Highlands to the Islands Expedition

Highlands to the Islands Expedition

From GBP £3,695


This expedition has been devised to celebrate the stunning scenery of the British Isles from the highlands of Scotland to the outlying islands off the English coast. Sailing from Oban we will spend eight nights island hopping including a day in the beautiful Hebrides and visits to Tory Island, the Isle of Man and Lundy, rarely visited gems which are almost never included in cruise schedules. Our time will be spent walking the nature trails, seeing the abundant birdlife and flowers and experiencing life in these remote communities. Continuing south to the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands we visit amazing little contained worlds including the subtropical Abbey Gardens of Tresco and St Martin’s, Guernsey and Herm with their crystal clear waters and fine white sandy beaches that would not disgrace a Caribbean island.

A voyage like this would be difficult to arrange independently and, with a maximum of just 95 passengers, the MS Serenissima is the perfect ship for our venture. Such a voyage is only possible aboard a small ship with the ability to reach these remote ports and, with the use of our Zodiacs, we will be able to explore in small groups, ensuring the solitude we find on these isles is not disturbed. Our journey offers a portrait of life in our islands and is a wonderful opportunity to see some of our most beautiful places, meet some interesting inhabitants and learn more about both the past and present of Britain.

Trip Name
Highlands to the Islands Expedition
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 95 Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2019 MS Serenissima is a charming vessel and one of her best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During a major refit 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. The vessel is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft allowing us to visit remote places where normal tender arrangements are not possible. The European Captain, Officers, Expedition Staff, and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere on board is warm and welcoming and dedicated to discovery and relaxation. AIR-CONDITIONING The ship is air conditioned throughout. Please note that only the Serenissima Suites have individually controlled air-conditioning. DAILY PROGRAMME A Daily Programme, detailing the following day’s arrangements as well as any specific information about the day’s activities is produced onboard and delivered to your cabin each evening during the turn down service. DINING, DRINKING AND DIETARY REQUIREMENTS The Venice Restaurant onboard serves international cuisine and accommodates all guests at a single open seating. Tables seat 4 to 10 diners. In addition, there is an outside dining area for when the weather and itinerary permit. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style, dinner is waiter service only. Complimentary (red and white) house wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Bar drinks and other beverages with meals are not included; these may be purchased onboard and paid for at the end of your cruise. Complimentary tea and coffee are available between 07:00 hours and 23:00 hours at the tea and coffee station located in the Andrea lounge. Please advise of any special dietary requests in advance. DISABLED FACILITIES The ship can accommodate passengers with mobility restrictions and wheelchair dependent passengers in cabin 407, which has a wider door and no step into/out of the bathroom and shower area. There is a lift serving decks 3 to 6, but there is no stair lift. DOCTOR A medical doctor is available on board 24 hours a day. A fee is charged for any consultations and medication prescribed. Please ensure you carry adequate supplies of any regular medications you may require.  ELECTRICITY The electrical outlets in the cabins and public areas are 220V and take a two-round-pin plug (as in continental Europe). There is a 110/220V, 60Hz outlet for electric shavers in the bathroom. We recommend that you bring an international adaptor. GRATUITIES Gratuities to crew and whilst on excursions are included in the cost of your holiday. INTERNET The onboard library has a computer equipped for email/internet access and Wi-Fi access is available in public areas, although you will require your own laptop, tablet or smartphone, and charges apply – 100mb for €15 Euros, or 500mb for €25 Euros. Please note that connection is dependent on weather conditions and location. LANGUAGE All members of the crew speak English. MONEY The following payment methods are accepted for settlement of shipboard accounts: Cash (Euros or British Pounds), Credit Card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express), Debit Card (MasterCard and Visa). Please note that personal cheques and Travellers’ Cheques are not accepted. PUBLIC AREAS • Andrea Lounge (on Deck 5). The bar is open from 11.00 until 24.00. • Harald Jarl Lounge (on Deck 5). There is a small library here with books and games. There is also a computer for public use (charges apply for internet access) • Lido area (on Deck 5) with a Jacuzzi and fitness room with two running machines • Observation Deck (access from Deck 5 lido area) • Deck 5 and Deck 6 outside seating areas SNORKELLING Snorkelling equipment is kept onboard. Please note that there is no snorkelling from Zodiacs. All snorkelling stops will operate from a beach.  TELEVISION The ship is equipped with a satellite TV system which receives 15 channels. TV reception depends on the satellite dish and on occasion it may not be possible to receive a signal. There is one central video channel on which it is possible to listen to the lectures delivered in the Andrea Lounge. There is also a channel for the ship’s camera located in front of the ship. ZODIACS Some destinations may require the use of Zodiacs to go ashore. These are usually on expedition cruises though may sometimes be used on destination cruises. 


Day 1 - Day 1 Oban, Scotland.
Embark the MS Serenissima this afternoon. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Central Railway Station at a fixed time. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail this evening and anchor overnight off Colonsay.
Day 2 - Day 2 Colonsay & Iona.
Lying between Mull and Islay, we will spend the morning exploring the island of Colonsay with her craggy, heather-clad hills and sparse woodland yet impressive array of plants and birdlife. Near Colonsay House, built in 1722 by Malcolm MacNeil and bought by Lord Strathcona in 1904, we will visit the attractively dilapidated woodland gardens which protect the tiny, enigmatic 8th century St Oran’s Cross. We continue to Iona which has been occupied for thousands of years and has been a place of pilgrimage and Christian worship for several centuries. It was to this flat, Hebridean island that St Columba fled from Ireland in 563 and established a monastery. Here his followers were responsible for the conversion of much of pagan Scotland and Northern England. No less than 62 Scottish Kings are buried in the Abbey. Visit the Abbey or perhaps walk along the white sandy beaches or go in search of the corncrake amongst the irises.
Day 3 - Day 3 Tory Island, Ireland.
Located off the northwest coast of Ireland and home to 150 or so Gaelic speakers, Tory Island is the most remote inhabited Irish island; 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 and we hope to hear the calls of the corncrake for which the island is known.
Day 4 - Day 4 Rathlin Island & Portrush, Northern Ireland.
Just a few miles from the North Antrim coast, Rathlin Island has been settled for more than 6000 years. Today, there are only 140 or so souls, whereas before the Great Famine there were 1200 inhabitants. History can be seen everywhere here amongst the historic buildings and ruins. Enjoy a guided walk which will also take in the seabird life with puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars as well as grey and harbour seals. Also see the unique “upside down” Rathlin West Light, a great feat of engineering and one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Over lunch we sail to Portrush, our base for a visit to the Giant’s Causeway which became widely known from the 1700s as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ and large numbers of visitors came to view this amazing array of basalt columns - it is estimated that there are around 40,000 in total.
Day 5 - Day 5 Peel, Isle of Man.
Arrive this morning on the Isle of Man at the main fishing port of Peel. Settlements have been here since the Mesolithic Age and the island also claims to have the longest continuous parliament which was founded in 979 AD. Leaving Peel we will visit Tynwald Hill, located in the little village of St John’s. This grass-topped, tiered hill is made from the soil and stones from each of the island’s 17 parishes and is the point from which, each 5th of July, all the laws enacted in the year preceding are promulgated to the gathered government officials and the public at large, both in Manx and English languages. Continue to Castletown where we board the vintage steam train for a delightful and traditional journey to Douglas. Dating from 1874, the Isle of Man Steam Railway is the island’s oldest Victorian rail system and this narrow gauge railway still runs with its original locomotives and carriages. Return to the ship for lunch and a free afternoon to explore Peel at your own pace.
Day 6 - Day 6 Skomer, Wales & Lundy, England.
Be on deck this morning as we pass Skomer Island, one of the most important wildlife sites in Northern Europe. It is a marvellously peaceful and scenic island with fantastic birdlife including 6,000 pairs of puffins and the elusive Manx shearwater and storm petrel. We may also see the seal colony hauled out over the rocks. Continue to Lundy, a remote island in the Bristol Channel. Although small, just three miles long by half a mile wide, its isolation has made it a home for a range of wildlife whilst it is also home to a clutch of listed buildings and monuments. The towering cliffs and rocky shoreline are a haven for migrating seabirds, whilst sika deer, red deer and Soay sheep can also be seen as we walk along its traffic-free lanes and paths. Spend the afternoon being as active as you wish, maybe explore the wide bays and coves by way of hanging valleys, see ancient burial chambers, climb the lighthouse, have a drink at the tavern or buy the island’s ‘puffin stamps’ at the shop.
Day 7 - Day 7 Tresco & St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly.
We will spend the day exploring the beautiful Isles of Scilly. From our central anchorage, we will use our Zodiacs to visit 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 café. Later we will tender ashore to the northernmost island of the group, St Martin’s, a small island community of just 120 residents. Enjoy time to explore independently, climb to one of the viewpoints for vistas over the islands and the offshore seal colonies or maybe join one of our birders on a guided walk.
Day 8 - Day 8 Guernsey & Herm, Channel Islands.
Anchor this morning off 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 island 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 discovering on foot. There will be 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 9 - Day 9 Portsmouth, England.
Disembark this morning. Transfers will be provided to Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station at a fixed time.
Day 10 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £3,695Standard Stateroom
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £3,895Classic Stateroom
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £4,195Superior Stateroom
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £4,395Standard Single
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £4,495Deluxe Stateroom
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £4,995Junior Suite
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £5,395Owner’s Suite
29-07-202206-08-2022GBP £5,695Serenissima Suite


    • Colonsay & Iona.
    • Tory Island, Ireland.
    • Rathlin Island & Portrush, Northern Ireland.
    • Skomer, Wales & Lundy, England.
    • Tresco & St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly.
    • Guernsey & Herm, Channel Islands.