through spectacular scenery or explore what this impressive city has to offer.

Day 13 - Greenock (Scotland)

Disembark your ship in Greenock.

For weather and navigational reasons, the Captain of the ship reserves the right to modify the cruise itinerary.

Price Includes

  • 12-night full board voyage in cabin grade of your choice
  • House beer and wine, sodas and mineral water with meals on board
  • Complimentary tea and coffee on board
  • Landings with Explorer boats
  • English speaking Expedition Team on board
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board
  • Wind and water-resistant jacket

Price Does Not Include

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions
  • Gratuities (at guests' discretion)

Please contact us for the latest dates and prices

Call us now on 01756 706500

Map for The Scottish Isles