Cruise the British Isles – Legendary History & Wild Nature with Dick and Leslie West

from $7,995$7,196

DATE: (2019) May 22-Jun 03*

DURATION: 13 DAYS

EMBARKATION: Plymouth, England

DISEMBARKATION: Edinburgh, Scotland

SHIP: M/V Sea Spirit

~*~ ONLY 3 CABINS REMAINING ~*~ (as of June 29th, 18)

*Cruise dates – additional pre- and post-cruise  days may be added

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD UK CRUISE PDF

PRE-CRUISE TOUR: THE COTSWOLDS & DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TOUR PDF 

 

All about the Cruise the British Isles – Legendary History & Wild Nature with Dick and Leslie West.

Join Dick and Leslie West as we explore remote UK islands and sites. From historical monuments to colorful puffins, dramatic landscapes of sweeping moorland and rugged coastlines, on this voyage we will discover seldom visited areas, largely inaccessible except by ship. Starting in historic Plymouth, and ending in majestic Edinburgh.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD UK CRUISE PDF

PRE-CRUISE; THE COTSWOLDS & DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK  TOUR CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • Group transfer to the ship on day of embarkation;
  • Shipboard accommodation;
  • All meals on board throughout the voyage;
  • Tea and coffee station 24 hours daily;
  • All scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather);
  • Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader & Expedition Team;
  • Rubber boots for shore landings for the time of the cruise;
  • Welcome and Farewell cocktails;
  • All port fees;
  • Group transfer to airport or central location upon disembarkation;
  • Pre-departure materials;
  • Digital Voyage Log;
Whats not included in this tour.Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Airfare;
  • Visa and passport fees (if applicable);
  • Luggage and trip cancellation insurance;
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those for special events and celebrations;
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and telecommunication charges;
  • Staff gratuities.
  1. Day 1 Embarkation in Plymouth, England

    Welcome to the port city of Plymouth in southwest  England, where a rich maritime heritage sets the mood for the beginning of our exciting voyage. In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get settled in your comfortable and spacious  suite. Then join us on deck and feel the sense of adventure build as we slip our moorings and sail out of the historic harbor.

    We are in the process of developing a pre-cruise tour from London to Plymouth that you may wish to add. Or we can custom design a program to suit your interests.

  2. Day 2 Tresco, Scilly Isles, England

    The Isles of Scilly is a group of small islands off the coast of Cornwall boasting mild weather, secluded beaches, enchanting wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle. On the lovely, sand-fringed island of Tresco, Bronze Age burial sites and romantic 17th-century castle ruins reveal a long and dramatic history. On the hallowed grounds of a Benedictine abbey we discover the exquisite Tresco Abbey Garden with its spectacular collection of more than 20,000 exotic plants from all corners of the world. Here we also find the Valhalla Museum, a collection of colorful figureheads salvaged from the islands’ shipwrecks. Delightful cafés and local shops enrich your experience even further.

  3. Days 3-4 Rrepublic of Ireland

    With good weather and the permission of authorities, we plan to visit the Skellig Islands. These remote, uninhabited rocky islets off the southwestern coast of Ireland are a favorite breeding site for seabirds, including thousands of Atlantic puffins and a large colony of northern gannets. Other bird species breeding here include the European storm petrel, northern fulmar, Manx shearwater, black-legged kittiwake, common guillemot, and razorbill. The rich waters around the islands are home to whales, dolphins and seals. The island of Skellig Michael is also known for its well-preserved early Christian monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Dunmore East is a popular tourist and fishing village in County Waterford on Ireland’s southeastern coast. From here it is a short journey through scenic countryside to the House of Waterford Crystal. Here you can take a guided tour of the factory to see the master craftsmen at work as well as the world’s largest collection of their wares. Also nearby is Mount Congreve, a magnificent 18th-century Georgian estate and botanical gardens containing thousands of plant species on 70 acres of intensively planted woodland and a four-acre walled garden.

  4. Day 5 Llandudno, Wales

    Our port for today is the vibrant seaside town of Llandudno in the north of Wales. From here we embark on a scenic overland tour of Snowdonia National Park. We drive through some of the wildest and most dramatic landscapes in Britain as we discover craggy mountains, stunning waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, dense woodlands and flowering meadows. Snowdonia is also renowned for wildlife including otters, water voles, wild ponies and rare birds such as dotterel and peregrine falcon. We enjoy a delightful stop at the charming and distinctively Welsh town of Betws-y-Coed in the Gwydyr Forest.

     

    Also on the itinerary for today is the magnificent Conwy Castle. Step inside this impressively preserved 13th-century fortress for a genuine look at castle-life in medieval Britain. Pass through the fortified gateways, climb the huge towers, and walk along the battlements for breathtaking views of the estuary and town below. The castle and the walls surrounding the town of Conwy are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  5. Day 6 Northern Ireland

    Today we disembark at the small seaside resort town of Portrush in Northern Ireland. We travel overland to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway. Here we discover a geological masterpiece—40,000 closely packed hexagonal basalt columns of varying heights descending like a staircase into the sea. According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. In this area we are also able to spot various seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill.

    We plan to land on Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland. This small island of outstanding natural beauty is home to about 150 people and hosts tens of thousands of nesting seabirds—one of the largest seabird colonies in Europe. At the West Light Seabird Centre—housed in a fully operational lighthouse built atop an impressive sea cliff—you can enjoy great viewing of countless puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars. The island also boasts a resident seal population and enough history to fill its charming museum to the rafters.

  6. Day 7 Inner Hebrides, Scotland

    Weather permitting, we plan to visit the uninhabited island of Staffa. This island of volcanic origin is easily recognized by its striking colonnade of hexagonal basalt pillars. Here we hope to explore the island’s most famous feature, Fingal’s Cave. Reaching deep into the island, the undulating sea plays upon the stunning matrix of columnar basalt to create an eerie melody which was the inspiration for Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. The rugged island also provides nesting sites for seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and puffins. Today we also explore beautiful and serene Iona, a small island in the Inner Hebrides just off the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. At the gorgeous Iona Abbey, founded in 563 AD, we are spellbound by one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites and indeed one of the oldest Christian religious centers in Western Europe. The adjacent graveyard is said to be the final resting place of numerous medieval kings, including Macbeth. In addition to its historical and religious significance, Iona is well known for its soul-soothing tranquility, white sand beaches and excellent birdwatching.

  7. Day 8 Outer Hebrides, Scotland

    The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, are a chain of dramatically rugged islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The most isolated of these is St Kilda. This remote and storm-ravaged island was continuously inhabited for at least two millennia by peoples of extraordinary hardiness. But as the modern world closed in after World War I, the remaining inhabitants chose to evacuate. Now we find only their rough stone buildings and distinctive storehouses called cleitean, all set amidst some of the most dramatic island scenery in the British Isles. Nature-lovers will be delighted, as the island is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds, two early types of sheep, and over 130 species of flowering plants.

    Later, as we sail through the remote and uninhabited Flannan Islands, we keep a lookout for seabirds including Leach’s petrel near their colony on the slopes of Eilean Mòr. Commonly seen in the surrounding waters are minke and pilot whales, as well as several species of dolphin.

  8. Day 9 Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

    Upon arrival at the historic port of Kirkwall we embark on an overland tour of Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands off the northeastern coast of Scotland. Attractions such as the well-preserved 5000-year-old village site at Skara Brae and the ancient Ring of Brodgar within the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Heart of Neolithic Orkney” showcase the world-class cultural heritage of the island. Back in the charming village of Kirkwall we also find the impressive Saint Magnus Cathedral, built in the Romanesque style by Vikings in the 12th century.

  9. Days 10-11 Shetland Islands, Scotland

    We visit the aptly named Fair Isle, one of the Shetland Islands in far northern Scotland. On this small, isolated patch of rolling moorlands and rugged coastlines, one is easily enchanted by

    historic crofts, picturesque lighthouses, and friendly locals. Here we also find the internationally renowned Fair Island Bird Observatory. The island is famous among birders for its abundance of British birds and for its numerous records of eastern rarities and migrants. Fair Isle is also one of Europe’s best places to watch seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Additionally, the island is notable for the abundance and diversity of its wildflowers. Seals are also commonly seen in its bays. Finally, during our visit it will be possible to see and purchase articles hand-knitted in the intricate and distinctive style for which Fair Isle has been celebrated for hundreds of years.

  10. Day 12 Bass Rock, Scotland

    Bass Rock is an uninhabited island in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. This bastion of volcanic rock, also known as “the Bass”, plays host to over 150,000 northern gannets in the breeding season, making it the world’s largest colony of these magnificent birds. The island’s steep walls are white with guano and the sky all around is darkened by the vast multitude of seabirds in flight. Our voyage is perfectly timed to coincide with this amazing spectacle—truly one of the wildlife wonders of the world.

  11. Day 13 Disembarkation in Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland

    After breakfast on board Sea Spirit we say farewell in Leith, Edinburgh’s vibrant port district. We provide transfers to the airport or to Edinburgh city center if you wish to spend more time in the wonderful capital of Scotland.

    We will be offering a post-cruise extension tour, or we can customize a program to suit your interests.

  12. Pre-Cruise Tour The Cotswolds and Dartmoor National Park

    UNITED KINGDOM – THE COTSWOLDS AND DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK 

    On this special pre-cruise tour from London’s Heathrow Airport to the pier in Plymouth where we will board the Sea Spirit, we will visit enchanting places, staying in historically significant and charming country manors and even a castle! Leslie and I hope you will join us on this amazing trip of discovery to places like Blenheim Palace, pictured above, Bourton on the Waters, the Cotswolds, Sudeley Castle, Bath, and much more.

    We have taken care to arrange the best possible experiences for our guests. We will visit interesting and charming villages and historical sites, while focusing on the unique and memorable. We have intentionally left out the “top” tourist attractions in an effort to provide a more personal, meaningful and stress-free experience. That said, when we visit Bath, we will do so in the morning, before the tour buses from London arrive.

    Pre-Cruise Tour; The Cotswolds & Dartmoor National Park Click here to Download PDF

    DATES – May 17-22, 2019 – DURATION – 6 Days
    FROM – London’s Heathrow Airport
    TO – Sea Spirit pier in Plymouth
    RATES – $3,895 per person, Double/$4,895 Single
    Based on Minimum 10 guests at current exchange rate. 

    Our Hotels for the Pre-Cruise Tour to the UK 2019 Click here to Download PDF

    Day 1 – FRIDAY – 17th May 2019 – ARRIVE HEATHROW AIRPORT – LONDON 

    Meet your chauffeur in the arrival hall after clearing customs and immigration. You will be transferred to the charming Oakley Court, a former country estate, now a boutique four-star hotel just a few miles from Windsor. If you arrive early, you may wish to visit Windsor Castle. Or stay to explore the beautiful gardens and grounds directly on the River Thames. Tonight, we will have our Welcome Dinner where you will meet your fellow explorers. (D) 

    Oakley Court 

    Day 2 – SATURDAY – 18th May 2019 – BLENHEIM PALACE – BOURTON-ON-THE WATER – GREENWAY HOTEL 

    After breakfast we shall depart for our first explorations of the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is a rural area of south central England covering parts of 6 counties, notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Its rolling hills and grassland harbor thatched medieval villages, churches and stately homes built of distinctive local yellow limestone. 

    Greenway Hotel and Spa 

    Our first stop will be at magnificent Blenheim Palace, the birthplace and summer “home” of Sir Winston Churchill. Blenheim Palace is a monumental English country house situated in the civil parish of Blenheim near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. It is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1722. At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. 

    After our guided tour of the palace, we will enjoy lunch at a 16th century pub near the palace – The Black Prince. 

    We continue to the quaint and picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water. Straddling the River Windrush, it’s known for its low bridges and traditional stone houses. The Cotswold Motoring Museum features vintage cars and a toy collection. Birdland is home to species including parrots, owls and king penguins, plus life-size model dinosaurs. The Model Village is a 1930s 1/9th scale replica of the village built in great detail, even including the model, itself. 

    We will arrive at our accommodations for the next two nights, the Greenway Hotel and Spa. With only 22 rooms, set on 5 beautiful acres, it is a quiet and charming retreat. We will have dinner at the hotel tonight. (B, L, D) 

    Day 3 – SUNDAY – 19th May 2019 – CHIPPING CAMPDEN – SUDELEY CASTLE 

    Chipping Campden is a small market town in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. It is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century. A rich wool trading center in the Middle Ages, Chipping Campden enjoyed the patronage of wealthy wool merchants (see also wool church), most notably William Greville (d.1401). Today it is a popular Cotswold tourist destination with old inns, hotels, specialist shops and restaurants. The High Street is lined with honey-colored limestone buildings, built from the mellow locally quarried oolitic limestone known as Cotswold stone, and boasts a wealth of fine vernacular architecture. At 

    its center stands the Market Hall with its splendid arches, built in 1627. 

    Other attractions include the grand early perpendicular wool church of St James – with its medieval altar frontals (c.1500), cope (c.1400) and vast and extravagant 17th-century monuments to local wealthy silk merchant Sir Baptist Hicks and his family – the Almshouses and Woolstaplers Hall. 

    We will lunch at another historic English pub – Eight Bells Inn – in Chipping Campden. 

    Sudeley Castle is located in the Cotswolds near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England. The present structure was built in the 15th century and may have been on the site of a 12th-century castle. The castle has a notable garden, which is designed and maintained to a very high standard. The chapel, St. Mary’s Sudeley, is the burial place of Queen Catherine Parr (1512–1548), the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, and contains her marble tomb. Unusually for a castle chapel, St Mary’s of Sudeley is part of the local parish of the Church of England. Sudeley is also one of the few castles left in England that is still a residence. It is a Grade I listed building, and recognized as an internationally important structure. (B, L, D) 

    Sudeley Castle 

    Day 4 – MONDAY – 20th May 2019 – BATH – DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK – BOVEY CASTLE 

    After breakfast we will say goodbye to our friends at the Greenway, and head south to Bath. Bath is the largest city in the county of Somerset, England, known for its Roman-built baths. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of London. The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987. 

    The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis (”the waters of Sulis”) c. 60 AD when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although hot springs were known even before then. A temple was constructed in AD 60–70, and a bathing complex was built up over the next 300 years. Engineers drove oak piles into the mud to provide a stable foundation and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the 2nd century, the spring was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted structure that housed the caldarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath). 

    Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th century and became a religious center; the building was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, and Bath became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era. Georgian architecture, crafted from Bath stone, includes the Royal Crescent, Circus, Pump Room and Assembly Rooms where Beau Nash presided over the city’s social life from 1705 until his death in 1761. Many of the streets and squares were laid out by John Wood, the Elder, and in the 18th century the city became fashionable and the population grew. Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century. Further building was undertaken in the 19th century and following the Bath Blitz in World War II. 

    We will first enjoy a panoramic tour of Bath. Bath has many interesting and picturesque places to visit – all within easy walking distances. There are also many restaurants, featuring everything from Thai to Mexican to Italian – and, of course, pubs. And even more shopping opportunities. The Roman Baths feature self-guided portable ear sets giving information throughout the archaeological exhibit. Some could spend 3 hours here alone. With all the choices, you will have 3 hours to explore on your own, or with fellow travelers with similar interests, and to enjoy lunch on your own. Once back aboard our coach, we will bid farewell to the Cotswolds and head to Dartmoor National Park, and 

    Bovey Castle, our home for the next two nights. Dinner will be at a nearby historic pub. (B, D) 

    Bovey Castle 

    Day 5 – TUESDAY – 21st May 2019 – EXPLORE DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK – CASTLE DROGO 

    Today we will explore Dartmoor National Park. Dartmoor is a moor in southern Devon, England. Protected by National Park status as Dartmoor National Park, it covers 954 km2 (368 sq mi). Visiting, as we are, during spring, we will likely encounter many young foals, lambs and calves with their mothers in the open fields. 

    The granite which forms the uplands dates from the Carboniferous Period of geological history. The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The highest point is High Willhays, 621 m (2,037 ft) above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology. 

    The majority of the prehistoric remains on Dartmoor date back to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Indeed, Dartmoor contains the largest concentration of Bronze Age remains in the United Kingdom, which suggests that this was when a larger population moved onto the hills of Dartmoor. The large systems of Bronze Age fields, divided by reaves, cover an area of over 10,000 hectares (39 sq mi) of the lower moors. 

    We will visit Grimspound – a late Bronze Age settlement, first settled about 1300 BC, situated on Dartmoor. It consists of a set of 24 hut circles surrounded by a low stone wall. The name was first recorded by the Reverend Richard Polwhele in 1797; it was probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon god of war, Grim (more commonly known as Woden, or Odin). In 1893 an archaeological dig was carried out by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, which recorded many details of Grimspound as well as, controversially, making a reconstruction of the site. 

    We will also visit the last castle built in the UK and have a guided tour of Castle Drogo. Constructed between 1911 and 1930, it was the last castle to be built in England. The client was Julius Drewe, the hugely successful founder of the Home and Colonial Stores. Drewe chose the site in the belief that it formed part of the lands of his supposed medieval ancestor, Drogo de Teigne. The architect he chose to realize his dream was Edwin Lutyens, then at the height of his career. Lutyens lamented Drewe’s determination to have a castle but nevertheless produced one of his finest buildings. The architectural critic, Christopher Hussey, described the result: ”The ultimate justification of Drogo is that it does not pretend to be a castle. It is a castle, as a castle is built, of granite, on a mountain, in the twentieth century”. 

    The castle was given to the National Trust in 1974, the first building constructed in the twentieth century that the Trust acquired. Currently undergoing conservation (2013–2018), the castle is a Grade I listed building. The gardens are Grade II listed on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. 

    This evening we will have our final dinner together – before boarding the Sea Spirit, that is! (B, L, D 

    Castle Drogo – Dartmoor 

    Day 6 – WEDNESDAY – 22nd May 2019 – MID-DAY TRANSFER TO PLYMOUTH – BOARD SEA SPIRIT 

    Enjoy a relaxing morning. Perhaps walk through the beautiful grounds of Bovey Castle. Depending on the scheduled boarding time of the Sea Spirit, we expect to depart mid-day for Plymouth, going directly to the pier. (B) 

     

Sea Spirit

Introducing the Sea Spirit, formerly the Spirit of Oceanus – Sailing in grand style with all the amenities of a luxury hotel.
Providing spacious suites for accommodation of 116 passengers the Sea Spirit at the same time features maneuverability and friendly atmosphere of small ships. The vessel has an ice-strengthened hull, a fleet of Zodiacs, and a set of retractable fin stabilizers for smoother sailing.

Explore the Polar Regions in style and comfort aboard the all-suite Sea Spirit. Providing spacious suites and social areas for 116 guests the Sea Spirit at the same time features maneuverability and friendly atmosphere of small ships.

Public areas include: Reception, Restaurant, Bar, Outdoor Bistro, Club Lounge, Library, Presentation Lounge, Infirmary, Gym, Bridge.

We have open Bridge policy. Talk to the Captain and officers. Watch landscapes from this special angle of view. Fix your location at a map of your expedition.

Fast Facts

  • Dare Launched/Rebuilt: 1992/2006
  • Length: 297 ft
  • Beam: 50 ft
  • Draft: 13.5 ft
  • Tonnage: 4954 t
  • Cruise Speed: 12 knots
  • Total Staff: 72
  • Passenger Capacity: 116
  • Registry: Bahamas

 

Onboard Amenities

Restaurant
The Restaurant on board the Sea Spirit offers open-seating dining, which means there are no assigned tables. Contemporary, international cuisine is created by our talented chefs.

Bar
After a day of explorations passengers may relax at a Bar staffed by a professional bartender. With a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and engaging conversation, the bar on board this small luxury ship welcomes guests to mix and mingle.

Presentation Lounge
The Presentation Lounge with state-of-the-art equipment is where all lectures, briefings and social gatherings take place. Attend informative lectures, recaps and briefings, and enjoy views outside.

Club Lounge
Club Lounge provides great opportunities for socializing and observing fantastic landscapes passing by. This comfortable seating area also offers a 24-hour self-service coffee and tea bar.

Library
The Library is a quiet cozy place for reading and relaxation. It has an extensive selection of polar books and DVDs, magazines, reference materials and newspapers.

Gym
Well-equipped Gym allows travelers not to break away from regular sports for the time of a trip. The Gym is open daily and offers stationary bikes, several treadmills, and some multi-functional training machines.

Reception
Should you have a question or require any service be sure to visit the Reception area. Our experts can provide invaluable information to help you get the most out of your cruise.

DECK PLANS and CABINS

All accommodations are air-conditioned and fitted with TV, telephone, hairdryers, mini-fridge, central music, and public address system and safe boxes. The fully equipped bathrooms are finished with marble.

CABINS

OWNER’S SUITE: Ocean view suite boasting sweeping views, interior entrance, a private terrace, a complimentary minibar (restocked daily), one queen bed and one sofa bed, sitting area, in-room safe, (Deck 6)

PREMIUM SUITE: Ocean view stateroom with direct access to their private balcony. Added amenities include: two twin or one queen bed, armoire, minibar, evening canapés, complimentary laundry service, and the services of a dedicated butler, fresh fruit upon arrival (Deck 6)

DELUXE SUITE: Ocean view stateroom with direct access to their private balcony, two twin or one queen bed (Deck 5)

SUPERIOR SUITE:Ocean view stateroom  with large pictures window(s), sweeping views, two twin or one queen bed (Deck 4)

CLASSIC SUITE: Ocean view stateroom with large pictures window(s), two twin or one queen bed (Deck 3)

MAIN DECK SUITE: Large ocean view stateroom with portholes, two twin or one queen bed (Deck 2)

TRIPLE CLASSIC SUITE: Ocean view stateroom with large pictures window(s), Three twin beds, or one Queen and one twin. (Deck 3).