A voyage to the castles and gardens of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales aboard the 100 passenger MS Serenissima. During the day visits to magnificent gardens on the Isles of Scilly, at Bantry Bay and Waterford in Ireland and Holy Loch and the Isle of Bute Scotland to name a few. Evenings filled with nostalgic music, anecdotes, songs and cabaret from the 40’s to the 90’s – Your hosts will be Richard Jewson and Michelle Maxwell.

Britain and Ireland in Bloom

A voyage to the castles and gardens of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales aboard the MS Serenissima : 11 – 22 May 2017

Thu 11 May 2017

Portsmouth, England.

Embark this afternoon in Portsmouth. Transfers will be provided from Portsmouth Harbour railway station at a fixed time.

Fri 12 May

Guernsey & Sark, Channel Islands.

Arrive this morning on Guernsey, the ‘Island of Flowers’. There will be the option of a walking tour of St Peter Port including a visit to Castle Cornet, a 12th century battlement which guards the entrance to St Peter Port Harbour. Alternatively enjoy an island drive including Sausmarez Manor where we can explore the house and subtropical gardens which are the setting for over 200 sculptures by over 90 international artists. Afterwards we enjoy the wonderful scenery and views of the coastline before travelling to the Little Chapel. We will admire this fascinating building which was built in 1914 to replicate the grotto at Lourdes and is beautifully decorated with seashells, pebbles and colourful pieces of broken china. Over lunch we sail to Sark where we will use our Zodiacs to land on this peaceful, traffic free island. Horse drawn carriages take us along the narrow lanes alive with the songs of chaffinches, skylarks and mistle thrush and bright with the colours of the wildflowers on the banks. We will see the narrow isthmus which joins Little Sark and Big Sark and the enchanting gardens at La Seigneurie

Sat 13 May


Today we arrive off Penzance, our base for our day in Cornwall. A morning excursion will visit St Michael’s Mount, the family home of the St Aubyn’s who have resided here since 1647. Cut off from the mainland at high tide, it is a fascinating place with an intriguing history. It was here in 1588 that the first beacon was lit to warn of the approaching Spanish Armada. After lunch onboard join the excursion to the beautiful Helford River and the 26 acre ravine garden of Trebah. This sub-tropical paradise of rare and exotic plants, trees and shrubs winds down the Helford river bank to a secluded private beach.

Sun 14 May

Isles of Scilly.

Spend the morning on traffic free Tresco, walking its idyllic lanes from the beach to the famous sub-tropical Abbey Gardens. Defying the Atlantic weather, this miracle of a garden is home to more than 20,000 species of plants from over 80 countries. Enjoy time to wander at your own pace along the paths, maybe visit the Valhalla collection of ship figureheads from ships wrecked on the islands or relax in the cafe. After lunch we will tender ashore to Bryher, the smallest of the inhabited Isles of Scilly. Our naturalists will lead a number of guided walks along the tracks that cross the island amongst hedgerows and fields bursting with wildflowers. The active may wish to climb Watch Hill, where in the past islanders would keep watch for ships in distress or alternatively take a stroll to one of the beautiful beaches.

Mon 15 May

Garnish Island and Bantry Bay, Ireland.

Sail this morning into the sheltered harbour of Glengariff. Here local boats will take us to Garnish Island and the beautiful Ilnacullin Gardens. The sheltered position and Gulf Stream is favourable to the growth of ornamental plants, many normally only found in sub-tropical or Mediterranean climates. We return by local boats sailing past ‘Seal Island’ the home to 250 common seals before enjoying lunch onboard. This afternoon you may wish to stay onboard, enjoy some free time in the small town or join the excursion to Bantry House, overlooking Bantry Bay. We will explore the house, one of the finest historic houses in Ireland along with the gardens.

Tue 16 May


From our berth in the town of Waterford we will drive to Mount Congreve, a spectacular woodland garden on the banks of the River Suir. This privately owned seventy acre garden has a collection of over three thousand trees and shrubs and is particularly stunning in spring when the gardens are awash with magnificent sweeps of flowering azaleas, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. Enjoy time to walk the numerous paths bordered with wisterias or bluebells and visit the vantage points with views over the landscape and meadows beyond. Return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore Waterford independently.

Wed 17 May

Dun Laoghaire.

From our berth at Dun Laoghaire we will drive out into the Wicklow Mountains and the wonderfully sited gardens of Powerscourt. Spread out over 47 acres we will explore the Italianate Terraces, the Japanese Garden where the azaeleas should be in bloom and maybe take a walk through the wooded Tower Valley. We will enjoy lunch before continuing to Mount Usher, a lovely romantic garden on the banks of the River Vartry with over 5000 species of plants and shrubs. We hope to see magnolias and crocuses line the pathways as we stroll through the grounds. Alternatively you may prefer to spend the day in Dublin, our onboard staff will be able to advise on travel arrangements to the city centre.

Thu 18 May

Beaumaris, Anglesey.

Translated from ‘beau marais’ meaning fair marsh, it was here that Edward I chose as a garrison town building one of his ‘iron ring’ of castles aiming to stamp his authority on the Welsh. Today the impressive 13th century castle is a wonderful example of architectural and ingenious design of fortifications. We will anchor in the bay at Beaumaris and use our Zodiacs to tender ashore for a morning excursion to Bodnant Garden. Situated above the River Conwy the gardens have stunning views across Snowdonia. Begun in 1875, Bodnant Garden is the creation of four generations of Aberconways and features huge Italianate terraces and formal lawns on its upper level, with a wooded valley, stream and wild garden below. There are dramatic colours throughout the season, with herbaceous borders, roses, hydrangeas, water lilies and clematis delight throughout the summer. We return to the ship via the magnificent landscape of the Snowdonia National Park, through the beautiful villages of Betws-y-Coed and Llanberis which lies beside the Llyn Padarn Lake in Snowdonia and we will take the incredible Llanberis pass that skirts the base of Snowdon. This afternoon we will have time to explore the castle, the 19th century jail or the shops in the town of Beaumaris at your own pace before sailing this evening.

Fri 19 May

Strangford Lough & Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland.

From our anchorage at Portaferry we will go ashore to the famous gardens at Mount Stewart which were planted in the 1920s by Edith, Lady Londonderry and are of international importance. The magnificent series of outdoor ‘rooms’ and vibrant parterres contain many rare plants that thrive in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula. The formal areas exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape; the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world which are particularly vibrant in spring. There will be time to explore the opulent house which reveals a fascinating heritage and historic world-famous artefacts and artwork. Do not leave without taking in the magnificent views of Strangford Lough from Temple of the Winds. Return to the ship for lunch and if weather permits this afternoon we will use the Zodiacs to explore the Lough further.

Sat 20 May

Holy Loch Marina & Isle of Bute, Scotland.

Our first call in Scotland is the Cowal Peninsula where we find the magnificent Benmore Botanic Garden situated in a mountainside setting. During springtime there is a blaze of colour as the 300 species of rhododendrons put on a spectacular display. Take time to walk the paths, see the Victorian Fernery and walk along Redwood Avenue, a line of 50 sierra redwoods planted in 1862. During lunch we sail the short distance to the Isle of Bute where we will visit one of Britain’s most astounding Victorian Gothic mansions, Mount Stuart House. After the original building was destroyed by fire the mansion was rebuilt between 1880 and 1912 using the finest craftsmen of the time. After viewing the house we will visit the wonderful grounds made up of over 300 acres of pasture, woodland and gardens combining exotic and native plants. Maybe enjoy one of the trails that pass through the woodland down to the shoreline or visit the Rock Garden and Kitchen Garden situated closer to the house. Alternatively you may prefer to stay in Rothesay and explore the small town and its impressive 13th century castle.

Sun 21 May

Gigha & Jura.

Today we will visit the gardens of Achamore House on the small island of Gigha. The Horlick family have created a stunning garden with their collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and exotic plants. Gigha is a place apart; heather covered hills, deserted beaches and a single lane verged with wild flowers that meander for some six miles between cottages and farms. Privately owned by its 120 inhabitants, it is a gem of a place and somewhere not easily forgotten. Return to the ship for lunch as we sail the short distance to Jura. Dominating the views of Jura are the three hills called ‘The Paps of Jura’, the highest being Beinn an Oir at 785 metres (2576 feet). We will go ashore at Craighouse and will be welcomed in the cooperage where we will be given an introduction to the Jura Distillery and an opportunity for a dram. Alternatively enjoy some free time to explore Craighouse, join one of the naturalists on a walk or join an island drive

Mon 22 May


Disembark this morning. Transfers will be provided to Glasgow Central Station and Glasgow International Airport at a fixed time.

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