Day 1: Depart Australia – Thursday 05May16
Perhaps you’ve visited the UK before. But have you ever trawled the outlying islands on a Silversea Expedition Cruise? The adventure begins on our late evening Emirates flight departing for London via Dubai.
Day 2: Arrive in London – Friday 06May16
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,’ wrote Samuel Johnson. ‘Because there is in London all that life can afford.’ Touching down this afternoon, we will test that theory at a highly desirable address with three nights at The Dorchester in Mayfair. Drinks, canapes and a decadent Welcome Reception await.
Day 3: London – Saturday 07May16
There’s so much to do in London you’ll be spoiled for choice. If you would rather explore on your own terms, be our guest this morning. Or why not join us on one of our hand picked Select Options?
1. Prime your camera for the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, not to mention the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace on a morning city tour.
2. Take a London tour with a twist as you discover the authentic James Bond experience, uncovering classified secrets from the author’s birthplace.
3. Enjoy an aquatic inspired tour of the Thames led by an inter-tidal archaeologist on a unique beachcombing experience.
4. So you think you know everything about England’s capital? Why not take a gentle walking tour of all the undiscovered sights as you get to know London like a local?
This afternoon, we’re pleased to give you a backstage pass to the theatres of the West End. Larger than life Australian cabaret legend Rhonda Burchmore will take us behind the curtain on an exclusive theatre tour, rounded off with a wonderful matinee performance of a West End favourite. Our Welcome Dinner this evening is among the toast of the town at the exclusive members only Garrick Club.
Day 4: London – Sunday 08May16
Resplendent in late Spring, there’s nothing like a jaunt out of the city through the countryside on our way to experience a true piece of British heritage. It doesn’t get more British than Downton Abbey. Today’s excursion to spectacular Highclere Castle is a rare treat whether you are addicted to the television series or not. We wouldn’t like to spoil the surprise, but our exclusive full day tour is hosted by some guests you may well recognise…
Day 5: Porstmouth to Join the Silver Explorer – Monday 09May16
Among priceless silver, gold leaf ceilings and decadent chandeliers, it’s a fitting tribute to the high seas that we enjoy lunch in the Mountbatten Room of the Royal Marines Museum en route to meet Silver Explorer in Portsmouth. Then it’s your choice how you enjoy the naval heritage of Portsmouth.
1. Take a journey into the city’s past with a guided waterfront walk.
2. Be transported to wartime years at the D-Day Museum.
3. Dickens, Kipling and Wells; tread in the footsteps of the literary greats who found inspiration in Portsmouth and live the legend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the City Museum’s ‘Study in Sherlock’ exhibition.
4. With more than 800 years of naval history, Portsmouth’s world renowned Historic Dockyard is a must-see. Featuring HMS Victory, the new Mary Rose Museum and HMS Warrior 1860, there’s plenty to experience in our whistle stop tour.
5. Join a guided tour of St Mary’s Church with a rousing organ recital to pipe us on our merry way.
Waving a fond farewell to the British mainland, we meet our intrepid Expedition Ship Silver Explorer and settle into our comfortable suites. It’s a pleasure to know you won’t have to unpack for over a week!
Day 6: Tresco, Isles of Scilly – 10 May16
Opening the curtains this morning the view is a little different. A little more weather beaten to say the least. We have reached the Scilly Islands, located just off the Cornish Coast. The beautiful island of Tresco boasts sweeping coastal views and a hardy array of wildlife. Walk from the charming beach along pretty lanes to the Abbey Gardens, a riot of tropical colour at this time of year.
Day 7: Pembroke, Skomer Island, Wales – Wednesday 11May16
We’ve been heading North through the night towards Wales and our day begins with a drive through the rolling countryside to St Davids – Britain’s smallest city. At its heart is a fabulous 12th-century cathedral steeped in Norse legends. An afternoon Zodiac expedition brings us close to the cliffs of humble Skomer Island, off the South West coast. Accessible only by boat, Skomer has a large population of breeding seabirds. A keen eye may even catch birds of prey including short-eared owls, common kestrels and Peregrine falcons. Here nature yields to no man. Blossoming wildflowers, grey seals, common toads, slowworms, and glow-worms easily outnumber people. Lucky visitors have even spotted harbour porpoises frolicking in the surrounding waters.
Day 8: Dublin, Ireland – Thursday 12May16
A night’s sailing has taken us into the waters of another country. The wind billows on deck as we sail into Dublin this morning, where we disembark for a captivating half-day sightseeing tour in search of Guinness, shamrocks and literary legends. There’s no wonder Ireland made Lonely Planet’s Top 5 Countries to visit in 2015.
Of course it wouldn’t be Dublin without a trip to the Guinness Brewery, where the popular ale has been made since the mid-18th century. The afternoon is yours to explore as you please. From the Dún Laoghaire Harbour to the James Joyce Martello Tower, you’ll be spoiled for choice. And while the convenient DART rail service to downtown Dublin makes exploration a piece of cake, there’s a lot to be said for frittering the hours away in a quintessential Irish pub.
Day 9: Douglas, Isle of Man – Friday 13May16
In an effort to keep the past alive, the people who call the Isle of Man home preserve the old ways of living. The spirit is encapsulated in the heritage hamlet of Cregneash, where white-washed, stonewalled thatched cottages showcase traditional crafts and trades. The southern sea-board winds to Castletown, the former capital where we board the vintage steam train for a delightful journey back to Douglas.
Day 10: Rathlin Island and Portrush, Northern Ireland – Saturday 14May16
By dawn, the black and white banded cliffs of Rathlin Island will be in sight. You’ll find no cars or buses on this island but if you feel like exploring, our Zodiacs can take you ashore among crab and lobster pots, primroses and wheeling birds. Whether you’re looking to stretch your legs on a brisk walk over hill and dale, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, our Expedition Team will escort you on your way. If you would prefer to stay on board, learn about the region’s history with a lecture, or simply relax and enjoy the ship. The castles of the North Antrim coast bear the scars of struggle between warring Gaelic families. We see the rambling ruins of 17th-century Dunluce Castle cling precariously to its black basalt crag, dramatically framed by plunging drops, before moving on to discover a true Irish icon. The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark. Legend has it that the Irish giant, Finn McCool constructed the causeway so he could cross the sea to Scotland. Formed over 50 million years ago, UNESCO has recognised this unique site with World Heritage status.
Day 11 -Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland – Sunday 15May16
The bonny dawn guides us into Scottish waters this morning. Our Zodiacs land us in Duart Bay to visit one of the most spectacular and unique sites on the West Coast of Scotland – Duart Castle. We hope to be welcomed by the 28th chief of the Maclean clan and castle Lord, Sir Lachlan Maclean, if he is in residence. Back aboard Silver Explorer just in time for lunch, we glide over the water to Tobermory, where we enjoy our first taste of true Scottish single malt at the Tobermory Distillery.
Day 12: St Kilda, Outer Hebrides – Monday 16May16
At first light, we reach the weather beaten islands that share their name with Melbourne’s famous seaside playground. But far from the madding crowds, this remarkable, uninhabited archipelago some 50 miles beyond the Outer Hebrides couldn’t be more different. Millions of nesting seabirds inhabit the stunning cliffs and sea stacks to make up the most important seabird breeding colony in north-west Europe.
As the westernmost landmass in the UK, St Kilda is also one of the few places in the world to have received dual World Heritage Status from UNESCO in recognition of both Natural Heritage and Cultural Significance. Weather permitting, our Zodiacs will take us ashore and later cruise past two of the largest gannetries in the world.
Day 13: Loch Ewe, Scotland – Tuesday 17May16
Nestled in the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ewe opens with the beautiful village of Poolewe. The River Ewe tumbles under the bridge, forming a small bay. In earlier times it was a bustling little port where boats would ply between the mainland and the Outer Isles. Continuing around the bay is the headland, where the impossibly beautiful Inverewe Gardens cascade as far as the eye can see, with an enviable plant collection that’s sure to impress the green fingered among our guests.
Day 14: Kirkwal, Orkney Islands – Wednesday 18May16
The Orkneys were ruled by Norway until 1468, when a King gifted them to Scotland in lieu of a dowry for his daughter’s marriage. Approximately a third of the 60 islands are inhabited; the rest, home only to seals and seabirds. The islands are also peppered with prehistoric monuments like the Standing Stones of Stenness in the West Mainland. Rock circles, cairns, standing stones, ancient tombs and prehistoric villages render the archipelago a living museum. How you explore the Orkney Islands is up to you; walk or drive depending on how energetic you’re feeling.
1. Enjoy a half-day walking tour starting in Kirkwall’s historic Old Town.
2. Experience the landmarks of the Orkneys with little walking during a relaxing, half-day sightseeing drive to further flung reaches.
3. If you’re fascinated by Stone Age archaeology, you can’t miss a half day excursion to the ancient sights on the main island. Dating back to as early as 2700BC, the Ring of Brodgar is steeped in legend, believed to be part of some sort of lunar observatory.
Day 15: Fair Isle, Shetland Islands – Thursday 19May16
Despite a modest population of around 60, the Shetland Islands’ Fair Isle has made a name for itself the world over as a prolific purveyor of knitwear. And the locals are more than happy to show you on a tour of the arts and crafts centre. Britain’s most isolated inhabited island is also a birdwatching mecca. With any luck, we might catch a glimpse of the Fair Isle Wren.
Day 16: Aberdeen, Scotland – Friday 20May16
Aberdeen is resplendent in affluence. Its strategic position – close to honey pots of North East oil reserves – has made it one of Scotland’s wealthiest enclaves. But it boasts beauty as well as brawn. And there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time in Aberdeen…
1. Get stuck into a half day fly fishing experience. You won’t find better salmon or trout than in these clear and abundant waters.
2. If when you think Scotland, you think whisky, why not indulge in an authentic Scottish whisky tour? From Speyside Country, to the Glenfiddich Distillery, you will never taste single malt like it.
3. Reveal the charms of Aberdeen on a tour around the ‘Silver City Beside the Sea’ as history unfolds between granite, football and fishing.
4. If you’ve been to Aberdeen before, perhaps you would be keen to discover more of the surrounding areas? Follow the River Dee to find out more about this historic glen on our way to visit Balmoral Castle, the Highland holiday home of the Royal Family.
Day 17: Leith – Saturday 21May16
Picturesque Leith rests on the shores of the Firth of Forth. This afternoon, it’s a rare privilege to board the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen’s former floating residence for a private tour. For over 44 years, this regal vessel carried the royal family before her doors opened to the public. We enjoy more warming Scottish hospitality in the heart of Edinburgh with two nights at The Balmoral Hotel.
Day 18: Edinburgh – Sunday 22May16
It’s your choice today how you enjoy Edinburgh:
1. Languish over a private visit to Traquair House, known as Edinburgh’s Sistine Chapel, rounded off with a visit to the Glenkinchie Distillery.
2. So you’ve developed a taste for castles? Venture further afield on a full day outing to see how Sterling’s famous fortress compares to the rest.
3. Visit Holyrood House, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, before taking the time to browse some Highland greats at the Scottish National Gallery.
We reconvene this evening for a very special Farewell Dinner at Mansfield Traquair. Join in the chefs’ celebration of Scotland as local produce is plated with gusto and finesse.
Day 19: Depart Edinburgh – Monday 23May16
We farewell Scotland on our last morning with one last hearty breakfast before making our way to the airport this afternoon for our flight home.
Day 20: Arrive Australia – Tuesday 24May16
The fresh air of the British Isles has no doubt invigorated you. Despite the long flight, there’s still a noticeable rosy glow to your cheeks as you land back into Australia this morning. The spirit White horses swirl around Aberdeen Lighthouse of expedition is here to stay.