A cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

Explore history from the ancient Celts to World War II and get immersed in breathtaking scenery on a voyage to fabled islands, charming fishing villages, and dynamic cities of the British Isles and Ireland.

Starting at: $6,030 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The evocative Eilean Donan  Iona Abbey  Duart Castle, located on the Isle of Mull  The village of Tobermory, Isle of Mull  The formal rose garden and manor house at Bodnant Gardens   One of many types of gardens at Bodnant Gardens  Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin  Trinity College Library, Dublin, home to the <i>Book of Kells</i>

Celtic Voyage: The Hebrides and the Irish Sea

Aboard the 184-guest Le Dumont-d’Urville

9 days from $6,030

A cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

Explore history from the ancient Celts to World War II and get immersed in breathtaking scenery on a voyage to fabled islands, charming fishing villages, and dynamic cities of the British Isles and Ireland.

or Call 855-330-1542

Activity Level

Activity Level 3: Moderate / Active

Ocean-going cruise that may pull into a pier for embarkation and shore excursions and may use tenders at some ports. Excursions will be at a moderately active pace during morning and/or afternoon. Some days will require early morning departures (8:00 or 8:30 a.m.). Daily activities of three to eight hours each day. Some standing and walking for periods of time (two or more hours) during outdoor activities and tours, city tours, and museum visits. Walking two to three miles will be over sometimes difficult terrain, such as cobblestones in towns, gardens, and military sites, and there may be an absence of elevators. The longest coach transfer is approximately one (1) hour and 30 minutes in duration.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

2023 Tour Extension

2023 Post-Cruise Program — 3 Days, 2 Nights

The Scottish Highlands encompass some of the most romantic and storied landscapes in the world. Famous for their rugged beauty, they are also home to a vigorous Gaelic pride and the site of many battles in the struggle for autonomy from England. This program provides an introduction to all of these aspects of Highland culture, as well as a tasting of local whisky, without which any visit to the region is incomplete.

Day 1 – Disembark / Glasgow, Scotland / Inverness

After breakfast aboard and disembarkation, board your motorcoach for a leisurely journey to Inverness. Begin with a panoramic tour of Glasgow, including Georgian Blythswood Square, the impressive façade of the University of Glasgow, the quiet residential area of Hyndland—home to several noted authors, poets and actors—and the Riverside Museum, where you can see ships plying their trade on the river Clyde as they have done for millennia. Leave Glasgow and drive northwards through the beautiful scenery of Trossachs National Park to Loch Lomond, the largest freshwater lake in Britain, where your guide will regale you with stories of Rob Roy, the 17th-century Scottish outlaw made famous by Sir Walter Scott. Continue to picturesque Glencoe, situated in a steep-sided valley known for its waterfalls and impressive mountain peaks, where you pause for lunch, before visiting the award-winning Glencoe visitor center to learn more about the history and geology of this region. 

As you continue northward through the wonderfully scenic Great Glen, you pass by Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, and stop briefly at the Commando Memorial, dedicated to the men of the British Commando Forces whose training depot the memorial overlooks. Follow the route of the Caledonian Canal, built in the early 19th-century to connect Scotland's east and west coasts, pausing at the small town of Fort Augustus, on the southern tip of Loch Ness, before continuing along the shores of this legendary home of the Loch Ness Monster to Inverness. On arrival in Inverness, check-in to the Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel, your home for the next two nights. Dinner is independent and at your leisure.

Inverness Palace Hotel

Day 2 – Inverness

After breakfast at the hotel, a short drive across the Moray Firth and through the countryside brings you to the Glen Ord Distillery, where the famous Singleton single malt whisky is made. A guided tour of the facility and a nosing and tasting led by an experienced whisky sommelier is followed by time to explore the distillery's exhibition area or browse their gift shop. Returning to Inverness, enjoy a guided walking tour of this 'capital of the Highlands'. Explore Inverness Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, and stroll along the River Ness toward the city center, for splendid views of Inverness Castle. Your guide will explain the legend of the encounter between a saint and a water monster that continues to attract visitors to the region, and as you walk up Church Street, lined with many grand buildings, you will also learn about the Jacobite uprising and its end in 1746 at the battle of nearby Culloden Moor.

Reaching the top of Castle Hill, you will enjoy a brilliant view of the River Ness and hear the history of the castle, of Mary Queen of Scot’s visit to Inverness, and of Flora MacDonald, the Highland heroine who saved the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie by disguising him as a maid. Your walking tour ends at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, where you can discover more of the fascinating history and culture of the city of Inverness and the Scottish Highlands as you browse the museum's exhibits celebrating Highland life. The remainder of the day is at leisure, with independent lunch and dinner.

Inverness Palace Hotel

Day 3 – Inverness / Homeward

After breakfast at the hotel and check out, transfer to the airport for flights homeward.

Your hotel:

Inverness Palace Hotel is Inverness’s newest 4-star hotel, combining the best of the past with the contemporary style of the present.  The building was designed by Ross & MacBeth and opened in 1890. It is a Baronial-style three-story building, with two conical-roofed towers, connected by an arch. Each room is individually styled, combining traditional period features with the comfort of modern living. Elegant modern fabrics and sophisticated finishes decorate the rooms, which feature grand high ceilings and large windows offering fabulous views. There is a Spa and Wellness Center on the property, as well as two restaurants.

Your program includes:

  • 2 nights at the Inverness Palace Hotel (or similar)
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the ship to the hotel on disembarkation day
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the hotel to the airport on Day 3
  • Breakfast on Days 2 and 3
  • Lunch on Day 1
  • Sightseeing and programming as noted in the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guides
  • Gratuities for the drivers and local guides

Your program does not include:

  • Transfer from the hotel to the airport on any day other than the scheduled program departure day
  • Personal expenses and other services and meals not mentioned as included in the program 

Please note:

  • It is imperative that your flight departure details are communicated at least 30 days prior to the beginning of your cruise in order to secure your transfer from the hotel to the airport.
  • Late check-out is available depending on availability and at a supplement. An additional night is possible, upon request and depending on hotel availability. Please contact reservations or your travel agent for further details.
  • The official currency is the British pound. Credit cards are largely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • This post-cruise program is offered as a package. There will be no refunds for unused accommodations, meals, or excursions. 
  • Program is offered on a space available basis and is subject to change without notice. 

Ship

Le Dumont d’Urville

Launched in 2019, Le Dumont d'Urville is among a new fleet of luxury expedition ships launched by PONANT. These ships combine revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury.

Spacious, Ocean-view Suites and Staterooms
Each of the 92 elegant suites and staterooms features a private balcony, while Grand Deluxe Suites have a bay window and spacious private terrace. The deluxe, air-conditioned staterooms and suites (up to 484 square feet) have two twin beds that convert to one queen-size bed. Each cabin has a private bathroom with shower (bathtub in limited number of staterooms) and the luxurious amenities of a fine hotel, including individual climate control, satellite flat screen television, wireless Internet access, safe, minibar, full-length closet, writing desk/dressing table, and plush robes.

Chic and Casual Dining
International and regional cuisine are served in the stylish, spacious indoor-outdoor restaurant in a single, unassigned seating; at the casual pool deck grill; or from 24-hour room service. Continental and buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and a four-course dinner are served daily. Wine is served at your table during lunch and dinner and complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise.

Spacious Public Areas, Intimate Atmosphere, and World-Class Service
The warm and inviting public areas accommodate all passengers comfortably. Enjoy sweeping views from the Observation Lounge and Main Lounge, both of which open to the outdoors, and lectures, cultural performances, or film screenings in the state-of-the-art theater. For your convenience, Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship.

The ship also features the first luxury underwater observatory, the Blue Eye, a multisensory underwater observation lounge that incorporates decor and technology to immerse you in the beauty of the ocean's ecosystem. Here, you can observe fascinating marine life through the large subaquatic windows while digital screens and the specially designed global listening system relay the sights and sounds beneath the ocean surface. 

Other amenities aboard ship are a Sun Deck, swimming pool, beauty salon, spa and sauna, fitness room, and two elevators. In addition, there is a three-level marina platform with complimentary kayaking and snorkeling equipment, as well as 10 easily accessible Zodiacs. 

The highly trained, English-speaking international crew are personable and attentive, and the ship has an infirmary staffed with a doctor and nurse.

Respect for the Environment
The newest additions to a fleet that has been awarded the prestigious "Clean Ship" designation, a rarity among ocean-cruising vessels, these expedition ships are designed with energy efficient, advanced eco-friendly features that protect fragile marine ecosystems while providing a safe and comfortable voyage. 

 Le Dumont d’Urville Exterior  Le Dumont d’Urville Sun Deck  Le Dumont d’Urville Blue Eye Lounge  Le Dumont d’Urville Exterior  State room

Le Dumont d’Urville

Launched in 2019, Le Dumont d'Urville is among a new fleet of luxury expedition ships launched by PONANT. These ships combine revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury.

Spacious, Ocean-view Suites and Staterooms
Each of the 92 elegant suites and staterooms features a private balcony, while Grand Deluxe Suites have a bay window and spacious private terrace. The deluxe, air-conditioned staterooms and suites (up to 484 square feet) have two twin beds that convert to one queen-size bed. Each cabin has a private bathroom with shower (bathtub in limited number of staterooms) and the luxurious amenities of a fine hotel, including individual climate control, satellite flat screen television, wireless Internet access, safe, minibar, full-length closet, writing desk/dressing table, and plush robes.

Chic and Casual Dining
International and regional cuisine are served in the stylish, spacious indoor-outdoor restaurant in a single, unassigned seating; at the casual pool deck grill; or from 24-hour room service. Continental and buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and a four-course dinner are served daily. Wine is served at your table during lunch and dinner and complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise.

Spacious Public Areas, Intimate Atmosphere, and World-Class Service
The warm and inviting public areas accommodate all passengers comfortably. Enjoy sweeping views from the Observation Lounge and Main Lounge, both of which open to the outdoors, and lectures, cultural performances, or film screenings in the state-of-the-art theater. For your convenience, Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship.

The ship also features the first luxury underwater observatory, the Blue Eye, a multisensory underwater observation lounge that incorporates decor and technology to immerse you in the beauty of the ocean's ecosystem. Here, you can observe fascinating marine life through the large subaquatic windows while digital screens and the specially designed global listening system relay the sights and sounds beneath the ocean surface. 

Other amenities aboard ship are a Sun Deck, swimming pool, beauty salon, spa and sauna, fitness room, and two elevators. In addition, there is a three-level marina platform with complimentary kayaking and snorkeling equipment, as well as 10 easily accessible Zodiacs. 

The highly trained, English-speaking international crew are personable and attentive, and the ship has an infirmary staffed with a doctor and nurse.

Respect for the Environment
The newest additions to a fleet that has been awarded the prestigious "Clean Ship" designation, a rarity among ocean-cruising vessels, these expedition ships are designed with energy efficient, advanced eco-friendly features that protect fragile marine ecosystems while providing a safe and comfortable voyage. 

 Le Dumont d’Urville Exterior  Le Dumont d’Urville Sun Deck  Le Dumont d’Urville Blue Eye Lounge  Le Dumont d’Urville Exterior  State room
Reading List

Highly Recommended

The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (Canto Classics)
By: Hugh Kearney
Hugh Kearney's classic account of the history of the British Isles from pre-Roman times to the present is distinguished by its treatment of English history as part of a wider 'history of four nations'. Not only focusing on England, it attempts to deal with the histories of Wales, Ireland and Scotland in their own terms, whilst recognising that they too have political, religious and cultural divides. This new edition endeavours to recognise and examine contemporary multi-ethnic Britain and its implications for 'four-nations' history, making it an invaluable case-study for European nationhood of the past and present. Thoroughly updated throughout to take into account recent social, political and cultural changes within Britain and examine the rise of multi-ethnic Britain, this revised edition also contains a completely new set of illustrations, including 16 maps.
Seamanship: A Voyage Along the Wild Coasts of the British Isles
By: Adam Nicolson
From Land's End to Cape Clear, past Roaringwater Bay and Cod's Head, on past Inishvickillane and Inishtooskert, up through the Hebrides, to Orkney and on to the Faeroes stretches the richest and wildest coastline in Europe. Adam Nicolson decided to sail this coast in the Auk, a 42-foot wooden ketch, embarking on a 1,500-mile voyage through what he hoped would be a sequence of revelatory landscapes. He was not disappointed.Seamanship is more than a travel journal. It describes an inner journey as much as an outer one—disasters and discoveries, powerful landscapes and modern visionaries, and encounters with the animals living on the wild edge of the Atlantic. Above all, it is about the gaps that open up between those who go and those who stay at home.Seamanship, in the end, is not about the sea. It's about being alive.
DK Eyewitness Great Britain (Travel Guide)
By: DK Eyewitness
Fodor's Essential Ireland 2021: with Belfast and Northern Ireland (Full-color Travel Guide)
By: Fodor's Travel Guides

Also Recommended

A Traveller's History of Ireland
By: Neville, Peter
The Other British Isles: A History of Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Anglesey, Scilly, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands
By: Moore, David W.
Dover Castle
By: Humphreys, Roy
A History of Wales
By: Davies, John
Celtic Prayers from Iona
By: Newell, J. Philip
Belfast Diary: War as a Way of Life
By: Conroy, John
The Canterbury Tales: Seventeen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions)
By: Chaucer, Geoffrey
Stone Voices
By: Ascherson, Neal
The Wild Places
By: Robert Macfarlane
?An eloquent (and compulsively readable) reminder that, though we?re laying waste the world, nature still holds sway over much of the earth?s surface.? ?Bill McKibben Are there any genuinely wild places left in Britain and Ireland? That is the question that Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking journeys through some of the archipelago?s most remarkable landscapes. He climbs, walks, and swims by day and spends his nights sleeping on cliff-tops and in ancient meadows and wildwoods. With elegance and passion he entwines history, memory, and landscape in a bewitching evocation of wildness and its vital importance. A unique travelogue that will intrigue readers of natural history and adventure, The Wild Places solidifies Macfarlane?s reputation as a young writer to watch.
The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain
By: Paul Theroux
Award winning writer Paul Theroux embarks on a journey that, though closer to home than most of his expeditions, uncovers some surprising truths about Britain and the British people in the '80s in The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain. Paul Theroux's round-Britain travelogue is funny, perceptive and 'best avoided by patriots with high blood pressure...'After eleven years living as an American in London, Paul Theroux set out to travel clockwise round the coast and find out what Britain and the British are really like. It was 1982, the summer of the Falklands War, the ideal time, he found, to surprise the British into talking about themselves. The result makes superbly vivid and engaging reading.'A sharp and funny descriptive writer. One of his golden talents, perhaps because he is American and therefore classless in British eyes, is the ability to chat up and get on with all sorts and conditions of British. . . Theroux is a good companion' The Times'Filled with history, insights, landscape, epiphanies, meditations, celebrations and laments' The New York Times'Few of us have seen the entirety of the coast and I for one am grateful to Mr Theroux for making my journey unnecessary. He describes it all brilliantly and honestly' Anthony Burgess, ObserverAmerican travel writer Paul Theroux is known for the rich descriptions of people and places that is often streaked with his distinctive sense of irony; his other non-fiction titles, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Happy Isles of Oceania, Sunrise with Seamonsters, The Tao of Travel, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, The Old Patagonian Express, The Great Railway Bazaar, Dark Star Safari, Fresh-air Fiend, Sir Vidia's Shadow, The Pillars of Hercules, and his novels and collections of short stories, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner The Mosquito Coast are available from Penguin.
The Welsh Language: A History
By: Davies, Janet
Fairy & Folk Tales of Ireland
By: William Butler Yeats
The Celtic World
By: The Great Courses
Following the surge of interest and pride in Celtic identity since the 19th century, much of what we thought we knew about the Celts has been radically transformed. From the warriors who nearly defeated Julius Caesar to druids who, contrary to popular opinion, definitely did not worship at Stonehenge, get to know the real Celts. In The Celtic World, discover the incredible story of the Celtic-speaking peoples, whose art, language, and culture once spread from Ireland to Austria. This series of 24 enlightening lectures explains the traditional historical view of who the Celts were, then contrasts it with brand-new evidence from DNA analysis and archeology that totally changes our perspective on where the Celts came from. European history and culture have been profoundly affected by the Celts, from the myth of King Arthur to the very map of the United Kingdom, where the English confronted the peoples of the "Celtic Fringe." With a wealth of historical expertise, Professor Jennifer Paxton, Director of the University Honors Program and Clinical Assistant Professor of History at The Catholic University of America, guides you through each topic related to Celtic history with approachability and ease as you unearth what we once thought it meant-and what it may actually mean-to be Celtic. Professor Paxton's engaging, often humorous delivery blends perfectly with the facts about the Celts to uncover surprising historical revelations. The ancient Celts are very much alive in the literary and artistic traditions that their descendants have both preserved and very deliberately revived. All facets of Celtic life, past and present, are addressed by Professor Paxton, who demonstrates a masterful knowledge and carefully separates fact from myth at every turn. Come along for a ride through history to discover your inner Celt.
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Laminated)