The Scottish Isles – Island Hopping in the Hebrides
MS Spitsbergen
11 days

The Scottish Isles – Island Hopping in the Hebrides

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Enjoy incredible walking paths on the Isle of Skye.
Departure:
2 May 2021
  • See spectacular island scenery and charming towns in the Inner and Outer Hebrides
  • Visit Loch Coruisk, one of the most beautiful freshwater lakes in all of Scotland
  • Exploring the true Scottish Isles
  • Engage in bird and wildlife spotting, especially in St. Kilda and the Treshnish Isles

Itinerary

This is a truly varied expedition cruise with many beach landings. Go on guided walks on remote islands and explore lonely beaches at your own pace, all the while immersing yourself in the wild beauty of the surroundings. Leaving Glasgow, our first island will be Arran, known as a microcosm of Scotland and a great contrast to the next – the wild, whisky island of Islay with its many distilleries. Voyaging west, the wildlife of the Treshnish Isles will be a splendid sight - bustling with seals, before the towering sea cliffs of the St. Kilda archipelago, teeming with nesting seabirds from puffins to predatory skuas, provide an unforgettable experience.
We call at Stornoway to see the tough and unique Harris Tweed being woven, have a special pub visit in the bustling tiny port of Tobermory, capital of the Isle of Mull which also has an enticing range of craft shops and seafood. We walk the shores of one of Scotland’s most dramatic lochs, Loch Coruisk, surrounded by lofty mountains. We can hike island peaks for views stretching over the seas, kayak in sheltered lochs, or simply stroll delightful gardens. These are all ‘ours’ for exploring.
Day 1
Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland
‘Dear Green Place’
Dramatic bridges and concert halls in Glasgow.
Dramatic bridges and concert halls in Glasgow.
Photo: Shutterstock

Our voyage starts in Glasgow (Greenock). Meaning ‘Dear Green Place’ in Gaelic, Glasgow boasts over 90 parks and gardens. Famous for its Victorian as well as art nouveau architecture, it is home to such institutions as the Scottish Ballet, Opera and National Theatre. This is definitely a city you’ll want to explore more before you board MS Spitsbergen.

Dramatic bridges and concert halls in Glasgow.
Dramatic bridges and concert halls in Glasgow.
Photo: Shutterstock
Rich history and modern energy to explore.
Rich history and modern energy to explore.
Photo: Shutterstock
Discover the majesty of the Scottish highlands.
Day 2
Isle of Arran, Scotland
A Microcosm of Scotland
Brodick Castle dates from the 16th century.
Brodick Castle dates from the 16th century.
Photo: Shutterstock
Wildlife and history on the Isle of Arran.
Wildlife and history on the Isle of Arran.
Photo: Shutterstock
Day 2
Isle of Arran, Scotland
A Microcosm of Scotland
Discover the majesty of the Scottish highlands.
Discover the majesty of the Scottish highlands.
Photo: Shutterstock

Warmed by the North Atlantic Drift, this sheltered island with its high peaks, is a haven for wildlife. Dramatic mountains, a distinctive distillery and good hiking all add to a microcosm of Scotland. Brodick town has its 16th century red-sandstone castle whilst the ruined castle of Lochranza was once a royal hunting lodge.

Day 3
Islay, Scotland
Land of Scottish Whisky
Discover the fascinating Round Church in Islay.
Discover the fascinating Round Church in Islay.
Photo: Shutterstock

Once the seat of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, this is ‘whisky island’, world renowned for its peaty single-malt whiskies and many distilleries. As a stop-off for wintering geese and migrating birds, there is good bird spotting. In the charming little town of Bowmore, there are a handful of small shops, an interesting round church with no corners, plus superb cliff-top walks and a well known golf course.

Discover the fascinating Round Church in Islay.
Discover the fascinating Round Church in Islay.
Photo: Shutterstock
Relics of the past are sprinkled throughout the islands.
Relics of the past are sprinkled throughout the islands.
Photo: Shutterstock
The famed rhododendrons of Sir Hames Horlick.
The famed rhododendrons of Sir Hames Horlick.
Photo: Shutterstock
Find your own idyllic spot.
Find your own idyllic spot.
Photo: Shutterstock
Experience traditional Scottish life on Gigha.
Experience traditional Scottish life on Gigha.
Photo: Shutterstock
Day 4
Isle of Gigha, Scotland
‘The Good Isle’
Find your own idyllic spot.
Find your own idyllic spot.
Photo: Shutterstock

Tiny Gigha (pronounced Gee’a) is the ‘Good Isle’ and is owned by the islanders. Dairy cows produce a distinctive cheddar-type cheese, whilst Achamore House, set in fifty acres of woodland gardens, was once the home of Sir James Horlick who created a colourful and impressive display of rhododendrons.

Sandy beaches surround the isle.
Day 5
Isle of Iona & Treshnish Isles, Scotland
Pilgrims and Puffins
Day 5
Isle of Iona & Treshnish Isles, Scotland
Pilgrims and Puffins
Sandy beaches surround the isle.
Sandy beaches surround the isle.
Photo: Shutterstock

World famous for its religious connections, Iona was settled in 563 AD by the Irish missionary, St Colomba. The much-restored Abbey still remains a place of pilgrimage and peace. Wide views from the beach, known as ‘The Bay at the Back of the Ocean’ stretch west towards the Outer Hebrides.

We will explore Treshnish Isles, a group of distinctive volcanic islands which are home to a wealth of wildlife, from nesting puffins to colonies of kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and Atlantic grey seals.

Fingal’s Cave, immortalised by Mendelssohn’s glorious ‘Hebrides Overture’, is on the cave-riddled island of Staffa. The basalt columns here are a northern extension of the Giant’s Causeway. Discovered by the Vikings, visited by Sir Joseph Banks, and viewed by Queen Victoria, Sir Walter Scott and Samuel Johnson, this is one of Scotland’s most famous islands. It is best viewed from the sea where the colour of the waters within the cave and its rising columns are at their most impressive.

Discover the rugged beauty of the Inner Hebrides.
Discover the rugged beauty of the Inner Hebrides.
Photo: Shutterstock
Explore Iona Abbey, founded in 563 AD.
Explore Iona Abbey, founded in 563 AD.
Photo: Shutterstock
Scout for minke whales.
Scout for minke whales.
Photo: Shutterstock
Enjoy the rugged beauty of St. Kilda, Hirta Island
Enjoy the rugged beauty of St. Kilda, Hirta Island
Photo: Shutterstock
Day 6
St. Kilda, Hirta Island, Scotland
Reclaimed by Nature
Scout for minke whales.
Scout for minke whales.
Photo: Shutterstock

Any visit to this distant and wild archipelago, with its breathtaking sea cliffs, is totally weather-dependent. As a UNESCO double World Heritage Site and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Trust for Scotland, it is an unforgettable experience. The outlying stacs and islands, which are the remains of a volcanic crater, provide ledges for thousands of nesting seabirds. Minke whales are frequently seen around the swirling waters of the archipelago.

Once home to Britain’s most remote island community, it was evacuated in 1930 at their own request after 5,000 years of continuous habitation. The tiny museum that remains is a record of how hard life was on this exposed island.

Day 7
Stornoway and Shiant Isles, Scotland
Capital of the Outer Hebrides
The mysterious Carloway Broch dates back more than 2,000 years.
The mysterious Carloway Broch dates back more than 2,000 years.
Photo: Shutterstock

Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway is the main town of the Western Isles and the capital of the Isle of Lewis, which is the largest and most northerly of the Outer Hebrides.  A bustling harbour and waterfront with museums and art galleries are overlooked by the handsome Lews Castle which we invite you to explore with us. Further afield are mills and cottages where hard-wearing Harris Tweed is woven. There are tiny folk museums, the world-famous Callanish Standing Stones, and the mysterious Carloway Broch - the best preserved fort in Scotland dating back more than 2,000 years.

Late afternoon we explore the Shiant Isles. Privately owned since 1937, this tiny archipelago set in the midst of the Minch, the area of sea between the Outer Hebrides and Skye, has numerous colonies of nesting seabirds. Puffins, razorbills, shags, eider ducks and guillemots all throng the surrounding waters, perching on volcanic ledges above  basking sharks and seals.

The mysterious Carloway Broch dates back more than 2,000 years.
The mysterious Carloway Broch dates back more than 2,000 years.
Photo: Shutterstock
Explore handsome Lews Castle.
Explore handsome Lews Castle.
Photo: Shutterstock
Enjoy incredible walking paths on the Isle of Skye.
Day 8
Loch Scavaig and Isle of Eigg, Scotland
The Beauty of Loch Coruisk
Enjoy the rugged Isle of Eigg.
Enjoy the rugged Isle of Eigg.
Photo: Shutterstock
Romantic Loch Coruisk.
Romantic Loch Coruisk.
Photo: Shutterstock
Day 8
Loch Scavaig and Isle of Eigg, Scotland
The Beauty of Loch Coruisk
Enjoy incredible walking paths on the Isle of Skye.
Enjoy incredible walking paths on the Isle of Skye.
Photo: Shutterstock

Surrounded by the high peaks of the Skye Cullins, Loch Scavaig leads to one of the most romantic and dramatic lochs in Scotland – freshwater Loch Coruisk. Painted by Turner and a popular destination for the Victorians, this is a powerful landscape promising great hiking and kayaking.

We head to the Isle of Eigg to spend the rest of our day on this craggy island. Settled since prehistoric times, it was once the seat of the Lord of the Isles, but is now owned by its inhabitants. The island has Iron Age forts, a 6th century church, and turbulent clan history with a massacre of 395 MacDonalds in a sea-shore cave. Rising sheer above the island is the crest of the ‘Sgurr of Eigg’ offering a great hike and stunning views across the waters of the Minch to the Outer Hebrides.

Tiny Tobermory relies largely on lobster fishing.
Day 9
Sound of Mull, Scotland
The Clash of Clans
Day 9
Sound of Mull, Scotland
The Clash of Clans
Tiny Tobermory relies largely on lobster fishing.
Tiny Tobermory relies largely on lobster fishing.
Photo: Shutterstock

We will be anchored in the Sound of Mull which will enable us to explore the fascinating town of Tobermory as well as Loch Sunart.

The Isle of Mull is a large island of sweeping moors, tiny hamlets and castles. Recognised as the island’s capital, Tobermory is a delightful deep-water fishing port where brightly painted Georgian houses ring the tiny bay. Nestled under the steep hillsides, the town has a good variety of cafés and restaurants, book shops, craft shops, a tiny museum and an ancient distillery. 

Stretching inland opposite Tobermory and protected by the rugged point of Ardnamurchan, lies Britain’s most westerly mainland point, Loch Sunart. The deep, quiet waters of this long loch offer sheltered kayaking, while the loch shores provide superb walking, perhaps to the recently established distillery. Guarding the entrance of the loch stands 13th century Mingary Castle, once the stronghold of the MacIains. The castle has been frequently fought over, changing hands many times between the Macdonald and Campbell clans.

Clans have fought bitterly over the possesion of Mingary Castle.
Clans have fought bitterly over the possesion of Mingary Castle.
Photo: Shutterstock
Superb kayaking opportunities on Loch Sunart.
Superb kayaking opportunities on Loch Sunart.
Photo: Shutterstock
Take in the impressive gardens at Colonsay House.
Take in the impressive gardens at Colonsay House.
Photo: Shutterstock
Enjoy birdspotting on the Isle of Colonsay.
Enjoy birdspotting on the Isle of Colonsay.
Photo: Shutterstock
Discover serene Kiloran Bay.
Discover serene Kiloran Bay.
Photo: Shutterstock
Day 10
Isle of Colonsay, Scotland
The Birds and the Bees
Enjoy birdspotting on the Isle of Colonsay.
Enjoy birdspotting on the Isle of Colonsay.
Photo: Shutterstock

Home to over 200 bird species, including the rare and elusive corncrake, this is a gentle island of woods and pretty beaches, such as Kiloran Bay, and with Scalasaig being the main settlement. Colonsay House is home to exotic gardens and the surrounding woods, moors and fields have over 400 species of flora. The island offers easy walking and kayaking in the surrounding waters.

Day 11
Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland
‘Dear Green Place’
Discover the Art Nouveau highlights of the city.
Discover the Art Nouveau highlights of the city.
Photo: Shutterstock

Our voyage ends back in Glasgow (Greenock), home to more than 20 museums and galleries, including the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Riverside Museum. Many of these are housed in distinctive Victorian buildings, some designed by renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This is definitely a city you’ll want to explore more before you head home.

Discover the Art Nouveau highlights of the city.
Discover the Art Nouveau highlights of the city.
Photo: Shutterstock
Victorian elegance at the University of Glasgow.
Victorian elegance at the University of Glasgow.
Photo: Shutterstock
Hurtigruten offers unique expedition cruises to some of the most remote and pristine waters of the world. As with all expeditions; nature prevails. Weather, and ice and sea conditions, sets the final framework for all Hurtigruten’s operations. Safety and unparalleled guest experiences are at all times our top priorities. All our indicative itineraries are continuously evaluated for adaptions, whether this is due to constraints the elements unexpectedly presents – or exciting possibilities nature and wildlife offer. That is why we call it an expedition.
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What's included

Included in your voyage

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included excursions

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna and indoor gym
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team 

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you meet all visa entry requirements
  • No gratuities expected
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A group of people posing for the camera
Photo: Stefan Dall / Hurtigruten
Enjoy Norway's Coastal Kitchen on the new MS Spitsbergen
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MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Ship yard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 335
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54m
Beam 18m
Speed 14.5 knots
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Extend your cruise

Get more out of your journey by adding a Pre- or Post-programme before or after your expedition cruise.

Rich history and modern energy to explore. Rich history and modern energy to explore.

Pre-Programme Edinburgh & Glasgow (21/22)

Duration

2 Days

From

£ 412

Booking code

GLAPRE

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Victorian elegance at the University of Glasgow. Victorian elegance at the University of Glasgow.

Post-Programme Glasgow & Edinburgh (21/22)

Duration

2 Days

From

£ 412

Booking code

GLAPOST

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