Scotland Cruises & Trekking
Follow in the footsteps of the Celtic forefathers along Scotland’s magnificent northern coastline, filled with history, incredible wildlife and geological marvels.
The dramatic coastline of the western islands and Highlands is peppered with many stunningly sheltered cruising waters amid spectacular scenery. Pretty villages and golden beaches extend towards the northwestern islands which dot the north Atlantic to create a wonderland of seabird speckled cliffs, towering sea stacks, glorious mountains and windswept moors.
The remote northern islands of Shetland and Orkneys are warmed by the Gulf Stream and abound with nature reserves and archaeological sites and offer a taste of traditional island life. While the northeastern coast typifies a seaboard carved by the North Sea creating a unique visual landscape and a haven for wildlife.
Trekking in the Scottish Highlands offers spectacular scenery where you can discover the majesty of deep glens, wild lochs, diverse wildlife, and learn about the region’s history and legends.
Explore the real world.
What is expedition cruising?
Embark on a sea-based adventure to the remote coastal regions of our globe, where unique encounters will allow you to experience nature at its most pristine.
This type of travel was born three decades ago, nurtured by rugged adventurers keen to share the magic of the wilderness with like-minded travellers. Expedition cruising brings together those with a curiosity about the world around them, a keen sense of adventure, and a desire to immerse themselves in the natural environment.
What will I do on an Aurora Expeditions cruise?
On our expedition cruises you will sail in a small, purpose-built ship with an expert, international expedition team, through some of the most amazing seascapes on earth. In small Zodiac boats, you will search craggy coves for wildlife that shelters among the rocks or high up on a cliff face. We land on remote beaches, where you might walk up a ridge for panoramic views or hike to see remnants of bygone eras. Our expedition team is by your side the whole time, enriching your experience with fascinating presentations and insights into remarkable places.
What do you mean by ‘expedition’?
An expedition cruise is never predictable. Every voyage is different, guided by the ever-changing weather, tides, ice conditions and our team’s deep local knowledge. We choose the best plan for each day, pushing for the ultimate experience for everyone on board. Being flexible yields incredible rewards. When we can share a spontaneous wildlife display, watch a breathtaking glacier calving or allow you a moment of true solitude, we know it’s worth it.
On an expedition cruise, we encourage you to make the most of every opportunity to nurture your inner adventurer. You can choose from a range of add-on activities to make the most of your time in these beautiful places. We have pioneered many adventure options to help you explore in your own way.
Explore shallow coastlines, discover secluded bays and search for wildlife in hard to reach places in our Zodiacs; sturdy, inflatable rubber speed boats.
Join our onboard naturalists as we visit some of the most extraordinary biodiversity hotspots around the globe.
Adventurous hikes for all abilities. Explore historic ruins, admire local flora and fauna and hike up remote ridges to spectacular viewpoints.
Whether you use a digital SLR or an iPhone, our photography guides are ready with handy hints to help you get the most out of your camera.
Join onboard historians and discover abandoned whaling villages, compelling archaeological sites and fascinating remnants of bygone eras.
Join your onboard naturalists and fellow birdwatching enthusiasts to watch for seabirds following the ship as they make their long journey across the ocean.
Included Activities (select itineraries)
A time-worn tradition, the polar plunge is a rite of passage into an exclusive club. It’s no secret why: the ocean doesn’t freeze until -1.8° C (28.7° F) and sunshine is not guaranteed!
Our ships are designed to put people in connection with the environment. With expansive observation decks to bring you closer to the world outside, inviting communal areas, a comfortable lecture room and complimentary access to the gym, sauna and spa, the exploration and discovery continue whether you’re ashore or on board.
Find a spot on the deck or in the observation lounge as the captain skillfully navigates sea ice, sails the spectacular, narrow Lemaire Channel or crosses the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.
Enthralling, informative lectures
Join our expedition specialists and learn about the captivating wildlife and natural wonders as you see them. Be swept away in tales of terror and triumph as our historians share some of the fascinating stories of human endeavour in these remote corners of the world.
It’s not uncommon to spot dolphins frolicking off the bow, humpback or fin whales surfacing at sea, or majestic albatrosses and petrels soaring overhead. Get out where the action is and make sure you don’t miss a thing! Binoculars and wildlife guides are available for your use onboard.
Gym, Spa & Sauna
In between landings you are welcome to visit the wellness centre, where you can use the gym, visit our sauna (which we highly recommend after the polar plunge!) or book a massage (additional cost applies). There are also 2 jacuzzis on the top outside deck with amazing views of the world outside.
You will be fuelled-up for your expedition with delicious morning and afternoon teas, and hearty meals cooked by our onboard chefs. Meal-times are a great opportunity to soak up the expedition camaraderie in our open-seating dining area. We also invite you to join your captain and expedition team for informal Captain’s Welcome and Farewell drinks, with complimentary beverages and cocktail appetisers, followed by a 3 course meal.
Optional (select itineraries)
Optional activities are popular and group sizes are limited, so if you’re interested, get in touch with our team as soon as possible. Additional fees apply. See your itinerary page of the website for details.
Whether it’s adventure at sea or on land that makes you tick, we have a huge range of optional activities to help you make the most of your time in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
We’ll get you out for your optional activities as often as possible, and this will be your main mode of exploration throughout your trip. Your guides will assess the conditions at each landing, and you’ll have the option to join whenever conditions allow.
Silent and sleek, sea kayaks are perfect for exploring wild coastlines. Accompanied by your expert guides, you will have multiple sea kayak excursions throughout the voyage (weather permitting).
Get under the skin of the sea and discover the hidden wonders beneath on a guided diving option. NB: Polar diving participants must have extensive experience diving in drysuits in cold environments.
Relax and catch a glimpse of the captivating underwater world just below the surface as you drift along at a leisurely pace.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)
Put your balance to the test on the newest addition to our activity program. Paddleboard your way to a truly memorable adventure experience.
West and north of the British mainland, several hundred islands pierce the north Atlantic to create a wonderland of seabird-speckled cliffs, towering sea stacks, secret waterways, glorious mountains and windswept moors.
Remote and often uninhabited, the Scottish Isles have sheltered some of our planet’s greatest wanderers – from migrant birds to Vikings, outcasts to explorers. From Orkney’s fertile farmlands to Shetland’s rocky shores, from the mournful beauty of the Outer Hebrides to the remote outliers like Foula and St Kilda; the Scottish Isles offer remarkable diversity within a relatively short distance.
Neolithic sites scarcely altered in 5,000 years and pondering the mystery of huge monoliths that marked seasonal change scatter the landscapes. Ancient crofting communities, picturesque villages and castles that were once strongholds of Scottish clans provide insight into some of the country’s vast history. And home to the world’s largest seabird colonies, raucous places filled with gannets, fulmars, arctic terns and delightful puffins, the islands also have a brilliant reputation for their wildlife.
Find out more below:
Planning your trip to Scotland
Here are our tips to help you prepare for your upcoming Scotland expedition.
Our team of expedition experts have pulled together a wealth of important information to help you prepare for your upcoming journey. From what to wear to how to get to our Scottish departure ports, our information below aims to help you start planning your adventure and give you an idea of what you’ll need to know before you go.
Find out more below:
Do you provide polar expedition jackets?
Yes. Each passenger travelling on all our Arctic voyages will receive a complimentary polar expedition jacket to wear during your expedition and take home after your trip.
What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?
It is most important that you bring a comfortable pair of enclosed walking shoes to wear on board the ship. Muck boots are provided on board and are required to be worn on all landings. If you have concerns regarding extra small or large sizing, or hard-to-fit feet, we recommend you bring your own pair.
How do we dry wet clothing?
On board, you can store your wet weather gear and muck boots in your locker, found in the mudroom.
How often do we get off the ship?
We aim to get off the ship as much as possible to experience the destinations up close. Twice per day is common but more if weather, daylight hours and itinerary allow. Duration of the landings vary from site to site but at the height of the peak season, cruise operators must stick to timings allocated by authorities.
Should I bring along my own walking poles?
Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or deep snow, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. We recommend the telescopic poles, with the optional snow-basket tips. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.
What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?
Our expedition team will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally we ask you to relieve yourself on board before going on a landing and if the necessity arises ashore, you will be driven back to the ship.
Can I do more than one activity?
We strongly advise against selecting multiple activities as each is a dedicated activity for those with the relevant experience. To make the most of your time and money, we recommend selecting only one activity.
How fit do I need to be to travel on an Scottish expedition?
To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you participating.
How many people on the ship?
The ship carries a maximum of 132 passengers. We also have approx 15-18 expedition specialists onboard, and 47-56 crew members.
Where do passengers come from?
The majority of our clients come from Australia, the UK, Europe and the United States, however we do often have a mix of other nationalities on board, including our expedition team.
How much room is there for luggage?
There is ample storage space in your cabin on all our ships. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be.
Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?
There will be computers in the library and media room for your use.
Is the ship air-conditioned?
All our ships are air-conditioned, with the on board temperature ranging from 15°C to 25°C. You can control the temperature of your cabin by adjusting the airflow through the roof vent and turning your heater on or off.
Does the crew speak English?
The crew aboard is international and all speak English.
What is the electrical supply on board?
The electrical supply on board is 220 volts, 50 hertz. Please bring a converter if your devices use 110 volts. International electrical sockets are available in your cabin and throughout the ship. If you have many devices, it is advised you bring a multi power board.
Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?
Onboard WiFi internet packages are available for purchase during the voyage. Telephone access for personal use is not available on board. In case of an emergency, our expedition team can facilitate communication with your family members if necessary.
What is not included in the price of the voyage?
In general, items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are: flights to and from your voyage, pre and post accommodation, transfers, drinks from the bar (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities, Ship Shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions). Some voyages do include certain pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements, so please check your specific voyage inclusions on the website or contact us.
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form.
How much should I tip? Are tips included, if not how much per person per day?
A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to increase/decrease the amount or remove the tip when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.
Do you cater for special meal requests?
Yes. Our talented chefs will take your requirements into their meal planning and ensure you receive tasty, healthy meals. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.
What currency do you accept on board?
The onboard currency is US dollars. All your onboard purchases including bar, laundry, ship shop, internet, and massages are charged to your shipboard account and settled by credit card or cash (US dollars only) at the end of the voyage.
Can I smoke on board?
There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships.
Are there hairdryers on board?
Hairdryers are provided in each cabin.
Will I get seasick?
Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. We advise you come armed with motion sickness tablets, and there will be a doctor on board to assist with any bouts of seasickness.
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