A rich history encompasses our embarking town of Portsmouth. We arrived at the dock around 6:30 a.m., and the crew eagerly dropped the gangway ashore at a historically influential port town in Southern England. Greeted by cheery locals on a historically significant day, Armed Forces Day, we make our way into town. In Portsmouth, we were destined to learn a quantity of information sure to satiate even the hungriest of historians, and we all set off for our previously chosen tours. Provided with plenty of variety for sightseeing throughout the morning and afternoon, all reported a lovely first full day of the voyage. Locally operated excursions included a tour of the historic dockyard, Tichfield Haven (a nature area), and Southwick House and the D-Day Museum.

With opportunities to experience a guided tour in the morning and a separate tour in the afternoon with a quick and nutritious lunch between ops, we were able to experience Portsmouth in a very special light. Not to mention, we arrived on a particularly special day. The king’s “summer birthday” and Armed Forces Day fell on the same day, ensuring that the small port town was fully abuzz with patriotically-colored smoke shows, processions, and flyovers. Everyone in town was out for the celebration.

The group visiting the Southwick House heard historic lectures from local guides who have a vast amount of World War II historical knowledge. The lectures were filled with anecdotal relief, making the experience a true pleasure. The tour continued through the D-Day Museum. Artistic representations of the period depict stories in quilts completed by the Royal School of Embroidery. The museum also has the last known landing craft vessel from the era, which allowed us to experience a more tangible historical education, one we all felt passionately about.

Those along for the Tichfield Haven nature walk enjoyed the opportunity to walk through a designated wildlife area filled with plants and birds alongside our resident ornithologists and local guides.

The historic dock tour was a fantastic opportunity for guests to witness the longstanding tradition of naval excellence. Guests viewed multiple historical vessels, from the legacy of the HMS Rose, HMS Victory, and more modern ships. The docks at Portsmouth historic dock gave great insight into Britain’s naval history.

We ended with a recap from our engaging staff members. They shared their perspectives on the day and all the incredible things they experienced alongside guests on this journey through the Ancient Isles.