Embark on a journey that encompasses Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. Discover the wild, rugged, seldom-seen islands of the west, as well as historic Portsmouth, and dramatic Iona and Skellig Michael. Walk through Stone Age village ruins 5,000-years-old, Zodiac cruise around the stunning island of Staffa, 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.
• Trace a maritime thread around the isles, exploring the wild and beautiful places where Celtic and Viking influences still thrive in local languages and customs
• Sail around magical Skellig Michael, which is crowned with a seventh-century beehive monastery
• See the stunning 12th century Iona abbey, and Zodiac into Fingal’s Cave in Scotland
• Explore wild, windswept outer isles; search for whales, dolphins, and seals; and see vast, important seabird nesting sites
Fly overnight to London. Embark in the city center in time for lunch as we set sail down the Thames.
Visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and climb inside the HMS Victory, and visit the partially restored Tudor warship Mary Rose, deployed by King Henry VIII. Alternatively, join our naturalists for a drive to the lively estuary at Titchfield Haven to walk the trails and look for visiting birds.
Stroll the medieval streets of Fowey before visiting the Eden Project, a botanical garden with vast biomes. In the afternoon, visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, left derelict after WWI and recently restored, or choose to explore the quaint town center.
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.
Sail by Skellig Michael, a Celtic Christian hermitage where beehive huts and remains of a 7th-century monastery still stand. Visit Valentia Island for its dramatic cliffs and a visit to The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre. Spend the afternoon discovering the picturesque seaside town of Dingle. (B,L,D)
Visit Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. Known for its religious and cultural heritage, we make a visit to Dun Aengus, a Celtic stone fort perched on a cliff’s edge.
Today we discover northwestern Ireland: a wild and windswept region where Gaelic is still spoken. Steeped in history and folklore,
the dramatic landscape of counties Sligo and Donegal inspired the works of W.B. Yeats.
Visit the sacred island of Iona and its 12th Century abbey, believed to be the origin of the Book of Kells. Explore Staffa Island, famed for its geometric basalt columns, and Zodiac into dramatic Fingal’s Cave.
Visit the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, boasting incredible seabird colonies. Conditions permitting; we hope to make a landing at uninhabited St. Kilda, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Later, see the Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis.
Discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar and the 5,000-year-old stoneslab village of Skara Brae. Step into medieval St. Magnus Cathedral, crafted from local red and yellow sandstone.
The Shetland Islands archipelago is characterized by incredible cultural traditions and dramatic landscapes. Experience this for yourself as we step ashore at one of the many remote islands in the region.
Drive through a rolling landscape with Shetland ponies. Explore the ruins at Jarlshof, which reveal 4,000 years of near continuous settlement.
Disembark after breakfast and transfer to airport for your flight home.
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.