Kingdom of the Isles with Serenissima

Kingdom of the Isles with Serenissima

From GBP £3,695


Join us for this unique expedition aboard the 95-passenger MS Serenissima as we discover the history and legacy of the Kingdom of the Isles and the majestic beauty of the Hebrides. The Atlantic seaboard of Europe has long provided a sea route for the occupation of the islands around Scotland and Argyll and the Hebrides boast some remarkable remains from these earliest prehistoric peoples. Those that resisted the Roman Invasion were proud Celts – Picts and Scots who forced the legions to retreat, leaving Hadrian’s Wall as the Empire’s northernmost boundary.

The period from the 3rd to the 12th centuries is sometimes referred to as ‘the Dark Ages of Hebridean history’, the detail surviving in obscure ancient texts or in oral tradition. However, in the midst of spectacular scenery and impressive wildlife, there is much to be seen and interpreted on the ground and, as history has attested through these centuries, a small ship is the ideal way to experience it. The ancient and proud legacy of Gaelic culture and language was for long suppressed but, as the Romans, the Vikings and the English kings found out, could never be extinguished. Norse and Gaelic place names survive throughout Scotland and the Isle of Man where a strong Norse tradition thrives.

During our voyage, we will learn about this often overlooked history of the region and discover some of the figures who were intrinsic to the story of the Kingdom of the Isles. We track the paths taken by early Christian missionaries and discover leaders such as the Viking Godred Crovan, Somerled ‘the Lord of the Isles’ whose sons and grandsons founded the powerful clans including Clan Donald, Robert the Bruce and the Campbells of Argyll. We will visit the places where this history was made including the monastery at Iona, Armadale Castle and Finlaggan where installation of the Lords of the Isles took place.

Over the course of eight nights, we will explore scenic lochs, beautiful gardens and walking trails and visit some secluded places where we hope to spot some of the amazing wildlife. Joining us on board will be John Love whose knowledge of Scottish history and wildlife, and of the Hebrides, was instrumental in helping us devise this unique itinerary.

Trip Name
Kingdom of the Isles with Serenissima
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 in Oban. Transfers will be provided from Glasgow Central Railway Station and Glasgow International Airport at a fixed time. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 Staffa & Iona.
This morning we hope to drop anchor off the south side of Staffa where the perpendicular rock face features an imposing series of black basalt columns, known as the Colonnade, which have been cut by the sea into cathedralesque caverns, most notably Fingal’s Cave. Weather permitting, we will use our Zodiacs to explore closer. A short cruise brings us to the Sound of Iona. For more than 1000 years the island of Iona has been a place of deep spiritual significance and no less than 62 Kings of Scotland are buried here. St Columba came here from Ireland in 563 AD and early Christianity spread through northern Britain from this remote island community. Iona's oldest surviving building, St Oran's Chapel, dates to the mid-12th century and may have been built by Somerled or his family. After exploring the Abbey, time permitting, you may like to join the expedition team and take a walk on the wild side to the ‘Bay at the Back of the Ocean’ and soak up the atmosphere of this enigmatic isle.
Day 3 - Day 3 Armadale, Isle of Skye & Loch Scavaig.
We approach the Isle of Skye and land by Zodiac to visit the Clan Donald Centre, a 20,000 acre Highland estate which includes the ruins of Armadale Castle and the Museum of the Isles which showcases 1500 years of history and culture of the area. We will also visit the restored historical gardens and explore the beautiful walking trails through the 40 acres of woodland which surround the castle. Clan Donald traces direct lineage from Somerled and at their height of power claimed dominion over much of Argyll, The Hebrides and Isle of Man. Wielding great sea power with fleets of galleys or birlinns, they were the most powerful lords after the Kings of England and Scotland. Over lunch we sail to lovely Loch Scavaig. 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 afternoon our Zodiacs will explore the coast looking out for seals.
Day 4 - Day 4 Plockton.
Sail this morning into Loch Carron and anchor off the picturesque village of Plockton. Discover the delightful Attadale Gardens. Here we find over 2000 trees planted over 20 acres including a sunken garden, water garden and Japanese garden - all interspersed with sculptures. Alternatively visit the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. This defensive site, strategically placed at the confluence of three lochs played a pivotal role when the sea was the main highway and defended the lands against raiding Vikings or feuding clans. Later in history Eilean Donan came, once more, to prominence during the Jacobite uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries. Enjoy a free afternoon and perhaps join the expedition team to explore the local area around Plockton on foot. Sail in the early evening and enjoy the coastal views.
Day 5 - Day 5 Tobermory, Isle of Mull.
We visit the mountainous Isle of Mull whose turbulent history is manifest in the chain of castles dotted along the coastline. This morning we travel to the south of the island and visit the formidable Duart Castle, standing guard over the sea routes and the ancient home of Clan MacLean. Alternatively spend the morning at leisure in Tobermory: walk amongst the colourful buildings, visit the town’s distillery or maybe take the coastal walk to the Rubha nan Gall lighthouse. This afternoon, we sail the short distance to Loch Sunart where we hope to offer a Zodiac cruise to spot seals and lookout for eagles. Amidst the rugged mountains of Ardnamurchan and Morvern, the sheltered lochs and waterways would once have given refuge to heavily laden galleys as they plied the waters between the isles.
Day 6 - Day 6 Ardfern, Argyll.
We anchor in the sheltered waters of Loch Craignish to explore some of the sites of Argyll. There are more than 800 archaeological and historical monuments within a six mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. This extraordinary concentration and diversity of monuments distinguishes the Kilmartin Glen as an area of outstanding archaeological importance. It is one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes boasting superb standing stones, burial cairns, rock art, forts, duns and carved stones. Discover Kilmartin House Museum, an award winning, world-class centre for archaeology and landscape interpretation that makes an excellent starting point for a walk to the Glen where we see stone circles and cairns dating back to 3500 BC. We will also hope to see the prominent Dunadd Fort, former royal centre of the Gaelic Kingdom, Dal Riata, which reached its height of power in the 6th and 7th centuries. Alternatively, join the excursion to Crarae Garden, a Himalayan-style glen set in the gentle hills of Argyll. The garden was created in 1912 by Lady Grace Campbell, the aunt of intrepid plant hunter Reginald Farrer, who sourced trees and shrubs from China, Nepal and Tibet. Today, the sparkling waters of the Crarae Burn form the centrepiece for a woody paradise of rocky gorges, wooden bridges and thickets of maple, birch and evergreens, blending with sprays of flowers.
Day 7 - Day 7 Islay.
Disembark this morning on Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, oft referred to as the Queen of the Hebrides. Early Christians and Norse raiders all landed here to extend their lands. Somerled and his descendants, Clan McDonald, made their base here and Islay is often also referred to as the Cradle of Clan Donald. A drive will bring us to Finlaggan where installation of the Lords of the Isles took place. We will have time to explore the Visitor's Centre and walk across to the islands of Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle where we can see some remains of this era.
Day 8 - Day 8 Peel, Isle of Man.
Located in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man’s rich history and culture finds its roots in the Gaelic, Norse and Scot kingdoms that dominated this region between the 5th and 14th centuries. Our morning excursion reveals 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 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. We continue to Castletown Station and 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. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, perhaps visit The House of Manannan, housed in Peel’s former railway station and named after the mythological sea god. Here exhibits cover Celtic, Viking and Maritime heritage of the Isle of Man which was also very much at the heart of the Kingdom of the Isles.
Day 9 - Day 9 Liverpool, England.
Disembark this morning. Transfers will be provided to Liverpool Lime Street Station and Manchester Airport at a fixed time.
Day 10 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £3,695Standard Stateroom
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £3,995Classic Stateroom
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £4,295Superior Stateroom
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £4,495Standard Single
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £4,695Deluxe Stateroom
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £5,095Junior Suite
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £5,495Owner’s Suite
27-07-202304-08-2023GBP £5,695Serenissima Suite


    • Staffa & Iona
    • Armadale, Isle of Skye & Loch Scavaig
    • Plockton
    • Tobermory, Isle of Mull
    • Peel, Isle of Man