Going Ashore: V&A Dundee

© Louise Farquhar

Dundee, located on the north bank of the famous River Tay estuary on Scotland’s eastern coast, is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. With a £1 billion redevelopment of the waterfront underway, the city has been named by National Geographic Traveller magazine as one of the coolest destinations for 2019. This accolade is only one of many, with Lonely Planet also highlighting the city as a global must-visit hotspot.

© Louise Farquhar

The port is a natural harbour, dating back 800 years, with spectacular views of the magnificent rail and road bridges spanning this broad river. As well as hosting cruise ships, the port handles much of Scotland’s agricultural produce and is an important centre for the oil and gas industry.

Dundee is benefiting from the rise in popularity for Northern European cruise itineraries, often being included as part of a British Isles tour or an expedition trip to Norway or Iceland. Cruise ships berth right in the heart of the city, with a free shuttle bus making the short trip to the main attractions. Originally known as the home of marmalade and The Beano, there are now two more jewels in Dundee’s crown; the V&A museum and Captain Scott’s Antarctic research vessel, RRS Discovery.

© Louise Farquhar

The V&A opened in September 2018 and is the first outpost of this world-leading museum outside of London. It is also Scotland’s first design museum. Created by the Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, the imposing concrete building has a distinct maritime theme, jutting out over the river like the bow of a ship. Home to the permanent and free Scottish Design Galleries, there is also an impressive exhibition space featuring a rotating programme of events which charges an entry fee.

In keeping with the high standards of the V&A museum generally, the shop has an upmarket selection of carefully curated items to buy and the upstairs Tatha Bar & Kitchen is fantastic for breakfast and lunch (booking essential, especially at weekends).

Click here for a direct link to the V&A website.

Whisky Galore on the Hebridean Princess

HB External
Hebridean Princess

Scotland is a land of misty glens, remote islands, Viking graves, Neolithic stone circles, haunted castles and …. whisky!

Hebridean Princess Map
Whisky Galore

No trip to this beautiful country is complete without a wee dram of the famous ‘amber nectar’. In summer 2019 Hebridean Island Cruises take this notion one step closer to heaven. Their Whisky Galore cruise visits no less than 8 distilleries in 8 days, including the most northern and the greenest. Guest can expect a tipple at each as well as a rare insight into this specialised and world-leading industry.

HP Whisky
Scotland’s Malt Whisky

Starting in Invergordon, the cruise visits Old Putney, Orkney’s Highland Park and Scapa, The Isle of Harris, The Isle of Raasay, Skye’s Torbhaig, Ardnamurchan and Mull’s Tobermory.

HP Ring of Brodgar
Ring of Brodgar

During this wonderful trip, plenty of time is set aside to visit world-renowned sites like the Ring of Brodgar, Callanish Stones, Raasay House, Armadale Castle, Italian Chapel and Old Forge Pub.

HP Balcony
Old-fashioned luxury

Your ship, The Hebridean Princess, is a national treasure. Chugging around Scotland’s coastline, this 50-guest floating country hotel is the epitome of luxury. You can expect warm Scottish hospitality, scenic cruising to hidden bays and far-flung isles, exclusive access to places of interest and a hot toddy in the Tiree Lounge after a bracing day of exploring.

HP Otter
Otters

Essentials

Date: 05/08/2019

Duration: 8-days

Great for single travellers

Further info: www.hebridean.co.uk

One Ocean: Scotland & Ireland Golf Expedition

oo Scotland Golf 2
Take in the view

Scotland, the birthplace of golf, is home to some of the finest courses in the world. One Ocean Expeditions, on their Scotland & Ireland Golf Expedition voyage, visit a hand-picked selection of these on this carefully curated 7-day tour.

OO Scotland Ireland Golf Map
Scotland & Ireland Golf Expedition Map

With a strong focus on the infamous course designer, ‘Old Tom Morris’, the cruise offers golf at Machrihanish, the recently restored Askernish, Castle Stuart links, Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay and Royal Aberdeen. On disembarking in Edinburgh you might choose to extend your stay with a trip to St. Andrews and the fabulous Old Course.

Castle Stuart Golf Links
Sunset Over the Course

So you can concentrate on your swing … One Ocean book your preferred tee-off times, pay green fees in advance and transport clubs by Zodiac to the course of your choice. In between games, Scotland has plenty more to offer. One Ocean have excursions to castles, Neolithic sites, fishing villages, whisky distillery tours and wildlife.

Atlantic Puffin
Orkney Puffin

You cruise on the newest addition to the fleet, the 146-passenger re-fitted RCGS Resolute. Originally built in 1993, this polar expedition vessel is more commonly sailing the waters of Antarctica but ventures further north in the summer for cruises to Canada, Scotland and Iceland.

Castles and Courses
Castles and Courses

One Ocean are specialists in expedition cruising, providing all guests with a comprehensive outdoor kit which includes binoculars and walking poles. Onboard experts highlight points of interest and specialist speakers tailor their talks to the destinations of each particular voyage.

www.oneoceanexpeditions.com

Essentials

Date: June 5 – 12 2019

Duration: 7 days

Ship: RCGS Resolute

 

Aurora Expeditions Cruise: Wild Scotland

Aurora Scotland
Scotland’s Mountains and Glens

Exhilaration and adventure are key ingredients in a genuine expedition cruise. Aurora’s Wild Scotland isn’t short on either of these, adding a sprinkle of challenge and a dash of mystery into the mix on this tour of the country’s most rugged and remote places.

Aurora Wild Scotland Map
Wild Scotland Route

As a pioneer in expedition cruising, this Australian company seeks far-flung islands and deserted beaches, uncovering history and fascinating wildlife along the way.

Aurora Fingals Cave
Fingals’ Cave

The 11-day trip visits the beautiful island of Iona, birthplace of Christianity in Scotland and gateway to the dramatic basalt columns of Fingal’s Cave. Then the ship ventures 100 miles from shore to the world-heritage site of St. Kilda, which is home to Europe’s largest sea-bird colony and Britain’s highest sea stacks.

Aurora Skara Brae
Skara Brae

So many cruises rush through the magical Hebridean islands and the archipelagoes of the Northern Isles, often en-route to Norway or Iceland. Instead, Aurora lingers in these places, taking the Zodiacs to islands only inhabited by birds or seeking out ancient Neolithic sites not yet found by summer tourists.

Aurora Wild Scotland Weather
Wild Scotland … Wild Weather

You sail on the much-loved Polar Pioneer. Originally built as an ice-strengthened research vessel in Finland, the ship was refurbished in 2000 and now carries only 54 passenger on unique exploration voyages. Accommodation is simple and the atmosphere on board is team-like rather than luxurious, as it should be on a voyage of this kind.

Shore excursions are included as well as an expedition jacket, boot hire and a photo book to commemorate your cruise.

More information on this cruise can be found here at Aurora’s website.

Photos courtesy of Aurora Expeditions.

Essentials

Date: 22nd June to 2nd July 2019

Duration: 11-days

Ship: Polar Pioneer

 

HAL: Irish & Scottish Adventure

HAL Rotterdam
Rotterdam

Cruise Lines take many forms: from the thrill-a-minute RCI mega-ships to the scandi-cool Viking luxury havens. Holland America Line is another brand with a very distinct identity. The clean lines and teak decks are nautical through and through, giving an elegance and timelessness to their ships. The tie-ins with Oprah and BBC Earth give a sense of quiet enrichment while The American Test kitchen caters (literally) for all the foodies … I love a HAL cruise.

HAL Kirkwall
Kirkwall

HAL is not an expedition line so their Irish & Scottish Adventure is a relaxed affair. You won’t need welly boots or a parka on this trip – maybe an umbrella though to keep the Scottish weather away.

HAL Forth Rail Bridge
Forth Rail Bridge

This 14-day voyage is a comprehensive introduction to the country; with stops in Edinburgh, Kirkwall, Invergordon and Stornoway. There’s lots to see and do. If archaeological sites are your ‘cup of tea’ then Neolithic Orkney has archaeological sites dotted all over the archipelago. The WWII Italian Chapel is another highlight. Invergordon is the gateway to the Loch Ness Monster (if you’re lucky) as well as the deeply historic Culloden Battlefield.

HAL Stornoway
Stornoway

Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, has ancient standing stones at Callanish and is near to Harris, where you’ll find chalky white beaches and the famous Harris Tweed. Further south, the capital city of Edinburgh is brimming with culture and interest. This cruise is timed perfectly for a night at the Military Tattoo, set against the backdrop of Edinburgh castle with the Lone Piper floodlit on the battlements.

HAL Highland Park Distillery
Highland Park Distillery

Your ship is the 1400-guest Rotterdam and more information on this trip can be found here on the HAL website.

Essentials

Date: September 2020

Duration: 14 days

Ship: Rotterdam