Ultra-luxury cruises with private butler service.

Northern Europe & British Isles

Southampton to Southampton - Voyage Number : 6990
DEPARTURE
Sep 03 2021
DURATION
12 DAYS
SHIP
Silver Spirit

Itinerary & Excursions

Go beyond your boundaries and explore the world as never before.

Southampton is England's leading passenger port. It is rich in historic embarkations, from Henry V's fleet bound for France and the battle of Agincourt to the Mayflower, the ill-fated Titanic, and the maiden voyages of the great ocean liners of the 20th century such as the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth 2. Parts of the town center can seem mundane, having been hastily rebuilt after World War II bombing, but bits of the city's history emerge from between modern buildings. The Old Town retains its medieval feel, and some remnants of the old castellated town walls remain. Other attractions include a decent art gallery, extensive parks, and a couple of good museums. The Southampton Boat Show, a 10-day event in mid-September, draws huge crowds.

The bustle of this resort town's fishing harbor, yachting center, and commercial port only adds to its charm. In the 18th century Falmouth was the main mail-boat port for North America, and in Flushing, a village across the inlet, you can see the slate-covered houses built by prosperous mail-boat captains. A ferry service now links the two towns. On Custom House Quay, off Arwenack Street, is the King's Pipe, an oven in which seized contraband was burned.

Dublin is making a comeback. The decade-long "Celtic Tiger" boom era was quickly followed by the Great Recession, but The Recovery has finally taken a precarious hold. For visitors, this newer and wiser Dublin has become one of western Europe's most popular and delightful urban destinations. Whether or not you're out to enjoy the old or new Dublin, you'll find it a colossally entertaining city, all the more astonishing considering its intimate size.

It is ironic and telling that James Joyce chose Dublin as the setting for his famous Ulysses, Dubliners, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man because it was a "center of paralysis" where nothing much ever changed. Which only proves that even the greats get it wrong sometimes. Indeed, if Joyce were to return to his once-genteel hometown today—disappointed with the city's provincial outlook, he left it in 1902 at the age of 20—and take a quasi-Homeric odyssey through the city (as he so famously does in Ulysses), would he even recognize Dublin as his "Dear Dirty Dumpling, foostherfather of fingalls and dotthergills"?

For instance, what would he make of Temple Bar—the city's erstwhile down-at-the-heels neighborhood, now crammed with cafés and trendy hotels and suffused with a nonstop, international-party atmosphere? Or the simple sophistication of the open-air restaurants of the tiny Italian Quarter (named Quartier Bloom after his own creation), complete with sultry tango lessons? Or of the hot–cool Irishness, where every aspect of Celtic culture results in sold-out theaters, from Once, the cult indie movie and Broadway hit, to Riverdance, the old Irish mass-jig recast as a Las Vegas extravaganza? Plus, the resurrected Joyce might be stirred by the songs of Hozier, fired up by the sultry acting of Michael Fassbender, and moved by the award-winning novels of Colum McCann. As for Ireland's capital, it's packed with elegant shops and hotels, theaters, galleries, coffeehouses, and a stunning variety of new, creative little restaurants can be found on almost every street in Dublin, transforming the provincial city that suffocated Joyce into a place almost as cosmopolitan as the Paris to which he fled. And the locals are a hell of a lot more fun!

Now that the economy has finally turned a corner, Dublin citizens can cast a cool eye over the last 20 crazy years. Some argue that the boomtown transformation of their heretofore-tranquil city has permanently affected its spirit and character. These skeptics (skepticism long being a favorite pastime in the capital city) await the outcome of "Dublin: The Sequel," and their greatest fear is the possibility that the tattered old lady on the Liffey has become a little less unique, a little more like everywhere else.

Oh ye of little faith: the rare ole gem that is Dublin is far from buried. The fundamentals—the Georgian elegance of Merrion Square, the Norman drama of Christ Church Cathedral, the foamy pint at an atmospheric pub—are still on hand to gratify. Most of all, there are the locals themselves: the nod and grin when you catch their eye on the street, the eagerness to hear half your life story before they tell you all of theirs, and their paradoxically dark but warm sense of humor. It's expected that 2016 will be an extra-special year in the capital, as centenary celebrations of the fateful 1916 Easter Rising will dominate much of the cultural calendar.

Before English and Scottish settlers arrived in the 1600s, Belfast was a tiny village called Béal Feirste ("sandbank ford") belonging to Ulster's ancient O'Neill clan. With the advent of the Plantation period (when settlers arrived in the 1600s), Sir Arthur Chichester, from Devon in southwestern England, received the city from the English Crown, and his son was made Earl of Donegall. Huguenots fleeing persecution from France settled near here, bringing their valuable linen-work skills. In the 18th century, Belfast underwent a phenomenal expansion—its population doubled every 10 years, despite an ever-present sectarian divide. Although the Anglican gentry despised the Presbyterian artisans—who, in turn, distrusted the native Catholics—Belfast's growth continued at a dizzying speed. The city was a great Victorian success story, an industrial boomtown whose prosperity was built on trade, especially linen and shipbuilding. Famously (or infamously), the Titanic was built here, giving Belfast, for a time, the nickname "Titanic Town." Having laid the foundation stone of the city's university in 1845, Queen Victoria returned to Belfast in 1849 (she is recalled in the names of buildings, streets, bars, monuments, and other places around the city), and in the same year, the university opened under the name Queen's College. Nearly 40 years later, in 1888, Victoria granted Belfast its city charter. Today its population is nearly 300,000, tourist numbers have increased, and this dramatically transformed city is enjoying an unparalleled renaissance.

This is all a welcome change from the period when news about Belfast meant reports about "the Troubles." Since the 1994 ceasefire, Northern Ireland's capital city has benefited from major hotel investment, gentrified quaysides (or strands), a sophisticated new performing arts center, and major initiatives to boost tourism. Although the 1996 bombing of offices at Canary Wharf in London disrupted the 1994 peace agreement, the ceasefire was officially reestablished on July 20, 1997, and this embattled city began its quest for a newfound identity.

Since 2008, the city has restored all its major public buildings such as museums, churches, theaters, City Hall, Ulster Hall—and even the glorious Crown Bar—spending millions of pounds on its built heritage. A gaol that at the height of the Troubles held some of the most notorious murderers involved in paramilitary violence is now a major visitor attraction.

Belfast's city center is made up of three roughly contiguous areas that are easy to navigate on foot. From the south end to the north, it's about an hour's leisurely walk.

Oban, "little bay" in Gaelic, today has a resident population of 8,500 and is the unofficial capital of the West Highlands - the "Gateway to the Isles." The panoramic views of the mountains, lochs and islands which have captivated artists, authors, composers, and poets for centuries are as striking now as they were when Dunollie Castle, a ruined keep which has stood sentinel over the narrow entrance to the sheltered bay for around six hundred years, was the northern outpost of the Dalriadic Scots. It is no surprise to find Oban in the 21st-century remains a magnet for travellers from all over the world. The town's present day popularity owes much to the Victorians, and as early as 1812, when the Comet steamship linked Oban with Glasgow, the town played host to intrepid travellers touring Staffa - the inspiration for Mendelssohn's Hebridean Overture - and Iona - home of Scottish Christianity since St Columba stepped ashore in AD563. Indeed once Oban had the royal seal of approval from Queen Victoria, who called it "one of the finest spots we have seen," the town's destiny as an endearingly enchanting holiday destination was as firmly set as the lava columns of Fingal's Cave in Oban is justifiably known as the “gateway to the Isles.” The town's south pier is the embarkation point for car ferries to Mull, Coll, Tiree, Barra, South Uist, Colonsay, Lismore and Islay. From these islands you can travel further a field to Iona, Staffa and to many of the smaller less well known isles.
Tour description

Stornoway, Scotland


The Isle of Lewis and Harris is the northernmost and largest of the Outer Hebrides-the Western Isles in common parlance. The island's only major town, Stornoway, is on a nearly landlocked harbor on the east coast of Lewis. It's the port capital for the Outer Hebrides and the island's cultural center, such that it is. Stornoway has an increasing number of good restaurants. Lewis has some fine historic attractions, including the Calanais Standing Stones-a truly magical place. The Uists are known for their rare, plentiful wildlife.


Stornoway. Besides being the island's main entry point for ferries, Stornoway is also Lewis's main arts center. You'll find some good restaurants in town if you want to have lunch off the ship. The town can be explored by bicycle if you are so inclined. Local rental shops can give you advice on where to ride, including a route to Tolsta that takes in five stunning beaches before reaching the edge of moorland.


An Lanntair Arts Centre. The fabulous An Lanntair Arts Centre has exhibitions of contemporary and traditional art, as well as a cinema, a gift shop, and a restaurant serving international and Scottish fare. There are frequent traditional musical and theatrical events in the impressive auditorium. Kenneth St..


Black House. In the small community of Arnol, the Black House is a well-preserved example of an increasingly rare type of traditional Hebridean home. Once common throughout the islands-even into the 1950s-these dwellings were built without mortar and thatched on a timber framework without eaves. Other characteristic features include an open central peat hearth and the absence of a chimney-hence the soot and the designation black. On display inside are many of the house's original furnishings. To reach Arnol from Port of Ness, head south on the A857 and pick up the A858 at Barvas. Off A858, 21 mi southwest of Port of Ness. Admission charged.


Calanais Standing Stones. These impressive stones are actually part of a cluster of several different archaeological sites in this area. Probably positioned in several stages between 3000 BC and 1500 BC, the grouping consists of an avenue of 19 monoliths extending northward from a circle of 13 stones, with other rows leading south, east, and west. Ruins of a cairn sit within the circle on the east side. Researchers believe they may have been used for astronomical observations, but you can create your own explanations. The visitor center has an exhibit on the stones, a gift shop, and a tearoom. On an unmarked road off A858. Admission charged.


Dun Carloway. One of the best-preserved Iron Age brochs (circular stone towers) in Scotland, Dun Carloway dominates the scattered community of Carloway. The mysterious tower was probably built around 2,000 years ago as protection against seaborne raiders. The Dun Broch Centre explains more about the broch and its setting. Off A857.


Gearrannan. Up a side road north from Carloway, Gearrannan is an old black-house village that has been brought back to life with a museum screening excellent short films on peat cutting and weaving. For a unique experience, groups can rent the restored houses.


Leverburgh. At Leverburgh you can take the ferry to North Uist. Nearby Northton has several attractions; St. Clement's Church at Rodel is particularly worth a visit.


MacGillivray Centre. Located in a round building overlooking the bay, the MacGillivray Centre gives insight into the life and work of William MacGillivray (1796-1852), a noted naturalist with strong links to Harris. MacGillivray authored the five-volume History of British Birds. This is a great location for a picnic (there are tables for just such a purpose). A walk to a ruined church starts at the parking lot. A859, Northton.


Seallam! Visitor Centre and Co Leis Thu? Genealogical Research Centre. The center is where you can trace your Western Isles ancestry. Photographs and interpretive signs describe the history of Harris and its people. The owners organize guided walks and cultural evenings weekly between May and September. Off A859, Northton. Admission charged.


St. Clement's Church. At the southernmost point of Harris is the community of Rodel, where you can find St. Clement's Church, a cruciform church standing on a hillock. This is the most impressive pre-Reformation church in the Outer Hebrides; it was built around 1500 and contains the magnificently sculptured tomb (1528) of the church's builder, Alasdair Crotach, MacLeod chief of Dunvegan Castle. Rodel is 3 mi south of Leverburgh and 21 mi south of Tarbert. A859, Rodel.


Port of Ness. The stark, windswept community of Port of Ness, 30 mi north of Stornoway, cradles a small harbor squeezed in among the rocks.


Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. At the northernmost point of Lewis stands the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, designed by David and Thomas Stevenson (of the prominent engineering family whose best-known member was not an engineer at all, but the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson). The structure was first lighted in 1862. The adjacent cliffs provide a good vantage point for viewing seabirds, whales, and porpoises. The lighthouse is northwest of Port of Ness along the B8014.


Shopping


Harris tweed is available at many outlets on the islands, including some of the weavers' homes; keep an eye out for signs directing you to weavers' workshops.


Harris Tweed Artisans Cooperative. The Harris Tweed Artisans Cooperative sells stylish and quirky hand-crafted tweed clothing, hats, accessories, all made by artists belonging to the cooperative. 40 Point St., Stornoway.


Borgh Pottery. At Borgh Pottery, open from Monday to Saturday 9:30 to 6, you can buy attractive hand-thrown studio pottery made on the premises, including lamps, vases, mugs, and dishes. Fivepenny House, A857, Borve.

In bustling Kirkwall, the main town on Orkney, there's plenty to see in the narrow, winding streets extending from the harbor. The cathedral and some museums are highlights.

Dundee makes an excellent base for exploring Fife and Angus at any time of year. The West End—especially its main thoroughfare Perth Road—pulses with life, with intimate cafés and excellent bars. The Dundee Contemporary Arts center has gained the city some attention. As you walk the cobbled streets, you may glimpse the 1888 Tay Rail Bridge, and if you head southwest you can reach Magdalen Green, where landscape artist James McIntosh Patrick (1907–98) found inspiration from the views and ever-changing skyscapes. The popular comic strips The Beano and The Dandy were first published here in the 1930s, so statues by the Scottish sculptor Antony Morrow depicting Desperate Dan, Dawg, and a catapult-wielding Minnie the Minx were erected in the City Square.

Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose, as Charlotte Brontë once wrote. One of the world's stateliest cities and proudest capitals, it's built—like Rome—on seven hills, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history. In a skyline of sheer drama, Edinburgh Castle watches over the capital city, frowning down on Princes Street’s glamour and glitz. But despite its rich past, the city’s famous festivals, excellent museums and galleries, as well as the modern Scottish Parliament, are reminders that Edinburgh has its feet firmly in the 21st century.

Nearly everywhere in Edinburgh (the burgh is always pronounced burra in Scotland) there are spectacular buildings, whose Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian pillars add touches of neoclassical grandeur to the largely Presbyterian backdrop. Large gardens are a strong feature of central Edinburgh, where the city council is one of the most stridently conservationist in Europe. Arthur's Seat, a mountain of bright green and yellow furze, rears up behind the spires of the Old Town. This child-size mountain jutting 822 feet above its surroundings has steep slopes and little crags, like a miniature Highlands set down in the middle of the busy city. Appropriately, these theatrical elements match Edinburgh's character—after all, the city has been a stage that has seen its fair share of romance, violence, tragedy, and triumph.

Modern Edinburgh has become a cultural capital, staging the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival in every possible venue each August. The stunning Museum of Scotland complements the city’s wealth of galleries and artsy hangouts. Add Edinburgh’s growing reputation for food and nightlife and you have one of the world’s most beguiling cities.

Today the city is the second most important financial center in the United Kingdom, and the fifth most important in Europe. The city regularly is ranked near the top in quality-of-life surveys. Accordingly, New Town apartments on fashionable streets sell for considerable sums. In some senses the city is showy and materialistic, but Edinburgh still supports learned societies, some of which have their roots in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Royal Society of Edinburgh, for example, established in 1783 "for the advancement of learning and useful knowledge," remains an important forum for interdisciplinary activities.

Even as Edinburgh moves through the 21st century, its tall guardian castle remains the focal point of the city and its venerable history. Take time to explore the streets—peopled by the spirits of Mary, Queen of Scots; Sir Walter Scott; and Robert Louis Stevenson—and pay your respects to the world's best-loved terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. In the evenings you can enjoy candlelit restaurants or a folk ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee, a traditional Scottish dance with music), though you should remember that you haven't earned your porridge until you've climbed Arthur's Seat. Should you wander around a corner, say, on George Street, you might see not an endless cityscape, but blue sea and a patchwork of fields. This is the county of Fife, beyond the inlet of the North Sea called the Firth of Forth—a reminder, like the mountains to the northwest that can be glimpsed from Edinburgh's highest points, that the rest of Scotland lies within easy reach.

Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose, as Charlotte Brontë once wrote. One of the world's stateliest cities and proudest capitals, it's built—like Rome—on seven hills, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history. In a skyline of sheer drama, Edinburgh Castle watches over the capital city, frowning down on Princes Street’s glamour and glitz. But despite its rich past, the city’s famous festivals, excellent museums and galleries, as well as the modern Scottish Parliament, are reminders that Edinburgh has its feet firmly in the 21st century.

Nearly everywhere in Edinburgh (the burgh is always pronounced burra in Scotland) there are spectacular buildings, whose Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian pillars add touches of neoclassical grandeur to the largely Presbyterian backdrop. Large gardens are a strong feature of central Edinburgh, where the city council is one of the most stridently conservationist in Europe. Arthur's Seat, a mountain of bright green and yellow furze, rears up behind the spires of the Old Town. This child-size mountain jutting 822 feet above its surroundings has steep slopes and little crags, like a miniature Highlands set down in the middle of the busy city. Appropriately, these theatrical elements match Edinburgh's character—after all, the city has been a stage that has seen its fair share of romance, violence, tragedy, and triumph.

Modern Edinburgh has become a cultural capital, staging the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival in every possible venue each August. The stunning Museum of Scotland complements the city’s wealth of galleries and artsy hangouts. Add Edinburgh’s growing reputation for food and nightlife and you have one of the world’s most beguiling cities.

Today the city is the second most important financial center in the United Kingdom, and the fifth most important in Europe. The city regularly is ranked near the top in quality-of-life surveys. Accordingly, New Town apartments on fashionable streets sell for considerable sums. In some senses the city is showy and materialistic, but Edinburgh still supports learned societies, some of which have their roots in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Royal Society of Edinburgh, for example, established in 1783 "for the advancement of learning and useful knowledge," remains an important forum for interdisciplinary activities.

Even as Edinburgh moves through the 21st century, its tall guardian castle remains the focal point of the city and its venerable history. Take time to explore the streets—peopled by the spirits of Mary, Queen of Scots; Sir Walter Scott; and Robert Louis Stevenson—and pay your respects to the world's best-loved terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. In the evenings you can enjoy candlelit restaurants or a folk ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee, a traditional Scottish dance with music), though you should remember that you haven't earned your porridge until you've climbed Arthur's Seat. Should you wander around a corner, say, on George Street, you might see not an endless cityscape, but blue sea and a patchwork of fields. This is the county of Fife, beyond the inlet of the North Sea called the Firth of Forth—a reminder, like the mountains to the northwest that can be glimpsed from Edinburgh's highest points, that the rest of Scotland lies within easy reach.

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Southampton is England's leading passenger port. It is rich in historic embarkations, from Henry V's fleet bound for France and the battle of Agincourt to the Mayflower, the ill-fated Titanic, and the maiden voyages of the great ocean liners of the 20th century such as the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth 2. Parts of the town center can seem mundane, having been hastily rebuilt after World War II bombing, but bits of the city's history emerge from between modern buildings. The Old Town retains its medieval feel, and some remnants of the old castellated town walls remain. Other attractions include a decent art gallery, extensive parks, and a couple of good museums. The Southampton Boat Show, a 10-day event in mid-September, draws huge crowds.

Suites & Fares

World Cruise Finder's suites are some of the most spacious in luxury cruising.
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Owner's 2 Bedroom
Owner's 2 Bedroom
FROM US$ 29,700
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Grand 2 Bedroom
Grand 2 Bedroom
FROM US$ 28,000
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Royal 2 Bedroom
Royal 2 Bedroom
FROM US$ 26,500
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Owner's 1 Bedroom
Owner's 1 Bedroom
FROM US$ 24,700
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Silver 2 Bedroom
Silver 2 Bedroom
FROM US$ 22,300
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Grand 1 Bedroom
Grand 1 Bedroom
FROM US$ 21,600
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Royal 1 Bedroom
Royal 1 Bedroom
FROM US$ 19,900
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Silver
Silver
FROM US$ 17,300
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Deluxe Veranda
Deluxe Veranda
FROM US$ 11,100
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Superior Veranda
Superior Veranda
FROM US$ 10,700
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Classic Veranda
Classic Veranda
FROM US$ 10,300
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Panorama
Panorama
FROM US$ 9,400
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Vista
Vista
FROM US$ 8,300
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