14 Night Cruise sailing from Southampton to Leith aboard Azamara Quest.
Sail the British Isles at the peak of summer, with ten late night or overnight stays to immerse yourself in gorgeous landscapes and exciting cities. For golf lovers, heaven awaits with options to play seven renowned courses and attend two days of the British Open at famous St. Andrews (tickets optional for added cost). Non-golfers will be in heaven too, with unrushed days to explore green countryside, castles and gardens, with rest stops at historic pubs, distilleries and restaurants. And what a fine mix of cities: Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh, each with its unique historic character. For outdoor lovers, the scenic wonders are beyond compare. Bring good walking shoes for Chester’s Roman walls, the breathtaking Lake District, the seaside promenade of Douglas, Loch Ness and Inverewe Garden in the Scottish Highlands, and seldom-visited Isle of Lewis. Book soon; this voyage will fill up fast.
Highlights of this cruise:
Muse on voyages past as you sail in or out of Southampton, long a maritime center, its yards turning out warships for king and country from the Hundred Years War in the 14-15th centuries, to two world wars in the 20th. It was the departure point for the Mayflower in 1620, and for the ill-fated Titanic in 1912. The charms of London are not far away, but pray tarry in the south to explore other wonders, including Bath, with its natural hot springs and stunning architecture and the mysterious megaliths of Stonehenge, or venture all the way west to Lands End, and the wild moorlands and pirate haunts of Cornwall.
Dublin offers a wealth of historic sites dating back to a 1000-year-old Viking village, and as one might expect of the Irish, there is a tale to be told about every one. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is said to have been erected on the site where the saint himself converted pagans in 450 AD. From Dublin Castle the crown jewels were stolen in 1907; an unsolved mystery left to the fictional Sherlock Holmes to decipher. Some pubs, great sources of stories, are almost as old – you can sample a Guinness and the latest lore at The Brazen head, serving up drink and daydreams for 800 years. Then for a contrast, ride to a stunning view of contemporary Dublin atop a brand new observation wheel.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast in the early 20th century had the largest and most productive shipyard in the world, gaining global renown with the launch of the RMS Titanic. Located on the slipways where she was built is a stunning new museum, opened in time for the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s only voyage and tragic demise. Today the city and riverfront are undergoing a 21st century transformation, but many exuberant Victorian and Edwardian buildings still sport the carved heads of kings and queens. As you explore the city, keep an eye out for “the murals.” These somewhat troubling freelance works appearing on building walls provide insight into the period known simply as “The Troubles.”
Take a superb natural setting of mountains, tumbling waterfalls, rushing rivers, and serene lochs (and add one sea monster); pepper the landscape with amazing castles (such as Cawdor, setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth); plant a crop of magnificent gardens; incorporate a pretty village or two (surely Beauly, with its lovely flower displays and 13th century ruined priory); toss in a trail of whiskey distilleries, and there you have it: the Scottish Highlands, shrouded in myth and folklore, and a treat to explore.
Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland
To discover Edinburgh begin at its historic heart, with a walk down The Royal Mile. Take it from the top, at Edinburgh Castle perched above the city, for a look at the view, the crown jewels, and the Stone of Destiny on which Scottish monarchs were crowned. At the far end of the mile is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence when in Scotland. Buildings steeped in history, with fascinating stories to tell, line the route between them. Outside the city are numerous impressive stately homes with beautiful grounds and gardens. And for those itching to get out on the links, there is no better place than this, the land where golf was born.