Iceland, Faroes and Scotland: No-fly cruise

With its deep fjords, rainbow-arched waterfalls, volcanic peaks, gushing geysers and creeping glaciers, Iceland puts on one of the most dramatic natural spectacles on the planet. Join wildlife expert, ornithologist and research ecologist Peter Mawby on an itinerary designed to ensure you don’t miss the many highlights this remarkable land has to offer. Peter welcomes the opportunity to enhance your experiences of the wildlife with commentaries out on deck and on tours, during the cruise.

Highlights

Exploring Romania: Wooden villages, painted churches and Saxon citadels

Over the course of its turbulent history, Romania has been subjected to the cultural influences of the ancient Greeks and Romans, Slav, Bulgarian and Hungarian invaders and, more recently, German settlers and Ottoman Turks. Under the expert guidance of Gillian Gloyer, learn how all these have blended with one another and with the ancient indigenous civilisation of the Geto-Dacians to give Romania a rich and varied culture with particularly wonderful art and architecture.

Baltic treasures: Latvia and Lithuania

Discover the ‘old-world’ charm of two beautiful countries with their strong central European values, traditions and cultures. Though Latvia and Lithuania are close neighbours, each has its own distinct history and traditions. Lithuania was a Grand Duchy and one of the most powerful states in Eastern Europe. Latvia by contrast was dominated for a long time by a German Order that brought  Christianity and later a financial boom. In Riga this led to an unrivalled growth of Art Nouveau architecture which can still be admired today.

Florence: A private view

Take a very special tour of Florence in the company of historian and art expert Anthony Majanlahti. Venture far beyond the popular icons and tourist traps and away from the crowd. Enjoy captivating lectures and access to palaces and gardens that are not normally open to the general public. You will also enjoy private visits to some of the city’s most famous museums. The tour will focus on the great works of art commissioned by the Medici family and the great fresco paintings of Florence. This carefully curated tour will bring to life Renaissance Italy in all its wonder.

Magical Madagascar: Evolution and zoology of a Gondwanaland Island

Accompanied by ecologist and University of Oxford lemur expert Ryan Burke, discover the incredible flora and fauna of Madagascar, uninhabited by man until just 2,000 years ago. Witness what happens when an isolated island is left to evolve without large predators for 165 million years. 80% of Madagascar’s species are endemic and its protected reserves and rainforests contain amazingly diverse wildlife. Go in search of impish ringtailed lemurs, dancing sifakas and brightly coloured chameleons, frogs and butterflies.

Highlights

Nelson’s West Indies: Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis

Join maritime historian John Harris to go beyond the stunning beaches and lush scenery of the tropical Leeward Islands and delve into their colonial history. With sugar, slavery and sea power throwing Britain, Spain and France into continuous conflict in the 17th and 18th centuries, the contrasting islands of Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis have a fascinating story to tell as part of Britain’s once mighty empire.

Colombia: A rich and fascinating cultural history

Colombia’s diverse, colourful culture is an amalgamation of several influences, from a rich and fascinating pre-colonial history to the Spanish conquest and subsequent battles for independence. On this tour Dr Alexander Herrera will bring the ancient and modern cultures of this friendly and welcoming country to life. Admire Lake Guatavita, setting of the El Dorado ceremony of the pre-Columbian Muisca people. Tour a coffee plantation near Popayán, an old religious centre and colonial hub linking the viceroyalty of New Granada to Lima and Quito.

Peru: Inhabiting the Andes

This trip includes fascinating pre-Inca sites not normally visited on a trip to Peru and will show the dazzling range of the country’s geography, from desert coast to the green valleys and soaring peaks of the Andes. Dr Nicholas James will discuss the history of the region’s inhabitants and their relationship with the landscape over the millennia. The journey includes a visit to Lima’s 5th-century Huaca Pucllana pyramid and the most important monuments of the northern coastal Moche (100–800AD) and Chimú (900–1470AD) cultures around Trujillo and Chiclayo.

Darwin's Galapagos: Cruise and colonial Quito

Journey with Dr Sally Gibson and witness nature in its most unaffected state while sailing the Galapagos archipelago. Dr Gibson has been researching in the Galapagos for more than ten years and will discuss the Charles Darwin and Galapagos Islands Fund, a partnership between Christ’s College, where Darwin studied, and the Galapagos Conservation Trust. Explore isolated islands rich with unique
creatures and dramatic scenery, and encounter miracles of evolution during this wildlife-filled adventure. You will also discover the history and culture of Colonial Quito.

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