Kirkwall, Orkney Islands - British Isles & North West Europe Cruises

Kirkwall possesses a Norse heritage that stretches back almost a century; indeed the Vikings laid the first foundations for St Magnus Cathedral – the most northerly in Britain – built from yellow and red local sandstone. You can also learn the history of the radio at the Wireless Museum and sample the island’s peaty single malts at the Highland Park Distillery.

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Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • Scenic South Isles

    Enjoy the Scapa Flow coastline and discover the picturesque chain of islands south of the Orkney mainland.

    Scenic South Isles

    As you travel along the coastline of the historic Scapa Flow, you’ll learn fascinating facts from World War I and II that make this one of the best known stretches of water in the world. The series of causeways called the Churchill Barriers link the southern islands and were originally built from cement blocks to protect the Naval Base in World War II.

    On the small island of Lamb Holm you’ll stop to visit the beautifully hand-painted Italian Chapel. Known as the miracle of Camp 60, this remarkable structure was built by Italian Prisoners during the last World War. The Chapel has been preserved and maintained for its historical connection with the soldiers from Italy. br>
    Continuing on to the island of South Ronaldsay, you’ll head for the pretty seaside village of St Margaret's Hope, which sits at the head of a sheltered bay. Here, a short stop will be made to explore the craft workshop or take a leisurely stroll, before returning to Kirkwall.

    This is excursion is operated by coach. Walking is at guests' own discretion. All terrain is flat and paved.

    Tour code

    KOI_010

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    2¼ hours

  • Yesnaby Cliffs & Ring of Brodgar

    Discover the dramatic Cliffs of Yesnaby and the Neolithic UNESCO site of the Ring of Brodgar.

    Yesnaby Cliffs & Ring of Brodgar

    Enjoy a panoramic drive through the pastoral landscape of Orkney’s west mainland to the magnificent sandstone Cliffs of Yesnaby. Admire the rugged coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding breath-taking scenery.

    Continuing to the heart of Neolithic Orkney, designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, a stop will be made at the great ceremonial stone circle known as Ring of Brodgar. Set on the Ness of Brodgar, a strip of land between the lochs of Harray and Stenness, this astonishing monument is the third largest stone circle in the British Isles. Only 27 stones now remain of what is believed to have been a perfect circle of more than 60 stones when it was formed approximately 4,500 years ago.

    On the return drive, you’ll pass by the imposing Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the earliest stone circles in Britain dating back 5,000 years.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves around 45 minutes of walking over undulating, grassy terrain. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

    Tour code

    KOI_012

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    2½ hours

  • Sagas, Relics & Whisky

    Combine causeways and fascinating relics of World War II with a visit to the northernmost whisky distillery in Scotland.

    Sagas, Relics & Whisky

    Founded in 1798 the Highland Park Distillery is the world's most northerly producer of whisky. Enjoy an interesting guided tour of the distillery with a presentation and a tasting of the traditional ‘peedie dram’ (shot of whisky).

    Afterwards, you will hear dramatic wartime stories as you drive close to the World War I and II Naval Base of Scapa Flow, one of the best known stretches of water in the world. The Churchill Barrier causeways that link several islands together were originally built from cement blocks to restrict access to the Naval Base, but are now surfaced with a roadway to provide a service to the islands previously connected by ferry.

    Cross the first Churchill Barrier to the Island of Lamb Holm and stop for a brief visit of the beautifully hand-painted Italian Chapel. Built by Italian prisoners during the last World War, the Chapel has been preserved and maintained for its historical connection with the soldiers from Italy.

    Back in Kirkwall there will be free time to enjoy this pretty town, dominated by the magnificent 12th century, red sandstone St Magnus Cathedral, known as the 'Light of the North'. It is the finest medieval building in northern Scotland.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Participants on this tour must be aged 18 years and over due to age restrictions at the Highland Distillery. This tour may be affected by the Distillery's ‘Silent Season’ which can fall at anytime in the months of June, July or August. This is when the processing of whisky will have stopped. This may result in some areas of the distillery being restricted and the production of the whiskey will not be observed. There are some steps and a cobbled courtyard at Highland Park.

    Tour code

    KOI_006

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    3½ hours

  • Orkney's Archaelogical Wonders

    This scenic circular tour takes in the beautiful West Mainland and a concentration of World Heritage pre-historic sites.

    Orkney's Archaelogical Wonders

    Travel through an area of rich farmland, rolling hills and moorland, fringed by magnificent cliffs, to visit the great ceremonial megalith circles of the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness before arriving at Skara Brae.

    Skara Brae is one of Orkney’s most exciting and oldest monuments, a 5,000 year-old Neolithic village, beautifully preserved and interpreted in a new visitors' centre. Lying beside the pretty, sandy crescent of the Bay of Skaill, this stone age settlement was totally buried under sand for thousands of years, until suddenly revealed during a fierce storm in 1850. Amongst the fascinating relics found here are tools, beads, pottery and whalebone artefacts. Looking across the village, it is easy to imagine how it looked all those centuries ago, and close inspection of the houses gives a unique insight into how our ancient ancestors lived.

    The hardship of life in Skara Brae can be directly contrasted to Orkney's finest manor house, Skaill House, located next door. It was built by a powerful Bishop in 1620 on an ancient graveyard and is now surrounded by spacious lawned gardens in a beautiful secluded spot between the sea and the Loch of Skaill.

    Return to Kirkwall,passing by the historic bay of Scapa Flow, one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The walk from the coach park to Skara Brae and back from Skaill House is around 500 yards each way on a fairly good path, though sometimes exposed to harsh weather.

    Tour code

    KOI_005

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    3¾ hours

  • Orkney’s Local Delicacies

    Experience a private sampling of some of Orkney’s tasty local delicacies accompanied by live Orcadian music.

    Orkney’s Local Delicacies

    Orkney’s pure air, clean seas and fertile land have produced top quality food for centuries and the islands have become world-famous for their treasure trove of local produce.

    A host from a local restaurant will greet you at the pier and join you on the short coach transfer into Kirkwall’s town centre. Upon arrival at the restaurant, you’ll head into a private dining area where you’ll be offered an array of local delights to sample. Savour scrumptious bere bannocks with Orkney farmhouse cheese, mouth-watering Orkney herring and Orkney oatcakes, freshly caught crab claws and cooked feather blade of Orkney Beef served with clapshot (mashed swede turnips and potatoes). For those with a sweet tooth, there will be homemade Orkney fudge cheesecake and Orkney ice cream. You’ll also have the opportunity to sample Orkney’s local ale and single malt whisky.

    During your sampling, enjoy the sounds of live Orcadian music and learn interesting facts from your host about each delicacy.

    At the end of your experience, you’ll take the short return transfer back to the ship.

    This excursion will operate by coach.This tour involves limited walking, however guests must be able to negotiate the steps on to and off the coach. There are also five steps to enter the restaurant venue and five steps to the toilet facilities. This tour is undertaken solely by a local host from the restaurant venue who will accompany the coach transfer to and from Kirkwall town. This tour is not suitable for children. Places are limited and early booking is advised.

    Tour code

    KOI_009

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    2½ hours

  • A Special Invitation to Balfour Castle

    Enjoy exclusive access to the magnificent Balfour Castle, and savour one of Scotland’s top chef’s delicious afternoon teas.

    A Special Invitation to Balfour Castle

    Step aboard the MV Shapinsay Ferry and head across Kirkwall Bay to the island of Shapinsay. Balfour Castle is situated in a prominent position on the south west corner of Shapinsay, and has stood overlooking Kirkwall Bay for more than 160 years.

    Upon arrival, your guide will meet you and take you on a leisurely walk through Balfour Village to Balfour Castle. As you arrive at the castle, enjoy a tour of the principle rooms, including the drawing room and grand dining room, both affording panoramic views across Kirkwall Bay.

    Afterwards, a delicious afternoon tea prepared by award winning Scottish Chef, Jean-Baptiste Bady, will be served. Enjoy sumptuous cakes and home bakes, accompanied by tea and coffee.

    Finally, take a stroll through the lovely gardens, before taking the return ferry to Kirkwall.

    This excursion will operate by coach,ferry and on foot. This tour is accompanied by a local representative and the guide will meet the group in Shapinsay. Depending on the ships berth, guests will either take a five minute coach ride or a walk of 100 metres to the Kirkwall ferry slip. The ferry ride is undertaken on foot and is around 25 minutes each way. There are 11 steps to reach the indoor seating areas and a further 11 steps to the outside seating areas. The ferry is not exclusive to Cunard and seating cannot be guaranteed. There is around three hours of walking over relatively flat terrain with some areas of loose gravel. Flat, walking shoes are advised. Access to the castle is exclusive; however on occasions there may also be visitors at the castle who are staying guests.

    Tour code

    KOI_008

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Refreshments included

      Refreshments included

    Duration

    4¾ hours

  • Orkney Panorama

    Discover a veritable haven abounding with fantastic wildlife, breathtaking panoramas and fascinating ancient wonders.

    Orkney Panorama

    Follow the marvellous coastal trail through the Parish of Evie. Here you will be afforded stunning views across Eynhallow Sound to the Island of Rousay and the spectacular tidal roosts on either side of the mysterious Isle of Eynhallow, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Skirting the nearby Birsay Moors RSPB Reserve, a stop will be made at the sandy beach of Birsay Bay, from where the distant cliffs at Marwick Head can be seen, another designated reserve and arguably the best sea bird cliffs in Orkney.

    Travelling inland, your drive will take you into the heart of Neolithic Orkney, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. You’ll pass by the great ceremonial stone circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, and a stop will be made at the imposing Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.

    Your journey then takes you along the coastline of the historic Scapa Flow. Listen as your guide tells stories from World War I and II that make this one of the best known stretches of water in the world.

    This excursion will operate by coach. There is minimal walking over grassy, flat terrain or rocky cliff edges during the photo stops, however this is optional.

    Tour code

    KOI_011

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    3¼ hours

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