Sound of Mull (cruise-by), United Kingdom cruises

This dreamy Scottish location will remind you of romantic tales. Enjoy cuckoo song in springtime, stone castles on the shore, and look above and below for golden eagles and basking sharks as you sail.

On the land.

Sloping shorelines and green meadows make this a perfect backdrop for a classic romance novel. The Sound stretches for 18 miles, separating the Isle of Mull from mainland Scotland. The rising land on either side of the passage offers some shelter from the cool Atlantic breeze, and even from the deck several sites of historic significance can be spotted. Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse, near the north entry, is a familiar sight for the many fishing boats and ferries that use this route, as are the ancient castles that line the passage: look out for the ruins of Aros Castle, and the fairytale-like Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull’s eastern cliffs.

Below the waves.

The sheltered nature of the Sound, and the plankton blooms each spring, means that the waters around the British Isles are some of the most diverse in the world. Though this also makes the water cloudy, hiding many of the smaller inhabitants, viewers from deck can still spot some of the larger, more spellbinding marine life. Seals and otters venture from shore to play in the waves and feed, and larger mammals such as porpoises and minke whales visit the area in groups. Lucky visitors to the area may even spot a basking shark or an orca: such events are rare, but are treasured forever.

In the sky.

Over 260 species of bird are known around these parts, making it an ideal destination for anyone with an interest in ornithology. From sea birds such as cormorant, sandpipers and guillemot to nesting birds such as puffins and razorbills, the Sound provides ideal habitats for many rarer species alongside more well-known breeds. Most famous, perhaps, is the golden eagle, the national bird of Scotland. The Sound and the Isle of Mull boast the densest breeding population of this majestic creature worldwide. Also seen swooping over the sound is the white-tailed eagle, recently re-introduced to the area after a century-long absence. Springtime visitors may not have to see one of the rarest birds to experience them: when the cuckoos sing, all your stresses melt away.