Circumnavigation of Ireland

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Tour Description

Board the elegant, 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey for this in-depth Ireland expedition. As we maneuver the waterways of the region, our Emerald Island adventure travel tour will include visits to Dún Aengus; the passage tombs of Knowth; the cliffside monasteries and defense lookout towers of the Celtic monks; the Viking legacy of Waterford; and Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, and Killarney. We explore the dramatic landscape on foot and by Zodiac, taking us to the World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway or to remote islands to commingle with fascinating seabirds. Your Ireland tour is led by a superb team of lecturers who help you discover the Emerald Isle in a uniquely personal way.

Ireland Adventure Travel Highlights:

  • In-depth Dublin tour at the beginning of your Emerald Island expedition; see The Book of Kells at Trinity College, among other historic sites.
  • Zodiac excursion to the privately owned Saltee Islands to view the thousands of seabirds who reside there, including puffins and peregrine falcons.
  • Full-day excursion to Ring of Kerry, including Killarney National Park, Kenmare, Moll’s Gap, Dingle Bay, and more.
  • Giant’s Causeway, some 40,000 closely packed hexagonal columns that descend like a staircase into the sea—a favorite stop on our Ireland tour.
  • Ample opportunities to meet the local residents of quaint villages and lift a pint to this remarkable journey in lively pubs.

What to Expect:

Ireland adventure travel requires a moderate level of exertion for most activities. You will need to climb in and out of Zodiacs for excursions ashore, and must be able to walk, unaided, on sometimes uneven beaches and terrains, cobblestoned streets, and stairs without handrails. We have designed the shore excursions during our Emerald Isle expedition to accommodate both those who wish for moderate strolls and those who prefer more active hikes. Expect temperatures ranging from 55°F to 70°F as we make our way around Ireland’s coast—quite comfortable, yet varying as we travel on land and at sea.

Itinerary

Day 1

Depart USA

Depart on your independent flight to Dublin.

Day 2

Dublin, Ireland

Upon arrival, transfer independently to our hotel. The afternoon is at leisure. This evening we gather for a welcome dinner and briefing. Overnight at our hotel.

Day 3

Dublin

This morning we have a choice of two half-day excursions. A Dublin tour highlights the attractions of this vibrant metropolis, whose brilliant literary legacy contrasts with historic pubs, intriguing 18th-century Georgian architecture, and today’s energetic tempo. We visit Trinity College, founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1591—among its illustrious graduates are Bertrand Russell, Samuel Beckett, and Lord Byron. The college’s valued treasures include the 8th-century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, and nearby, alumnus Jonathan Swift is buried in the 12th-century St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We also visit the Old Parliament House, and elegant squares set in the vicinity of the Grand Canal.

Or, drive to the seaside town of Malahide to explore the historic 12th-century Malahide Castle and its 250 flower-studded acres. The castle rooms are filled with period-piece furniture and an extensive collection of prized portraits. On our way back we stop at Howth, a fishing port with sweeping views of Dublin Bay, for an Irish coffee at the renowned Abbey Tavern.

Both excursions return to our hotel for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on your own this evening—a perfect chance to sample one of Dublin’s many delightful restaurants and enjoy its lively nighttime scene. Overnight at our hotel.

Day 4

Dublin / Embark the Clipper Odyssey

Today we explore the countryside on a full-day excursion, traveling either northwards to visit historic archaeological and monastic monuments, or southwards to garden landscapes steeped in history.

Heading north, we explore County Meath and the Boyne Valley, once ruled by both pagans and early Christians. Highlights from ancient Ireland include a visit to the Neolithic passage grave of Knowth and megalithic cemeteries that date back 5,000 years. We continue to the ancient ruins of 5th-century Monasterboice Monastery—with its celebrated High Crosses—and Old Mellifont Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian monastery.

Our southbound journey brings us to County Wicklow, known as “The Garden of Ireland.” We visit Glendalough’s famous Round Tower, situated in one of Ireland’s most picturesque settings and then continue to the grand Powerscourt Estate, with one of the country’s finest 18th-century gardens, complete with Italianate statuary.

In the late afternoon we board the Clipper Odyssey to commence our circumnavigation.

Day 5

Saltee Islands / Dunmore East / Waterford

This morning we anchor off the privately-owned Saltee Islands for Zodiac excursions to view some of the nearly three million seabirds (47 species) that make their home here. On Great Saltee we hope to see puffins, choughs, and peregrine falcons with Risso’s dolphins off shore. Our highlight will be a visit to a colony of thousands of breeding gannets with large chicks about to fledge.

After lunch on board our ship glides into the fishing village of Dunmore East and we disembark for a choice of afternoon explorations.

Choose a drive to cosmopolitan Waterford to watch the creation of exquisite crystal ware—from blowing to cutting and engraving—at the Waterford Crystal Factory, with a chance to talk with master artisans. We also visit the local museum for enlightenment on the history and archaeology of this captivating area.

Or, continue your exploration of classical gardens as we visit the esteemed 700-acre estate of Mount Congreve, with its celebrated collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. Alternatively, expand your bird-viewing horizons to include a fascinating trip to the rich birding habitats around Dunmore East, where a large kittiwake colony resides. Top off your afternoon with a pint of Guinness® at the colorful Jack Meade’s Pub.

Day 6

Cork / Kinsale

In the morning enjoy your choice of tours. A Cork city drive takes us past the Cathedral of Saint Finabarr, then through lovely countryside to Blarney town. At legendary Blarney Castle, you may wish to kiss the famed Blarney Stone, reportedly guaranteeing eloquence of speech forever.

Or, explore University College Cork, with its splendid Gothic revival-style buildings and the Honan Chapel, which showcases every aspect of the Irish intellectual, arts, and crafts movements of the early 20th-century Celtic revival period. At the Crawford Gallery we discover why Cork was named the European Capital of Culture in 2005. And, displaying a fine selection of foodstuffs is Cork’s historic English Market, which is atmospheric in both produce and producers—a feast for the senses.

After lunch aboard, join us for a countryside journey to Kinsale, a picturesque seaside village with a yachting heritage. The dramatic 17th-century Charles Fort presides over the harbor entrance; the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine in WWI within sight of the ramparts. After enjoying the superb views, enjoy a stroll among Kinsale’s many galleries and shops before returning to the ship.

Day 7

Sneem / Killarney / Caherciveen (Ring Of Kerry)

This full-day excursion encompasses some of the world’s finest scenery as we drive east from Sneem to the market town of Kenmare. The circular route then climbs through Moll’s Gap, revealing an idyllic lake and then mountain panoramas. We visit Muckross House in Killarney National Park, a restored 19th-century Elizabethan-style manor house and gardens, where artisans ply their traditional trades and craftwork in the Kerry Folklife Center. After lunch in nearby Killarney town, we have time to explore before we continue along the northern route, through Killorglin with its grand land- and seascapes. We pass along the shores of Dingle Bay en route to re-embark the ship in Caherciveen.

Day 8

Skellig Rocks / Great Blasket Island

At dawn we approach the remote and precipitous Skellig Rocks, one of Europe’s most impressive seabird colonies. Little Skellig is home to the second largest gannetry in the world—thousands upon thousands greet our arrival. Weather permitting, visit nearby Skellig Michael, the craggy site of an important 9th-century early Christian monastic settlement. Seals and seabirds also populate the Blasket Islands, an archipelago off the Dingle Peninsula where we board Zodiacs for an expedition stop.

Day 9

Dingle Peninsula

Today we explore the Dingle Peninsula— Ireland’s most westerly outpost. From Slea Head the views are dramatic over the seacoast and off-lying islands. We continue to Dunquin’s Blasket Center, offering insights into the isolated island communities. We also visit the unusual Gallarus Oratory, a very early 9th-century church built in dry-stone, without mortar, to resemble an upturned boat. Enjoy a stroll and explore craft shops in the small fishing town of Dingle before re-boarding the Clipper Odyssey.

Day 10

Cliffs Of Moher / Inishmore, Aran Islands

Early risers watch as our ship cruises by the seabird-studded Cliffs of Moher. We arrive at Inishmore, largest of the three Aran Islands, and an outpost of Gaelic culture, where Irish-speaking residents live in traditional stone cottages.

Our morning tour brings us to 5th-century Dún Aengus Fort, a prehistoric stone fort dramatically situated at the edge of 300-foot cliffs. Stop to enjoy a pint in the pub, before reboarding the ship.

Day 11

Donegal

Charming Donegal Town is our destination today and we embark on either a full-or half-day tour of its many sights. Both visit Donegal Castle and the remains of a Franciscan monastery that date to the 15th century. After lunch at Donegal Pub the full-day tour continues to Belleek Pottery for a chance to see potters at work and view the delicate, slightly iridescent final product.

Day 12

Portrush, Northern Ireland / Giant’s Causeway

We spend the morning along the North Antrim Coast, witnessing the dramatic landscape of Northern Ireland. Our ship docks at Portrush, from where we travel overland to the World Heritage Site of Giant’s Causeway. This three-mile section of coastline is a geological masterpiece—some 40,000 closely-packed hexagonal columns of varying heights line the coast and descend like a staircase into the sea. These were formed by the shrinking of basaltic lava that fractured into vertical columns as it cooled. Those who wish may take a hike through the formations from the interpretive center.

In the afternoon we tour the Old Bushmills Distillery. Founded in 1608, whiskey is still produced, matured, and bottled on-site. Learn about the long, colorful history of the company—and Irish whiskey—observe the process of distillation, and enjoy a sample of the intoxicating result.

Day 13

Port St. Mary, Isle of Man

This morning we call at the picturesque Isle of Man. Situated halfway between Northern Ireland and England in the Irish Sea, the island is rich in Celtic and Viking history. In Castletown we visit the beautifully preserved Castle Rushen, and the Nautical Museum with its collection of ship models and maritime artifacts. After lunch at a local restaurant, tour Peel Castle or enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Day 14

Dublin, Ireland / USA

After breakfast disembark in Dublin and transfer to the airport for independent flights home.

Departures

Pricing Information

Clipper Odyssey

One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.