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

Overview

Delve into a realm of legends and lore as you cruise to historic sites and breathtaking landscapes in Scotland’s Hebrides, Ireland, and Wales. Trace the legacy of early Christians on the mystical isle of Iona, and of Scottish clans and English kings at evocative castles on the Isle of Mull and in North Wales. Follow Ireland’s tumultuous past on the streets of Belfast and Dublin, and encounter natural splendor from the geometric geology of Giant’s Causeway to the stunning Bodnant Gardens.  

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANT ExperienceEach cruise will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts. An excursion or activity is included in each port of call. You may have a choice of excursions in many ports, so that you can delve more deeply into subject areas of interest.  

Highlights Include

  • Scotland’s Hebrides: Cruise to the Kyle of Lochalsh and tour iconic Eilean Donan Castle or head to the Isle of Skye to visit Armadale Castle and its pleasant gardens. See the vividly painted houses of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and delve into the intriguing history of the Clan MacLean at Duart Castle. Cross to tiny Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, and tour the monastery and the churchyard’s intricate Celtic crosses.  
  • Northern Ireland: Explore Belfast, including the stately buildings of city center; the Crumlin Road Gaol, in use from the Victorian era to the 1990s; and the fascinating Titanic Belfast museum, detailing the city’s role in building the infamous ship. Or travel along the coast to Northern Ireland’s most famous sites: the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Giant’s Causeway, and Dunluce Castle.  
  • Ireland: On a city tour of Dublin, examine the illuminated pages of the 9th-century Book of Kells, visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and see sites associated with the 1916 Easter Rising. Or take in-depth tours of two of the city’s oldest and most important buildings: Christchurch Cathedral and Dublin Castle. 
  • Wales: Sail to northern Wales, where people maintain old traditions and Welsh remains the mother tongue. Explore the imposing 13th-century Caernarfon Castle on a guided tour, or meander through a stunning collection of rare plants from around the world at Bodnant Gardens. 

Itinerary

Day 1 — Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.

Arrive in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city and a lively hub of art and architecture. Embark the ship this afternoon and follow the River Clyde to the sea. (D)

Day 2 — Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye

Cruise north this morning to the Hebrides and dock in Kyle of Lochalsh, a small port town perched at the foot of the bridge that connects mainland Scotland to the Isle of Skye. From here you’ll have your choice of two excursions. Visit Eilean Donan Castle, set on a tiny island at the confluence of three lochs. Originally built in the 13th century and named for a 6th-century Irish saint, this is one of the most picturesque and most-filmed castles in Scotland. Or spend the afternoon at Armadale Castle and Gardens, the historic residence of Clan Donald. See the evocative castle ruins, currently under renovation, and stroll through the lovely gardens, where carpets of bluebells, orchids, and wildflowers flourish in the mild Gulf Stream climate. If you wish, visit the award-winning Museum of the Isles for a closer look at the history and culture of the area. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Tobermory, Isle of Mull and Iona

On the Isle of Mull, go ashore at the naturally sheltered port of Tobermory, nestled between the hills and the harbor. Stroll along the waterfront lined with brightly painted rowhouses before a scenic drive along the Sound of Mull to Duart Castle. Perched on a rocky promontory jutting into the sound, the castle is the ancestral home of Clan Maclean. Delve into the clan’s fascinating history as you visit dungeons where Spanish prisoners were kept following the sinking of the Spanish Armada in 1588. You’ll have the opportunity to climb to the top of the 13th-century keep and the battlements to take in views as far as Ben Nevis. After lunch, travel through stunning scenery to Fionnphort and take a local ferry to Iona. In A.D. 563, St. Columba founded a monastery on this mystical isle, establishing Christianity in Scotland. Here, scribes would painstakingly copy and illuminate religious tracts and transcribe ancient Celtic sagas, preserving a record of oral bardic tradition. Iona later became the burial place of Scotland’s kings, including Duncan and Macbeth. On a guided tour of Iona Abbey, stroll through the serene, restored monastery and see the churchyard’s intricate Celtic crosses. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Belfast, Northern Ireland

Dock in Northern Ireland’s capital city, located at the end of Belfast Lough. Spend the day discovering this intriguing city and its turbulent past. See the stately buildings of city center, including the stately Grand Opera House and Albert Memorial Clock Tower, and stroll through the grounds of Queens University to Belfast's celebrated Botanic Gardens. Explore Crumlin Road Gaol, a Victorian-era jail that housed prisoners as late as the 1990s. After lunch, take an afternoon tour of Titanic Belfast, a state-of-the-art experiential museum on the site of the shipyard where the ill-fated ship was built. Or set out on a full day excursion to some of North Ireland’s most celebrated sites. Follow the coast through beautiful scenery to the vantage point at Fair Head and Murlough Bay to take in views of the Scottish Isles. Continue to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a narrow bridge over an 80-foot chasm that connects the mainland to a tiny island. View thousands of hexagonal basalt columns at World Heritage-listed Giant's Causeway, and learn the legends associated with the site.  On the way back to Belfast, make a brief stop at Dunluce Castle. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Dublin, Ireland

Built astride the River Liffey, Ireland’s capital has a riveting history and a rich heritage of literature and architecture. On a panoramic tour of the city, see the 18th-century Bank of Ireland, which housed the Irish Parliament until its abolition in 1800. At Trinity College, view the illuminated pages of the 9th-century Book of Kells. Admire Georgian architecture on Merrion and Fitzwilliam squares, and pass Dublin Castle and City Hall on the way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1190 on the site of a spring where St. Patrick is said to have baptized converts. Then follow O’Connell Street past the General Post Office, scene of the 1916 Easter Rising. Alternatively, focus on two of Dublin’s oldest and most important buildings: Christchurch Cathedral, which dates back to 1038, and Dublin Castle, a symbol of British rule for seven centuries. Your guided tour of the castle includes the State Apartments, adorned with Killybeg carpets and Waterford chandeliers. The castle has survived numerous rebellions, most recently the 1916 uprising, and is today the venue for official ceremonies—including the signing of the peace accord with Northern Ireland in 1998. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Holyhead, Wales

Arrive in Holyhead, and 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. Choose to travel into the foothills of Snowdonia for a visit Bodnant Garden, one of the finest examples of 19th-century Victorian landscape design. With spring in full bloom, admire a collection of rare plants from all over the world that was begun by a renowned scientist in the 1870s. Or take a guided tour of Caernarfon Castle, one of four northern Welsh castles built by Edward I that have been collectively designated a World Heritage site. With its unique polygonal towers and multi-colored masonry, the castle dominates the surrounding town. Its symbolic status was underscored in 1284, when Edward made certain that his son was born here and declared Prince of Wales. The current heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, was crowned Prince of Wales here in 1969. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Glasgow, Scotland/Return Home

After breakfast this morning, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B) 

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)