Arrive Dublin, Ireland
Tour begins: Dublin, 6:00 PM. A transfer is included from Dublin Airport to either the Conrad Dublin, The Shelbourne Dublin or The Westbury, all located in the heart of the city near St. Stephen's Green, close to Dublin's iconic sites. Your 12-day cruise begins with a special welcome reception and dinner at the National Concert Hall, home to the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir Ireland, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Music Network and Music Generation, a venue that "fosters and celebrates the appreciation, knowledge, enjoyment and pure love of music as an integral part of Irish life." Tonight's evening includes a performance of traditional Irish song and dance. Stay Two Nights: Conrad Dublin
or The Shelbourne Dublin or The Westbury Hotel (D)
Dublin, Ireland A morning tour of Dublin includes city sights such as St. Stephen's Green, Phoenix Park, historic O'Connell Street, Georgian Square, the Lord Mayor's Residence, St. Patrick's Cathedral and more. At historic Trinity College, dating back four centuries, you'll join a local guide for a visit to the Old Library to see the 9th-century Book of Kells, one of the world's most famous manuscripts. You'll also visit the fantastic Long Room that houses over 200,000 of the library's oldest books along with special exhibitions. The afternoon and evening are free to pursue what interests you most in Dublin. (B)
Take a drive to Enniskerry for a visit to Powerscourt Estate, and one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe. Set on an estate that encompasses a Palladian manor house, a golf course, and stunning views of the Wicklow hills, the gardens were originally designed in 1731, inspired by the opulent formal gardens of Renaissance-era Italian villas. Enjoy a guided tour of enchanting grottoes, terraces, ponds, waterfalls, statuary, tree-lined avenues, winding wooded paths, Japanese gardens, and unique ornamental features such as a medieval tower adorned with ivy and surrounded by cannon; the tower was added in the 19th century, modeled after a pepperpot belonging to the 8th Viscount Lord Powerscourt! Enjoy lunch at Powerscourt before returning to Dublin. This afternoon, embark your yacht, Le Soléal. Settle in and dine aboard ship; this evening you sail for Belfast. Stay Seven Nights: Le Soléal
Belfast, Northern Ireland Dock in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, once famous for linens, shipbuilding and political unrest, now a rising star of commerce, tourism and hip urban culture - and explore from a choice of shore excursions. "Belfast - Past, Present and Future" brings you a powerful look at the city a sightseeing tour of historic sights including Queens University (established in 1845 by Queen Victoria), the magnificent Baroque Revival-style City Hall, and the Parliament buildings at Stormont Estate. Signs of past sectarian conflict are brought to light on a tour of the Falls Road and Shankill Road where the "peace walls" crisscross the city landscape, dividing Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, and emblazoned with politically-themed murals; the longest and highest of the walls, along Cupar Way, is a open-air gallery of graffiti and publicly commissioned paintings that echo the history, hopes, and sentiments of the people who live within its boundaries.
Another possibility is "The Titanic Trail," a guided tour that provides you with access to some historic buildings and places including the Titanic quarter, the former Headquarter of Harland and Wolff, Titanic's Drawing Offices where she was designed, the pump house that operated the dock and the dock itself. Visit the extraordinary Titanic Belfast and the Titanic Experience, an award-winning state of the art, multi-media museum on the site where the great oceanliner was built. Interactive exhibits trace the story of the Titanic from its construction to its doomed maiden voyage, designed to place you in the midst of its history and drama. "The Titanic Trail" ends with a panoramic drive through Belfast's iconic sites. Your third choice today is the "Ards Peninsula Scenic Drive." Travel the coastal road along the southern shore of Belfast Lough where you'll join a local guide for a look at local life outside of the city in the picturesque County Down countryside including a visit to the seaside town of Donaghadee.
All sightseeing excursions return to Le Soleal for lunch and time to explore Belfast before a lecture by a local historian on the political strife of "The Troubles"; the power-sharing agreement that ended the violence is considered a model of conflict resolution. Join us tonight on board ship for a welcome reception followed by dinner. (B/L/D)
Isle Of Man, United Kingdom Sail to the Isle of Man, a tiny nation of rugged coastlines, charming villages, medieval castles, and ancient mythologies in the Irish Sea. A self-governing dependency of Britain, the island's heritage is a mix of British, Irish and Norse influences. Celtic and Viking burial grounds and relics abound, as do legends of giants and fairies. Dock in the town of Douglas, the island's capital and commercial hub, for a choice of three different sightseeing excursions. Drive into the countryside on the "Isle of Man Scenic Heritage Trail" for a comprehensive look at life on the island, along with stories and legends, on a tour reveals much about the island's turbulent history, Manx cats and more.
"The Steam Railway and Castletown" includes a scenic ride through the countryside on a narrow-gauge steam railway to Castletown where little has changed since the 1800s, from its picturesque streets and fishing cottages to Castle Rushen, an outstandingly well-preserved medieval castle that towers beside the harbor, built for a Norse king in the 13th century. "Isle of Man Hiking" begins in the village of Cregneash, where the island's traditional way of life is revealed with unique insights into the 19th-century life of Manx crofters, picturesque streets and thatched fishing cottages. Head uphill for a hike along the cliff tops following the island's coastal footpath whose natural treasures include a bird sanctuary.
The afternoon is free for you to explore the town as you please. Douglas has kept much of its charm from its days as a popular Victorian holiday retreat, with 19th century hotels and mansions lining the great bayside promenade alongside shops, restaurants, museums and gardens. Late afternoon, enjoy a performance of Manxian music and dance back aboard the ship. (B/L/D)
Liverpool, England Arrive in Liverpool, an historic shipping and trading port known as "England's finest Victorian city." Wealth from transatlantic trades going back to the 18th century produced an abundance of mansions, elegant townhouses and landmark buildings rich in architectural splendor. Your three choices to explore include "A Panoramic Tour" of Liverpool that includes views of landmark sites such as the Victoria Monument, St. George's Quarter, St. James Park, Metropolitan Cathedral and a visit to the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. "A Taste of Chester" explores a legacy of 2,000 years of British heritage in one of Britain's most picturesque cities, where its half-timbered architecture gives it a well-preserved medieval look.
You can also choose "In the Steps of the Beatles" where you'll visit The Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the local band that started a musical revolution and launched the "British Invasion" of the 1960s, along with Beatles-inspired iconic sites such as Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and The Cavern. Return to Le Soléal for lunch and and afternoon enjoying the amenities of the ship as you set sail for Cork, Ireland. (B/L/D)
Dock late morning in the colorful seaport village of Cobh where you have time explore as you please, perhaps visiting the Queenstown Story museum. Following lunch, you have a choice of three different sightseeing excursions. "Cork and Blarney Castle" first explores the city of Cork then travels to Blarney Castle
, where a kiss upon its Stone of Eloquence, high up on on the battlements, may grant you the gift of gab.
Alternatively, you can explore the Irish countryside on an excursion to the village of Kinsale, a picturesque resort town of brightly colored houses and shops, known for its art galleries and gourmet restaurants, for a walking tour along its winding cobbled streets; or, a third choice takes you on a panoramic tour of Cork along Merchants Quay, St. Patrick's Street, Grand Parade and South Mall where you'll learn the history behind the French Quarter, English Market, Father Matthew's statue and Bishop Lucey Park. Return to Le Soléal late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Isles Of Scilly, United Kingdom Cruise to the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. Only a handful of the tiny islands are inhabited, and their temperate climate, turquoise seas, and white sand beaches offer an idyllic retreat far from the madding crowds of the mainland. You have a choice of morning sightseeing; visit Tresco Island where lush Tresco Abbey Gardens, established in the 19th century, wander over 17 colorful acres. This horticultural paradise is sometimes referred to as "Kew with the roof off," full of exotic flowers and plants from 80 countries, many of sub-tropical varieties that flourish here in the warm breezes of the Gulf Stream; tour the gardens with a local guide. Alternatively, visit the island of St. Mary's; the story of St. Mary's reaches back to the Iron Age and the Romans, who colonized it later, so there are ample historical sites on this small island - explore them with a local historian guide. Sail for the Isle of Guernsey this afternoon. (B/L/D)
Isle Of Guernsey, United Kingdom Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, was a notorious haven for pirates in the Middle Ages, and often a strategic prize in England's wars with Spain and France. By the 19th century it was famous as a summer resort for wealthy Victorians. But its easy reach from Normandy made it a strategic prize again when it was seized by the German regime during World War II; fortifications, bunkers, and an observation tower built by the Germans are still present on the island, many of them restored as tourist attractions.
Today you have a choice to explore Guernsey on one of three shore excursions. "Occupied Guernsey" includes a visit to the German Occupation Museum, where imaginative exhibits recreate life in Guernsey during the war, along with other sites throughout the island. "Guernsey Highlights & Cream Tea" experiences the charm and beauty of the island's beaches, seascapes, and village communities - and of course an opportunity to try some scones and local Guernsey cream. Finally, "A Guernsey Clifftops Hike" takes you to the southeast corner of Guernsey to Jetbourg Point for an awesome hike, stunning scenery and rich insights into Guernsey's past - and a visit to a Norman manor house for an opportunity to do some small batch gin tasting produced by the family for over a century. Enjoy some time exploring St. Peter's Port, a town of colorful row houses, winding lanes and alleys, before boarding the ship to set sail for Portsmouth. (B/L/D)
Dock in Portsmouth, Britain's chief naval port and a symbol of its military might for centuries. Disembark Le Soléal and tour the famous dockyard, where you'll learn how warships built here changed the course of history. Go aboard HMS Victory, Vice Admiral Lord Nelson's ship of the line, which won glory at the Battle of Trafalgar. You'll also explore Henry VIII's flagship, built in 1510, at The Mary Rose Museum. The museum galleries display Tudor treasures not seen anywhere else in the world. Enjoy free time at Gunwharf Quay, then depart for London. Arrive late afternoon at your hotel in the heart of London - Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, The Royal Horseguards or The Langham, London; the evening is yours to spend as you wish in Britain's historic capital. Stay Two Nights:
Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill or The Royal Horseguards or The Langham
, London (B)
London, England Your first stop today is the Tower of London for an early-opening visit ahead of the crowds; see the Crown Jewels, and experience the labyrinthine wonders of this storied fortress, the ancient heart of the city. Next, you're off on a guided tour of London which includes the Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and more. Enjoy lunch at an historic English pub before some time to spend as you please; join us for a farewell reception and dinner in your hotel this evening. (B/L/D)
Journey Home Tour ends: London. Fly home anytime. Transfers are included from your London hotel to Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport or London International Airport as well as the St Pancras railway station. You should allow three hours for flight check-in. (B)