This morning, National Geographic Explorer tied up to the dock in Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney, Scotland. We have a full day of explorations with options from which to choose. The walking tour of Kirkwall includes the impressive St. Magnus Cathedral (built with locally quarried old red sandstone), the Orkney Museum, and time to explore and wander around town.

“Orkney Treasures” visits the “Neolithic Heartland of Orkney”, a World Heritage Site. This includes the Ring of Brodgar, an ancient circle of stones, Skara Brae, a remarkably preserved village dating back five millennia, and Skaill House, a magnificent manor house built in 1620 which gives us a taste of more recent Orkney history. We move from site to site passing through the beautiful Orkney countryside.

“Orkney’s Wartime Legacy” heads to Stromness, in the western end of Mainland Island where we get a short tour and time to explore the picturesque town on our own. Ness Battery was crucial in protecting Scapa Flow, the main base for the British Navy during both world wars. The Italian Chapel, a memorial to peace, is the final destination of our outing.

On board this evening we have a whiskey tasting hosted by the esteemed Highland Park Distillery and, after dinner, music by Saltfishforty, a local duet playing traditional and locally inspired original music.