Day 1: Dublin
Arriving independently in Dublin, we’ll gather to meet our Expedition Leader and fellow travellers. We’ll then explore the region, wending our way to our disembarkation point for our Ireland Circumnavigation cruise.
The Rock of Cashel is bound to be a highlight: home to one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture anywhere in the world. The Rock is the jewel at the heart of County Tipperary. Our journey by sea aboard the Ocean Endeavour begins this afternoon.
Day 2–3: South Coast
A combination of expedition landings and coastal towns awaits us along Ireland’s south coast. Our expedition team will make the most of our opportunities; we hope to enjoy hiking, photography, and birding—in addition to town visits.
Cork, Ireland’s second largest city, is a must. It is known for its bridges, St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral, the English Market, its beautiful architecture, and its many multicultural offerings.
Day 3: Clear Island and Garnish Gardens
A ship’s cruise of Clear Island should be a hit with birders. The island is home to shearwaters, auks, skuas, black and common guillemots, cormorants, and storm petrels. Seals, basking sharks, and dolphins frequent the surrounding waters.
In the afternoon we’ll visit Ilnacullin Garinish, Bantry Bay. Here we’ll view rare and exquisite plants at one of Ireland’s top gardens. A Martello tower offers excellent views, and a seal colony rounds out the list of attractions.
Day 4: Ring of Kerry
This scenic route around the Irveragh Peninsula in County Kerry takes in outstanding views of coastlines, rolling rural scenery, and numerous cultural attractions. Historic sites, including castles, abbeys, mansions, and cathedrals are dotted along the route.
Killarney National Park, “The Jewel in Kerry’s Crown” is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. From the foot of the Macgillycuddy Reeks (the highest mountain range in Ireland) to the outskirts of Killarney, the park encompasses lakes, mountains, and plains.
Day 5: Southwest Coast
Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichíl), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, rocketed to new fame as the fictional home of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. We hope to spot actual residents like puffins, petrels, and shearwaters on our ship’s cruise.
We’ll visit the town of Dingle, rich in Irish music and culture. The town boasts historic buildings, medieval ruins, an aquarium, arts and crafts shops and more. Thirsty visitors will find numerous pubs and a distillery.
Day 6: Cliffs of Moher
Rising over two hundred metres above the Wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most outstanding natural attractions—as attested by their popularity with visitors. They have been featured in numerous films, including The Princess Bride.
We’ll be watching for seabirds as we ship’s cruise by the cliffs. A landing in the region will provide excellent opportunities for walking, hiking, sightseeing and photography.
Day 7: Aran Islands
The Aran Islands are geologically and culturally unique. Inishmoor, Inishmann, and Inisheer are limestone Islands located in Galway Bay. Subject to temperate climatic conditions, they are home to diverse range of plant and animal species.
The Arans are also bastions of Irish history and culture; a large proportion of the population are Gaelic speakers. Some of Ireland’s oldest archeological remains are found here. Inishmoor medieval hill fort will be a highlight of our visit.
Day 8: Inishbofin & Clew Bay
Just off the Connemara Coast lies Inishbofin. Prior to the Irish Famine, this outpost was home to 1,400 souls; today the population is less than two hundred.
Clew Bay is said to have ‘an island for every day of the year’, many of them drumlins. The town of Westport in the bay is famed for its music, history, and beauty: “The most beautiful view I ever saw in the world,” according to novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.
Day 9: Tory Island & County Donegal
Toraigh (Tory Island) lies nearly fifteen kilometres off the northwest coast of County Donegal. The main spoken language on the island is Gaelic. Since the 1950s, the island has been home to a small community of artists, and has its own art gallery.
Historical sites include Balor’s Fort, the Wishing Stone, the Bell Tower, and the twelfth-century Tau Cross. The island is an important breeding site for corn crakes, a globally threatened bird species.
Day 10: Giant’s Causeway and Rathlin Island
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Causeway is a geological wonder. About 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, formed by volcanic eruption, form ‘steps’ leading from the coastal cliffs, to below the surface of the North Sea. Numerous legends associate the causeway with the mythic hero Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool).
Rathlin Island, the only inhabited island off Northern Ireland, is designated a Special Area of Conservation in Northern Ireland and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve.
Day 11: Belfast
The largest city in Northern Ireland, and its capital, is also the second-largest city on the island of Ireland. Once considered dangerous, at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland, Belfast was previously much better known as a centre for industry, particularly shipbuilding. The HMS Titanic was completed in a Belfast shipyard, and sailed from Belfast on its maiden voyage.
Today, Belfast is a popular tourist destination, known for music, architecture, gardens, and the arts.
Day 12: Dublin
On our last day together on our Ireland Circumnavigation cruise, we’ll wind up back where we began: Dublin. Ireland’s glorious capital—beloved of poets, musicians, and dreamers—lies at the mouth of the River Liffey.
Once we disembark, you may enjoy exploring one of the world’s great cities, take our optional post-tour around the Isle of Man, or journey on to your next destination. Safe home!