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British Isles Gardens and Castles

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Boutique cruising of the British Isles.

Join Botanica World Discoveries on this 11 day small ship cruise and garden tour, allowing you a unique opportunity to explore the splendour of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the British Isles coastline, where larger ships can’t go. View complete itinerary

Trip code: BTBNC11
Duration: 11 days
Accommodation: Boutique Small Ship
Journey: Edinburgh to London
Meals included: 28


Day 1. Arrive London, Embark Ship

On arrival, you will be met at London Heathrow airport at either 1.30pm or our pre-cruise hotel in central London at 1pm and transfer to Portsmouth to board the MS Island Sky, your floating home for the next 10 nights.
Stay: Ten Nights: Aboard the luxurious small ship, the MS Island Sky
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Dinner

Day 2. Isles of Scilly, Tresco

Today you will cruise amid the beautiful Isles of Scilly, an idyllic archipelago off Great Britain’s southwestern tip. Disembark on the Island of Tresco, considered by many to be the most attractive of the islands. It is leased by the Dorrien-Smith family, who have created a wonderful 40-acre sub-tropical garden near their Tresco Abbey home. Here, enjoy a guided tour of the gardens, which boast some of the finest examples of sub-tropical flora in the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll also have the opportunity to stroll along the traffic-free lanes of the island, and wander along one of the lovely white-sand beaches where the sea colour has more in common with the Aegean than the North Atlantic. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 3. Waterford, Freedom of Choice

Your ship will arrive in Waterford on Ireland’s south eastern coast. Here, you have the choice of two full day tours. The first option is to travel to the historic city of Kilkenny and visit Kilkenny Castle and the Kilkenny Design Centre followed by a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory. The second option is to travel to Mount Congreve Gardens, a vast and visually inspiring woodland garden, and later return to County Waterford for a visit to Lismore Castle, which features the oldest continually cultivated gardens in Ireland.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Dinner

Day 4. Dublin, Freedom of Choice

Arrive in Dublin Bay and enter the mouth of the River Liffey. From here, you have a choice of activities. Travel by coach into the Wicklow Mountains and visit the gardens of Powerscourt, with its charming walled garden, striking terraces, fine statuary, varied trees, carefully designed walking paths and more. The second option is to travel to Mount Usher, a lovely romantic garden on the banks of the River Vartry. The third option is to visit a special private garden. Enjoy a lecture with BBC presenter Monty Don and spend free time in Dublin.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 5. Welsh Gardens, Freedom of Choice

This morning after breakfast, you’ll cruise to the Welsh coast. Here, choose from a tour of Portmeirion village and its gardens, or perhaps visit the gardens of nearby Plas Brondanw, the family home of Clough Williams-Ellis. Then drive through the famous Snowdonia region to Bodnant Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in the United Kingdom. Spanning some 80 acres, the garden is set above the River Conwy and offers views to the Snowdonia range. Spend the afternoon strolling through the upper garden with its terraces and informal lawns, then continue into the wild garden of the lower section, formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn. Later, return to your ship for dinner.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 6. Belfast and Mount Stewart, Freedom of Choice

This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Belfast. This afternoon you can choose from two options, either the Titanic Exhibition or Mount Stewart, an 18th century house and garden in County Down. Planted in the 1920s by Lady Londonderry, the gardens today are owned by The National Trust and are of significant international importance. Here, a series of outdoor ‘rooms’ and vibrant parterres contain many rare plants that thrive in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula. Enjoy time to explore the gardens as well as the opulent house, which boasts a fascinating heritage and contains world-famous artefacts and artwork.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 7. Isle of Jura, Isle of Gigha, Achamore House & Gardens

Cruise to the Isle of Jura, where you’ll have the option to visit a 200-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery, or perhaps enjoy a walk. This afternoon, cruise to the Isle of Gigha. Privately owned by its 120 inhabitants, the landscape consists of heather-covered hills, sandy beaches, clear green seas and just one single-lane road. Here, wander through the gardens of Achamore House. Laid out by Sir James Horlick from 1944, this stunning garden boasts a wonderful collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and exotic plants.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 8. Isle of Iona, Isle of Mull, Duart Castle, Freedom of Choice

Cruise to the Isle of Iona, a place of tranquillity and natural beauty, where more than 40 Scottish Kings, as well as Kings from Ireland, France and Norway are buried. Next, we set off to the Isle of Mull where you have the option to visit a quaint private garden or Duart Castle, a 13th century clifftop castle set in the Millennium Wood and home to the MacLean clan.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 9. Inverewe Gardens

Today you’ll cruise past the Isle of Skye and The Minch. Afterwards, your ship will drop anchor and you’ll enjoy a Zodiac ride to one of Scotland’s premier gardens, Inverewe. Set on the coast among the north-west Highlands and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens of the region, Inverewe presents an amazing collection of exotic trees and shrubs that are sheltered by well-positioned windbreaks of native pine. Wander through the gardens, covering some 49 acres, where you have the opportunity to take in the natural beauty of over 2,500 exotic plants and flowers.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 10. Aberdeen and Crathes Castle

Cruising along Scotland’s east coast, over the North Sea, today you’ll arrive at Aberdeen. Disembark and travel by coach through Royal Deeside, the picturesque valley of the River Dee. Absorb the lovely scenery as you head to Crathes Castle, a magical 16th century castle, renowned for its 240 hectares of landscaped grounds and formal gardens. Here, take in the cinematic Scottish countryside as you explore the garden and surrounding woodlands. Enjoy lunch back on board and an afternoon visit to Pitmedden Garden with its elaborate parterres and herbaceous borders.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 11. Disembark Ship, Depart Edinburgh

After breakfast, disembark the MS Island Sky in Aberdeen. From here travel to Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. Transfer by coach to Edinburgh, arriving at the airport at around 2.30pm or our post tour hotel at approximately 3.00pm.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy onboard lectures about the history of the British Isles and learn of the castles and gardens you are visiting
  • Special guest lecture by BBC presenter Monty Don in Dublin
  • Cruise the Isles of Scilly and explore the Tresco Garden
  • Visit Plas Brondanw, Portmerion and Bodnant Garden in Wales
  • Visit Mount Stewart, a famous 18th century house and garden 
  • Explore the Isle of Gigha and the Isle of Iona, plus Tobermory
  • See Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull
  • Visit Inverewe Gardens, in the Scottish Highlands by Zodiac
  • See a whisky distillery on the Isle of Jura
  • Arrive at gardens by Zodiac
  • Visit the historic Glamis Castle


Suite Floor and Ship Plan

MS Island Sky

Enjoy the benefits of small ship cruising as you discover the British Isles and/ or Norway aboard the intimate MS Island Sky. Go where larger ships can't.

Technical Data

Length: 90.6m, Width: 15.3m, Max. Cruising Speed: 12 knots, Tonnage: 4,200, Total Refurbishment: 2010, Guest Capacity: 114, Crew: 75

See ship plans for the MS Island Sky here

Suite Floor Plans

Unwind in your Deluxe Balcony Suite aboard the MS Island Sky.Deluxe Stateroom
With 225 square feet of floor space, your suite features a Private Balcony. Allowing you to open the door and enjoy the fresh air whilst taking in the views.



Unwind in your Premium Suite on board the MS Island Sky with APT.Premium Suite
With 237 square feet of floor space, your Premium Suite features an ensuite and lounge.


Included Experiences

  • All sightseeing as mentioned
  • Services of a Cruise Manager, Expedition Team and Botanical Guide
  • Transfers on the first and last day, tipping and port taxes 
  • 10 nights on the luxury small ship, the MS Island Sky, maximum 100 passengers
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner on board
  • On board lectures by the Botanical Guide, Historian and Ornithologist
  • Freedom of Choice Touring on some days
  • 28 Meals – 10 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches and 10 Dinners

Additional Information

    Botanical Guide

    • Anthea Guthrie turned her hobby into a career. She entered her first show garden for the Royal Horticultural Society in 2003, and has since achieved numerous accolades, including a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show and gold for Botanica at Hampton Court Flower Show in 2015. Anthea happily shares her extensive English horticultural knowledge.

    Meet Monty Don

    • Gardening writer and presenter Monty Don is the author of more than 20 gardening books. He is also well-known as the presenter of the television programmes  ‘Around the World in 80 Gardens’ and ‘Monty Don’s French and Italian Gardens’.

    Birdlife of the British Isles

    • While taking in the spectacular coastal scenery of the British Isles, you’ll be joined by an ornithologist, who will share their expertise on the many species of birds that call the British Isles home. This is the season when they are at their most prolific.

    Small Ship Cruising with Botanica

    • As you uncover the delights of the British Isles, you’ll enjoy a truly intimate and unique small ship cruising experience aboard the MS Hebridean Sky. Experience great hospitality from the moment you step on board and relax, knowing you only have to unpack once before unwinding in your spacious home-away-from-home. While taking in the spectacular coastal scenery of the British Isles, you’ll be joined by expert onboard lecturers, including a dedicated ornithologist, who will share their expertise on the many species of birds that call the British Isles home, as well as history and garden lectures.

    Fitness Level

    • Our tours and cruise cater to various fitness levels
    • This tour requires a medium level of fitness – Involves walking on uneven surfaces for more than one hour, multiple two-night stays in one location with potential for unexpected changes to itineraries

    Combine With:

    • This cruise can be combined with:
    • Gardens of Devon & Cornwall & Chelsea Flower Show - BTCFDC6
    • Scottish Gardens & The Norwegian Fjords - BTNOR13
    • Private Gardens of London & Sussex - BTCFSS5

Trip Notes

  • Itinerary and inclusions subject to change
  • Some of Botanica’s inclusions are different to APT
  • Prices include port charges, gratuities and sundries
  • Disruptions to cruising and itinerary may occur
  • Prices are based on a Standard Suite (Forward) or Standard Suite on the Castle Deck
  • Price is for land/cruise only. Flights not included

Request a Brochure

View a brochure online or request it be posted to you.


British Isles Gardens and Castles

"The tour and the visits were very good, friendly, informative and relaxing, a job well done by all."

- Geoff

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