Isles British and Emerald have called to travelers for centuries. History buffs and culturally curious can practically hear bagpipes echoing through castle halls when they imagine journeys to Scotland; golfers’ senses fill with the figurative smell of freshly cut greens at St. Andrews; and the warmth of both welcome and whiskey invites friends old and new into the lively pubs of Dublin. These types of experiences are quintessential to time spent in Ireland and the spectacular surrounding region, virtually woven into the plaid fabrics of the culture, and they’re not to be missed.
When Crystal Serenity sails the British Isles round-trip from London next July, Crystal Adventures abound with immersive moments in the most traditional pursuits found there. Taste Jameson whiskey in Dublin and malt whisky in Greenock, while Giant’s Causeway will drop your jaw to the rocky floor of the Belfast coastline. Thousand-year-old castles tell a story in virtually every destination from Edinburgh to Bruges, and there are several ways in which travelers can enjoy the romance of Amsterdam’s famous canals. At every turn is yet another marvel that has been immortalized in everything from tall tales to postcards to silver screen epics.
What’s more, there are also hundreds of lesser known adventures waiting over each rolling green hillside – ways to discover the wonders of Ireland, Scotland and the British Isles that most travelers don’t find on the beaten path. Here are five that will showcase different perspectives on these legendary locales, and fill your social feeds with wanderlust-inspiring content.
Go Coasteering in Guernsey. Defined as movement along the intertidal zone of a rocky coastline on foot or by swimming, without the aid of boats, boards or other craft, this adventure is practically made for the coast of this stunning member of Britain’s Channel Islands. Properly outfitted and briefed on safety procedures, you’ll climb, swim and jump your way through the beautifully craggy cliffs and caves along the English Channel. This is a free-form thrill, using no ropes or harnesses, which frees your hands for rock scrambling. For travelers who need just a bit more adrenaline, diving pools below beckon.
Follow ‘The Da Vinci Code’ through Edinburgh. Most thrilling fictional tomes are based at least partially on reality, with plots and characters that bring readers to the cusp of “could this actually happen…?” The Da Vinci Code is a quasi-historical thriller about the Holy Grail set across a number of atmospheric locations in France and the United Kingdom. While the book’s characters are fictional, the venues portrayed do indeed exist, one of which is Rosslyn Chapel, located just outside Edinburgh. The medieval chapel was an obvious ideal setting for the ominous story, as was your next stop, Linlithgow Palace. The latter was, in reality, most famously the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, but became more contemporarily associated with Tom Hanks upon the 2005 film.
Get Moving in Greenock. It’s surprisingly easy to fit a 10k training run into an indulgent luxury vacation, particularly when your route features the bonnie backdrop of Loch Lomond, just 45 minutes from Greenock. Guided by your fitness instructor and local expert, your workout navigates the rugged trails around the lake that are only accessible by foot or bike, literally taking you off the beaten path at some points. Your run is bookended by stops at the elegant Cameron House Hotel, where you’ll be treated to showers and refreshments following your outing.
Pay your respects…to chocolate. With all the nuanced specialty beers and spirits found in the masters’ shops throughout Belgium, Ireland and Scotland, it’s important to seek balance for the palate. In Zeebrugge (Bruges), you’ll see firsthand the meticulous process of creating world-famous Belgian chocolates, shown by a master chocolatier (this is a job worth training for). Of course, there will be tasting, learning, and more tasting, followed by ample time to explore the Chocolate Museum at your leisure. It’s here that the world of possibilities involving chocolate will be unveiled, from pastries and wine pairings, to a vast library containing historical works on cocoa and chocolate throughout history.
Get involved. There are few ways to more quickly immerse yourself in the heart of a destination than to volunteer and learn about its humanity. “You Care, We Care” Crystal Adventures in Guernsey and Belfast allow travelers to do just that, as they invest nothing but time and heart into these complimentary excursions, and reap tremendous rewards. In Guernsey, animal lovers can pitch in at the Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA), tending horse stalls and animal enclosures, walking dogs or simply offerings some TLC to displaced animals. In Belfast, lend a green thumb to the grounds of Mount Stewart House and Gardens, considered one of the most unique gardens and environmental treasures on the island of Ireland. Surrounded by such beauty and history, “dirty work” never seemed this luxurious.
Crystal Serenity’s “Irish Sea Soliloquy” sails from London July 15, 2018. Book your journey through the legendary isles and captivating countries along this voyage.