Rarely is another region subjected to the forces of Mother Nature as is the green island of Ireland. Nevertheless, this small and rugged isle, engulfed by the surges of the Atlantic swell, is a place of natural beauty and diversity. While the Western side of the island is commonly frequented by tourists, the controversial Northern regions remain dormant due to their volatile past. Join us on a discovery tour along the exceptional and dramatic coastline of Northern Ireland. Visitations to important, historical and future orientated cities such as Belfast and (London)Derry are combined with a unique sailing experience and the discovery of scenic landscapes and natural wonders by bike. The tour itinerary includes a visit to Rathlin Island, among additional highlights such as the Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede-Bridge. Your floating accommodation for the week on board the Thalassa also offers a hands-on experience for all who are interested in learning what it means to sail a tall ship
DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
1st Day (Sun) Belfast (Embarkation) (D)
Arrival to Belfast is organised individually, followed by a taxi ride to the boat. The first evening meal will give you the opportunity to get to know your travel group and guides, who will accompany you for the duration of the week. The first night is spent on board the boat in Belfast. An early arrival will give you time to visit the Ti-tanic wharf.
2nd Day (Mon) Belfast – Larne – Glenarm (aprx. 10 + 21 km; aprx. 1,215 ft./370 m of elevation) (F, M, A)
After breakfast we will take a guided tour around Belfast on our bikes. Afterwards we leave the harbor if Bell-fast on board the Thalassa. The first crossing by boat will bring us to the harbour town, Larne. In the afternoon we will take a cycle tour from Larne to Glenarm, the oldest town in the region, where you will spend the night on anchor.
3rd Day (Tue) Glenarm – Cushendall – Rathlin Island – Ballycastle (morning: aprx. 14 mi./22 km; aprx. 560 ft./170 m of elevation / afternoon: aprx. 8 mi./13 km; aprx. 660 ft./200 m of elevation + aprx. 6 mi./9 km; aprx. 230 ft./70 m of elevation) (B, L D)
Today we will have the opportunity to take part on two beautiful bike stages along one of the most scenic coastal stretches in Northern Ireland. The first stage will take place in the morning, leading you through un-touched coastal scenes to the village of Cushendall. Here we board the boat and take a majestic crossing to the nearby nature reserve, Rathlin Island. The small, rugged island is well known for its picturesque coastal landscapes as well as it’s extraordinary birdlife in the Kebble Cliffs National Nature Reserve on the western point of the island; our first stop on today’s cycle tour. Thousands of brooding birds of all varieties settle here, amongst them the guillmots, kittiwakes, razorbills and puffins. Those who wish can also explore the southern point of the island by bike, inhabited by hundreds of seals. In the afternoon we cross back over to the mainland and spend the night on anchor in Ballycastle.
4th Day (Wed) Ballycastle – Londonderry (Sailing day) (B, L)
Today we enjoy a day sailing on the Thalassa. Enthusiasts can seize their chance to hoist the sails, and tie the knots, whilst those looking to relax can find a quite space to read a book or gaze dreamily over the horizon. After arrival in (London)Derry we are able to take a guided walk along the ‘’Walls of (London)Derry’’, the ex-ceptionally preserved city walls, or to enjoy exploring the city at our own free will.
5th Day (Thu) Londonderry – Buncrana – Carndonagh – Moville – Greencastle – Portrush (aprx. 53 mi./85 km; aprx. 2,625 ft./800 m of elevation) alternatively: aprx. 31 mi./50 km (B, D)
Today you will be confronted with the Kings Stage of the week. You will leave Northern Ireland behind and will venture onto the isolated Inishowen Peninsula with its towering cliffs. Numerous migratory and endemic bird species share this peninsula as a place of refuge and living space. We will cycle through rolling green land-scapes, past traditional straw thatched cottages and historical monuments, along clifftops and beaches with picturesque views over the Atlantic Ocean. The Thelassa awaits us in the lively fishing village of Greencastle. With a bit of luck we will have the chance to witness members of the local seal colony as they poke their heads out from under the water. Depending on the weather, the boat will either stay in Greencastle, or continue on to Portrush.
6th Day (Fri) Portrush – Ballycastle (aprx. 25 mi./40 km, aprx. 1,350 ft./410 m of elevation) (B, D)
In the morning we start our bike tour from Port Rush to Ballycastle. Four great highlights await you on today’s tour. A visit to the Bushmills distillery, Ireland’s oldest licenced distillery, gives you the chance to taste the fa-mous whiskey made here, as well as an education of the various whiskey types of Northern Island. After our visit we immerse ourselves in Irish mythology on a stroll to the ‘’Giant’s Causeway’’, following in the footsteps of the giant, Fionn Mac-Cumhaill. This UNSECO World Heritage site features 37 000 fascinating basalt col-umns thought to have been formed by lava flows more than 60 million years ago. Our tour continues along the coast to Dunluce Castle, Ireland’s most romantic and picturesque castle ruin, dating back to the 15th century. Those seeking adventure can cross the rickety Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, a construction of planks and rope de-signed by local fishermen, spanning the 20m gap between the mainland and a nearby isle, at 30m above the submerged rocks below. The Thelassa awaits you in Ballycastle where you spend the night.
7th Day (Sat) Ballycastle – Cushendall – Belfast (aprx. 19 mi./30 km; aprx. 1,900 ft./580 m of elevation) (B, L, D)
Today we take part on our last bike tour along the Torr Head Scenic Road which offers incredible views in along the way. On our way we pass through Cushendun, a small holiday destination.. A short stroll leads you past impressive caves and looming cliffs or along small coastal walkways to an idyllic sandy beach. We con-tinue leisurely along the flat until we reach Cushendall where we board the Thalassa. After lunch we sail back to Bellfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, where we spend a celebrative last evening meal on board to-gether with guests, crew and guides.
8th Day (Sun) Belfast (Disembarkation) (B)
After breakfast disembarkation and individual trip home or extended stay.
RATING: Moderate to hilly
Moderately difficult tours in mostly hilly landscapes with stages of 12 – 37 mi./20 – 60 km on usually quiet asphalt roads. In some instances, field paths are used as well. Main roads without separate bike paths are used only occasionally and for only short stretches. This tour includes some longer and steeper ascents along which bicycles may be pushed at any time. Strong headwinds may also be encountered.
Our tours are dependent on local weather conditions and the final decision is that of the captain. You are free to set aside a half or full day to swim or spend time on board the boat, instead of taking a planned bike-tour.Our tours are dependent on weather conditions and the final decision is that of the captain. You are free to set aside a half or full day to swim or spend time on board the boat, instead of taking a planned bike-tour.
YOUR SHIP: Tallship THALASSA (all cabins with shower)
At 47m long, 8m wide and a mast height of 35m this three mast tall ship is an eye catcher in every harbour, only outdone by itself when the 800m² of sails are hoisted out at sea. The hull of the Thalassa was built in the Netherlands in 1980. Originally named, Relinguenda, she operated as a fishing vessel until 1984 before running aground in Holland. In 1994 the hull of the boat was rebuilt, transforming the trawler into a barkentine. With the installation of modern safety equipment she checks all regulations, and is recognised internationally, enabling you to feel safe and well cared for on board.
The Thalassa is fitted with 15 functional double cabins with bunk beds. The cabins are fitted with a private shower and wash basin. Toilets are found in the hallway. The salon is tastefully decorated and offers a comfortable place for people to get together in, as well as a large dining area where meals on board can be enjoyed. The covered deck area offers a great space to relax on in good weather, catch-ing the sea breeze while reading a book or looking through a telescope for signs of rare birds, whales or dolphins. Even the meals can be enjoyed on-deck with a quiet sea, and a pleasant sunset. The accommodating and friendly crew consist of a captain, the first mate, a cook and two sailors. It is of importance to the crew on board the Thalassa that the team on board consists of both male and female workers. Years of experience has proven this system to provide the best atmosphere on board.
AIRPORT / TRANSFERS
The nearest airport is Belfast International. The recommended (easiest) way to get to the dock is by taxi.
SCHEDULE & PRICE
2017 Departure Dates: July 9, 16, 23, 30
|Price per person, double occ.||CAD||$2250|
|Singles on request||$500|
|Single share cabins may be available at no extra surcharge|
|Option e-bike rental||$160|
This tour includes:
- 8-day/7-night cruise on a tall ship with crew
- 4 days with half-board; 3 days with full board
- Linen and towels
- Day tours with your cycling guide, as per program
- Detailed travel maps and guide for each days tour
- Rental bicycle: 21-speed trekking bike with Ortlieb pannier bags & insurance
- Multilingual tour guide
- Beverages on board (tally sheet; to be paid to the captain)
- Lunches on land
- Tips for crew and tour-guides
Helmets are mandatory and will be available to rent for free aboard ship, however we recommend you bring your own.