UNITED KINGDOM CRUISE-TOUR with Dick and Leslie West

from $16,785$15,451

DATE: (2019) May 17 – June 07

DURATION: 22 DAYS/21 NIGHTS with pre- and post-cruise tours

13 DAYS/12 NIGHTS Cruise Only – Plymouth to Edinburgh – May 22-June 03

FROM: HEATHROW AIRPORT LONDON

TO:  EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

 

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

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD UK CRUISE PDF

POST-CRUISE TOUR: SCOTLAND – EDINBURGH, LOCHS, CASTLES AND WHISKY – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF

CLICK HERE FOR – Information about the unique and historic country house hotels and castles where we will stay

All about the UNITED KINGDOM CRUISE-TOUR with Dick and Leslie West.

Join Dick and Leslie West on this comprehensive tour and cruise as we explore the beautiful Cotswold region from Windsor to Bath, and the Dartmoor National Park in Devon, before delivering you to the Sea Spirit at dockside in Plymounth. We will stay at remarkable historic “country houses”, and dine at unique and historic restaurants and pubs. We will visit Blenheim Palace, birthplace and summer home of Sir Winston Churchill; Sudeley Castle, home of King Henry the VIII and his sixth wife, Queen Catherine, who is buried here; and Bath, where 2,000 years ago the Roman Empire built an elaborate bath complex, complete with a temple, and aquaduct system. To cap off the exploration, we will stay at the elegant, 5-star Bovey Castle in Dartmoor National Park and site of an ancient Bronze Age settlement.

On the cruise, we will 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 – the Scilly Isles nad Tresco Abby, Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands, and much more. Starting in historic Plymouth, and ending in majestic Edinburgh.

Then, to top it all off, we willhave an extraordinary 5-day, 4-night exploration of beautiful Edinburgh,  starting from the pier in Leith with a visit to the Royal Yacht Brittania, and including visits to the castle, the National Museum of Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots residence Palace of Holyroodhouse, and dramtic St. Giles Cathedral. We will also visit the Scottish countryside, staying at Crossbasket Castle, now a five star luxury hotel. We will visit Stirling Castle and the National Wallace Monument, commemorating Sir William Wallace, the famed Scottish freedom fighter who defeated the English at nearby Stirling Bridge in 1297. Then we will visit the largest freshwater lake, Loch Lomond, on the Highlands border, before finishing the day at a whisky distillery to learn abnout the processes and taste the product.

All the hotels and restaurants chosen for this adventure are unique and spectacular – from country estates to castles.

It is highly recommended that all three programs be booked together as described herein to benefit from the full experience. 

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

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE UK CRUISE PDF

POST-CRUISE TOUR: SCOTLAND – EDINBURGH, LOCHS, CASTLES AND WHISKY – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF

CLICK HERE FOR DESCRIPTIONS OF THE HOTELS ON OUR TOUR

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.

Included for Pre- and Post-Cruise Tours –

  • Nine nights in deluxe 4- and 5-Star accommodations at unique, historic country manor and city boutique hotels and castles
  • Nine Breakfasts, Seven Lunches, Nine Dinners
  • Beer and wine with lunch and dinner
  • All transfers and transportation in private vehicles
  • Admission to all attractions and sites
  • Gratuities to pre- and post tour guides and restaurants
  • Luggage handling for one piece per person

Aboard Ship-

  • 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
  • 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
  • Alcoholic beverages other than wine and beer with lunch and dinner
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and telecommunication charges
  • Gratuities to ship staff
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those for special events and celebrations
  1. Day 1 ARRIVE LONDON'S HEATHROW AIRPORT - TRANSFER TO HOTEL

    Welcome to England! You will meet your chauffeur in the arrivals hall after clearing immigrations and customs.

    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)

  2. Day 2 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.

    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)

  3. Day 3 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)

  4. Day 4 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)

  5. Day 5 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

  6. Day 6 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.

    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.

    (B, D)

     

     

  7. Day 7 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.

  8. Days 8-9 Republic 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.

  9. Day 10 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.

  10. Day 11 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.

  11. Day 12 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.

  12. Day 13 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.

  13. Day 14 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.

  14. Days 15-16 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.

  15. Day 17 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.

  16. Day 18 Disembarkation in Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland - Begin Scotland Tour

    After breakfast on board Sea Spirit we say farewell in Leith, Edinburgh’s vibrant port district.

    Start your Edinburgh tour with a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith and discover what life was like on board The Queen’s floating residence. Explore this iconic ship with beautiful State Apartments, Crew’s Quarters, Admiral’s Cabin and Engine Room.

    Afterwards, enjoy a panoramic tour of Edinburgh with its two distinct areas. The Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress, and the neoclassical New Town, dating back from the 18th century. The harmonious connection of these two contrasting historic areas, each with many important buildings, is what gives the city its unique character and the reason it was awarded World Heritage site status by UNESCO.

    Admire spectacular views across Edinburgh’s skyline whilst enjoying your lunch at the Tower Restaurant, uniquely located above the National Museum of Scotland.

    In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the National Museum of Scotland and discover Scottish history from the Palaeolithic era to the present day; and see how the lives of everyday Scots have changed through the centuries.

  17. Day 19 Edinburgh

    After breakfast, meet your guide and make your way to Edinburgh Castle, known as the “Jewel in Scotland’s Crown”. From its volcanic rock, it towers over the city, every inch a mighty fortress and defender of the nation. Learn about dramatic moments in the lives of Scotland’s royalty, admire the Great Hall where royal celebrations and ceremonies took place, and visit cavernous stone vaults which once held prisoners of war from across the world. See the Stone of Destiny – for centuries the kings of Scotland were enthroned upon this enigmatic stone and finally, see the ‘Honours of Scotland’, the Scottish Crown Jewels!

    Next stop is magnificent St Giles Cathedral. For the better part of a thousand years St Giles’ has been at the physical and spiritual heart of Scotland’s capital city and many key moments in history have been played out or around it.

    Finish your day exploring the Palace of Holyroodhouse, a former home of Mary, Queen of Scots and the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II. Explore 14 magnificent historic and State Apartments, the romantic ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey and wander around beautiful royal gardens.

  18. Day 20 Scotland Countryside

    After a leisurely breakfast, leave Edinburgh mid-morning and travel to the stunning 15th century Rosslyn Chapel, made world famous in Dan Brown’s book ‘Da Vinci Code’. Admire stunning carvings, learn about the connection to the Knights Templar and find out more about the myths and legends surrounding the whereabouts of the ‘Holy Grail’.

    Enjoy the finest Scottish produce for lunch served in the spectacular surroundings of Champany.

    Arrive at Crossbasket Castle, your base for the next two nights. Afternoon is at leisure to relax and enjoy the grounds before your dinner at the hotel (A La Carte menu).

  19. Day 21 Loch, Castle, and Whisky

    Stirling Castle, located in Stirling and dating from the early 12th century, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times. It was the early childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots, and played key roles in the Scottish fight for freedom against England.

    Over 700 years ago tyranny and terror were the tools being used by England to rule Scotland. Occupied and oppressed, the Scottish nation sought a hero to challenge the cruelty of King Edward I – someone to take the campaign for freedom into battle, and on to victory. When the two countries faced each other at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, Scotland was led to victory by a figure destined to become a national hero – William Wallace (Portrayed by Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”). We will visit the 140 year old National Wallace Monument to learn more about this Scottish hero for freedom.

    Loch Lomond is the largest inland body of water in Great Britain by surface area, 27 sq. miles. The loch lays across the border between the Central Scottish Lowlands and the Highlands. The Loch forms part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park which was established in 2002.

    Our last visit, Glengoyne Distillery, is a whisky distillery continuously in operation since its founding in 1833 at Dumgoyne, north of Glasgow, Scotland. Glengoyne is unique in producing Highland single malt whisky matured in the Lowlands. They do things differently at Glengoyne. They take you closer to the journey, further into the detail, and deeper into the complexity of our spirit. You’ll learn a lot about whisky here, and you’ll have a lot of fun while you’re at it.

    Tonight, enjoy a fantastic tasting menu created by legendary French chef Albert Roux and his son Michel Roux Jr.

     

  20. Day 22 Farewell - Departures

    Our adventure comes to an end. Private transfer to the Glasgow or Edinburgh airport for your return flight home.

    Thank you for travelling with us!

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).

 

 

OUR HOTELS FOR THE PRE- AND POST-CRUISE TOURS TO THE UK 2019

Here is some information about the three unique hotels we will be staying at during our 5-night pre-cruise, and 4-night post-cruise tours.

Everybody has a past and at The Oakley Court, ours includes royalty, spies, Napoleon and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We weren’t always a luxury country house hotel in Windsor. Life began way back before the days of Dracula dining at our table and The Phantom staging his famous opera. But before we go any further, we promise you there’s no skeletons in our closet. You can put the cushions down – behind the scenes, our story is thriller-free.

The scene begins with a flashback, a Time Warp to our unique history. Dating back to 1859 before our movie career even began, a chap called Sir Richard Hall-Say built the house for his young wife and their three children. Sir Richard later sold the property, after his appointment as High Sheriff of Berkshire, to the rather well-connected Lord Otho Fitzgerald. It was during his time at The Oakley Court that famous names began to grace the stage including the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII!), Leslie Ward (The famed SPY artist of Vanity Fair) and Napoleon IV, the last survivor of the Napoleon dynasty – to name just a few.

After changing hands from a Sheriff to a founder of Avery Scales and then his son, it wasn’t until The Oakley Court was bought by eccentric Frenchman, Ernest Olivier, that the hotel became the famous backdrop for classic horror. Five films were made by Hammer within the grounds in 1949 including ‘The Man in Black’ starring a young Sid James. While shooting here Hammer found Down Place, later the home of Bray Studios, setting the stage for many more films to come.

After 1965, when Olivier passed away, the house was vacant – except for the film crews who made over 200 films on location. These include the world-famous Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and the original ‘Half a Sixpence’ (1967). In 1977 the house was granted Grade II heritage listing. The hotel opened in 1981 and has been used to film TV shows such as ‘Law and Order’ and ‘The Comic Strip Presents’. The hotel hosted Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 as she joined us for the annual swan upping. This marked the first time a reigning monarch had personally attended a swan upping and her Majesty, along with local school children enjoyed the festivities from the hotel grounds. We were later the official base of the GB Olympic rowing team, competing at the nearby Dorney Lake for London 2012.

Oakley Court is a Victorian Gothic country house set in 35 acres (140,000 m2) overlooking the River Thames at Water Oakley in the civil parish of Bray in the English county of Berkshire. It was built in 1859 and is currently a luxury hotel. It is a Grade II* listed building that has been often used as a film location.

The Court was built in 1859 for Sir Richard Hall Say who married Ellen Evans of Boveney Court in 1857. He was appointed High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1864 and Justice of the Peace in 1865. In 1874 Oakley Court was sold to Lord Otho FitzGerald, then to a John Lewis Phipps and in 1900 to Sir William Beilby Avery of Avery Scales. In 1919 Ernest Olivier purchased the property together with 50 acres (200,000 m2) of Berkshire woodland for £27,000.

In August 1949 Oakley Court became home to the famous British film production company Hammer Films. Hammer shot five films there, including “The Man in Black” and “The Lady Craved Excitement”, before moving to the adjacent Down Place – what subsequently became Bray Studios – the following year.

While the bulk of Hammer’s most famous horror movies were filmed at Bray in the late 50’s and early 60’s, the studio continued to make occasional use of Oakley Court as an exterior location, for example in The Brides of Dracula (1962), The Reptile (1966), and The Plague of the Zombies (1966).

Other films shot there over the years include “Witchcraft” (1964); And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973); the William Castle horror-comedy The Old Dark House (1963) (a remake of the original The Old Dark House, directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff); the cult independent horror film Vampyres (1974); the classic 1976 mystery farce Murder by Death; and the 1978 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore comedy, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Freddie Frances was inspired by Oakley Court’s exteriors and long wished to set a film there; his 1970 Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly was written specially to take advantage of the unique landscaping and architecture.

It is perhaps best known as Dr. Frank N Furter’s castle (called The Frankenstein Place) in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).

In 1995, it featured as the ‘Laxton Grange Hotel’ in the British television series Pie in the Sky starring Richard Griffiths.

The Greenway Hotel & Spa, a Luxury Country Hotel in Gloucestershire

Located on the outskirts of the Regency town of Cheltenham, The Greenway is a 16th century luxury Elizabethan manor house hotel and spa. The 21- bedroom hotel, with its warm Cotswold stone exterior, is the picture of English country charm.

The grandfather clock ticks as you enter through stone archways into a beautiful entrance hall with wooden floors, an open fire and a décor of soft golds and honeys.

The Greenway Hotel & Spa is a charming honey-coloured stone, 16th-century Elizabethan manor house set in eight acres of manicured gardens. With an award-winning restaurant, a spa, a hydrotherapy pool and the chance to enjoy a range of country pursuits, it offers both comfort and style in the heart of the Cotswolds.

On arrival at The Greenway Hotel & Spa, pass under the stone archways into the warm ambiance of the entrance hall with its rich wood floor and a glowing fire. The rooms and suites are decorated in a mix of traditional country house and boutique style with vibrant soft furnishings and lovely garden views.

 

Why Stay at The Greenway Hotel & Spa?

Well, it’s definitely because of the eight acres of stunning grounds with views over the rolling Cotswold Hills, our luxury bedrooms, not to mention the outstanding service of our friendly team.

Perhaps it’s our fabulous Elan Spa with its hydrotherapy pool, thermal suites, outdoor hot tub, Champagne nail bar and ESPA treatments. Could it be our 2 AA Rosette restaurant, headed up by our talented head chef Marcus McGuiness? Then there’s the relaxed lounge and bar with open stone fireplaces, perfect for relaxing with a cocktail and canapés after a day out at Cheltenham races.

Our proximity to Cheltenham with her rich history, upmarket boutiques and coffee shops is a definite pull for our guests, but it’s all of these elements combined that make The Greenway Hotel & Spa such a unique destination.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Bovey Castle, Devon

Located in the heart of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, the 5 Red Star Bovey Castle rests in 275 acres of beautiful countryside and rolling valleys.

The house was built in 1907 to designs by Detmar Blow, for the second Viscount Hambleden (the son and heir of the Conservative politician and stationery magnate William Henry Smith).

By 1930 it had become a hotel operated by the Great Western Railway, known as the Manor House Hotel. In 1948 it was taken over by the British Transport Commission. It was expanded under new ownership in the 1990s, then purchased and refurbished by the entrepreneur Peter de Savary in 2003 and renamed ‘Bovey Castle’. In 2006 de Savary sold ‘Bovey Castle’ to Hilwood Resorts. In 2014 it was sold to The Rigby Group plc as part of their Eden Hotel Collection. In 2017 British diver Tom Daley and American screenwriter Dustin Lance Black got married at Bovey Castle.

First opened as a hotel and golf resort in 1930 by Great Western Railways, our luxury castle hotel boasts 60 fabulous bedrooms, 22 self-catering country lodges nestled in the grounds, not to mention two refurbished restaurants, the Elan Spa and our award-winning 18 hole championship golf course, designed by J F Abercromby.

Why stay at Bovey Castle Hotel?

Well, it’s definitely because of the luxurious hospitality of Bovey Castle, the attention to detail and outstanding service. It may also be to make the most of the simply glorious surroundings or to indulge in a treatment or two in the Elan spa.

Perhaps it’s the vast array of country pursuits, golf and activities available to experience or the wonderful choice of dining options, from afternoon tea to fine dining in the Great Western and the classic British menu in Smith’s Brasserie. The unrivalled location and views over the dramatic Dartmoor National Park play a part, but it’s all of these elements combined that make Bovey Castle Hotel such a unique destination time after time.

The History of Bovey Castle

In 1890, William Henry Smith (WH Smith, later to become Viscount Hambleden) purchased 5,000 acres of land from the Earl of Devon for £103,000. The estate consisted of several large ancient manors, including Moretonhampstead and North Bovey; almost thirty farms, extensive woodland and fishing rights on the rivers Bovey and Teign. It was his son, Frederick, who built the Manor House in a lavish neo-Elizabethan style as one of the family’s numerous country retreats.

The interior boasted a Jacobean style staircase, plaster ceilings, an oak panelled dining room, open fireplace with a carved stone chimney and an Adam drawing room. Frederick became involved in Devon life and was a subaltern in the Devonshire Yeomanry, leading the regiment in Gallipoli and Egypt in the First World War. During the First World War, the Manor House became a convalescent home for officers and as a military hospital when war broke out again in 1939.

The Hambleden family rarely visited the Manor House during the 1920s, but when they did venture down to Devon the villages of Moretonhampstead and North Bovey would turn out to watch the spectacle. Lord Hambleden died in June 1928. His estate, consisting largely of the entire ordinary shareholding of WH Smith and his properties, were valued at £3,500,000 but was liable for death duty of £1,000,000. North Bovey Manor House and its estate were almost immediately put on the market to pay the death duty, which was eventually auctioned to the Great Western Railway for conversion to a golfing hotel for reputedly only £15,000.

The hotel and golf course opened in 1930 and the hotel entertained many celebrities. Following several successful years, another 17 bedrooms, a cocktail bar, dining room and squash and badminton courts were added between1935-1936. From 1946 to 1983, it was returned to the Great Western Railway and re-opened as a hotel. It then changed owners again in 1991 when considerable expansion took place and the golf course became a top priority. The 18 hole championship course is now one of England’s finest.

The Manor House became Bovey Castle in 2003 and 22 estate lodges, a second restaurant, spa and pool were added, with further refurbishment of the bedrooms undertaken in 2008 by Annabel Elliot and her team.

Bovey Castle became part of the award-winning Eden Hotel Collection in June 2014, joining seven other sister hotels across five counties from Warwickshire down to Devon. Eden Hotel Collection completed a multi-million pound refurbishment of the public areas, spa and restaurants in 2015, and relaunched Bovey’s new look in June 2015.

In August 2016 Bovey Castle was awarded 5 stars by the AA.

 

THE WITCHERY BY THE CASTLE, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

FABULOUSLY ORIGINAL – UNIQUELY INDULGENT SUITES

Hidden in a collection of buildings on Castlehill, the Witchery by the Castle has just nine fabulously original and indulgent suites, described as one of the seven wonders of the hotel world by Cosmopolitan.

Each has its own unique quirks and charms but, whichever suite you choose, you’ll find oodles of glamour, indulgence, luxury and roll top baths for two!

Rates include a bottle of Champagne, cookies, mineral water, turn down service, newspaper and breakfast.

Choose between the indulgence of our renowned breakfast hamper served in your suite, or a traditional Scottish breakfast served in the candlelit splendour of the Original Witchery Dining Room.

The Witchery Suites occupy just two guests in double beds and are not suitable for children.

 

JAMES THOMSON OBE

The Witchery’s indulgent owner, James Thomson, is Scotland’s best-known restaurateur and hotelier, recently adding the national accolade of “Restaurateur of the Year” to his many other awards which include an OBE for services to hospitality and Scottish Tourism.

James created the Witchery by the Castle in 1979, starting the long-term rescue of Boswell’s Court, a sixteenth century building at the heart of the Old Town that he loved.

Now in its fourth decade, the Witchery is probably Scotland’s best-known restaurant and restaurant-with-rooms, a favourite of both visitors to the city and its fiercely loyal local clientele. Over the years the Witchery has grown to include the elegant the Secret Garden restaurant and a collection of eight uniquely sumptuous and quirky luxury suites.

The Witchery by the Castle has been joined by a growing collection of distinctive hotel and restaurant properties including the city’s first rooftop restaurant, the Tower, opulent Rhubarb and his startlingly decadent historic five red star hotel, Prestonfield. All share the Thomson hallmarks of magical experiences – created with passion and delivered with style!

James remains an active ambassador for Scottish tourism and is closely involved in a range of industry, educational and charitable organisations including The Prince’s Trust in Scotland of which he is a Council Member raising over £250,000 so far from his annual Lunch with an Old Bag event. In 2005 he was recognised for services to hospitality and the Scottish tourism industry with an OBE.

The Witchery is a very personal passion for James. He is currently restoring another part of the historic building and he can be seen each day, adding many of the personal touches that make the Witchery so unique.

 

 

THE CROSSBASKET CASTLE

Welcome to Crossbasket Castle, Blantyre, Glasgow

Sensitively renovated, Crossbasket is a stunning 17th century castle transformed into one of Scotland’s most luxurious hotel and event venues.

Steeped in history, Crossbasket Castle has many unique period features which have been restored to their original beauty using traditional craftsmen and materials. The Stewart Drawing Room is a perfect example of the quality of restoration featuring uniquely detailed cornices finished in gold leaf to ensure these features convey the magnificent grandeur typical of this era.

The perfect luxury retreat for guests looking for peace and tranquillity, Crossbasket features nine breath-taking en-suite bedrooms each decorated in a classical style and named in honour of a historical custodian of this magnificent castle. Each bedroom is individually crafted and strikes the perfect balance between traditional character and modern finishing.

Authentically charming, Crossbasket’s four-story bridal tower dates back to the 16th century as part of the preceding Mains Castle. The fairy-tale turret room, built on a hill overlooking the Calder river, is served by a sweeping spiral stone staircase. A true one-off, it is the ultimate bridal suite.

Dine in opulent surroundings at the latest contemporary fine-dining restaurant from the Roux culinary dynasty. Overseen by the legendary French chef Albert Roux and son Michel Roux Jr, dishes showcase fare from Scotland’s renowned natural larder with an added touch of creative flair from the iconic Roux team.

The castle grounds include a large stretch of woodland, extensive nature walks and a beautiful stretch of river featuring majestic waterfalls. The convenient location means there is plenty to do and see locally, including golfing, fishing and hiking.

 

Bedrooms

Nine breathtaking en suite bedrooms each decorated in a period style and named in honour of a historical custodian of this magnificent Castle. Every bedroom is finished with stunning period window and bed dressings and complemented with original antique furniture and luxuriously over sized beds.

Each en suite bathroom is individually crafted to provide an intimate area with soft lighting. The rooms are fully equipped with audio and video for your enjoyment.

  • Ornate and luxurious period style beds
  • Original antique chandeliers
  • Magnificent views of the grounds and river
  • Large and spacious with many including a lounge area for your further relaxation
  • Full length mirrors for making sure the fine details are just right