Escape tourist crowds and explore the British Isles off the beaten path with an authentic expedition cruise. You’ll journey aboard the Sea Spirit from Portsmouth to Edinburgh, visiting the tucked away gems of the British Isles, with their historic heritage, magnificent landscapes and unique wildlife. Explore hidden bays and hard-to-reach cliffs with rare seabirds in our small Zodiac boats and land on pristine beaches. For those who want to explore at their own speed, we recommend joining our kayak club.
Enjoy magnificent views from deck, engage in our citizen science projects, join lectures by our onboard specialists and perfect your photography skills in our expert workshops.
British Isles Expeditions
Discover the region’s history, unique nature and wildlife off the beaten path on this 13 day cruise! Start your expedition aboard the small expedition ship, the Sea Spirit, in Portsmouth and cruise to your first stop: the beautiful flora and fauna of Tresco (Isles of Scilly). Enjoy stunning views of the scenery and wildlife from aboard your comfortable ship. Continue to Dunmore East on the southeastern coast of Ireland and further to Christian historic sites on Iona, Scotland. Discover magnificent archeological sites on the Orkney Islands and an abundance of rare seabirds on Fair Isle (Shetland Islands). You can enjoy this cruise with an average level of physical fitness! You can choose to explore the beautiful scenery on foot and in our small Zodiac boats or join the kayaking club if you’re look for a more active adventure.
About the British Isles
The British Isles consist of 315,159km2 of landmass in the North Atlantic Ocean and make up Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Shetland Islands, Isles of Scilly and more than 6,000 smaller islands. While most of the islands are uninhabited (only 136 are permanently inhabited), the total population of the islands amounts to around 72 million people. The isles feature predominantly low altitudes, with the highest point being Ben Nevis at 1,345m in the Scottish Highlands.
With their mild climate, the British Isles lack extreme temperatures. It’s around 20 °C in the summertime. Rain is abundant in the region due to the North Atlantic Drift.
The discovery of Paleolithic tools suggest that the first inhabitants reached the British Isles some 750 thousand years ago. The modern humans arrived around 30 thousand years ago according to skeleton remains found in Wales (The Red Lady of Paviland cave). Neolithic sites are predominant throughout the islands, including early stone houses on the Orkney Islands and ancient stone circles. Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Celts shaped the region’s history, as well as the Vikings (who arrived around 790 AD).
What to see on the British Isles
Top Things to see
Tresco, Scilly Isles (England)
Visit this quaint family-owned island 28 miles off the Cornish coast with its secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and nature. Discover Bronze Age burial sites and 17th century castle ruins, as well as the Tresco Abbey Garden with its collection of over 20,000 exotic plants from all over the world. Relax in the quaint cafes and local shops on the island or visit the Valhalla Museum (known its collection of colorful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks).
Dunmore East (Ireland)
Take a stroll through this popular fishing village on the southeastern coast of Ireland. Take a guided tour of the House of Waterford Crystal and see the beautiful crafts of the factory. Visit Mount Congreve with its botanical gardens and woodlands.
Saltee Islands (Ireland)
The islands are a birder’s paradise! See gannets, gulls, puffins and manx shearwaters.
Explore northern Wales and scenic Snowdonia National Park. See waterfalls, mountains and crystal-clear lakes boasting wildlife such as otters, wild ponies and rare birds such as dotterels and peregrine falcons. Visit the quaint Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed, Gwydyr Forest and the 13th century Conwy Castle.
Portrush and Rathlin Island (Northern Ireland)
Visit the famous Giant’s Causeway and discover the hexagonal basalt columns descending into the sea. Look out for seabirds such as fulmars, petrels, cormorants, redshanks, guillemots and razorbills.
Inner Hebrides (Scotland)
Explore the uninhabited island of Staffa with its volcanic origin hexagonal basalt pillars and Fingal’s Cave. Off the Isle of Mull, we’ll discover Iona, a small beautiful island with the gorgeous Iona Abbey founded in 563 AD, historic sites of early Christianity and resting place to numerous medieval kings.
Outer Hebrides (Scotland)
These isolated and rugged islands feature ancient stone buildings nestled in dramatic landscapes and wild nature. Home to an abundance of seabirds, two ancient species of sheep and 130 species of flowers, it’s a photographer’s paradise!
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands (Scotland)
Explore the 5000 year old village at Skara Brae and the ancient Neolithic Ring of Brodgar stone circle. Visit Kirkwall’s 12th century Romanesque landmark, Saint Magnus Cathedral.
Shetland Islands (Scotland)
The isolated and rugged coastline of Fair Isle is famous among avid birders for an abundance of rare species. You can also see beautiful wildflowers in bloom on our May cruises.
Isle of May and Bass Rock (Scotland)
Spot grey seals along the shores as well as puffins and other seabirds. Visit historical sites such as St. Ardin’s Chapel, the lighthouse and the Low and Light Cottages.
Plan you British Isles Tour
How to get to the British Isles
Our travelers organize airfare to London by themselves. We recommend flying into London Heathrow, where we’ll arrange one night at the Hilton Garden Inn Terminal 2 before the cruise starts (included in your cruise cost). The next morning you’ll be transferred by bus to the departure port, Portsmouth (England), where you’ll board our cruise ship, the Sea Spirit, to begin your British Isles cruise. When booking airfare, please note that we complete the cruise in Edinburgh (Scotland). We’ll transfer you from there to the airport or any central location in the city.
Please check ahead of time if you require a visa to visit the UK. You’ll have to obtain the visa by yourself. If you need assistance, please contact us and we can help contacting the necessary consulates for further information.
British Isles Ships
We cruise aboard our small expedition ship, the Sea Spirit, which is suited for a maximum of 114 travelers. Choose your personal level of comfort from various cabin categories. The ship also features a restaurant, bar, outdoor bistro, 24-hour tea and coffee station, library, lecture hall and gym.
When to visit British Isles
The best time to visit is during early summer when temperatures are mild at around 20 °C. It’s also the best time for birdwatching during their spring migration and to see the islands in bloom.
Facts about the British Isles
· The British Isles consist of a landmass encompassing 4 countries: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
· The highest peak of the British Isles is Ben Nevis in Scotland.
· The largest lake of the British Isles, Lough Neagh, is located in Northern Ireland.
· Native languages spoken on the British Isles apart from English are Cornish, Gaelic and Shelta.
· The Orkney Islands consist of more than 70 islands and only 20 of them are inhabited.
· Iona Abbey is regarded as the birthplace of Christianity on the British Isles.
1. Is there internet, email or telephone on board?
There is free Wi-Fi aboard, which is included in the cost of the cruise.
2. What clothes should you take to the British Isles?
We recommend you bring water- and wind-proof outer wear in case of rain and wind during excursions, as well as lighter summer wear for warmer days, sunglasses and sun hats.
3. Do you provide jackets for expeditions?
You’ll get our signature Poseidon Expedition windbreaker jacket, which is yours to keep. We also provide rubber boots throughout the duration of the cruise for landings.
4. How much luggage space will you have?
We allow 2 pieces of luggage per person (standard size). We also provide onboard laundry service.
5. Do I need travel insurance?
You will need an emergency evacuation insurance with a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 per traveler for your expedition. We also highly recommend cancellation insurance.
6. How cold are the British Isles?
We cruise during the early summer season when temperatures are fairly mild. Expect average temperatures of 6-14°C during your cruise.
7. What's not included in British Isles tour?
All meals and accommodation aboard, as well as excursions during the trip are included. The first night in a hotel upon arrival, transfer to port and transfer to the airport in Edinburgh on disembarkation day are also included in the cruise price. Souvenirs, alcoholic beverages aboard, tips, any meals on shore, as well as additional hotel costs in case you plan to stay longer in the departure or arrival port are not included.
8. What ships go to the British Isles?
For our British Isles cruise, we use our comfortable 114 passenger expedition ship, the Sea Spirit. It features cabins of different categories, a restaurant, bar, outdoor bistro, 24-hour tea and coffee lounge, library, lecture hall and a gym.
9. What is the average age of travelers?
Our cruises to the British Isles are suitable for travelers of any age. We offer lots of different activities. For people seeking an active vacation, we offer kayaking and hiking; for our passengers who would like to take a more relaxed approach, we offer lectures, Zodiac cruising, photography workshops and wildlife watching from aboard our comfortable expedition ship, the Sea Spirit.
10. How much money should I take?
Accommodation and all meals aboard, excursions during the cruise, Zodiac cruising, airport transfer to the hotel/departure port and the first night in a hotel before the cruise starts are included in your package. For alcoholic beverages, tips to the expedition team and staff, souvenirs, additional nights in a hotel, city tours before and after the cruise, airfare to and from the departure port and any other expenses not mentioned in the cruise package, we recommend you calculate your budget based on your personal needs.
11. How close can I get to animals?
We maintain the required distance to ensure safety for our passengers and the protection of wildlife. Our expedition ship, the Sea Spirit, is equipped with an open deck, from which you will have magnificent opportunities to watch wildlife (and we will get even closer in Zodiac boats). In these small, inflatable boats we are able to cruise up close to wildlife, without disturbing the animals. If you want to explore at your own speed, you can also join our kayaking club.
12. What should you consider when traveling to the British Isles?
When you consider booking a cruise to the British Isles, ensure that your tour operator has extensive experience in the region. This is important for making the most of your trip, as you will see the prime spots, learn everything there is to know about local history, wildlife and biology. Familiarize yourself with the itineraries offered and reach out to your tour agent to book the best cruise package matching your needs. Choose your level of comfort and cabin category and consider signing up for extras like kayaking well in advance, as spaces usually fill up quickly.
13. Should I be physically fit to travel the British Isles?
In order to make the most of your trip, we recommend a general level of fitness and the ability to walk without assistance. If you require medications, ensure that you bring them along with you and consult your physician if you have a chronic condition. Note that there are always options to choose a slower pace when exploring, as well as a more active approach.
14. Do you offer sea kayaking on the British Isles cruise?
Yes, we offer sea kayaking at an extra charge, but be sure to book in advance. Our kayaking guides will ensure your safety and comfort during this exciting adventure. We offer this activity only to a small group of travelers and spots fill up quickly.