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This trip visits remote crofting communities and picturesque villages of the Hebrides and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, discovering some of the world’s largest seabird colonies.

Excursions by Zodiac allow you to get close to seals playing nearby in waters patrolled by whales and dolphins.  The islands play host to some of the world’s largest seabird colonies, raucous places filled with gannets, fulmars, arctic terns and delightful puffins. Combined with visits to Neolithic sites scarcely changed in 5000 years, and castles that were once strongholds of Scottish clans, this is a fascinating insight into the wilds of Scotland

A typical itinerary around Scotland's Wild Coast is shown below, on board Polar Pioneer.

Typical Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Embark in Oban

  2. Days 2-3 : Inner Hebrides

    Overnight the vessel sails to Iona, birthplace of Christianity in Britain and burial ground of early Scottish kings. At Staffa, you will visit Fingal’s Cave, set amidst spectacular basalt columns, and learn why it inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. At the Cuillin Hills, spiritual heart of Skye, you can 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. At Canna you can see golden and sea eagles, basking sharks, dolphins, grey seals and puffins.

  3. Days 4-6 : Outer Hebrides

    Conditions permitting, you will land on Hirta, in remote St Kilda, home to Europe’s most important seabird colony and Britain’s highest sea stacks. On Lewis you can visit the Callanish Stones, sombre slabs placed upright nearly 3,000 years ago to mark burial sites. A Zodiac cruise takes you to Bostadh’s reconstructed Iron Age house, and the tiny islands of Sula Sgeir and North Rona, inhabited by breeding seals and seabirds.

  4. Days 7-8 : Shetland Islands

    Closer to Norway than Scotland, the Shetland Islands played a strategic role in Viking conquests. You will visit the capitol, Lerwick, and explore the complex Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof. On Mousa you will find the world’s best-preserved Iron Age structure known as a broch, and then you can explore Papa Stour’s coastline by Zodiac.

  5. Days 9-10 : Orkney Islands

    Blessed with red, fertile soil, the Orkney archipelago has welcomed people since ancient times. From Kirkwall, you will visit 5000-year old archaeological wonders like Skara Brae, excavated less than 100 years ago. You can see relics of Viking occupation and World War II curiosities, including the exquisite Italian Chapel, built from scrap by Italian POWs. You will then sail past the giant sea stack Old Man of Hoy, before reaching Papa Westray and the Knap of Howar, the oldest standing dwelling in Europe.  On Fair Isle, you’ll find a birdwatchers’ paradise, where the few inhabitants still live in traditional crofts.

  6. Day 11: Disembark in Aberdeen

You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.

Key info

  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 11 days from £5,245 pp
  • Group size: 54
  • Departures:
  • Included in the price/package:
    • Accommodation in twin-share cabin
    • All meals on board ship
    • Guided shore excursions
  • Activities available:
    • Birdwatching
Featured locations:

The Shetland Islands

The beauty and charm of this rugged land and seascapes are breathtaking. The region has an astonishing variety of animal and plant life, and the surrounding waters are one of the best places in the British Isles to see marine mammals. The islands are also renowned as a paradise for birdwatchers.

  • Where: Scotland
  • Ideal for viewing: common seal, grey seal, harbour porpoise, otter, storm petrel
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching, Dolphin watching

Orkney Islands

This peaceful archipelago, ten kilometres off the northern coast of Scotland, is a magical place of low-lying rocky islets, sandy beaches and blue seas – a great place to walk and see seabirds, birds of prey, whales and dolphins, along with fascinating prehistoric archaeological sites.

  • Where: Scotland
  • Ideal for viewing: orca, minke whale, hen harrier, short-eared owl, Arctic skua
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Whale watching
This itinerary is available on the following cruise vessel:

Polar Pioneer

Small and manoeuvrable, the Polar Pioneer is an ice-strengthened vessel, capable of venturing into remote corners of the world that many larger ships cannot reach. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and you will be in the company of an experienced team of expedition experts and crew.