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Island hop in the untouched Hebrides
From deserted beaches to dramatic lochs and lofty mountains, the wild beauty of the Inner and Outer Hebrides makes for an unforgettable experience. On this spectacular 11-day cruise of the Scottish islands, you'll get to take in the fantastic scenery as you hop from isle to isle. You will stroll along the rugged coastline, see varied bird and wildlife as well as getting a taste of what it's like to live on the Atlantic Ocean archipelago on visits to whisky distilleries and tweed-weavers.
Beginning your journey in Glasgow, you'll board the comfortable, modern and environmentally progressive MS Spitsbergen, which will take you to the Isle of Mull, where you'll visit its capital Tobermory, where brightly painted Georgian houses ring the tiny bay. You'll also see the wildlife haven Arran, 'whisky island' Islay and Iona, with its ancient religious connections, as well as the Iron Age forts on the Isle of Eigg and its turbulent clan history. On the uninhabited Hirta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you'll perhaps have a chance to see minke whales swimming nearby.
Reasons to book
The best of the Hebrides
Cruise on MS Spitsbergen
- Spend 10 nights cruising aboard MS Spitsbergen with breakfast, lunch, dinner and beverages included
- See the spectacular island scenery and charming towns of the Inner and Outer Hebrides
- Visit Loch Coruisk, one of Scotland's most beautiful freshwater lakes
- Enjoy a private visit to Duart Casle on the Isle of Mull hosted by the clan chief
- Spot amazing bird and wildlife in St Kilda and the Treshnish Isles
- Go on a range of other included excursions
Day1Board MS SpitsbergenGlasgow, United Kingdom
Our voyage starts in Glasgow. 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. You'll board MS Spitsbergen and have plenty of time to settle in.
Day2Isle of ArranArran, United Kingdom
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.
Day3IslayIslay, United Kingdom
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.
Day4Isle of GighaIsle of Gigha, United Kingdom
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.
Day5Isle of Iona & Treshnish IslesIsle of Iona, United Kingdom
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.
Day6Hirta IslandHirta Island, United Kingdom
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.
Day7Stornoway and Shiant IslesShiant Isles, United Kingdom
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.
Late afternoon we will 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.
Day8Loch Scavaig and Isle of EiggEigg, United Kingdom
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.
Day9Sound of MullSound of Mull, United Kingdom
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.
Day10Isle of ColonsayIsle of Colonsay , United Kingdom
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.
Day11Disembark MS SpitsbergenGlasgow, United Kingdom
Our voyage ends back in Glasgow, 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.
MS Spitsbergen, named after the crown jewel of Arctic Norway, is the perfect vessel for exploring Scotland's smaller islands
Recently refurbished MS Spitsbergen is finished to a high standard and features comfortable, modern public areas and cabins. The vessel's fresh Scandinavian design reflects a colour palette derived from the sea. She is modern and environmentally progressive, and plans are in place to reduce emissions and fuel consumption more. The new ship's maneuverability and optimal size make her quite suitable for exploring polar waters.