Day 01 - Southampton
Depart from Southampton late afternoon.
Spend a day sailing, with full entertainment on board the Balmoral.
Day 03 - Invergordan
Invergordon, located at the head of Cromarty Firth in the stunning Scottish Highlands, has a homespun charm and serves as a gateway to the legendary waters of Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, the town of Inverness, and the Whyte & Mackay whisky distillery.
A short walk into the centre reveals the town’s collection of impressive murals painted by local artists, which tell stories of the local area. It’s also the perfect place to explore Scottish history amid the brooding splendour of 15th century Cawdor Castle (forever – but incorrectly – linked with Shakespeare's Macbeth), and the imposing Dunrobin Castle, which dates from the 13th century and houses a fine collection of paintings and family memorabilia belonging to the Earls of Sutherland.
Day 04 - Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands, resonates with ancient echoes of Christian, Nordic and Celtic history. It’s a town that feels more Scandinavian than Scottish; in fact, the name Kirkwall comes from the Norse for 'Church Bay', relating to the town's 11th century Church of St Olaf of Norway.
Exploring the town’s atmospheric paved streets and twisting lanes, reveals a number of highlights, including the ruins of the Earl and Bishop’s Palaces, dating from the mid-12th century and serving as a reminder of Orkney's turbulent past. The palaces are considered by many to be the finest Renaissance buildings in Scotland. Also worth visiting is the recently restored St. Magnus Cathedral, founded in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson by Norseman Earl Rögnvald Kali.
Don't miss Tankerness House, a beautifully preserved 16th century townhouse, and the Orkney Wireless Museum, with it's fascinating insights into the history of radio, too.
Cruising by the Small Islands Part of the Inner Hebrides, lying just south of the Isle of Skye, the Small Isles are four beautiful lands - Eigg, Rum, Canna and Muck - famed for their dramatic scenery, their variety of wildlife and natural wonders, and some architectural highlights too. As you sail the waters surrounding the isles, you'll witness their wild beauty from the comfort of your small ship. Look out for mighty volcanic peaks and Kinlock Castle on Rum, where Sea Eagles are often spotted; the basalt cliffs of Canna; the charming villages of Eigg; and Muck's fertile lowlands and pretty beaches.
Cruising Loch Horne Branching inward from the Sound of Sleat, narrow, fjord-like Loch Hourn is flanked by some of Scotland's most dramatic, and beautiful, scenic landscapes.
As you journey along the still, cold waters of the loch aboard your smaller ship, you get to admire the steep, imposing mountains which slide down into the shore line, whilst looking out for occasional bays and beaches which break the craggy, untamed waters edge.
Fingal's Cave, Isle of Staffa a beautiful basalt sea-cave with distinctive ‘columns’ and a remarkable symmetry that looks incredible as you cruise past. Often, the cliffs, ledges and grassy slopes are smothered with native seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, puffins and more, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy a little birdwatching. Just make sure you have your binoculars to hand!
Day 06 - Stornoway
Thanks to its sheltered location, Stornoway, on the island of Lewis and Harris, is the largest town of the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland. The port offers a warm welcome to those visiting Lewis as part of their exploration of one of the UK’s remotest locations. A stroll along the quay reveals local fishermen on traditional fleets landing the catch of the day, before shipping it to one the island’s amazing eateries. There is an unmistakeable odour of peat in the air as the smokehouses turn the seafood into island specialities.
Historic Lews Castle and the adjoining museum are key cultural centre for the islands’ heritage and the Lanntair Art Centre samples local arts and a good programme of art events.
Day 07 - Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Lerwick is the friendly capital of the 100 islands and islets of Shetland. The bustling, cosmopolitan seaport is the islands’ only town, and its wonderful natural harbour is a joy to explore.
Despite the wealth created by North Sea oil, modern Lerwick retains many fascinating small shops and historic buildings. Wandering along atmospheric Commercial Street is a delight, and the Böd of Gremista – a “fishing booth” built in 1780, is now a fascinating museum. Outside the town are the well preserved remains of the Broch of Clickimin, a small Bronze-Age settlement excavated in the last century.
Day 08 and 09
Spend two days sailing with full entertainment on board your ship.
Day 10 - Southampton
If you choose to spend time exploring either before of after your cruise from this city, you'll find there are plenty of attractions, highlights and sights to discover, showcasing fascinating history and local culture. Perhaps see the timber-framed treasures of the Old Town, including the beautiful Tudor House and Gardens, and visit the Sea City Museum to learn of Southampton's links to the Titanic's ill-fated voyage.
There are art galleries and museums aplenty too, as well as an abundance of places to shop, and a number of trendy bars, restaurants and cafés where you can always stop for something delicious. Alternatively, you might opt to explore nature trails and wetlands near to the city, or simply stroll through one of the green spaces or pretty parks.
Itinerary subject to change