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12 nights
from £4695

Islands on the Edge

An exploration of the islands of England, Ireland & Scotland aboard the MS Serenissima

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  • Wildlife Tours/ Natural World
  • Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands

This expedition voyage will appeal to those who wish to see some of the most remote and inaccessible islands in England, Ireland and Scotland. It is a truly unique itinerary visiting the remarkable islands on the edge of the British Isles with only one non-island call during our voyage; such is the advantage of having a self-sufficient vessel with the qualities of the MS Serenissima. We will sail from Portsmouth and during our cruise visit both inhabited and uninhabited islands and places of great natural beauty, rich in wildlife and mystical history. We have also included a number of gardens such as the renowned Abbey Gardens in Tresco and the beautiful Ilnacullin Gardens in Bantry Bay which, given the timing of our cruise, will be coming into bloom. For keen birders there are numerous highlights including sailing past the Cliffs of Moher, home to an estimated 30,000 birds and also cruising past two of the largest gannetries in the world at St Kilda.

The sheer diversity of the landscapes and lifestyles will amaze you as will the spirit and warmth of the small communities we will encounter. In an age of rapid centralisation and common identity it is fortifying to know that life with its unique traditions and values can still be found on the edges of our islands. This is not a cruise in the traditional sense, more an exploration with 100 or so fellow travellers who wish to enjoy the peace, beauty and tranquility of the islands. Learn something of their history, see the abundant bird and marine life, but above all revel in the timeless enchantment that these islands exude to all those who appreciate the natural world.

  • Our View

    Northern Wheatear

    “The islands around the edge of England, Scotland and Ireland are home to remote communities, wonderful wildlife and a history that dates back thousands of years. Difficult to visit independently, our cruise is devised to access some of these places where we can meet the locals be they farmers or landlords, puffins or seals. From the historic naval town of Portsmouth we visit the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly, Aran Islands, the Outer and Inner Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands on our quest to visit the outlying islands. We will find beautiful blooming gardens, walk through islands of wildflowers and watch in wonder as thousands of birds fill the sky as we cruise past their breeding grounds. We will also appreciate the history of the region from the archaeological sites of the Aran Islands and Isle of Lewis to the more modern history of St Kilda. Join us as we take this wonderful opportunity to explore the islands on the edge.“ 

    More information

Serenissima

Serenissima

The charming MS Serenissima began her career as the Harald Jarl, cruising the Norwegian coastline and fjords. Since 2003, when she was extensively renovated, she has been operating as a classic cruise ship. Previously known as the MS Andrea, she was upgraded again in 2013 and started her new life as the MS Serenissima. With her small size she can navigate into small, remote ports inaccessible to the big cruise ships and appears an impressive sight when moored. With her fleet of Zodiacs, she is capable of both destination and expedition cruising. In December 2018, the vessel will once again undergo a significant refurbishment and after a re-configuration of the deck plan will accommodate a maximum of just 95 guests.

View vessel details

Itinerary

Day 1 - Portsmouth.

Embark the MS Serenissima in the afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Portsmouth Harbour Railway station at a fixed time. Sail this evening for the Channel Islands.

Day 2 - Guernsey and Herm, Channel Islands.

Arrive this morning on Guernsey, the ‘Island of Flowers’. There will be the option of a walking tour of St Peter Port including a visit to Castle Cornet, a 12th century battlement which guards the entrance to St Peter Port Harbour. Alternatively, enjoy a panoramic drive during which we will see the beautiful coastline and beaches and also visit the Little Chapel, built in 1914 as a miniature version of the famous basilica at Lourdes and covered in fragments of shattered china. Over lunch we sail the short distance to Herm, the smallest inhabited Channel Island and at just one and a half miles long and half a mile wide, perfect for exploring on foot. You will have free time to explore, perhaps take a stroll over to Shell or Belvoir Beach. Alternatively, join our naturalists on the lookout for wildflowers and birds.

Day 3 - Tresco & St Agnes, Isles of Scilly.

Spend the morning on traffic free Tresco, walking its idyllic lanes from the beach to the famous subtropical Abbey Gardens. Defying the Atlantic weather, this miracle of a garden is home to more than 20,000 species of plants from over 80 countries. Enjoy time to wander at your own pace along the paths, maybe visit the Valhalla collection of ship figureheads from ships wrecked on the islands or relax in the cafe. Sail over lunch to St Agnes, the most south westerly community in the United Kingdom. Surrounded by rocks and reefs, this delightful tiny island offers marvellous coastal walks with over one third designated as “sites of special scientific interest”. The small island of Gugh lies across a narrow sandbar and here we find a single stone monolith called the ‘Old Man of Gugh’ which dates back to the Bronze Age. The active may wish to walk up Kitten Hill with views over to St Marys or alternatively, enjoy a drink at the Turk’s Head.

Day 4 - Garnish Island and Bantry Bay, Ireland.

Sail this morning into the sheltered harbour of Glengariff. Here local boats will take us to Garnish Island and the beautiful Ilnacullin Gardens. These remarkable gardens owe their existence to the creative partnership, some seventy years ago of Anna Bryce, then owner of the island and Harold Peto, architect and garden designer. The sheltered position and Gulf Stream is favourable to the growth of ornamental plants, many normally only found in sub-tropical or Mediterranean climates. We return by local boats sailing past “Seal Island”, home to 250 common seals before enjoying lunch on board. This afternoon you may wish to stay on board, enjoy some free time in the small town or join the excursion to Bantry House, overlooking Bantry Bay. We will explore the house, one of the finest historic houses in Ireland along with the gardens.

Day 5 - Aran Islands.

This morning we will cruise by the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. Rising to 213 metres and over five miles long they are home to an estimated 30,000 birds including Atlantic puffin, razorbills, guillemots and choughs. A little further up the coast and some 30 miles from the Galway Coast are the Aran Islands. We will call into the largest, Inishmore, and explore some of the early Christian sites. This island was a place of monastic study from the earliest Christian times. Also, see the dramatic stone fort of Dun Aengus, parts of which date back some 3,000 years. Late May is the perfect time to see these islands as the wild flowers should be at their best.

Day 6 - Tory Island.

After a morning at sea we arrive at Tory Island, located off the northwest coast of Ireland and home to 150 or so Gaelic speakers. Although only 14 miles offshore, it feels like many more and island life here is full of traditions. Meet some of the local community in the village hall and enjoy some of their legendary storytelling, music and dance. Tory Island is also famous for its migratory birds; seabirds nest here in large numbers and a puffin colony nests on the northern cliffs. Look out for guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars, storm petrels and manx shearwaters whilst the corncrake has become a main attraction on the island.

Day 7 - Iona & Lunga, Scotland.

Arrive this morning at Iona which for more than 1,000 years has been a place of deep spiritual significance. No less than 62 kings of Scotland are buried here and St Columba came here from Ireland in 563A.D. as early Christianity spread through northern Britain from this remote island community. We have time to explore the Abbey, take a walk amongst the wildflowers across the island to the “Bay at the Back of the Ocean” or keep an eye and ear out for the elusive corncrakes. Over lunch we sail to the tiny Treshnish Isles, located in the waters between Mull and Tiree. Now uninhabited, this group of low lying islands is home to thousands of sea birds and a large population of common and Atlantic grey seals. We hope to land on the largest of the islands, Lunga to walk amongst the amazingly tame puffins and see the remnants of past habitation that dates back to Viking times. This evening we sail to the Isle of Skye for an overnight anchorage.

Day 8 - Loch Scavaig & Canna, Small Isles.

Enjoy breakfast in lovely Loch Scavaig on the island of Skye. Just beyond is the freshwater Loch Corruisk with its breathtakingly beautiful view over the Cuillins. This is great walking country and our expedition team will run a series of hikes for all interests. For those who prefer a less energetic morning our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals. Over lunch we sail to the Small Isles. Strategically placed between the mountains of Rum and the Outer Hebrides, the island of Canna and its adjoining neighbour Sanday are bound together like some rare text that reveals over 60 million years of Hebridean geology and history. They have an amazingly rich archaeological landscape with remains dating to all periods of settled occupation in Scotland. Canna is run as a single farm and bird sanctuary by the National Trust for Scotland and enjoys the best harbour in the Small Isles, a horn-shaped haven. The fertile soil and its diversity of habitats mean that the island has an incredibly rich plant life with 248 native flowering plants recorded. We will see Canna House and wander across grassy basalt plateaus to the 600 foot cliffs on the north shore.

Day 9 - St Kilda, Outer Hebrides.

Arrive at first light in St Kilda, a remarkable uninhabited archipelago some fifty miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. Dominated by the highest cliffs and sea stacks in Britain, Hirta, St Kilda’s main island was occupied on and off for at least two thousand years, with the last 36 Gaelic speaking inhabitants evacuated at their own request in 1930. Immediately after the evacuation, the island was bought by the Marquess of Bute to protect the island’s thousands of seabirds including puffin and fulmars, and in 1957 it was bequeathed to The National Trust for Scotland. St Kilda is one of only two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites with dual status reflecting its natural and cultural significance. The local ranger will join us on board before our expedition staff lead a number of guided walks on the island. Later, cruise past two of the largest gannetries in the world at Stac Lee and Boreray. These impressive stacs rise 170 metres from the sea and are home to up to 60,000 breeding pairs of northern gannet.

Day 10 - Stornoway and Shiant Islands.

On leaving the island capital of Stornoway, we will head across the island to the beautiful west coast. Described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, the Callanish Standing Stones date from around 3000B.C. There are a total of 32 stones in a circular and avenue design which stand like a petrified forest on the flat top of a peninsula which reaches out into East Loch Roag. We also visit the Dun Carloway Pictish Broch, probably built sometime in the last century B.C., it would have served as an occasionally defensible residence for an extended family complete with accommodation for animals at ground floor level. Our final stop is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village – a reconstructed settlement of traditional black houses which were made using dry stone masonry and have thatched roofs, distinctively weighted down with rocks. Visit the small museum, enjoy a display of a typical crofting activity such as weaving and take in the views at this dramatic site on the wild Atlantic coast. Sail this afternoon past the Shiant Islands, a group of little islands located a few miles off the shores of Lewis. If weather permits we will use the Zodiacs to explore the island closer as this is an excellent place to spot seals and hopefully white-tailed eagles.

Day 11 - Fair Isle.

Spend the morning at sea as we sail out to remote Fair Isle arriving during lunch. Here the tiny population of sixty or so islanders always extend us a warm welcome. Enjoy an afternoon to explore; maybe walk across the island, visit the Bird Observatory, search out the puffin slopes or meet the local community and perhaps purchase some of the famous knitwear. Return to the ship for dinner as we sail this evening.

Day 12 - Kirkwall, Orkney Islands.

This morning we arrive at the Orkney capital of Kirkwall from where we will head into the west of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. We will pass through gentle rolling landscape and into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney; an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. We will see the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar; a huge ceremonial circle of stones dating back almost 5,000 years. We continue to the 5000-year-old village of Skara Brae and see the remarkable dwellings revealed from beneath the sand dunes by storms only 150 years ago. Time permitting we will also visit Birsay, the ancient centre of Viking power and explore St Magnus Church which dates back over 900 years. This afternoon is free to explore Kirkwall independently or to join our naturalists on a guided walk looking at the local flora and fauna.

Day 13 - Aberdeen.

Disembark after breakfast. Transfers will be provided to Aberdeen railway station and airport.

Dates and Prices

Prices per person based on double occupancy
19 to 31 May 2018
Category Price
1 Inside Twin/Double £4695
2 Standard Stateroom £4895
3 Standard Stateroom Plus £5095
4 Superior Stateroom £5595
5 Deluxe Stateroom £5795
6 Junior Suite £6195
7 Executive Suite £6595
8 Owner’s Suite £6595
9 Inside Single £5195
10 Standard Single £5295
2 Standard Stateroom for sole use £6995
3 Standard Stateroom Plus for sole use £7295

Tour Reference Code: SCSE190518

Price Includes: 12 nights aboard the MS Serenissima on a full board basis, house wine and beer, soft drinks with lunch and dinner, expedition team, shore excursions, gratuities, transfers, port taxes.

Not Included: Travel insurance. 

  • 2018 Deckplan

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  • 2019 Deckplan

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Serenissima

The charming MS Serenissima began her career as the Harald Jarl, cruising the Norwegian coastline and fjords. Since 2003, when she was extensively renovated, she has been operating as a classic cruise ship. Previously known as the MS Andrea, she was upgraded again in 2013 and started her new life as the MS Serenissima. With her small size she can navigate into small, remote ports inaccessible to the big cruise ships and appears an impressive sight when moored. With her fleet of Zodiacs, she is capable of both destination and expedition cruising. In December 2018, the vessel will once again undergo a significant refurbishment and after a re-configuration of the deck plan will accommodate a maximum of just 95 guests.

 
  • Restaurant
    Restaurant
  • Restaurant
    Restaurant
  • On Deck
    On Deck
  • Harald Jarl Lounge
    Harald Jarl Lounge
  • Jacuzzi area
    Jacuzzi area
  • Owners Suite
    Owners Suite
  • Executive Suite
    Executive Suite
  • Executive suite
    Executive suite
  • Junior Suite
    Junior Suite
  • Superior Stateroom
    Superior Stateroom
  • De Luxe Stateroom
    De Luxe Stateroom
  • Standard Plus
    Standard Plus
  • Standard inside
    Standard inside
  • Serenissima
    Serenissima
  • Your Cabin/Suite

    Accommodating no more than 95 passengers, the cabins are attractively designed for comfort and convenience. All cabins are fully air conditioned with an en-suite bathroom with shower and a selection of toiletries in addition to a hairdryer, robes and slippers. All cabins come equipped with telephone, flat screen television, safety deposit box and other thoughtful appointments. Bottles of still and sparkling water are replenished daily. From January 2019, there will be eight different grades of cabin arranged over five decks, and all feature either windows or portholes. Because of the very nature of the ship, the cabins do vary in shape and size, adding to the vessel’s overall charm.

  • Your Space

    The facilities on board include two lounges – the larger Andrea Lounge is comfortable and spacious and the smaller Harald Lounge is more intimate. There is also a small library with a computer for internet access and Wi-Fi is available at an extra cost throughout the vessel. The outside areas really are something special. A spacious observation deck allows 360 degree views of the passing scenery. From here, step down to the lido area with Jacuzzi and outside bar. The covered seating area at the back of deck 6 is ideal for relaxing with a drink in hand. Perhaps, one of the best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During the major refit in Sweden the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels.this

  • Your Dining

    The free seating Venice Restaurant accommodates all guests in one sitting. Being on deck 5, it has great views from all tables. The picture windows mean the restaurant is light and airy. Breakfast is served buffet-style with cooked dishes available and eggs to order by the ship’s accomplished chef. Lunch is also served buffet-style with hot and cold dishes available. Dinner is served a la carte and is four courses, except for at the Captain’s Dinner, which is a six course affair. Where possible, local produce is sourced for an authentic dining experience. A choice of red or white wine, beer, soft drinks, and water are included at lunch and dinner. In good weather there are al fresco dining facilities available and tea and coffee is available around the clock in the Andrea Lounge.

  • Life Onboard

    The MS Serenissima is more akin to a countryhotel than one of the large ships trawling the seas today. The European Captain, Officers and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere onboard is warm and welcoming, and the emphasis is not on around the clock entertainment and dining, but instead on well-thought out itineraries, relaxation, time spent with like-minded passengers and discovery. 

  • For your comfort

    There are so few ships of this generation still cruising and MS Serenissima is a great testament to her present and previous owners that they have seen fit to invest considerable sums over the years to keep her in top form and complying with the stringent health and safety requirements. There is a doctor onboard and during your voyage you will have the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers on the bridge.

  • Ship Directory
    The booklets below contains some further details pertaining to the vessel.
    Please click on the booklet to view. 

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  • Drone Footage

    Please click below for some great drone footage of Serenissima.

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  • Videos

    Please find a selection of videos of Serenissima.

    Click on any image to play video.

     

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  • Deck plans
    • 2018 Deckplan

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    • 2019 Deckplan

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Our View

“The islands around the edge of England, Scotland and Ireland are home to remote communities, wonderful wildlife and a history that dates back thousands of years. Difficult to visit independently, our cruise is devised to access some of these places where we can meet the locals be they farmers or landlords, puffins or seals. From the historic naval town of Portsmouth we visit the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly, Aran Islands, the Outer and Inner Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands on our quest to visit the outlying islands. We will find beautiful blooming gardens, walk through islands of wildflowers and watch in wonder as thousands of birds fill the sky as we cruise past their breeding grounds. We will also appreciate the history of the region from the archaeological sites of the Aran Islands and Isle of Lewis to the more modern history of St Kilda. Join us as we take this wonderful opportunity to explore the islands on the edge.“ 

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