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5 Expedition cruises sailing from Greenock in 2023

© Supplied by ShutterstockPeel Castle
The ruins of Peel Castle, Isle of Man.

Close to Scotland’s biggest city, the port of Greenock will see a number of cruises departing throughout 2023.

Today’s featured itineraries offer the chance to experience some of Scotland’s finest islands, the Isle of Man and famous cities including Dublin and Belfast.

We preview 5 expedition cruises, starting with a Scottish island-hopping adventure…

1. Island Hopping in the Hebrides

Iona © Supplied by Shutterstock

Discover some of Scotland’s finest islands on this first expedition cruise sailing in 2023.

Leaving Greenock onboard MS Spitsbergen, your first port of call will be ‘Miniature Scotland’ – the Isle of Arran.

Arran serves up all the classic ingredients Scotland is known for including dramatic mountain scenery and wildlife.

A handful of attractions to consider visiting include Brodick Castle, towering Goat Fell and The Arran Coastal Way.

Just over a 60-mile circular route, the Arran Coastal Way is one of the country’s walking trails.

Consider sampling part of the route during time ashore where wildlife-spotting opportunities include red deer and golden eagles.

Home to nine distilleries, MS Spitsbergen arrives at Islay. Enjoy a tour shedding light on single malt production (with a tasting) or venture afield.

A wildlife paradise, Islay counts over 200 species of bird including Golden Eagles and oystercatchers, as residents.

A fascinating visit, consider visiting Finlaggan, once an important settlement at the centre of the Lordship of the Isles.

A slice of sandy paradise, MS Spitsbergen then arrives at Gigha. Points of interest include distilleries and Achamore House & Gardens.

In the 1940s, Sir James Horlick created an impressive garden that, to this day, attracts visitors from all over the world.

Once owned by the Clan MacNeill, the gardens are home to Rhododendrons, Azaleas and New Zealand tree ferns.

Isle of Iona © Supplied by Shutterstock
Isle of Iona.

Moving on, MS Spitsbergen sets sail for the Isle of Iona. Noted for its religious connections, Iona was settled during the first century.

The restored Abbey is a key landmark with the island noted for its spectacular coastal views.

During your time in the area, admire the Treshnish Isles, home to Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Atlantic grey seals, and the striking island of Staffa.

Next up is one of the most remote locations in the entire British Isles.

Discover St. Kilda, an important UNESCO World Heritage Site.

St. Kilda. © Supplied by Shutterstock
St. Kilda.

A jewel in Scotland’s crown, take in epic scenery and look out for local wildlife including Minke Whales.

Once a Viking settlement, the cruise then takes in Stornoway, capital of Lewis and Harris.

Island attractions include Lews Castle, the world-famous Callanish Standing Stones and Carloway Broch – a prehistoric fort dating back 2,000 years!

MS Spitsbergen then travels to the Shiant Isles. Once home to Vikings, this tiny collection of islands welcomes seabirds, puffins and razorbills.

Loch Scavaig © Supplied by Shutterstock
Loch Scavaig.

Part of the Small Isles, a scenic journey along Loch Scavaig takes in the Isle of Eigg.

Noted for its Iron Age forts, Eigg is short, at only five miles in length, with a small population (under 100 people).

A key experience, MS Spitsbergen ventures to the Isle of Mull. Ashore, Tobermory is the island’s colourful capital.

Partake in a little exploration, stroll around the loch in Aros Park and see the Baliscate Standing Stones, or learn about the local heritage at the whisky distillery and Mull museum.

The Isle of Mull is another magnet for birders, with the highest breeding density of Golden Eagles in Europe, while White-tailed Eagles can often be seen soaring above the coastline.

Ticking off a final island before travelling back to Greenock, MS Spitsbergen calls at the Isle of Colonsay.

Colonsay © Supplied by Shutterstock

Noted for a stunning coastline and birdlife, consider visiting Colonsay House.

A grand Georgian country landmark, Colonsay House has one of the finest Rhododendron gardens in the country!

Click here for more info

2. Scottish Whisky Trail & Irish Sea Expedition

Loch Linnhe © Supplied by Shutterstock
Loch Linnhe.

Take in Scottish landscapes and historic Irish cities on this next departure.

Setting off from Greenock, this itinerary first takes in Portrush and Belfast (both Northern Ireland).

Travelling on to Douglas, discover the Isle of Man before seeing Dublin.

Returning to Scottish waters, MS Spitsbergen takes in the Isle of Arran, Mull, Fort William, Oban and Islay.

At Portrush, the mythical Giant’s Causeway is within convenient reach.

Steeped in legend, experience the UNESCO-listed causeway, made from thousands of interlocking basalt columns.

The birthplace of the Titanic, Belfast is next. Spend time in the city visiting St Anne’s Cathedral, the futuristic Titanic Belfast or Botanic Gardens.

Sailing the Irish Sea, MS Spitsbergen calls at Douglas. During time on the Isle of Man, see the ruins of Peel Castle and intricate murals inside St Thomas’s Church.

Dublin © Supplied by Shutterstockj

Experiencing yet another capital, travellers will also see Dublin. Famous for Guinness, Trinity College and Dublin castle, soak up the history and culture of this special city.

Returning to Scotland, MS Spitsbergen calls at the Isle of Arran and colourful Tobermory.

The gateway to the Scottish Highlands, Fort William lies on the shores of Loch Linnhe.

Nearby, Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, or Glen Coe, lie close by. Enjoy the views looking over the Isles of Skye, Rum, Eigg and Muck as you explore the outdoor capital of Britain.

Dunollie Castle © Supplied by Shutterstock
Dunollie Castle, Oban.

A popular resort, Oban is the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, linking the mainland to the Hebrides.

During time visiting the famous port, sightseeing opportunities include McCaig’s Tower, Dunollie Castle and the views looking out from Pulpit Hill.

A final call before travelling back to Greenock, the ‘Whisky Island’ Islay makes for quite the closing chapter!

See Celtic crosses, local wildlife and distilleries during your time on the island.

Click here for more info

3. Whiskies & Wildlife – 2023 Coastal Scotland Expedition

Brodick Castle © Supplied by Shutterstock
Brodick Castle.

This next expedition cruise takes in a selection of Scottish islands including the Isle of Arran, Tobermory and the Islay.

MS Spitsbergen also visits the UK’s hiking capital – Fort William – and the popular resort town of Oban.

On the trail of the famous tipple, consider touring some of Scotland’s best-known whisky distilleries during time ashore at Arran and Mull.

A hiking paradise at the foot of the Ben Nevis, soak up epic scenery during time at Fort William, the UK’s ‘Outdoor Capital’.

Immortalised on the silver screen thanks to films including the Bond outing ‘Skyfall’; majestic Glen Coe is easily reached from the town, and one of the great symbols of Scotland.

Click here for more info

4. Expedition around the Irish Sea – 2023 British Isles Cruise

Giant's Causeway © Supplied by Shutterstock
See the spectacular Giant’s Causeway.

Gateway to the Giant’s Causeway, Portrush features first on this cruise sailing from Greenock.

A small resort town popular since the Victorian era, Portrush has some excellent walking routes.

Hard to resist, travellers often decide to take in the nearby UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway.

A stunning sight, the causeway is made from thousands of interlocking basalt columns.

Belfast City Hall © Supplied by Shutterstock
Belfast City Hall.

Belfast is a great European capital. Long associated with the Titanic, explore the city and perhaps visit the futuristic Titanic Belfast.

Travelling across to the Isle of Man, step ashore at Douglas.

Learn about the island’s long history – an intriguing blend of Celtic and Viking heritage.

Heading to Wales, Fishguard is your next port of call. A charming coastal town, points of interest include Fishguard Fort or Dyffryn Fernant gardens.

One of the finest gardens in Wales, Dyffryn Fernant Garden, spread across six acres, offers different areas of interest.

Visitors can enjoy an expertly maintained courtyard, Nursery Garden and “Hopeful Wood” amongst other highlights.

Home of Guinness, Dublin is a final port of call combining Irish history with the modern. Sweeping changes make the capital one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities!

Click here for more info

5. Whisky & Wildlife from the Hebrides to the Shetlands

Port Charlotte © Supplied by Shutterstock
Port Charlotte, Islay.

Set be a popular option, this next Greenock voyage sets sail for Norway, visiting a collection of fascinating destinations along the way.

Starting with Belfast, take the time to explore this exciting city. Simply unwind and wander charming city streets or venture further afield to the Giant’s Causeway.

MS Spitsbergen calls at Peel, once the capital of the Isle of Man and seat to the King of Mann.

A historic trading hub with connections to Ireland and Shetland amongst others, choose to wander period streets or venture further afield.

Peel Castle © Supplied by Shutterstock
Peel Castle.

Originally constructed by the Vikings, Peel Castle is a must-see.

Key features include the round tower, ruins of a cathedral and the Lord’s Apartments.

Travelling to remote Islay next, discover an island celebrated around the world for its whisky.

Once the seat of the MacDonalds, Lord of the Isles, Islay welcomes countless migrating birds each year to its shore.

Oban © Supplied by Shutterstock

The ‘Gateway to the Isles’, Oban is one of the quintessential Scottish resort towns and the next featured port of call.

Wander the harbour front or undertake a little light exploration. Within reach, see Dunollie Castle, McCaig’s Tower or the ruins of 13th-century Gylen Castle.

First welcoming settlers in the 1st century, Iona is your next, extremely peaceful, island destination.

Treshnish Isles © Supplied by Shutterstock
Puffins at the Treshnish Isles.

Travellers will also see the Treshnish Isles, a wonderful wildlife haven, before reaching Staffa.

Counting Robert Louis Stevenson and Queen Victoria as former visitors, admire this unusual-looking island and Fingal’s Cave.

Famous for its natural acoustics, see this much-photographed sight from the water.

Surrounded by the peaks of the Cullins, MS Spitsbergen sails for Loch Scavaig.

Take in a powerful Scottish landscape, subject of many a painting, before reaching the Isle of Canna.

The ‘Garden of the Hebrides’, Canna is linked via causeway to Sanday, known for its puffin colonies. MS Spitsbergen then sails for St. Kilda.

St. Kilda. © Supplied by Shutterstock
St. Kilda.

Jaw-dropping sea cliffs await as MS Spitsbergen navigates these spectacular coastal waters.

Another undoubted highlight, Stornoway is the capital of Lewis and most northerly of the Western Isles.

Stepping ashore, learn about the life of a crofter or take in Lews Castle, designed by Glaswegian Architect, Charles Wilson.

The world-famous Callanish Standing Stones or intriguing Carloway Broch are also within reach, creating an enviable situation.

One historic island after another, MS Spitsbergen calls at Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall.

Orcadian sights to consider visiting include St. Magnus Cathedral, Scapa Flow, The Bishop’s and Earl’s Palace or the mythical Ring of Brodgar.

Seeing the red sandstone cliffs of the Fair Isle, MS Spitsbergen also calls at Shetland Isles.

Carloway Broch © Supplied by Shutterstock
Carloway Broch.

Famous for its rich Viking heritage, particularly Up Helly Aa Fire Festival, Lerwick was founded in the 17th century.

Local attractions include Shetland Museum & Archives, the Croft House Museum and the Broch of Mousa.

Sailing to scenic Norway, a final call at Bergen, ‘Gateway to the Fjords’ makes for a memorable cruising finale.

Bergen © Supplied by Shutterstock

Alongside the UNESCO-listed Hanseatic Bryggen waterfront, we thoroughly recommend taking the cable car journey to the summit of Mount Floyen.

Several hundred metres above sea level at its highest point, the views here are something special.

Click here for more info

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