baily lighthouse dublin ireland aerial

Portsmouth to Dublin

Aboard the Vega

Overview

On this springtime voyage, explore the historic towns, towering castles, and lush gardens of the green and gentle lands of the British Isles. Call at lovely Penzance on the Cornish coast, and on the Isles of Scilly, see the treasured Tresco Abbey Gardens. Visit Ireland’s Dinge Peninsula Dingle, with its traditional crafts and music pubs, and head inland to Connemara, a place of legend and folklore. Marvel at Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, a natural masterpiece, and the mystical Standing Stones of Callanish on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis, then finish by exploring clan castles in Wales before disembarking in Dublin.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1
London, England

Arrive in London and transfer to your deluxe hotel, located not far from Heathrow Airport, overlooking the River Thames, for the night.

Day 2
London / Portsmouth / Embarkation

Drive through the scenic countryside of Surrey and Hampshire to arrive at the great port of Portsmouth, where you embark Vega and set sail late in the afternoon.

Day 3
Penzance

From Penzance, a lovely coastal town at the end of the Great Western rail line, travel to St. Michael's Mount, a small tidal island just offshore. It is the site of an imposing medieval castle and church, as well as the home of the St. Aubyn family, who manage St. Michael's house and gardens in partnership with the National Trust. After your tour here, return to Penzance and to the garden at Trengwainton, celebrated for its collection of award-winning rhododendrons, magnolias, and camellias that thrive within its 25 acres.

Day 4
Isles of Scilly

Located about 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly are a cluster of low-lying islands that have been specially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Because of their mild winter climate and long hours of summer sunshine, they are able to host the botanical marvel that is Tresco Abbey Gardens. Benefitting from high walls and hedges that protect it from the Atlantic winds, this world-class garden prides itself on a collection of 20,000 plant species from as far away as New Zealand, South America, and Southern Africa, all flourishing in latitudes that seem impossible.

Day 5
Bantry, Ireland

The town of Bantry is situated beneath sheltering hills at the head of one of the most beautiful bays along the Irish coast, and home to Bantry House and Gardens. The ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry, the house has a splendid collection of tapestries and other works of art gathered by the 2nd Earl during his travels in various parts of Europe. The gardens, based on plans sketched during these travels, are a beautiful series of terraces surrounding the house and include the famous Hundred Steps, a monumental staircase built of local stone, set amid azaleas and rhododendron.

Day 6
Dingle

Call at the small port of Dingle on the southwest coast of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. The only town on the Dingle Peninsula, it is an ancient fishing village on the shores of a tiny well-protected harbor. Fishing is still an important part of life here, but Dingle is best known for its collection of eclectic shops offering designer weavings and tapestries, exquisitely crafted crystal, and much more. Spend some time exploring this charming community of artists and artisans before traveling to the opposite shore of Dingle Bay to explore Kells Bay Gardens. The gardens contain an impressive collection of southern hemisphere plants, including a tree-fern forest that seems more suitable to southeast Asia than to the Ring of Kerry.

Day 7
Galway

Galway is your launching pad for an exploration of Connemara, which one writer has aptly described as "a place of legend, folklore, and profound beauty." Travel some 40 miles across this landscape of bogs and heaths, dotted with lakes and traversed by ancient stone walls, marveling along the way at the everchanging soft-hued colors that range from green to rust to blue-gray. The journey pauses when you reach the stunning neo-Gothic castle of Kylemore Abbey and explore its Victorian Walled Gardens. Resume the drive, returning to the heathlands as you make your way home to the ship.

Day 8
Portrush, Northern Ireland

Call at Portrush, a small resort town on Northern Ireland's spectacularly scenic Antrim Coast. Your excursion takes you first to the nearby Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site of over 40,000 interlocking, hexagonal basalt columns formed by the cooling of molten lava some 6 million years ago. Then, on the way back to Portrush, visit ancient Dunluce Castle, whose ruins are perched on a steep cliff high above the North Atlantic.

Day 9
Craignure, Scotland, Iona / Mull

The Isle of Iona, site of the first Christian settlement in Scotland, dates from 563, when St. Columba landed in this remote place. It is here that the Book of Kells was created. Iona also bears the distinction of harboring in its "Graves of the Kings" some 60 Scottish monarchs, including Macbeth and Duncan. In the afternoon, visit the Isle of Mull, and Duart Castle, the ancestral home of Clan Maclean. It is a fascinating place, full of stories about the clan, their rivalries, and the role they have proudly played in Scottish history.

Day 10
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis / Lock Ewe

At Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, and begin your exploration with a visit to the Standing Stones of Callanish, a ring of megaliths erected some 5,000 years ago, about the same time as Stonehenge. Unlike Stonehenge, however, the Stones of Callanish are still accessible, and visitors are welcome to walk among  them. Over lunch, Vega sails to Loch Ewe on Scotland's west coast for a visit to Inverewe Gardens. Designed by Osgood MacKenzie, the gardens were opened to the public soon after WWII and became part of the National Trust in 1953. The warm currents of the North Atlantic Drift create a welcoming climate where tropical plants from around the world flourish at a latitude more northerly than Alaska's Glacier Bay.

Day 11
Oban

As Vega turns southward toward our final ports of call in Wales and Ireland, pause in the small seaside resort of Oban for one last day in Scotland. Explore the area around Oban, famous for its numerous medieval castles—many of them associated with Clan MacDougall—and for the distillery in the center of the town that produces an award-winning single malt. You will also visit Arduaine Garden, famous for its rhododendrons, and enjoy a leisurely sail along scenic Loch Linnhe to historic Fort William.

Day 12
LLandudno, Wales

The seaside resort of LLandudno on the Creuddyn Peninsula is one of Wales's most popular vacation destinations, with all of the beaches, hotels, and arcades one would expect. Your visit here will focus on nearby Bodnant Gardens, established in 1874 by scientist, businessman, and politician Henry Pochin. Pochin's vision was to create a garden to showcase plants from around the world. In 1949 the Garden was gifted to the National Trust, who now maintain it and carry on its traditions. During your visit, the flowers of spring—daffodils, camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons—should be in full bloom, while the rose beds and wildflower meadows of summer will be beginning to make their presence known.

Day 13
Dublin, Ireland / Disembarkation

After breakfast aboard, disembark and transfer to the airport for flights homeward.

Note: An optional two-night post-cruise extension will be offered in Dublin

Highlights

Highlights

Explore the Isles of Scilly, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Visit Dingle's Kells Bay Gardens, with its fascinating tree-fern forest
Tour Connemara's Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian Walled Gardens
See the impressive Giant's Causeway, a World Heritage Site
In Scotland, explore the isles of Iona and Lewis, and the medieval castles of Oban

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $11,590  
Arrive: London, England
Depart: Dublin, Ireland
Lodging: 11 nights aboard a 152-passenger vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
Activity: Archaeology, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

11-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours