Legendary Scottish Isles: Edinburgh & Glasgow

2023, 2024, 2025 Departures

There’s no better way to explore all the natural and cultural riches that Scotland and its islands have to offer – from treasured tartans and traditions of the clans, to the wonders of single malt whiskies at a distillery in the Highlands to the distinctive folkways of the captivating Scottish Isles…

Our 11-day trip including a 7-night cruise aboard the luxury small ship Le Jacques Cartier, plus a choice of hotel stays in Glasgow and Edinburgh. 

Cruise to the celebrated Orkney and Shetland Islands, and the more remote isles of Mull, Skye and Lewis; explore eclectic Edinburgh, the traditions of Scottish music and dance, the Highlands’ incredible scenery, brooding Loch Ness and much more. 

Enjoy private early-opening visits to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, a sea safari, and more.

Reserve your preferred departure date and we will advise you once the 2022 trip is finalized and priced. You will then have two weeks to cancel; should you cancel, you’ll receive a full refund of your trip deposit and the cost of the Travel Protection Product (if purchased). 

If you are making your own air arrangements, do not book your flights until this trip is finalized as itinerary, as well as start and end cities, may change. We look forward to traveling with you!

Deposit and payments are non-refundable. Travel Insurance is strongly advised.

Le Jacques Cartier Details

Featuring innovative and environmentally-friendly equipment, elegantly designed staterooms, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside, this new limited-capacity yacht boasting just 92 staterooms and suites will offer you a truly unique cruising experience.

As the sixth ship in a new series that remains true to the Ponant spirit, Le Jacques Cartier will embody the unique atmosphere that is the cruise line’s hallmark: a subtle blend of refinement, intimacy and comfort.

Staterooms (ranging in size from 204 to 296 sq. ft.) and suites (ranging in size from 296 to 484 sq. ft.) have ocean views; 95% have private balconies. 

Staterooms are decorated by French designers, offering individually controlled air conditioning, twin beds converting to a queen-size bed (or one queen-size bed), DVD / CD player, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, electronic safe and minibar.

Aboard this ship that flies the French flag, you will experience the incomparable pleasure of an intimate cruise, with the possibility of exploring an ever-increasing range of destinations in an ethnic-chic ambiance with luxury service. 

Experience a luxurious setting where the accent is on authenticity and passion for travel.

Le Jacques Cartier sports six passenger decks that include the elegant, panoramic main dining room serving French and international cuisine on Deck 4; the casual restaurant serving grilled specialties, salads and desserts on Deck 3; a main lounge offering a bar with evening entertainment, and a 188-seat theatre hosting informative lectures and entertainment and featuring the latest sound and lighting technology, both on Deck 3; a panoramic lounge forward on Deck 6; a spa and fitness center on the top deck (Deck 7); and multiple observation areas. Elevators serve all passenger decks. 

Public Areas

Le Jacques Cartier has many common areas that are designed and equipped to meet all of your needs while preserving the intimacy of each passenger.
A 140 m² reception area includes:

  • A reception/concierge desk,
  • An excursions desk,
  • The ship’s administrative services,
  • The sales office, manned by our Guest Relations Officer,
  • Our 50 m² boutique which sells clothing, jewellery, beauty products, postcards and various accessories,
  • Toilets accessible to passengers with reduced mobility.

A new hydraulic platform with adjustable height provides:

  • Easier boarding than on any other cruise ship,
  • Easier Zodiac embarkation and disembarkation for expeditions,
  • Easier access to the sea for swimming and practising various water sports such as kayaking or paddle-boarding.


As it is an essential part of French culture, gastronomy will naturally have pride of place aboard this new ship.

  • To the back of Deck 4, you will find a 260 m² panoramic restaurant which can accommodate all of our passengers in a single sitting. Designed differently to that on our other ships, this dining area, which opens onto the outside, will have a buffet of salads, desserts and cheeses at your disposal. Our discreet and attentive crew will provide table service for hot meals.
  • In a relaxed atmosphere, an outdoor grill on Deck 3 will serve grilled meats with a variety of salads and desserts.

A pool deck offering:

  • A pool with a panoramic view, equipped with a counter-current swimming system,
  • A pleasant solarium,
  • An outdoor bar and lounge with armchairs and sofas.

A 200 m² main lounge which can accommodate all of our passengers to share convivial moments and to host activities organised during the day or evening.Lastly, a theatre that seats 188, equipped with:

  • The latest sound and lighting technology,
  • A LED wall as the stage backdrop, for the projection of high-resolution images and videos.

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive Glasgow

Tour begins 6:00 PM. A transfer is included from Glasgow International Airport to one of hotels in the heart of the city: the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, the Dakota Glasgow, or the Grand Central Hotel Glasgow. 

Settle in and join us this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner at the hotel.

Day 2 – Explore Glasgow and embark Le Champlain

A tour of city sights includes the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, George’s Square, Buchanan Street, the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, and Princes Square. This afternoon, visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of the city’s most popular attractions, featuring a wide-ranging collection of art and artifacts of cultural history, ancient history, natural history, and more. 

You’ll also visit the Glasgow Riverside Museum, an award-winning, state-of-the-art museum of transport, where you can climb aboard a tram, train, or bus, help put out a fire with an interactive fire engine, and discover Glasgow’s shipbuilding history. 

Drive to Greenock and embark your ship, La Jacques Cartier, your home for the next seven nights. Tonight you sail for the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.

Day 3 – The Isle of Mull

Sail to the Isle of Mull, a popular destination for naturalists and photographers in search of Britain’s more elusive birds and wildlife. Land in Tobermory late in the morning for a choice of excursions. 

Take a boat tour with a guide who will educate you about the cetacean life, bird life, and local history; a guided hike along the coastal cliffs offers great opportunities for sighting and photographing wildlife; or, drive along the scenic coastline to Duart Castle, a medieval landmark on the sea cliffs, home of the Maclean Clan –restored in the 20th century, the castle is a rare opportunity to visit a clan seat that is still owned by its members. 

This evening, join us aboard ship for the Captain’s welcome reception followed by dinner as you sail for the Isle of Skye.

Day 4 – Skye castles and storybook landscapes

Known in Gaelic as “isle of mist,” Skye is steeped in Celtic and Norse legend, a land of faerie glens, storybook mountains, and otherworldly landscapes that seem to spring from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. At Portree, a fishing town in a harbor sheltered by cliffs, take your choice of shore excursions. Take a cruise around Portree Bay and Raasay Sound on a wildlife safari which may include seals, otters, dolphins, and sea eagles along with enchanting coastal views. Alternatively, travel to Kintail where iconic Eilean Donan Castle stands on a small tidal island; destroyed in 1719 and restored in 1932, it is the most photographed castle in Scotland, and you can explore it while learning its turbulent history. 

Your third choice is a visit to medieval Dunvegan Castle, seat of the MacLeod Clan, rising four stories high on a promontory overlooking Loch Dunvegan and the sea. 

Fourth choice takes you to the Kyle of Lochalsh, a scenic area of castles, hills, and lochs – and the site of Armadale Castle and Gardens, spiritual home of the Clan Donald. 

The estate includes 40 acres of formal gardens, walking trails, and an award-winning Museum of the Islands that tells the 1,500-year history of the the clan and the Highlands. 

And your fifth choice is a visit to Kinloch Lodge, formerly the hunting lodge of Armadale Castle, now an elegant guesthouse with a Michelin-starred restaurant, where Lady MacDonald will host afternoon tea with freshly prepared sandwiches, homemade scones, jams, cakes and patisseries.

At the conclusion of all Isle of Sky sightseeing visit you have the opportunity to spend the afternoon in colorful Victorian Portree to explore on your own, or you can return to the ship. Late afternoon, a professional photographer will give presentation of his works and discuss photography on the Scottish Isles. Set sail this evening for the Isle of Lewis.

Day 5 – Lochs, brochs and standing stones

The Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides offers a dreamlike landscape of windy rolling hills, moors, vivid colors, and dramatic, rugged shores. 

Dock in the town of Stornoway, founded by Vikings in the 9th century, and take your choice of excursions. Set off on a sea safari to view marine-life and some of the most magnificent coastline in Scotland.  

The coastal waters warmed by the Gulf Stream are known to draw porpoises, bottle-nosed dolphins, pilot whales, orcas, grey and common seals, basking sharks, and seabirds including puffins, gannets, fulmars, shearwaters, and petrels. Or take a kayak cruise on a loch near Scaladale, on the Isle of Harris.

Visit the small island of Scalpay, home to fishing fleets and weavers of Harris Tweed and Scalpay linen, where a walking tour will introduce you to stunning vistas the island has to offer before joining a local guide for a hike to the historic Eilean Glas Lighthouse. 

Or embark on a panoramic sightseeing tour of Lewis that includes the Standing Stones of Callanish, a group of eerie white monoliths from the Neolithic era, Dun Carloway Broch, a drystone defensive tower built in the Iron Age, and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, a cluster of stone, thatched-roof cottages from the 17th century restored as a living museum, recalling the crofting way of life once common on the island. 

Enjoy time to explore Stornoway and its colorful waterfront on your own, maybe sample its famous black pudding and smoked salmon with local beer, then join us this evening for a traditional Scottish music and dance performance aboard the ship

Day 6 – Orkney Islands & Stromness

The Orkney archipelago belonged to Norway until 1468 when the king of Norway gave them to the king of Scotland as collateral for a loan. When Norway tried to repay the loan, Scotland wouldn’t give the islands back. 

But after all, who would? Arrive in Kirkwall, once a medieval Norwegian port, now the largest town on the Orkney Mainland, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Drive to Marwick Head Nature Reserve, one of the best places in the UK to see wildlife, and take a clifftop walk above a seabird city of as many as 25,000 birds, including razorbills, kittiwakes, guillemots and puffins. 

Or discover the picturesque port town of Stromness, an inspiration for artists, writers, and musicians (Norse influence can even be heard in Orkadian music); the town has a long whaling history and many of its stone buildings are adorned with whale bones; explore its captivating wynds and passageways, and fascinating museum; take an informative walk along Scapa Flow, site of a British naval base during both world wars, where 52 German battleships sank in 1919. 

Or get acquainted with the Orkney fudge and oatcakes that Stromness is famous for, along with a visit to the Orkney Brewery for a tour and tasting; lunch is followed by a tour and tasting at the Highland Whisky Distillery, makers of distinctive single malts since 1798. 

Or explore the Neolithic monuments at Maeshowe and the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the awe-inspiring settlement at Skara Brae on the Bay of Skaill, older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids.

Or take a guided walking tour of Kirkwall that includes its medieval cathedral and bishop’s palace, then visit Scapa Flow and the stunning Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II. 

Join us for a music and folklore evening aboard ship, featuring a storyteller well-versed in local myths and legends.

Day 7 – Treasure of the Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are an archipelago of more than a hundred windswept islands, of which only 16 are inhabited; the rest are havens for wildlife. Towns and villages are few, but there are thousands of archaeological sites throughout the islands, including the remains of prehistoric fortresses and settlements. Arrive dockside at Lerwick on the largest island, where you have a choice of shore excursions. 

Drive to the southern tip of mainland Shetland to visit the uninhabited island of Mousa, site of a 2,000-year-old broch (round stone tower), 43 feet high, the best preserved in the world; explore its beehive-like chambers and climb the internal staircase to the top for panoramic views; cross to Shetland’s east coast for a view of St. Ninian’s Isle, where a cache of Pictish treasure was discovered in the 1950s (the Picti were tribes known to the Romans as “painted people.”); visit Jarlshof near Sumburgh Head to see a 5,000-year-old settlement with remains dating from the Stone Age to the 17th century AD, a microcosm of Shetland history; then ride to the top of Sumburgh Head for views of the sea, seabird colonies, and Shetland’s first lighthouse, built in 1821 by Robert Stevenson (grandfather of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson); lighthouses were the family business, and there are Stevenson lighthouses all over the Highlands.

Alternatively, you can visit Mousa Broch, then explore its island, a breeding ground for European storm petrels, arctic terns and guillemots; a 2-mile walk includes a visit to a seal pool, and sweeping views of wildflowers and the North Sea – or tour the Quendale Water Mill and the Croft House Museum, offering a glimpse of Shetland’s tenant-farming era in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 Or head to the west mainland for a visit to Scalloway, its 17th-century castle, and the Scalloway Museum; learn about the village’s clandestine role in World War II, and visit a farm that breeds Shetland Ponies. 

Or take a guided walking tour through Lerwick that includes its lifeboat station, lodberries (waterside houses for unloading ships), the town hall, and the Shetland Museum and Archives, followed by time to explore the town on your own. Aboard ship this evening, a local historian will lecture on the “Shetland Bus,” a secret operation during World War II that smuggled agents in and refugees out of occupied Norway at night by way of fishing vessels.

Day 8 – Inverness: Cairns and Cawdor Castle

Arrive this afternoon at Inverness on the Scottish mainland, where you have a choice of shore excursions. 

Drive outside the city for a walking tour of the Clava Cairns of Bulnuaran, well-preserved prehistoric grave monuments in a tranquil woodland setting not far from Culloden Moor. 

The cairns (dry stones built in elaborate circles, kerbs, passages, and mounds) date back to 2500 BC and offer an evocative look into Scotland’s ancient past;

then take a sidestep into medieval history with a visit to Cawdor Castle, famous for its association with Shakespeare’s Macbeth (although the 11th-century Thane was long gone before the castle was built).

Alternatively, you can visit Culloden Moor, the field where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite uprising was defeated in 1746, and the prince fled into exile and legend; following the English victory, massive Fort George was built on a promontory at Moray Firth, to guard the sea approach to Inverness against any more uprisings or invasions, and you can visit its grounds and barracks and scenic setting. 

You can choose instead to take a cruise on the Caledonian Canal from Dochgarroch to Loch Ness, and visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle, overlooking the famous loch in its atmospheric, spectacular mountain landscape. Or set out from the village of Fort Augustus and explore the southern end of Loch Ness by canoe, where you can take in the views of Fort Augustus Abbey and Cherry Island (site of a prehistoric dwelling), and, weather-permitting, paddle out to the deep water in search of Nessie. Or visit the Glen Ord Distillery to discover how its award-winning single malt whiskys have been made since 1838, on a private tour with, of course, a tasting of several Glen Ord offerings. 

Return to ship and join us this evening for the captain’s farewell reception followed by dinner as you sail for Edinburgh.

Day 9 – Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle & more

Under the watch of its lofty clifftop castle, Edinburgh rambles over rocky hills beside the sea, inviting you into its captivating maze of crooked medieval streets, cozy passages, avenues, shops, pubs, townhouses, and monumental palaces. Disembark Le Champlain and tour the iconic Edinburgh Castle, standing on a crag of volcanic rock above the city skyline; over one thousand years of turbulent history have played out within its venerated halls, gates, courtyards, and battlements. 

Then enjoy a guided walk along the Royal Mile, the cobbled main street lined with shops, pubs, museums, and intriguing alleyways called “closes” and “wynds”, as well as churches, law courts, the Parliament house and St. Giles Cathedral.

Day 10 – Another day well spent in Edinburgh

Begin the day with a visit to Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland (Tauck has arranged a private early opening) where you’ll explore the magnificent state apartments, the royal gardens, and the royal art collection.

A guided walking tour introduces you to more Edinburgh city sights, including medieval Old Town with its enticing nooks and crannies; stately New Town with its wide streets and Georgian townhouses; the Royal Botanic Garden; see Robert Louis Stevenson’s birthplace; Charlotte Square with its gracious Victorian mansions and park; Princes Street, the main shopping thoroughfare; and Inverleith Terrace, one of the city’s most exclusive residential neighborhoods. 

The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner at your hotel.

Day 11 – Another day well spent in Edinburgh

Tour ends: Edinburgh, Scotland.  Fly home anytime. 

A transfer is included from the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, the Balmoral Hotel, or the Principal Edinburgh George Street Hotel to Edinburgh Airport or the Edinburgh Waverley Train Station. Allow three hours for flight check-in.

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