Celtic Lands


Visit the historic Normandy beaches as you trace the strands of Celtic, Viking, and Norman civilizations on this unique heritage-focused tour.

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 Dunvegan Castle, on Scotland's Isle of Skye  The colorful town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull  Iona Abbey  Duart Castle, located on the Isle of Mull  Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye  Culzean Castle, Scotland  Caernarfon Castle in Wales. Credit: Britain On View/David Angel  The formal rose garden and manor house at Bodnant Gardens in Wales  One of many types of gardens at Bodnant Gardens  In the heart of Ireland's Dublin  World War II cemetery near Omaha Beach, Normandy  The charming port of Honfleur
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Tour Details

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

I loved the way the lectures on board ship tied into the history of places we visited. It made everywhere we visited mean so much more. I feel I could hold my own now in any conversation involving ancient Celtic cultures! 


Carolyn E.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Trace the strands of Celtic, Viking, and Norman civilizations as you cruise from Scotland to Normandy, while Miriam Davis, a medievalist with expertise in archaeology, history, and Christianity, provides insight into the evocative legends and lore, historic sites, and breathtaking landscapes. Admire the austere beauty of Scotland's Inner Hebrides as you visit Iona Abbey on the Isle of Iona, 13th-century Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, and Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. You'll also stop in Ayr to visit the region of poet Robert Burns. Then cruise to Wales to witness imposing Caernarfon Castle and on to Dublin, Ireland, to view the rich Celtic heritage found in the Book of Kells. We'll also commemorate D-Day through visits in Normandy and insightful discussions aboard ship by special guest speakers Dwight David Eisenhower II, author and grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill, cousin of Sir Winston Churchill. Optional extensions in Edinburgh and Paris are also offered.

Itinerary
May 12-13 — U.S., Glasgow, Scotland
Depart from the U.S. On arrival in Glasgow, embark the Five-Star M.S. Le Boréal. Join your travel companions for dinner on board this evening. (D)

May 14 — Isle of Iona, Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Go ashore at the small Hebridean Isle of Iona, birthplace of Scottish Christianity. In 563 A.D., the Irish monk Columba founded a monastery here, where scribes would spend their entire lives painstakingly copying and illuminating religious tracts and transcribing ancient Celtic sagas into written form, preserving a record of oral bardic tradition. In later years, Iona became the burial place of Scotland’s kings, including Duncan and Macbeth. At Iona Abbey, stroll through the serene, restored monastery and see the churchyard’s intricate Celtic crosses.

After free time, ferry across the Sound of Iona to the neighboring port of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, where vividly painted houses are nestled between the hills and the harbor. Visit the 13th‑century Duart Castle, the ancestral home of the Clan Maclean, and enjoy lunch in the castle’s tea room.

This evening, attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

May 15 — Portree, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
Skye, dubbed “the Winged Island” after its birdlike shape, is the largest and one of the most scenic of the Inner Hebrides. Visit Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the powerful Clan MacLeod since 1270, built atop a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. Tour Dunvegan’s richly appointed public rooms and view the Fairy Flag, a silken banner that legend claims had the power to save the clan from defeat on three occasions. View the castle’s lush gardens, ablaze with azaleas and rhododendrons.

Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill will present a lecture about his cousin, the legendary British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, this afternoon. (B,L,D)

May 16 — Ayr, Scotland
Dock in the charming seaside town of Ayr, birthplace of Scotland’s favorite son, Robert Burns, the famous poet and lyricist whose best known piece is the perennial favorite, “Auld Lang Syne.”

On the edge of town, tour the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum to learn more about the life and work of this Romantic movement pioneer. The museum, set on 10 acres of beautiful countryside, houses the most comprehensive and important Burns collection in the world and includes a collection of buildings and landmarks associated with the poet’s life, including Burns’ Cottage where he was born in 1759, the Burns Monument and Brig O’ Doon, from his famous poem Tam O’ Shanter.

Then, explore the impressive 16th‑century Culzean Castle, a National Trust for Scotland property once owned by the Clan Kennedy. Tour the museum dedicated to General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who visited the castle once during his presidency, when it was dubbed the "Scottish White House," and later during his retirement, when he enjoyed painting and walking in Culzean's peaceful, beautiful gardens. (B,L,D)

May 17 — Holyhead, Wales, Caernarfon Castle
From Holyhead, travel across the Isle of Anglesey and over the Menai Strait to North Wales, one of the cradles of Celtic culture. Here, the people hold fast to the old ways and Welsh remains their mother tongue.

Visit beautiful Bodnant Garden, one of the finest examples of 19th‑century Victorian landscape artistry. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and listen to a stirring private choir performance of Welsh hymns. Tour the imposing Caernarfon Castle, an impregnable 13th‑century fortress built by Edward I of England as a defense against the marauding Welsh. Following tradition in place since 1301, Queen Elizabeth II invested the future heir to the British throne, Charles, as “Prince of Wales” at Caernarfon in 1969.

En route to the ship, view the beautiful, glacier‑sculpted peaks and valleys of the Snowdonia Mountains in the distance. (B,L,D)

May 18 — Dublin, Ireland
Built astride the River Liffey, Ireland’s historic capital has retained its rich heritage of Georgian architecture while confidently playing a major role in the New Europe. Enjoy an overview tour of the city; explore historic Kilmainham Gaol; stroll through the stately quadrangles of Trinity College and view the incandescent illuminations of the 9th‑century Book of Kells; and visit the 13th‑century St. Patrick’s Cathedral of Ireland, where St. Patrick purportedly baptized converts to Christianity.

The afternoon is at leisure. Walk along colorful Grafton Street, savor a pint of Guinness in a neighborhood pub, or visit the treasures of Celtic heritage in the National Museum of Ireland.

Enjoy traditional Irish music and dance aboard the ship this evening. (B,L,D)

May 19 — Cruising the Celtic Sea, English Channel
Enjoy educational lectures today, including Professor David Eisenhower’s “Triumph and Tragedy,” while cruising the Celtic and Irish Seas and the English Channel. Eisenhower shares captivating details about his grandfather, whose leadership reshaped the world. He provides fascinating insight on the worldwide ramifications of Operation Overlord, the Allies' code name for the World War II military campaign that launched the D-Day airborne and amphibious invasion on Normandy. (B,L,D)

May 20 — Caen, Normandy Beaches
Travel through the scenic countryside to the historic Normandy beaches. In the company of David Eisenhower, walk where Allied forces landed on June 6, 1944, and visit the American Military Cemetery at St. Laurent, overlooking Omaha Beach. At Pointe du Hoc, envision the brave American rangers who scaled 200‑foot heights to capture German gun emplacements.

See remnants of the floating artificial harbor code-named “Mulberry,” constructed to support Allied landings at Gold Beach, followed by an opportunity to see either the D-Day Museum or the famous, 230‑foot‑long Bayeux Tapestry, a stunning visual chronicle of the Norman conquest of 1066. (B,L,R,D)

May 21 — Honfleur, U.S.
After breakfast, disembark in Honfleur and transfer to Paris to continue on the Post‑Program Option or transfer to Charles De Gaulle Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Pre- and Post-Program Options are available at additional cost. Details will be included with your reservation confirmation.

All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.