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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
Kirkwall is a lovely city and we enjoyed wandering around the shops and museums. Our Orkney Highlights tour included one hour in Stromness - nothing much to see or do there so a bit of a waste of time.
Kirkwall is a lovely city and we enjoyed wandering around the shops and museums. Our Orkney Highlights tour included one hour in Stromness - nothing much to see or do there so a bit of a waste of time. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Feeling refreshed and ready to go again after our self made sea day, our next port of call was the Orkney Islands. We had booked on recommendation with a private tour company and David was there to meet us. We had a lot of Neolithic ... Read More
Feeling refreshed and ready to go again after our self made sea day, our next port of call was the Orkney Islands. We had booked on recommendation with a private tour company and David was there to meet us. We had a lot of Neolithic places to visit and got right on the road. This was one of our most interesting days and we learned the most. First off we visited a working archaeological site, the Ness of Brodgar, with students from Williamette University in Oregon. This site, discovered in 2002, is unearthing a Neolithic cathedral, a massive complex of monumental Neolithic buildings along with associated artwork, pottery, bones and stone tools from 2500 BC. Pretty fascinating to think of the knowledge and complexity of this civilization so long ago. All the sites in the area are believed to be connected, and this thin strip of land is between Loch Harray, freshwater, and Loch Stenness, a sea loch. This site is between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness. We then went over to the Standing Stones of Stenness and we were able to walk among them and touch them. These are the oldest henge site in Britain, even older than Stonehenge. It is believed that at one time there were 12 stones in the circle, there are four today. We then moved on to the Ring of Brodgar, which has 36 surviving stones out of 60. This site has a large rock-cut ditch surrounding the site and we could only walk around it. It has never been excavated and was scheduled in 1882, one of the first places to be protected as a site of historical significance in the British Isles. The erection and construction of the site would have required considerable manpower and organization. There had been much rain in the proceeding weeks and the heather was blooming everywhere. We then moved on to Skara Brae, a Neolithic village. It is charmingly set up so that as you walk the path towards the site stones mark highlights in history in a timeline as you travel back 5000 years. It was uncovered by a storm in 1850. The homes have stone beds, dressers and seats. The structures of this semi-subterranean village are in impressive condition. Most telling, among all the artifacts, no weapons have been found. Although, among the hand tools, pottery and jewelry, gaming dice were discovered. The visitor center had a small café and we stopped for a quick snack and coffee before heading into Skaill House. This is a 17th century mansion, originally built in 1620 by Bishop George Graham. This house was lived in by a succession of relatives for over 400 years. We saw an original Orkney chair here and it was just as beautiful as the day it was made. Our last stop was at Maeshowe, which is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave. It was probably built about 2800 BC. It is aligned so that the rear wall of the chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice. The modern opening was in 1861, and the workmen discovered Norse runes, proof that Norsemen had broken in probably in the 12th century. Their runic inscriptions are like modern day graffiti. This was such an interesting and informative day, and David did an amazing job of explaining it to us in laymen’s terms so we were not overwhelmed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Orkney is much more commercialised than Shetland, and though there are some excellent sites, there are some that are expensive (Scara Brae). It is a lovely place and the views would have been good without the most and rain.
Orkney is much more commercialised than Shetland, and though there are some excellent sites, there are some that are expensive (Scara Brae). It is a lovely place and the views would have been good without the most and rain. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Nice little port. WE had tenders to the town which is a bit of a faf. Town is good for walking around, there are afew shops, cafes and bars togerther with the cathedral and palce ruins. This will take maybe acouple of hours to see. We ... Read More
Nice little port. WE had tenders to the town which is a bit of a faf. Town is good for walking around, there are afew shops, cafes and bars togerther with the cathedral and palce ruins. This will take maybe acouple of hours to see. We booked atour with the Highland Park distillery which is walk able from town an easy uphill there 20 minutes. Need to book as tours only allow limited numbers and while we were there some folks were turned away. Book on line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
We had been expecting to see the stones. They were way off in the distance. The tour guide was more interested in talking about her home than educating us on what we were seeing.
We had been expecting to see the stones. They were way off in the distance. The tour guide was more interested in talking about her home than educating us on what we were seeing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Another overview, included the Ring of Brogdar. Would have loved to go to Highland Park Distillery but not enough time. There is a Highland Park Shop in town.
Another overview, included the Ring of Brogdar. Would have loved to go to Highland Park Distillery but not enough time. There is a Highland Park Shop in town. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Kirkwall's center is a delightful walking area to explore. The cruise's included tour, Highlights of Historic Orkney, gave us a good sample of the countryside, a small fishing village and the Bronze Age Ring of Brodgar.
Kirkwall's center is a delightful walking area to explore. The cruise's included tour, Highlights of Historic Orkney, gave us a good sample of the countryside, a small fishing village and the Bronze Age Ring of Brodgar. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We went on the Skara Brae and Brodgar excursion which was fascinating as Skara Brae had been on my bucket list. We also had a bit of a tour of the main island, including Scapa Flow. There were very long queues for the tenders on our ... Read More
We went on the Skara Brae and Brodgar excursion which was fascinating as Skara Brae had been on my bucket list. We also had a bit of a tour of the main island, including Scapa Flow. There were very long queues for the tenders on our return, but we toured the port and went to the hotel opposite to drink local whiskeys and an Irish coffee until the queues died down. Great day and the weather was good. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I'd previously visited the Neolithic Orkney sites which is a must. I wandered around town, in and out of the shops. Visited the magnificent Cathedral, Bishop and Earls Palace, the Museum. The Tourist Info Centre had free wifi. I sat ... Read More
I'd previously visited the Neolithic Orkney sites which is a must. I wandered around town, in and out of the shops. Visited the magnificent Cathedral, Bishop and Earls Palace, the Museum. The Tourist Info Centre had free wifi. I sat down in the adjacent bus station and did my postcards and got stamps across the road from the PO. The day just went. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
Princess organized tour. Half day of the prehistoric sites. Guide spent too much time chatting with individuals and not allowing others to participate. Hard to follow what was going on many times. Glad we visited the port and saw the ... Read More
Princess organized tour. Half day of the prehistoric sites. Guide spent too much time chatting with individuals and not allowing others to participate. Hard to follow what was going on many times. Glad we visited the port and saw the sites, but could have been better. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our 2nd Princess Tour - West Mainland Sightseeing and it was OK but it reminded us why we choose private tours. The tour guide was very nice but it was her first day on the job and she neglected to tell the bus driver to even slow ... Read More
This was our 2nd Princess Tour - West Mainland Sightseeing and it was OK but it reminded us why we choose private tours. The tour guide was very nice but it was her first day on the job and she neglected to tell the bus driver to even slow down for the Standing Stones of Stenness. We just rode right past it with not photo stop. We were able to tour the Ring of Brodgar and see a bit of Kirkwall as we were whizzing by the sights. For us, Guernsey and Kirkwall were just bonus days so that was Ok. Private tours at Kirkwall were limited and booked up quickly. Plan far ahead if you want a private tour in Kirkwall. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We arrived here a day early but too late in the morning for the single 10am Stagecoach bus tour we had planned. In the morning we took the free shuttle bus to town and visited the impressive Cathedral and a museum located just over the ... Read More
We arrived here a day early but too late in the morning for the single 10am Stagecoach bus tour we had planned. In the morning we took the free shuttle bus to town and visited the impressive Cathedral and a museum located just over the road. Both interesting and both free. Fortunately, on the previous day, we had been able to book the afternoon CMV tour 113002 to Skara Brae, Skaill House and the Ring of Brodgar. This cost £51 each but included the £6 ticket price for Skara Brae and the house, both worth seeing. We then were taken to Ring of Brodgar and had time to struggle around this ‘Stonehenge’ in high winds and poring rain. The tour also passed the Ness of Brodgar (site of the current archaeological revelations) and Scapa Flow although we did not see any Churchill Barriers. Our guide was knowledgable and spoke almost all the time during the coach transfers as well as at the sites. Although not cheep, the excursion was reasonable value, especially as, having missed the bus, there was probably no other way we could have seen even a few of the sights. Read Less

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