Our staff welcome you aboard Polar Pioneer in Oban.
From the Hebrides in the west, to inhospitable windswept specks of land like St Kilda and Foula, and to the Orkney and Shetland islands in the north, we’ll explore the intriguing diversity of Scotland’s wild islands on board the Greg Mortimer. We plan to take in Neolithic sites scarcely changed in 5,000 years, and ponder the mystery of huge monoliths that marked seasonal change. We visit picturesque villages, haunted castles that once were stronghold of the Scottish clans; birders will delight in Europe’s largest sea bird colonies and the Orkney Islands will please whiskey amateurs with a wee dram of Scotland’s finest!
Day 1 - Oban, Scotland; Embarkation Day
Our staff welcome you aboard Polar Pioneer in Oban.
Day 2/3 - Inner & Outer Hebrides
Overnight, we travel to Iona, birthplace of Christianity in Britain and burial ground of early Scottish kings. At Staffa, we visit Fingal’s Cave, set amidst spectacular basalt columns, and learn why it inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. In the Cuillin Hills, spiritual heart of Skye, we follow a lonely track to Rubh’an Dunain, an ancient passage grave with a nearby Iron Age fort and stone lined canal, possibly built by Vikings. If conditions allow, we may take longer walks into the hills. Canna offers golden and sea eagles, basking sharks, dolphins, grey seals and puffins.
Day 4/6 - St Kilda
Conditions permitting, we land on Hirta, in remote St Kilda, home to Europe’s most important seabird colony and Britain’s highest sea stacks. We learn of the incredible islanders, who survived here for nearly 5,000 years, and their heroic courtship rituals. On Lewis we visit the Callanish Stones, sombre slabs placed upright nearly 3,000 years ago to mark burial sites. A Zodiac cruise takes us to pure white beaches where the brave might swim and Bostadh’s reconstructed Iron Age house. We aim to visit Sula Sgeir and North Rona, tiny islands with dramatic coastlines, inhabited by breeding seals and seabirds.
Day 7/8 - Shetland Isles
Closer to Norway than Scotland, the Shetland Isles played a strategic role in Viking conquests. We visit the capital, Lerwick, and explore the complex Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof. On Mousa, we walk to the world’s best-preserved Iron Age structure known as a ‘broch’ and our historian recounts its importance. Foula’s five dramatic peaks dwarf its crofting hamlets and its cliffs are alive with kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and skuas. Papa Stour’s coastline offers Zodiac exploration of dramatic caves.
Day 9/10 - Orkney Archipelago
Blessed with red, fertile soil, the Orkney archipelago has welcomed people since ancient times. From Kirkwall, we visit 5,000-year old archaeological wonders like Skara Brae, excavated less than 100 years ago. We view relics of Viking occupation and World War II curiosities, includIng the exquisite Italian Chapel, built from scrap by Italian POWs. We sail past the giant sea stack ‘Old Man of Hoy’. On Papa Westray we see the Knap of Howar, the oldest standing dwelling in Europe before continuing on Fair Isle, a birdwatchers’ paradise, where the few inhabitants still live in traditional crofts and welcome us to admire and buy their exquisite knitwear.
Day 11 - Aberdeen, Scotland; Disembarkation
In Aberdeen, we disembark and bid farewell to Polar Pioneer staff and crew and fellow passengers.
Please consider that our voyages are expeditionary in nature. This means, that there are no concrete itineraries, your captain and expedition leader will utilise their vast experience to chart the best course for your expedition depending on the climatic and environmental conditions. Mentioned highlights and wildlife cannot be guaranteed.
The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica or the European Arctic is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.
Scotland’s Islands are some of the most idyllic in the world. Our voyages around the Scottish Islands navigate among the most beautiful seabird islands in the North Atlantic. Dolphins, porpoises, seals and whales may be sighted from the ship and landings allow us to see reindeer and Arctic fox.
Sailings are timed to coincide with a profusion of wild flowers and the sea cliffs of the Scottish Islands should look like rock gardens with the pink and white of sea pinks and sea campion. In addition to their natural history we will also focus on their human history and artefacts, such as old whaling stations.
Complimentary custom-designed polar expedition jacket and use of gumboots during voyage
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The Greg Mortimer, named after the Australian adventurer and Polar tourism pioneer (Greg Mortimer OAM), this unique vessel utilises some of the latest advancements in naval design & technology to revolutionise the small ship expedition cruising experience. The X-BOW makes sailing smoother and faster while protecting the vulnerable environments visited using a virtual anchoring system. Shore excursions are made easier, with four sea-level Zodiac loading decks & a specially-crafted activity platform, designed in close consultation with our world-renowned expedition & activity leaders. Unlike many new ships, the Greg Mortimer is not striving for absolute luxury. It will of course, be brand new, modern and comfortable in every way, but will stay true to a relaxed, comfortable and homely style of travel, purely focused on the expedition and destination. Ship Features: - Highly qualified and experienced expedition team and international crew - X-BOW® hull, designed to offer faster and more comfortable travel enabling the ship to pierce through waves and maintain speed of travel, lower fuel consumption and reduced air pollution emissions - All cabins feature twin or king bedding configuration and private bathroom. 80% of cabins include a private balcony. 60% of cabins can accommodate a third person - Purpose-built activities preparation areas including four Zodiac launching platforms for fast and safe transition off the ship as you embark on multiple daily excursions - Observation lounge and viewing platforms offer spectacular panoramic views of scenery and wildlife. - State-of-the-art lecture theatre, two hot tubs/plunge pools, art room, library, gym, wellness centre and more!
|Luxury star rating:
|220V 2 Round plug