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  • Monday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Tuesday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Wednesday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Thursday 9.00am - 5.00pm GMT
  • Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Saturday 9.00am - 5.30pm GMT
  • Sunday 10.00am - 4.00pm GMT
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Coastal Jewels of the UK - M/V Greg Mortimer

United Kingdom - Trip code GMUK Polar
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Days 14
Deposit From CHF 897
Price from CHF 8972
Flights not included
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Why book this trip?

Discover some of the UK's most historically significant and wildlife-rich destinations on this voyage, travelling from Portsmouth to Aberdeen. With numerous islands located in the Atlantic Ocean, a vast amount of the UK coastline is ideal for exploration by ship. In England, Wales and Scotland, there are designated Heritage Coasts, some which fall within national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other coastal strips that are protected, simply because they are part of the local heritage. Stroll through charming fishing villages, visit majestic castles, cathedrals, historical homes and gardens and encounter magnificent archaeological sites. Witness a dazzling array of birds, and soak up the remarkable history of a land that has been continuously inhabited for over 5,000 years.

  • Be charmed by Cornwall's dazzling coastline - explore castles and iconic harbours
  • Visit Britain's highest sea cliffs - at UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Kilda
  • Experience some of the UK's most remarkable birdlife - in Pembrokeshire
  • Discover Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - home to two of the most iconic ships in British maritime history
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 13

    Lunch: 11

    Dinner: 12

  • Trip staff

    Expedition Crew

    Naturalist(s)

  • Transport

    M/V Greg Mortimer

    Zodiac

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    Accommodation

    12 nights premium boat

    1 nights premium hotel

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    Trip pace:

    Relaxed

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Trip starts in London

Arrive into London and make your way to the group hotel. There is a transfer included on this day if you are flying into the airport, so please ensure that you provide us with your flight details if you haven't booked your flights through Explore. Upon check-in, the reception staff will provide you with your Expeditions cabin tags. Please fill out the luggage tags clearly, showing your name and cabin number so that your luggage is delivered to your cabin. This evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a welcome reception and pre-embarkation briefing. Afterwards, your evening is at leisure.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Board the M/V Greg Mortimer in Portsmouth

This morning, your luggage will be collected from the hotel and transferred directly to the port and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please ensure that your luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Any valuables or personal items should be kept with you throughout the day.

Depart London as you travel to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This ancient dockyard is home to two of the most iconic ships in British maritime history: Mary Rose and HMS Victory. The Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship, which capsized while fighting the French in 1545, was recovered from the seabed in 1982. In dry dock alongside the Mary Rose, is HMS Victory. Constructed in the 18th century and famed for her part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Victory was the flagship of Admiral Lord Nelson, who was infamously fatally shot by a sniper while on deck. On arrival at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, your guide will escort you to your lunch venue inside the grounds for a two-course meal. Enjoy some free time after lunch to explore at your leisure. Rejoin your guide as you depart on a panoramic tour of the city. Portsmouth is rightly famed for its naval heritage and harbour but there is so much more to discover. We head out to Portsdown Hill, from where you will have - weather permitting - incredible views over the whole of Portsmouth. Learn about the events and people that have shaped Portsmouth across the centuries, including Charles Dickens, who was born in Portsmouth, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who started writing his Sherlock Holmes stories while practising as a doctor in Southsea. Driving through the 19th-century seaside resort of Southsea with its naval memorials, we glimpse Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII in the 16th century. The panoramic tour continues to Old Portsmouth, including Spice Island, where Portsmouth first started. Here you will discover some of the city's historical buildings and defences as well as the headquarters of Britain's America's Cup team, before arriving at Portsmouth Port and your awaiting ship. Settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings and enjoy the thrill of departure as we set sail.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3 - Fowey, Cornwall

Located on the south coast of Cornwall, Fowey has a strong Celtic connection and is steeped in maritime history. The buildings of Fowey tell the tales of its past. The ancient castles at the deep-water entrance once guarded the harbour from Spanish fleets and, in the heart of the town, the towers of the 14th-century St Fimbarrus Church and the 15thcentury Place House still stand proud. Our ship will take centre stage on its mooring right in the heart of Fowey. Choose two of the following excursion options whilst on shore:-

Coastal Hike

Depart Fowey Harbour by coach for the scenic drive to the fishing village of Gorran Haven. Set off on foot through the narrow medieval streets towards the beach, before continuing uphill to the cliffs from where the hike along the

southwest coast path begins. The route takes you through wild meadows and along clifftop paths, offering magnificent panoramas. Towards the end of the walk, take in a glimpse of Mevagissey and the lovely sweep of Mevagissey Bay. As the lane descends, see splendid views of the picturesque harbour, before arriving for free time to enjoy Mevagissey at leisure. Perhaps explore the village, relax and soak up the scenery, or visit one its many charming cafes for a Cornish cream tea (not included).

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Depart Fowey this morning for the one-hour journey to the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan. Your route crosses a peaceful countryside of small villages and granite farmhouses, giving you glimpses of life here in days gone by and the hedged fields that give way to rolling downs as you approach Heligan, which is the Cornish name for the willow tree. The Lost Gardens, situated near the fishing village of Mevagissey, are set in 200 acres and include a complex of walled gardens, greenhouses and a huge vegetable garden. The gardens are claimed as the site of the largest garden restoration in Europe. Explore the gardens on your own and marvel at this once-forgotten world. Stroll, or stop and perch on a bench, of which there are many dotted throughout the gardens, to enjoy the tranquil environment offered by the plants and birdlife.

Fowey by Foot

Join your guide for a walking tour of Fowey, a picturesque port town dominated by its links to fishing, shipbuilding, trading and privateering. Stroll along the narrow streets, dating back as far as the 15th century, to Fowey Town Quay, from where you can enjoy fantastic views of Polruan on the opposite shore. See the Rook with a Book sculpture created to celebrate the famous writer Daphne du Maurier, who lived in Fowey - the local area being the inspiration and setting for her well-known novels Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and her short story, The Birds, famously adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Continue to Readymoney Cove onto the southwest coast path, walking through woodland to the ruins of St Catherine's Castle. Hear tales of pirates, and privateers - individuals commissioned by governments to carry out quasi-military activities. They would sail in privately owned armed ships, robbing merchant vessels and pillaging settlements belonging to a rival country. On returning to Fowey town, enjoy some free time to explore independently before re-joining your guide and returning to Albert Quay.

Pit to Port: Wheal Martyn & Charlestown

Explore Cornwall's unique mining history, see vintage trucks and working waterwheels, discover modern machines in action in the working clay pit and visit the pristine working Georgian port of Charlestown. Wheal Martyn tells the story of Cornwall's largest mining industry - china clay. Found in very few places around the world, the deposits of china clay in Cornwall and Devon are the largest globally. The mining of china clay in Cornwall continues today and was the largest driver of the local economy for 100 years. Based around two former Victorian-era china clay works, much of which have been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Wheal Martyn takes you through the story of china clay production from 1800 to the present day. Set off on the historic trail for a tour of the preserved Victorian China Clay works that reveals Wheal Martyn's past life at the heart of this global industry. You can enjoy some free time following the trail to the top of the site for an impressive view of a modern, working clay pit. From the observation deck, watch giant machinery in action and see how the historical china clay mining methods have evolved over the years. Continue the discovery of Cornwall's rich industrial past with a visit to nearby Charlestown. Originally called Polmear, and consisting of just a few tiny cottages, it was developed in the late 18th century by entrepreneur Charles Rashleigh, who built a harbour and increased the size of the settlement. Charlestown, as it was then known, was designed to meet the growing transport needs of the region's mining boom. The beautifully preserved Georgian port is the oldest china clay port in the world. Enjoy free time to delve deeper into the history of Charlestown's links to Cornish mining, or simply relax by the picturesque harbour, the unspoiled charm of which has made it very popular as a setting for historical period TV programs and films. At the end of your visit, enjoy a scenic coach trip through the Cornish countryside, arriving back at the pier to board your ship.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4 - Penzance, Cornwall

Nestled in a corner of glorious Mount's Bay, Penzance has long been one of Cornwall's gems. Soak up the oldeworlde pirate atmosphere as you discover the cobbled alleyways, winding streets, subtropical gardens and dockside taverns for which the town is famous. And do not forget to try an authentic Cornish pastie while in town. Choose two of the half-day shore excursions below :-

Penzance Walking Tour

Penzance is the principal town on the Land's End peninsula and is only 16 kilometres from the Land's End landmark itself. With a population of approximately 20,000, it is both a market town and a popular tourist destination and features an attractive promenade on the sea front. On this walking tour today, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the town and some free time in Penzance.

Pendeen to Botallack Coastal Walk

After a short transfer by coach from Penzance port, arrive at Pendeen, where the Pendeen Watch Lighthouse has been guiding passing vessels around Pendeen for nearly 100 years. Head off on a guided exploration hike of Cornwall's fascinating mining heritage, stopping at the dramatic clifftop setting of Levant. Levant was known as the queen of Cornwall's submarine mines, today, the surviving buildings and ruins offer a window to another world, where men and women toiled to extract the riches of the earth from beneath the crashing waves. Enjoy the delightful walk along the coastal path dotted with iconic mine chimneys and engine houses, to Botallack Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Botallack's World Heritage status testifies not only to the importance of its historical features, but also to the importance of the mining landscape and the technological developments and scientific research that took place here. The Cornish had a huge influence on the development of mining throughout the world, with over 250,000 people having left Cornwall between 1815 and 1915 to work in other mining areas.

Land's End and St Ives

Transfer by coach from Penzance to arrive at iconic Land's End, where England's westernmost point on the mainland plunges into the sea at the end of the cornish peninsula. Stroll around the rocky plateau where, if the day is clear, fine views of the steep granite cliffs and rugged coastal scenery can be enjoyed. For generations of English mariners, sighting Land's End meant the end of a long, often arduous journey, while watching it fade from view over the stern meant the beginning of unknown adventures to come.

Next, set off on a scenic drive to the north coast and the picturesque artists' haven of St Ives. The dazzling jewel in Cornwall's crown, St Ives is a charming seaside town and fishing harbour. Generations of artists have been inspired by the area's undeniable natural beauty, and seduced by the clarity of light unique to St Ives and its romantic coastal scenery.

Scenic Drive of Cornwall's Highlights

Your scenic exploration of Cornwall's highlights begins with a drive to St Ives Bay on the north coast. Passing near to author Rosamunde Pilcher's birthplace of Lelant, the journey heads east towards Camborne and Redruth. Threading through narrow country lanes, past small granite cottages and stern Methodist chapels, with old, abandoned engine houses dotting the undulating landscape, we get a sense of a time when this area was the beating heart of Cornwall's mining industry. Rising high over Camborne and Redruth is the spectacular tor, Carn Brea, a 27-metre (90-foot) granite column built in 1836 as a tribute to Francis Bassett, a philanthropist and member of the most important mining family in the area. Arrive in the maritime port of Falmouth, which sits on the county's south coast at the end of the Carrick Roads Estuary. Falmouth is the traditional gateway to the Atlantic and one of the world's greatest sailing harbours. After a comfort break, your journey continues towards historical Pendennis Headland, where the route ascends, offering a view over the dockyard below and a spectacular vista out across Falmouth Harbour. The headland is dominated by Pendennis Castle, one of the finest of the mighty fortresses built by Henry VIII to defend the Cornwall against invasion. The route ventures past the golden sand of Gyllyngvase Beach as you set off west to the quaint market town of Marazion. From here, pause to enjoy spectacular views of the world-renowned St Michael's Mount. Separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway, this is no dusty museum or dormant relic of a past life. Home to a bustling island

community, life on this craggy island is ruled by the tides and weather, with crystal-clear waters lapping the shores during the summer months and waves lashing the steep cliffs during winter storms. It will then be time to board the coach for the short journey back to Penzance.

Trebah Garden and Cornish Cream Tea

After crossing the Cornish countryside by coach from Penzance, with views out to sea of the renowned St Michael's Mount, arrive at Trebah, a beautiful subtropical Cornish ravine garden. Rated as one of the 80 finest gardens in the world, Trebah's 10 hectares (26 acres) are home to a stunning collection of rare and exotic plants, trees and shrubs, which cascade into a private and secluded beach on the tranquil Helford River. Upon arrival at Trebah, set off on a guided tour of the stunning garden, which begins with a spectacular view across

the valley. En route to the water gardens with their waterfalls and koi carp, pass under canopies bursting with blooms. See glades of 100-year-old tree ferns, and giant gunneva or rhubarb, that is five metres high, as your memorable walk through this fascinating space continues to Rhododendron Valley and Hydrangea Valley. The journey down through the sheltered garden leads to the private beach, a lovely spot to take in the views of one of the world's most beautiful sailing spots. After your tour of the garden, pause to indulge in a delicious Cornish tradition, a scrumptious cream tea consisting of a freshly baked scone, strawberry jam, thick Cornish clotted cream and a cup of tea or coffee. Free time follows, so explore the garden at your leisure or perhaps shop for souvenirs in the charming gift shop before boarding the coach for the journey back to Penzance.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5 - Tresco, Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous uninhabited rocky islets situated 45 kilometres from Land's End, the most south-westerly point of the English mainland. With a population of just over 2,000, an exceptionally mild climate, beautiful flowers and powder-soft, white sandy beaches, the isles are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty, ancient historical sites and high-quality, fresh seafood. We spend the day exploring the second largest of the islands, Tresco, which is privately owned and a subtropical gem. Tresco offers dramatic rocky outcrops, Bronze Age burial sites, romantic castle ruins and the world-famous Tresco Abbey Garden, which was established in the 1830s by Augustus Smith. The garden also includes the Valhalla Museum, which features a collection of ships' figureheads salvaged from the islands' many shipwrecks. Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below :-

Tresco Abbey Gardens

This incredible, subtropical botanical paradise was established by Augustus Smith in the 19th century, around the ruins of a Benedictine abbey. A wealthy merchant banker, Smith purchased the island from the Duchy of Cornwall in the mid-1830s and began working on the gardens in 1834. Today, this horticultural paradise hosts a spectacular collection of over 20,000 exotic plants from more than 80 countries across the world's Mediterranean climate zones. The temperate, wet, almost subtropical climate in Scilly has allowed the plants to flourish when they would not have survived in other parts of the UK. A walled enclosure around the abbey ruins acts as a windbreak, providing shelter during the winter months, when more than 300 plants are in flower. After an hour's guided tour, stroll the gardens at leisure to uncover the many treasures, including the magnificent Valhalla Museum, before returning to the pier.

St Mary's Coastal Walk

St Mary's is the largest island in the archipelago and it is from the quayside in St Mary's harbour that this stunning walking tour commences. Starting out through the tiny capital of Hugh Town, with its small cluster of shops, restaurants and cafes set mere moments from the soft, powdery sands and sparkling turquoise waters of Porthcressa Bay, the route continues up to Buzza Hill, home to a Bronze Age burial cairn, and a defensive gun tower built in 1803. Pause here to soak up the magnificent sweeping views over Hugh Town and across to Samson, Bryher and Tresco, before continuing to Peninnis Head, passing the 18th-century ruins of Peninnis Mill. Venture to the end of the headland and be rewarded with the glorious vista over to the Western Rocks and Bishop Rock Lighthouse, standing tall and proud at the very westerly edge of the British Isles. Peninnis Head is the southernmost point of St Mary's and is characterised by rugged granite outcrops that have eroded over time into rather spectacular and unusual shapes. It also provides fantastic views of Peninnis Lighthouse, perched on the very tip of the headland, as well as the islands of St Agnes, Gugh and Annet, the latter of which is uninhabited and serves as a sanctuary for many species of seabirds. The entire Isles of Scilly is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and while it is one of the UK's smallest designated areas, it is also one of the richest and most diverse.

St Mary's Garrison Walk

From the bustling quay in Hugh Town, you will meet your local guide who will provide an introductory talk about the rich history of the isles. Traces of human life here stretch back over 8,000 years to when the islands were a single large landmass and home to nomadic hunter-gatherers, whose flint tools are still occasionally uncovered while beachcombing or walking through the fields. With a perimeter of only 14 kilometres (nine miles), the island is best appreciated on foot. Perched high on a hill just above Hugh Town, the impressive 17th-century coastal fort, St Mary's Garrison, offers spectacular vistas across the

water. Walk the thick stone walls, exploring the storehouses and gun batteries before heading to Star Castle. Part of an impressive coastal defence system, Star Castle is surrounded by a dry moat and was constructed in 1593 under strict instruction from Queen Elizabeth I to protect the islands. Take a well-earned break in this historical castle, with a tea or coffee, before returning down the cobbled walkway to the quay for the Zodiac ride back to the ship. If there is time, you can explore Hugh Town at leisure. For those keen to feel some sand between their toes, head to the soft white sands of Porthcressa, a mere three-minute stroll from the centre of Hugh Town.

Wildlife Cruise

The clear waters surrounding the Isles of Scilly support myriad marine life and migrant birds, drawn by the temperate climate, winds and oceanic current. Discover what Scilly has to offer, with a cruise around the eastern isles, a group of 12 uninhabited islets forming part of the Scilly Heritage Coast. With their raw, rugged edges, these islets are a haven for wildlife and keen eyes may spot gannets, cormorants, shearwaters and the friendly Atlantic grey seals, which are among the rarest seals in the world. From mid-April, the puffin returns to breed and the Isles of Scilly is one of only a handful of sites in the UK where puffin spotting is possible. Learn more about this popular seabird as well as discovering why this fantastic natural habit is so hugely important.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6 - Lundy Island, England

Lundy Island is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust. The island enjoys a milder climate than the mainland, with more hours of sunshine and less rain. The island's diversity of flora and fauna attracts walkers, climbers and divers from near and far. Despite its small size, Lundy Island offers a diverse range of activities to visitors. Its 4,000 years of human history comes to life through the 42 scheduled monuments and its clutch of listed buildings. Lundy's position, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Bristol Channel to the east, creates a unique combination of environmental

conditions, which have created habitats that support a variety of rare and spectacular wildlife. The rugged cliffs of the west coast are carpeted with maritime grass species and are home to important seabird colonies, including puffin and Manx shearwaters. In comparison, the relatively sheltered and calm east coast boasts spectacular displays of wildflowers and provides sanctuary to migrating birds in the spring and autumn. The diversity of marine life is as equally impressive as the life on land, with many rare and remarkable species protected in both reef and sandbank habitats. Lundy has a population of approximately 200 Atlantic grey seals. These seals are often seen hauled out on the rocks enjoying the sun, or in the water. During summer, basking sharks, the world's second largest fish, often come to Lundy to feed in the island's plankton-rich waters. The clifftops on the south-east coast of Lundy are said to be the best place on the island to see dolphins, whales and porpoises. Large numbers of feeding gannets can indicate the presence of a shoal of fish, which can entice a passing whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 - Pembrokeshire Islands, Wales

Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm are a trio of neighbouring islands named by ancient Viking visitors. They are located off the coast of southern Pembrokeshire and are celebrated for their exceptional wildlife. The islands are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are included within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in West Wales. Skomer, the larger island, has a thriving puffin colony and these quirky birds with their iconic black and orange beaks are a big draw for visitors. Manx shearwaters are also found on the island, and at night, listen out for the cacophony of eerie sounds they make as they return from hunting. Nearby Skokholm is more rugged. Its cliffs slant into the Irish Sea, which crashes around its edges, creating a wild and dramatic landscape for photographers. Tiny, isolated Grassholm is the westernmost point of Wales and is situated 18 kilometres from the Pembrokeshire mainland. It is known for its famous gannet colony and the dolphins, porpoise and grey seals that visit the area. To protect the wildlife on the Pembrokeshire Islands, daily visitor numbers are heavily restricted. We are very fortunate to be able to explore the splendid coastline of the islands from our ship, or in Zodiacs or kayaks.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8 - Holy Island, Wales

Expect a warm Welsh welcome in North Wales. Holyhead is the largest town on the island of Anglesey and has a reputation for being a busy ferry port. It is also the gateway to Snowdonia and the North Wales coast. Choose two of the half-day shore excursion options below:-

Caernarfon Castle

Take the scenic journey across Anglesey and the Menai Strait to Caernarfon, with its famous castle dating from 1283. Standing at the mouth of the Seiont River, the fortress with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and colour-banded masonry, dominates the walled town. Of the four castles in northern Wales built by the order of Edward I, Caernarfon Castle is the most magnificent. The grandeur of Caernarfon Castle signifies King Edward I's intent that it should serve as the powerful seat of English government in Wales. It is said to have been designed to echo the walls of Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome, and the 'fairest that ever man saw' dream-castle of Welsh myth and legend. Caernarfon's symbolic status was emphasised when Edward I made sure that his son, the first Prince of Wales, was born here in 1284. A statue of King Edward II can be seen above the entrance at the King's Gate. In more recent times the heir to the UK throne, Prince Charles, was crowned Prince of Wales here in 1969. Enter this once-impregnable castle and explore its magnificent ruins with your guide. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore further, or visit the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, housed in two of the castle's towers.

Caernarfon town is adjacent to the castle and a good option to spend free time before returning to Holyhead.

Discover Anglesey

Discover the Isle of Anglesey with its unparalleled beauty, and vivid history bestowed by its Celtic, Roman, Viking and medieval settler ancestry. Drive to Llangefni, located at the centre of the island, to visit the Gallery of Anglesey. Here you will learn about Anglesey's cultural history, the industries that thrived here, the rich archaeological finds and the tragic shipwrecks off the island's rugged coast. See exhibitions displaying work from local artists and collections on loan from renowned organisations. Travelling south, arrive in the Welsh village famous for having the longest place name in Britain:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which means 'the Church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio near a red cave. The name is usually shortened to Llanfair PG by the locals. Enjoy a short stop and take the opportunity to photograph the world's longest railway station sign. Head to the Menai Strait, where you can see Thomas Telford's suspension bridge - Menai Bridge. Opened in 1826, it was the world's first iron suspension bridge. Enjoy a scenic return journey to Holyhead via the west coast of Anglesey, which is renowned for its beautiful beaches.

Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path

The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path is a 200-kilometre (130-mile) route that follows most of the island's coastline and goes through 20 of Anglesey's coastal villages. The path is within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes stunning landscapes of farmland, coastal heath, golden sandy beaches, saltmarshes, cliffs and woodlands. It takes about 12 days to walk the entire path, which comprises 12 defined sections. Starting at Breakwater Country Park situated on the site of an old quarry, join the coastal path and head to North Stack. Passing an old foghorn station, take the track to the summit of Holyhead Mountain, where you can enjoy superb views from the highest point on the coastal route. On a clear day, you can see Ireland to the west and Isle of Man to the north. Further along the coast, enjoy spectacular views of the famous South Stack Lighthouse, built in 1809 to warn ships of the treacherous rocks on Holyhead's coast and still in operation today. At the Ellen's Tower lookout, enjoy more spectacular views of the coastline and observe numerous species of seabirds. Walking inland, we follow the ancient medieval field boundaries to return to Breakwater Country Park.

South Stack RSPB Reserve

Anglesey is a wonderful place to see seabirds! On Holy Island, you will discover the wonderful South Stack Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Reserve. The area is covered in heathland on a stretch of beautiful, dramatic sea cliffs. South Stack RSPB Reserve is an important nesting site for seabirds. The number of seabirds that nest on the cliffs here is impressive. Here you will find puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes and fulmars. South Stack is one of the best places to see the chough (pronounced 'chuff'). The chough is the rarest member of the crow family in the British Isles and can be seen swooping along the cliffs year-round. An important conservation project is currently underway at the reserve to encourage choughs to breed. Other wildlife that you may see include the rare silver-studded blue butterfly and basking adder. If you look out to the sea, you may spot porpoises and dolphins.

In summer, the heathland, which is part of the largest maritime heathland in North Wales, has an abundance of plant species, including the spotted rock rose, the county flower of Anglesey, and spathulate fleawort, which is endemic to Anglesey but only found at South Stack. After the guided walk, enjoy some time to explore independently.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 9 - Isle of Man, England

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. Its coastline features cliffs, stacks, islets and long beaches, while the hills hold important peat reserves and are deeply cut by wooded glens in the east. In recognition of its rich marine biodiversity, the Isle of Man has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Choose two of the half-day shore excursions :-

Volcanoes & Vikings Walking Tour

This is one of the most beautiful walks on the island, renowned for its stunning coastal scenery, birdlife and archaeological remains. Leaving the port at Douglas, travel via the famous Fairy Bridge to Castletown, the former capital of the Isle of Man. Follow part of the Way of the Gull, the Isle of Man's long-distance coastal footpath around Scarlett Head, where there is an opportunity to see seabirds and various plants against a stunning backdrop of limestone outcrops and volcanic rocks. This part of the exposed southern coast has an abundance of historical sites. There are traces of ancient forts, chapels, old farms, a WWII radar station and a now disused flooded quarry, which once supplied stone for the steps of St Paul's Cathedral in London. The historical highlights of the walk are at Chapel Hill, Balladoole. Here you can see a Bronze Age burial site, an Iron Age hillfort, a Viking ship burial site, and Keeill Vael, the remains of St Michael's Chapel, which dates back to the 12th century. Chapel Hill has panoramic views over the south of the Island and the Iron Age Norse fort at The Enclosure of the Stallion.

Cregneash and The Sound

Depart Douglas and travel via the scenic Plains of Heaven and the Southern Hills, from where the magnificent panorama of the southern coast can be seen on the descent to Port St Mary village and the heritage hamlet of Cregneash. Cregneash is one of the last strongholds of the Manx language, and this small village of white-washed, stone-walled thatched cottages known as crofts is one of the most picturesque villages in the Isle of Man. The residents of Cregneash play an important role in preserving the Manx heritage by using traditional methods of farming such as horse-drawn ploughs and allowing livestock to roam free. Expect to see sheep, shorthorn cows and Manx cats. Stroll around the village, venture inside the crofts to get a glimpse of traditional life and speak with the friendly folk that keep this wonderful heritage alive. Afterwards, travel to The Sound, the most southerly point on the island and one of the most scenic places in the British Isles. Seals are often spotted lying on the rocky islet of Kitterland, and dolphins and basking sharks are also spotted in the water here. Look across to the Calf of Man, a renowned bird sanctuary where many migrating birds stop for a rest on their long journey to or from warmer climates.

Scenic Isle of Man

On a scenic drive south-east out of Douglas, we head to Castletown, the original Manx capital until 1869, where we can admire the magnificent Castle Rushen (from the outside), one of the finest examples of a medieval castle in the British Isles. Enjoy a short stroll along the picturesque harbour. Departing Castletown, continue to the southern tip of the island, to the pretty bay at Port Erin, before travelling along the western coast of the island to Peel, affectionately known as Sunset City. The striking ruins of Peel Castle overlook the small fishing port with its quaint narrow streets and delightful harbour. We then continue to Tynwald Hill. Located in the village of St Johns, this grass-topped, tiered hill was established by Norse Viking settlers over a thousand years ago, with the hill thought to have been built in the 13th century, making it the oldest continuous parliament in the world. Each year, on 5 July, all the laws enacted in the previous year are publicised to the gathered government officials and the public at large, both in Manx /Gaelic and English languages. On our drive back to Douglas, we pass through the Plains of Heaven, the beautiful central valley of the Island.

Birdwatching Expedition

Note: This is a full-day excursion and is limited to 24 people. Bookings are confirmed on a first-to-book basis. The Isle of Man is home to spectacular wildlife and birdlife. Bird species such as hen harrier, red-billed chough, peregrine, black guillemot, Manx shearwater, puffin, arctic tern and many more can be spotted on the island in remarkable habitats of exceptional beauty. Join your guide, a specialist ornithologist, to explore some of the wonderful wildlife areas and nature reserves on the island and discover the Isle of Man's rich, diverse birdlife. Lunch at a local pub or restaurant is included.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 10 - Islay, Scotland

Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and is known as the Queen of the Hebrides. The island has a population of approximately 3,200 inhabitants and an impressive coastline that stretches for 210 kilometres. Islay is probably best known for its malt whiskies and has eight working distilleries. Whisky is one of the most important sources of income for the island. On the south coast of Islay we visit Ardbeg Distillery, which was established by local farmers, and distiller John MacDougall began commercial production in 1815. Today, it is one of the island's fastest-growing distilleries and prides itself for using entirely traditional methods of production. Using malted barley sourced from the maltings at Port Ellen, Ardbeg claims to produce the peatiest whisky in Islay. Besides whisky, Islay has an abundance of wildlife and is an important location for migrating birds. You will visit the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart, where you join the ranger for a guided walk through a variety of wetland habitats. With over 200 species of birds visiting Islay, you may see oystercatchers, gannets, terns, cormorants, buzzards, barnacle geese, white-fronted geese, hen harriers and even white-tailed eagles. From the beaches, seals, dolphins

and basking sharks are sometimes spotted, and if you are patient, you might even see otters. History abounds on Islay. Standing stones, and a stone circle, show that the island was inhabited during Neolithic times. Islay was once known as the Lordship of the Isles, and you can explore the 14th-century settlement at Finlaggan, which remains the most important archaeological site on the island. A number of Celtic crosses can also be found. You will also visit the Islay Woollen Mill, which was established in 1883 and is Isla's only mill. The mill is a traditional family-run business and uses two looms dating from Victorian times. The mill has made designs that were featured in Hollywood blockbuster films such as Braveheart and Forrest Gump.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 11 - Staffa and Iona, Scotland

We aim for the tiny island of Iona. Barely five kilometres long, Iona is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. It is also the burial ground of early Scottish Kings. The Irish abbot Saint Columba and 12 disciples landed here and founded a monastery in 563. From this base, Saint Columba set about converting Scotland and much of Northern England to Christianity. On Staffa, we hope to have the chance to explore Fingal's Cave, where the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars inspired Felix Mendelssohn's Hebridean Overture. We may enter the cave in Zodiacs, or clamber ashore to walk into the mouth of the cave. On shore we will also find puffin in abundance.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 12 - St Kilda and Callanish, Scotland

We plan to make a stop at Callanish, where archaeology buffs will be keen to see the fascinating group of Standing Stones, dating from around 3000 BC. We may visit nearby Bostadh House, a remarkable reconstruction of an Iron Age dwelling, tucked away just above a beautiful white beach. Weather permitting, we plan to land at the isolated archipelago (and World Heritage Site) of St Kilda, where derelict crofts bear testament to the fortitude of islanders who once tended the unique Soay sheep and harvested seabirds for food - paying their rent in the form of wool, meat and feathers. The isles hold Europe's most important seabird colony and is home to Britain's highest sea stacks (rock columns). Island hopping north-east, we aim to visit tiny specks of land that bear the brunt of violent Atlantic storms and rarely seen visitors.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 13 - Fair Isle and Papa Westray, Scotland

Midway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle houses a major European ornithological research station and is also famous for knitwear and historical shipwrecks. About five kilometres by three kilometres (three miles by two miles), Fair Isle is surrounded by impressive cliffs. The 70 or so islanders mainly live in traditional crofts on the more fertile low-lying southern part of the island. A birdwatcher's paradise, Fair Isle lies on the intersection of major flight paths from Scandinavia, Iceland and Faroe. In summer, the cliffs teem with breeding fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots, gannets, shags and puffins. The isle is an excellent place to view seabirds, especially puffins, at close range. Fair Isle also has over 250 species of flowering plants, including wetland flowers, rare orchids, alpine species and common wildflowers. We will be welcomed by the hospitable villagers and may take a hike or visit the museum. Grey and common seals inhabit the waters around Fair Isle, and sharp eyes may spot harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, orcas and minke whales. At the Knap of Howar, on Papa Westray, lies the earliest known house in Northern Europe, occupied by Neolithic farmers over 5,000 years ago. At the east end of Scapa Flow, relics from World War II include the world-famous Italian Chapel, made from two Nissen huts by Italian prisoners of war, and the Churchill Barriers, causeways constructed on the orders of Winston Churchill to prevent U-boats from entering the naval anchorage at Scapa Flow.

Accommodation:

Grade: Premium Boat

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 14 - Trip ends in Aberdeen

During the early morning, we cruise into Aberdeen, where you will be free to disembark at approximately 8.00 am. Farewell your Expedition Team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys. Transfer to Aberdeen airport or to your centrally located hotel.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information

United Kingdom

Climate

The UK has a temperate but very variable climate. In general the summers are warm with July and August being the warmest. The winters are cool and the lowest temperatures are recorded during January and February. Whatever the season it is advisable to be prepared for rain!

Time difference to GMT

0

Plugs

3 Pin Flat

Religion

Christian

Language

English

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.


Whilst landings are included in the cost of your trip as per the outline itinerary, some departures aboard the MV Greg Mortimer have additional optional excursions which can be pre-booked with the ship operator directly. These will be charged at an additional fee, depending on the excursion and we recommend booking these in advance to ensure availability. Please speak to a member of our Polar team who will advise you on the booking process.

Clothing


Parkas
A complimentary parka is provided for you on board the ship and is yours to keep after the voyage. It has a comfortable wind-resistant inner jacket, which is detachable from the waterproof outer shell, and is designed to be worn over your essential base layers.
Gloves
Keeping your hands warm and dry can be a challenge. Thin polypropylene gloves can be worn underneath warm outergloves. This allows you some protection from the cold when removing your gloves to operate your camera etc. We strongly recommend that you bring more than one pair of gloves, in case one gets wet (or lost).
Hat/Cap
Warm, woollen hat/cap to protect your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection, such as a balaclava.
Trousers
Water-resistant trousers of coated nylon or, even better, Gore-Tex® are essential for your comfort. They can be worn over your regular clothes to keep you warm and dry. We suggest that you purchase trousers a few sizes larger than you normally wear as you will be wearing them over other clothing. Gore-Tex® or similar fabrics are excellent for keeping out wind and water without trapping excess heat. Rain gear and Gore-Tex® products can be found in any outdoor sport clothing store. In addition to your waterproof trousers, warm ski pants are suggested if you have them. Warm trousers such as jeans, corduroys etc are also good.
Socks
Warm wool socks worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene socks should provide enough warmth and insulation for your feet. Bring several pairs of socks, since you will inevitably get your feet wet.
Outer Clothing Woollen, knit or cotton sweaters/tops, polar fleece tops (medium weight), several cotton turtlenecks and T-shirts for layering on and off the ship.
Underclothing
Thermal underwear is highly recommended as it will keep you warm without adding bulk. Most polar travellers prefer a lightweight version.

Footwear

Complimentary waterproof boots will be supplied on-board. However, if you have extra small or large feet, you are advised to bring your own. Also ensure you take good walking boots and trainers for relaxing.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.

Equipment

Sunglasses and sun cream
Insect repellant
Personal toiletries
A refilllable water bottle
Books/reading material
Camera and memory cards
Seasickness remedy

Tipping

Local crew
Gratuities are included in the cost of your voyage.

United Kingdom

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£10
Dinner price
£18
Beer price
£4
Water price
£0.8
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Pounds Sterling.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Carry a combination of UK Sterling cash, ATM and credit cards.
Where To Exchange
Your tour leader will advise you on arrival.
ATM Availability
ATM's are widely available in main towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Widely accepted.
Travellers Cheques
Can be exchanged at most banks and post offices.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

M/V Greg Mortimer, Zodiac

Ship description

The MV Greg Mortimer is a 104-metre ship, purpose-built in 2019 for expedition travel. Capable of negotiating the strongest winds and waves, the vessel is being built to world-class polar standards and has been designed in close consultation with expedition specialists. The MV Greg Mortimer is limited to just 138 passengers and guests can enjoy some added comforts such as spacious stateroom cabins, a large mud room with easy boarding access and a hydraulic viewing platform, offering unobstructed views of the wildlife. Other features include a library, Wellness Centre with a gym, sauna and spa and a multimedia room for keen photographers wishing to edit their photos after a day of exploration. As a modern and custom-designed ship, this vessel is at the cutting edge of nautical technology and will ensure a comfortable and safe passage through polar waters.

Cabins

The lead-in prices on our website are based on triple outward facing, Stateroom cabins. All staterooms have private bathrooms, ample storage, with twin beds. Many of the stateroom categories, have floor to ceiling windows that offer prime observation opportunities around the clock. Additionally, there are private balconies in most of the staterooms, allowing you to watch the world float past and take in the salty air of the open ocean. A full layout of the deck plan can be found under the Polar Ships section on our website. Your confirmed cabin type will appear on your Booking Confirmation, which will be sent on receipt of your deposit payment.

Ship dining

Meals are served in the large, spacious dining room with an open seating arrangement, perfect for swapping stories with your extended expedition family. A range of courses is offered at each meal time and you can enjoy a variety of house wines, beers and soft drinks which are included with your evening meal. Complimentary coffee, tea and snacks are available throughout the day and any additional drinks can be purchased at the fully-stocked bar.

On the last day of your trip, the team on the MV Greg Mortimer will provide a special farewell four-course

Food and drink

Here are the average costs of drinks, in USD, on board - please bear in mind, they are subject to change:
Bottle of wine - from $12
Bottle of beer - from $3
Spirits (gin, whisky, vodka, port, rum) - from $5
Cocktails - from $5.50
Soft drinks (fizzy, fruit juice and water) - from $2.50
There is no internet access on board our ships, however you can pay to send and receive emails (no attachments). On the Polar Pioneer, the prices start from approximately 20 US cents per one kilobyte. Wi-fi access is available for laptops, with an email account set up for US$5, with the same downloadending fees.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Norway: Entry visas NOT required by UK, AUS, NZ, USA, CAN Citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate.

All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
 

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
 

Minimum age restrictions

For our group tours, the minimum age is 16. The minimum age on Family trips varies between 7 and 11 - please check the 'Family information' section of the trip page for more information. 


Your safety and enjoyment on tour

We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday, so we ask you to confirm when booking this trip that you are fit and able to fully participate in all elements of the itinerary. If you have any concerns about your fitness or ability to complete any of the activities, please get in touch with our Customer Relations team at cr@explore.co.uk as soon as possible. Our tour leaders are trained and experienced in managing differing abilities within a group, but if they have concerns about a group member’s ability to safely participate in any element of the itinerary or believe someone’s presence could affect the safety or enjoyment of the holiday for others, in accordance with our Booking Conditions our tour leaders have the authority to ask an individual to miss an activity or activities. This decision would never be taken lightly, but on the rare occasions our tour leaders ask someone to sit out part of the tour, refunds will not be offered and individuals may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

United Kingdom

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.

Polar information
Ship information
The MV Greg Mortimer is a 104-metre ship, purpose-built in 2019 for expedition travel. Capable of negotiating the strongest winds and waves, the vessel is being built to world-class polar standards and has been designed in close consultation with expedition specialists. The MV Greg Mortimer is limited to just 138 passengers and guests can enjoy some added comforts such as spacious stateroom cabins, a large mud room with easy boarding access and a hydraulic viewing platform, offering unobstructed views of the wildlife. Other features include a library, Wellness Centre with a gym, sauna and spa and a multimedia room for keen photographers wishing to edit their photos after a day of exploration. As a modern and custom-designed ship, this vessel is at the cutting edge of nautical technology and will ensure a comfortable and safe passage through polar waters.
Additional Information

Dates, prices and booking

📢 Prices may change - book now and today's trip price is guaranteed in our price promise
Thu 4 May 2023 - Wed 17 May 2023
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Add a flight with Explore

  • Full Explore refunds in the event of FCDO cancellations or major disruption at your UK departure airport
  • Carbon neutral flights – Gold Standard offsetting included
  • Rearranged flights and transfers in the event of delays, missed connections, or cancellations (including accommodation overseas)
  • ATOL protected
  • No surcharge guarantee
 

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