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British Isles from Dover (15 days)

Want to visit some of the UK’s hidden gems?  Hurtigruten ships have been designed and built specifically to navigate the narrow fjords of Norway, making them ideal to explore the ‘harder to reach’ parts of the UK. Our 15-day expedition cruise with Hurtigruten starts in Dover and travels all the way around the British Isles.

You’ll get the opportunity to experience a variety of landscapes – sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, quaint towns and villages, as well as uninhabited islands. Who knows, you may also pick up some unknown history along the way, giving you a fresh outlook at what’s on your doorstep.

Whether you opt to take part in the included excursions, or do your own thing, Hurtigruten’s own expert expedition team will be on  hand to give  you the best tips on what to see and where to go, based on what you like to do personally. This voyage is all about making sure you have the ultimate experience that you would not be able to get anywhere else.

Explore the unknown British Isles

Starting in Dover you will get to see most of the British Isles, visiting England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and the Hebrides. The highlights of this holiday include:

  • Visiting the spectacular town of Fort William with its magnificent setting
  • Nature landing at the UNESCO double World Heritage Site – St. Kilda
  • Beach and nature reserve clean-ups in-line with Hurtigruten’s sustainability program
  • Exploring the beautiful Fowey estuary in South Cornwall
  • Seeing the superb birdlife on Rathlin Island
  • Enjoying a ‘wee dram’ on the island of Islay
  • Revelling in the beauty of the British Isles

Day 1: Dover

Goodbye Blighty

Dover is where your voyage around the British Isles begins. Crammed full of history, we recommend having a wander around the castle before embarking on Hurtigruten’s MS Maud.

Once you’ve embarked the ship and dropped off your bags in your cabin, it is time to explore the ship. There is plenty for you to enjoy on board and this is the time to find your favourite area to wile away your time as we sail through the British Isles. Between the Science Centre, the Explorer lounge and the deck there’s plenty of choice.

Day 2: At Sea

And Relax!

Today is where you get to really discover the ship even more and meet the Hurtigruten expedition team fully. It also gives you plenty of time to think of what you would like to ideally see and how to get the most out of each stop. The expedition team have extensive knowledge and personal experience and their lectures and talks have been designed to help you tailor your adventure and get exactly what you want from your trip.

So kick back, relax, grab your book and find an area in the explorer lounge or on deck to unwind. That is, if the views don’t distract you from your book. Don’t forget too about the delightful cuisine on board. There is plenty of choice for everyone and all dietary requirements can be catered for.

Day 3: Fishguard, Wales

The Last Invasion

The last place to be invaded by the French in 1797, the small village of Fishguard is steeped in history going all the way back to the Vikings in the 10th Century. The 100-ft long tapestry in the local library tells the important history of this quaint village. A true work of craftsmanship, it took four years to complete and is a real masterpiece.

Fishguard itself is actually split in two by a steep, winding hill, with the ‘new’ town sitting proudly on a clifftop, commanding spectacular views. Oozing charm, there’s lots to discover and enjoy, from picturesque shops to restaurants.

For those who hanker something a bit more adventurous and like a good walk, the surrounding areas of Fishguard have some great options. Enjoy a walk through the through the ancient woodlands and the nearby Gwaun Valley, which dates back to the last Ice Age. You’re also bound to see an abundance of wildlife along the way, as well as some prehistoric sites. For a gentler paced walk, visit the gardens of Dyffryn Fernant or Penlan Uchaf, which offer lovely views across the valley.

Day 4: Rathlin Island

Get Close to Nature

This stop is perfect for those that like bird watching. Rathlin Island is situated just off the north coast of Northern Ireland and boasts rugged cliffs, several lakes and vast, natural grasslands. As a result, it attracts large numbers of seabirds and consequently it hosts Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony.

For up close and personal views of the birds, make a visit to the Seabird centre and lighthouse, a unique and fully operational ‘upside-down’ lighthouse. Seabirds are not the only wildlife that you will see here. There are plenty of seals on this island too. A stroll to Mill Bay will lead you to these fun-loving creatures.

At just six miles long and one mile wide, Rathlin Island is small and is ideal for exploring by bike or on foot. So, whether you prefer a cliff-top walk or a rambling cross-island trail, the choice is yours.

Day 5: Isle of Iona

Discover Scottish History

Heading to the Scottish isles we begin the day with a visit to the Isle of Iona, famous for its religious connections. Originally settled by the Irish Missionary, St. Colomba, in 563 AD the Abbey is still on the island. It has undergone extensive restoration and visitors are welcome to explore. The graveyard is of significant importance to Scottish history as it is where 48 of Scotland’s kings are buried.

You will find some of the best beaches in Britain here with sandy beaches and turquoise waters all being completely untouched. You can easily forget that you are in Scotland and not somewhere exotic. They also often come with some slightly unusual names such as ‘The Bay at the Back of the Ocean’.

If the weather is on its best behaviour in the early afternoon, we will spend time doing a ‘scenic sail by’ of the cave-riddled island of Staffa. Staffa is an uninhabited island and is home to the cathedral-like Fingal’s Cave. The basalt columns here are a northern extension of the Giant’s Causeway. Staffa has piqued the interest of many famous people including Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Samuel Johnson.

Day 6: St Kilda, Scotland

Breathtaking Sea Cliffs

This island is one that has been taken over by nature. The distant and wild archipelago, with its breathtaking sea cliffs, is totally weather-dependent. However, a visit here is an unforgettable experience and should not be missed if possible. The Scottish people are immensely proud of this area as it is a UNESCO double World Heritage Site.

The whole area including the many islands and stacs are all a result of a volcanic crater. This has produced the rugged landscape creating an ideal stopping post for migrating birds. It is also a superb spot to see Minke Whales as they are often spotted in the waters around here.

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 you can visit whilst here highlights how hard life was on this exposed island.

Day 7: Stornoway, Lewis

The most Northern Island in the Outer Hebrides

Our mid-way point sees us spending the day at the most northern island in the Outer Hebrides. In total constrast to the uninhabited islands and the wildlife, Stornoway, the capital of the Isle of Lewis has a slightly more vibrant atmosphere to it. There is a bustling harbour and waterfront with museums and art galleries, all of which are overlooked by the handsome Lews Castle, a must see for all visitors.

If you choose to venture further afield you will see mills and cottages that were used to make tweed, including the famous Harris Tweed. For the Scottish version of Stonehenge, journey to the Callanish Standing Stones. Finally, there is the mysterious Carloway Broch – the best-preserved fort in Scotland dating back more than 2,000 years.

Day 8: Fort William, Scotland

Islets, Estuaries and Lochs

Relax and enjoy a scenic sailing as we head into Lock Linhe. Ben Nevis, islets, estuaries and lochs create an idyllic backdrop and is no wonder why it’s known as the outdoor capital of the UK There are lots of local history to discover too including the West Highland Museum in the centre of the town, St Andrew’s Church, St Mary’s Catholic Church and the Old Fort.

Other sites that are nearby is the town of Glenfinnan, famous for its stunning railway viaduct featured in the Harry Potter films, Urquhart Castle on Scotland’s famous Loch Ness and Glen Nevis  where you can enjoy one of the best short walks in Scotland. As it is Scotland, there is also the Ben Nevis whisky distillery to visit if you fancy it.

Day 9: Islay, Scotland

Visit Whisky Island

This Scottish island, pronounced ‘EYE-la’, is also known as ‘whisky island’ due to the many, many whisky distilleries that are based here. The peaty, single-malt whiskies are sought after by whisky lovers.

If you’re not a fan of whisky, don’t worry as there is still lots for you to enjoy here. It is another hotspot for migrating seabirds so there will be yet more opportunities to spot these wonderful creatures. You can also take part in the many clifftop walks,  giving you some amazing views along the way as well as the opportunity to see some Celtic ruins.

Many people say that you can find the friendliest people in Britain here. If you want to put the theory to the test, head to the town of Bowmore. Here you will find a few small shops as well as its famous round church that has no corners.

Day 10: Douglas, Isle of Man

Rolling Hills and Rugged Cliffs

With more than 100 miles of stunning coastline and rugged cliffs, the Isle of Man has a spectacular landscape of rolling hills, moorland and heath, waterfalls, pebble-dash beaches and coastal paths – an ideal destination for exploring.

Luckily where we are based in Douglas it’s the ideal spot to get around the island and to see exactly what you want to see. You can take a visit to the Viking museum, board an historic steam train, or wander round the castles of the island. Alternatively, if you fancy a rest from exploring the countryside and castles, you can spend the time simply strolling through the town of Douglas at your leisure.

If you have visited Douglas before and want to visit somewhere different, try the delightful harbour community of Peel. The impressive castle, originally constructed by the Viking King of Mann dates back to the 11th Century.

Day 11: Waterford, Ireland

Ireland’s Oldest City

A warm Irish welcome awaits in Waterford. Ireland’s oldest city, it was founded by the Vikings in the 10th Century. The remnants of the Viking influence can still be seen and felt throughout the city. Delve into the Viking Triangle, named after the 1,000 year-old Viking walls that used to surround the city and surrounding areas.

Waterford is located in beautiful Irish countryside and is steeped in history. You will easily come across a variety of ruins dating back from different eras in history. As well as the original walls from the Vikings, there also still remains parts of Norman forts and majestic, medieval abbey ruins and ancient monasteries.

The 12th Century Kilkenny Castle is nearby. This is one of the earliest Norman castles highlighting the importance that Waterford has had in Ireland’s history. There is also the Copper Coast UNESCO Geopark, which provides amazing scenery and sights of the Copper Coast.  A visit to the House of Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre would not go amiss. It has been the home of the famous and finest crystal since 1783.

Day 12: Isles of Scilly

Outstanding Beauty

Situated just off the coast of Cornwall are the Isles of Scilly. These 140 islands and islets are outstandingly beautiful and completely unspoilt. Most definitely a real gem of the British Isles! Covered in heathland, they boast stunning sandy beaches and are surrounded by rocks and reefs providing some of the most picturesque coastal walks you will ever go on.

The small town of Tresco is perfect for exploring on foot. You can wander around the castle ruins, visit the world famous Tresco Abbey Garden (home to over 20,000 different plants), visit the Valhalla Museum or simply stroll along the tropical-white sand beaches. Should conditions allow, we aim to do a beach clean-up on this charming island.

You may choose to visit the largest of the islands, St. Mary’s. The highlights of this island are its rocky coves, archaeological sites and charming Hugh Town.  It’s also famous for the tastiest and freshest seafood dishes.

Alternatively, you can join one of our optional excursions for a trip around the islands, visiting shipwreck sites, spotting seals basking on the rocks and cruising around the bird sanctuary of Annet to observe the puffins and numerous other breeding seabirds.

Day 13: Fowey, England

Take it Easy in Fowey

Fowey is located on the west side of the Fowey Estuary, a flooded valley cut by meltwater after the last Ice Age. It is a delightful harbour town to explore by foot at your own pace. Today is all about relaxing and taking it slow after a few days of exploration.

Things we recommend you to also see include walking down to the panoramic Gribbin Head (the Gribbin Headland Daymark went up in 1832 as a navigation aid).  There are plenty of other walks available, including the ‘Hall Walk’ along the Pont Pill creek or along the esplanade to Readymoney Cove and St Catherine’s Castle.

Day 14: Portland, England

Natural Beauty and Historical Heritage

Portland is on the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, an area renowned for its natural beauty and historical heritage. It is a ‘tied’ island. A barrier beach called Chesil Beach joins Portland to the mainland and the resort town of Weymouth.

Here is where you will get some of the best views of Britain and some brilliant photo opportunities of wildlife. With nearly 300 species of bird, over 30 species of butterfly and 720 species of moth, Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon are of international conservation importance. For bird watchers, it’s a dream come true. Portland is a significant migrating spot so you should get the chance to spot some rare species.

Day 15: Dover

The White Cliffs Beckon Once Again

Our 15-day voyage around the British Isles has come to an end. We will sail by the famous White Cliffs of Dover in the early morning. After breakfast, it is time to disembark from the ship and make your way home after an unforgettable time away.

What’s included

Included in your voyage:

  • Expedition Cruise
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune and Fredheim
  • A la carte restaurant Lindstrom included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Please not that we sail in remote areas so the connection will be very limited and as a result streaming is not supported
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included excursions

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Centre which has an extensive library, biological and geological microscopes and samples
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna and indoor gym and outdoor gym

Landing Activities

  • Landings using our fleet of small expedition boats
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographer to help with your camera settings before landings

What’s not included in your voyage:

  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Spa treatments

Life On Board

MS Maud, previously MS Midnatsol, is named after one of the most famous polar vessels of all time, Roald Amundsens “Maud” from 1917. The ship is being refurbished with it being completed in 2021 in time for this voyage. The ship has been redesigned to make it ideal for expedition cruises with it equipped with advanced technology.

The ship’s design has been kept in line with the Scandinavian design that is associated with the classic Hurtigruten feel. MS Maud features natural Scandinavian materials like granite, oak, birch and wool, to create a relaxed and stylish atmosphere.

On board is the interactive Science Centre where can get involved with the learning tools and state of the art technology. You can see the work that the Hurtigruten team are doing to allow us to enjoy travel sustainably. For spectacular views, the outdoor Observation deck or the Explorer lounge and bar are the places you need to be.

Hurtigruten as a company focuses on sustainable travel and is the core of their business. They want to encourage us to the see the world without causing disruption to the wildlife and natural habitat of the areas. As a result, the company’s aim is to be completely emission free. As the first cruise line in the world, Hurtigruten is permanently introducing biodiesel as fuel on a number of ships – including MS Maud.

Biodiesel reduces (CO2) emissions with up to 80 % (compared to regular marine diesel). Hurtigruten’s environmentally certified biodiesel is produced from waste from industries such as fisheries and agriculture – which means no palm oil is used in the biofuel production and no negative effects on rainforests. Hurtigruten will use biodiesel in combination with other low-emission fuel. Single use plastic is also banned on all the Hurtigruten fleet. It is also equipped for shore power, completely eliminating emissions when docked in ports with shore power facilities.

Hurtigruten really does come into its own with its on-board Expedition team. Passionate and experienced about all things Expedition Cruising and seeing the places off the beaten track, the team host lectures, presentation programmes and activities on a regular basis.

Features at a glance:

  • Expedition Team
  • Three restaurants
  • Explorer bar lounge
  • Wi-Fi
  • Sauna
  • Hot tubs
  • Fitness room

Can’t see what you are looking for? Don’t worry, in all probability we can still do it.
Call us on 01582 349480.

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About Suitcase Travel

A family run boutique travel agency, we specialise in creating memorable travel experiences. Offering unique adventures, tailored to your specific requirements, we focus solely on you, helping you to understand the experience that your holiday will give you and equipping you with those all-important tips that will help to make your holiday that extra bit special. Oh, and the best part? Our service is free – it literally costs you no more than if you were to book direct. Come and talk to us and we’ll help you to create memories that really will last a lifetime.

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