We call at Stornoway to see the tough and unique Harris Tweed being woven, have a special pub visit in the bustling tiny port of Tobermory, capital of the Isle of Mull which also has an enticing range of craft shops and seafood. We walk the shores of one of Scotland’s most dramatic lochs, Loch Coruisk, surrounded by lofty mountains. We can hike island peaks for views stretching over the seas, kayak in sheltered lochs, or simply stroll delightful gardens. These are all ‘ours’ for exploring.
- Day 1 Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland
- Day 2 Isle of Arran, Scotland
- Day 3 Islay, Scotland
- Day 4 Isle of Gigha, Scotland
- Day 5 Isle of Iona & Treshnish Isles, Scotland
- Day 6 St. Kilda, Hirta Island, Scotland
- Day 7 Stornoway and Shiant Isles, Scotland
- Day 8 Loch Scavaig and Isle of Eigg, Scotland
- Day 9 Sound of Mull, Scotland
- Day 10 Isle of Colonsay, Scotland
- Day 11 Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland
Our voyage starts in Glasgow (Greenock). Meaning ‘Dear Green Place’ in Gaelic, Glasgow boasts over 90 parks and gardens. Famous for its Victorian as well as art nouveau architecture, it is home to such institutions as the Scottish Ballet, Opera and National Theatre. This is definitely a city you’ll want to explore more before you board MS Spitsbergen.
Warmed by the North Atlantic Drift, this sheltered island with its high peaks, is a haven for wildlife. Dramatic mountains, a distinctive distillery and good hiking all add to a microcosm of Scotland. Brodick town has its 16th century red-sandstone castle whilst the ruined castle of Lochranza was once a royal hunting lodge.
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.
Tiny Gigha (pronounced Gee’a) is the ‘Good Isle’ and is owned by the islanders. Dairy cows produce a distinctive cheddar-type cheese, whilst Achamore House, set in fifty acres of woodland gardens, was once the home of Sir James Horlick who created a colourful and impressive display of rhododendrons.
World famous for its religious connections, Iona was settled in 563 AD by the Irish missionary, St Colomba. The much-restored Abbey still remains a place of pilgrimage and peace. Wide views from the beach, known as ‘The Bay at the Back of the Ocean’ stretch west towards the Outer Hebrides.
We will explore Treshnish Isles, a group of distinctive volcanic islands which are home to a wealth of wildlife, from nesting puffins to colonies of kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and Atlantic grey seals.
Fingal’s Cave, immortalised by Mendelssohn’s glorious ‘Hebrides Overture’, is on the cave-riddled island of Staffa. The basalt columns here are a northern extension of the Giant’s Causeway. Discovered by the Vikings, visited by Sir Joseph Banks, and viewed by Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Samuel Johnson, this is one of Scotland’s most famous islands. It is best viewed from the sea where the colour of the waters within the cave and its rising columns are at their most impressive.
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.
Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway is the main town of the Western Isles and the capital of the Isle of Lewis, 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.
Late afternoon we explore the Shiant Isles. Privately owned since 1937, this tiny archipelago set in the midst of the Minch, the area of sea between the Outer Hebrides and Skye, has numerous colonies of nesting seabirds. Puffins, razorbills, shags, eider ducks and guillemots all throng the surrounding waters, perching on volcanic ledges above basking sharks and seals.
Surrounded by the high peaks of the Skye Cullins, Loch Scavaig leads to one of the most romantic and dramatic lochs in Scotland – freshwater Loch Coruisk. Painted by Turner and a popular destination for the Victorians, this is a powerful landscape promising great hiking and kayaking.
We head to the Isle of Eigg to spend the rest of our day on this craggy island. Settled since prehistoric times, it was once the seat of the Lord of the Isles, but is now owned by its inhabitants. The island has Iron Age forts, a 6th century church, and turbulent clan history with a massacre of 395 MacDonalds in a sea-shore cave. Rising sheer above the island is the crest of the ‘Sgurr of Eigg’ offering a great hike and stunning views across the waters of the Minch to the Outer Hebrides.
We will be anchored in the Sound of Mull which will enable us to explore the fascinating town of Tobermory as well as Loch Sunart.
The Isle of Mull is a large island of sweeping moors, tiny hamlets and castles. Recognised as the island’s capital, Tobermory is a delightful deep-water fishing port where brightly painted Georgian houses ring the tiny bay. Nestled under the steep hillsides, the town has a good variety of cafés and restaurants, book shops, craft shops, a tiny museum and an ancient distillery.
Stretching inland opposite Tobermory and protected by the rugged point of Ardnamurchan, lies Britain’s most westerly mainland point, Loch Sunart. The deep, quiet waters of this long loch offer sheltered kayaking, while the loch shores provide superb walking, perhaps to the recently established distillery. Guarding the entrance of the loch stands 13th century Mingary Castle, once the stronghold of the MacIains. The castle has been frequently fought over, changing hands many times between the Macdonald and Campbell clans.
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.
Our voyage ends back in Glasgow (Greenock), home to more than 20 museums and galleries, including the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Riverside Museum. Many of these are housed in distinctive Victorian buildings, some designed by renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This is definitely a city you’ll want to explore more before you head home.
Included in your voyage
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
- Range of included excursions
- Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
- Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- 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
- Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come
- Escorted landings with small expedition boats
- Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities
- Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings
Not included in your voyage
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please ensure you meet all visa entry requirements
- No gratuities expected
|Year of refurbishment||2016|
|Shipyard||Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)|
MS Spitsbergen will take you on a voyage beyond the ordinary. She cruises along the Norwegian coast from September to May, and becomes part of our global Expedition sailings during the rest of the year.
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