A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

Discover historic sites, local lore, and breathtaking landscapes on a cruise from Scotland’s Hebrides to Belfast, Dublin, and Northern Wales.  

Starting at: $4,680 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The evocative Eilean Donan  Iona Abbey  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  Caernarfon Castle in Wales. Credit: Britain On View/David Angel  Ha'Penny Bridge, Dublin  Trinity College Library, Dublin, home to the <i>Book of Kells</i>

Celtic Voyage: The Hebrides and the Irish Sea

Round-trip from Glasgow Aboard the 184-guest Le Dumont-d’Urville

7 days from $4,680

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

Discover historic sites, local lore, and breathtaking landscapes on a cruise from Scotland’s Hebrides to Belfast, Dublin, and Northern Wales.  

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 or more 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. 

Tour Extension

Pre-Cruise Program3 Days, 2 Nights

Situated on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh has served as Scotland’s capital since the 12th century. This special program is designed to introduce you to this great city, which is the political, religious, and cultural focus of Scottish pride.

Day 1 – Edinburgh, Scotland

Arrive at Edinburgh Airport, where you will be met and transferred to the InterContinental Edinburgh The George, your home for the next two nights. Check-in time is 3:00 p.m.  A local representative will be present at the hospitality desk in the afternoon to welcome you and answer any questions you may have. Join your fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail reception this evening. Dinner is independent and at your leisure.

InterContinental Edinburgh The George 

Day 2 – Edinburgh

After breakfast at the hotel, embark on a panoramic tour of Edinburgh, beginning with New Town and the characteristic Georgian architecture along Princes Street. Continue to the Royal Mile for a walking tour of this medieval pathway between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. At Holyrood, enjoy a guided tour of this home of Scottish royalty since the early 16th-century. It has witnessed more than its share of historical drama, famously hosting ill-fated members of the family including Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Today, Holyrood is Queen Elizabeth's official residence when she is in Scotland. Your afternoon is at leisure, with independent lunch and dinner, so that you are free to discover other parts of this great city at your own pace.

InterContinental Edinburgh The George 

Day 3 – Edinburgh | Glasgow

Following breakfast and check-out, board your motorcoach for a 90-minute drive across Scotland to Glasgow. A panoramic tour of this once booming industrial and shipbuilding port—and still the most populous city in Scotland—will introduce you to some of its highlights, including the 13th-century Cathedral and the impressive façade of the University of Glasgow. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a curator-led tour of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland's premier civic museum and art gallery. The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks by the Old Masters, French Impressionists, Dutch Renaissance, Scottish Colorists, and the Glasgow School. In late afternoon, transfer to Greenock to embark Le Dumont-d'Urville and set sail in the evening.

Your hotel:

The InterContinental Edinburgh The George has been welcoming guests since 1881 and is comprised of five Georgian townhouses originally built in 1775 for some of the town’s most prosperous residents. The hotel hosted famous literary figures such as iconic poet Robert Burns and author Sir Walter Scott, and one of the townhouses was originally home to Scottish novelist Susan Ferrier. With 240 rooms, the InterContinental Edinburgh The George offers a luxurious and historic stay in the heart of New Town Edinburgh.

Your program includes:

  • 2 nights at the InterContinental Edinburgh The George (or similar)
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the airport to the hotel on the scheduled program arrival day
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the hotel to the ship on embarkation day
  • Welcome cocktail reception on Day 1
  • Breakfast on Days 2 and 3
  • Lunch on Day 3
  • Sightseeing and programming as noted in the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Gratuities for the drivers and local guides

Your program does not include:

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

Please note:

  • It is imperative that your flight arrival details are communicated at least 30 days prior to the beginning of your cruise in order to secure your transfer from the airport to the hotel.
  • Early check-in and/or late check-out are 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 advisor for further details.
  • The official currency is the British pound. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • This pre-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.
  • Program 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

The Scottish Highlands (Interlink Cultural Histories)
By: Andrew Beattie
The Scottish Highlands form the highest mountains in the British Isles, a broad arc of rocky peaks and deep glens stretching from the outskirts of Glasgow, Perth and Aberdeen to the remote and storm-lashed Cape Wrath in Scotland's far northwest. The Romans never conquered the region, and in the Dark Ages the island of Iona became home to a Celtic Church that was able to pose a serious challenge to the Church of Rome. Few travellers ever ventured there, however, disturbed by the tales of wild beasts, harsh geography, and the bloody conflicts of warring families known as the clans. But after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden the influence of the clans was curbed and the Scottish Highlands became celebrated by poets, writers, and artists for their beauty rather than their savagery. In the nineteenth century, inspired by the travel reportage of Samuel Johnson, the novels of Walter Scott, the poems of William Wordsworth, and the very public love of the Highlands espoused by Queen Victoria, tourists began flocking to the mountains - even as Highlanders were being removed from their land by the brutal agricultural reforms known as the Clearances. With the popularity of hiking and the construction of railways, the fate of the Highlands as one of the great tourist playgrounds of the world was sealed.Andrew Beattie explores the turbulent past and vibrant present of this landscape, where the legacy of events from the first Celtic settlements to World War II, to the construction of military roads to mining for lead, slate, and gold have all left their mark.* Disputed Land: From Rob Roy, William Wallace, and Robert the Bruce, to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the clansmen who participated in the notorious massacre at Glencoe, the Highlands have provided the arena for centuries of conflict.* Folklore and Tradition: The wildness of the mountains has inspired a unique popular culture, from legendary tales of water-beasts and people with ''second sight'' to popular gatherings such as Ceilidhs and the Highland Games.* Scenic Inspiration: From visiting English poets such as Wordsworth and Byron, to native Scots writers such as Neil Gunn and Hugh MacDiarmid; from Turner to Mendelssohn; the scenery of the Highlands has inspired novelists, composers, poets, filmmakers, and artists through the centuries.
The Highland Clans
By: Alistair Moffat
“A brisk and accessible guide to a thousand years of reiving and rivalry in the Highlands.” ―The Scotsman The story of the Highland clans of Scotland is famous, the names celebrated, and the deeds heroic. Having clung to ancient traditions of family, loyalty, and valor for centuries, the clans met the beginning of their end at the fateful Battle of Culloden in 1746. Alistair Moffat traces the history of the clans from their Celtic origins to the coming of the Romans; from Somerled the Viking to Robert the Bruce; from the great battles of Bannockburn and Flodden to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Risings; and from the Clearances to the present day. Moffat is an adept guide to the world of the clans, a world dominated by lineage, land, and community. These are stories of great leaders and famous battles, and of an extraordinary people, shaped by the unique traditions and landscape of the Scottish Highlands. It’s a story too about the pain of leaving, with the great emigrations to the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand that began after Culloden. Complete with a clan map and an alphabetical list of the clans of the Scottish Highlands, this is a must for anyone interested in the history of Scotland. 86 illustrations, 35 in color
A History of Wales
By: Davies, John
Dublin
By: David Dickson
Dubliners: Centennial Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
By: Joyce, James
The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin (Second Edition)
By: Bernard Meehan
"Beautiful … by far the best modern short account of one of the great monuments of early Irish civilization … required reading for anyone interested in the subject."―The Irish TimesThe Book of Kells is a masterpiece of medieval art―a brilliantly decorated version of the four Gospels with full-page depictions of Christ, the Virgin and the Evangelists as well as a wealth of smaller decorative painting. The strange imagination displayed in the pages, the impeccable technique and the very fine state of preservation make The Book of Kells an object of endless fascination. This edition reproduces the most important of the fully decorated pages plus a series of enlargements showing the almost unbelievable minuteness of the detail; spiral and interlaced patterns, human and animal ornament―a combination of high seriousness and humor. The text is by Bernard Meehan, the Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin. 110 color illustrations
Celtic Prayers from Iona: The Heart of Celtic Spirituality
By: J Philip Newell
J. Philip Newell and his wife Ali were cowardens of the lay religious community of Iona Abbey in the Western Isles of Scotland. There Philip developed this book as an aid to daily prayer. Here is a weekly cycle of morning and evening prayers in the Celtic tradition, with gospel and psalm readings taken from the liturgical year. Each "day" reflects a concern of the Iona Community: justice and peace, healing, the goodness of creation and care for the earth, commitment to Christ, communion of heaven and earth, and welcome and hospitality.
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
The Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends
By: Miranda Aldhouse-Green
A beautifully produced guide to the world of Celtic mythology, bringing together archaeology, history, and fantastical stories to paint a vivid picture of Celtic heritage From gods, heroes, and monsters to Druids, sorcerers, and talking animals, TheCeltic Myths explores every aspect of Irish and Welsh myths in this appealing and authoritative guide. Besides vividly retelling the tales, Miranda Aldhouse-Green brings her expertise in the archaeology of the Iron Age and particularly shamanism to bear on the mythical world she describes, with evidence as diverse as the Gundestrup Cauldron and the famous bog bodies. Starting with a discussion of how myths are transmitted and by whom, Aldhouse-Green continues with an account of Irish and Welsh myths, their key actors and motifs, and themes such as heroes, animals, women, environment, and the Otherworld. The book concludes with a look at the influence of monastic chroniclers on the tales, which they preserved and adapted. Boxed features, quotes from primary texts and contemporary sources, two-color illustrations, photographs, and drawings all come together to create a comprehensive guide for anyone interested in Celtic history or the history of myth as well as anyone who simply loves a good story. 82 illustrations
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)