This summer a cruise around the British Isles will be the highlight of many cruise vacations. Consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller islands they offer plenty of things to see and enjoy.
This year cruise fans from the UK will be spoilt for choice as many of the major cruise lines – Cunard, P&O Cruises, Princess and MSC Cruises to name just a few – are offering unique sailings around the British Isles. To get you inspired for this summer’s seacations here’s a look at our ‘top 8 favourite ports around the British Isles‘.
Edinburgh – Newhaven
Newhaven is a district in the City of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located about two miles north of the city centre. Newhaven is a tender port which means you get to enjoy a 20-minute tender ride and amazing views of your ship. One of the main attractions nearby is the Royal Yacht Britannia at Ocean Terminal in Leith. From the Newhaven port you can easily access Edinburgh city centre either by shuttle bus from the cruise line, taxi’s, hop on/off buses or regular bus service – the X50 Cruiselink. Highlights include the Scottish Parliament, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.
Located in a beautiful part of the Scottish Highlands, Invergordon lies near the head of a Firth (or Fjord) on an arm of the North Sea. The village is surrounded by mountains and gentle rolling farmland. From the pier a short walk will take you to the town’s High Street. Places of interest near Invergordon include Loch Ness and the ruin of Urquhart Castle, Cawdor Castle and Dunrobin Castle. The mural trail of Invergordon and the local Museum offer a fun alternative if you’re not going on an excursion. The murals were painted by Steve des Landes in 2006 as part of the Invergordon ‘Off The Wall’ mural project and show the history of Invergordon.
Part from being an exciting city, Nortern Ireland’s capital Belfast is home of the RMS Titanic which famously struck and iceberg and sunk in 1912. The monumental Titanic Belfast on the former Harland & Wolff shipyard is one of the city’s maritime highlights. Other must-sees include the SS Nomadic and the HMS Caroline.
Located at the mouth of the River Liffey, Dublin is rich in 18th century architecture with beautiful Georgian mansions, public buildings and numerous statues. One of the most famous statues is ‘The Famine Memorial’. The group of statues is set on the banks of the Liffey and is dedicated to the Irish people who were forced to emigrate around the world during the Great Famine of the 19th century. Another famous statue is the one of a busty young woman: Molly Malone. The statue is also known as ‘The Tart with the Cart’ or ‘The Trollop With The Scallop(s)’. It was erected in 1988 to celebrate the city’s first millennium and the famous song which has become the city’s unofficial anthem. Not to miss are Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the impressive grounds and buildings of Trinity College.
Cork – Cobh
Built on a steep hill on Great Island in Cork Harbour, Cobh is just 20 minutes from Cork city. The town is full of Victorian buildings and is famous for it’s candy coloured houses and impressive St. Colman’s Cathedral. Cobh was the departure point for 2.5 million Irish people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950. Walking around town you’ll see a lot of signs about the Titanic. Cobh, then named Queenstown was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic as she set out across the Atlantic.
With five cruise terminals Southampton is the UK’s number one cruise port. Depending on which terminal the ship docks you can walk to the city centre in 15 minutes. From the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal to downtown Southampton takes about 30 minutes. Most of the route takes you through the port so a taxi or bus could be more advisable. The coastal city is drenched in history and is a shopaholic’s paradise. Must-see landmarks include the Tudor House and Garden, the Bargate, the remnants of the medieval wall and Holyrood Church. Another great place to visit is the SeaCity Museum which tells the story of the people of Southampton, their fascinating lives and historic connections with Titanic and the sea. Southampton port is around 80 miles (130 km) from central London.
London – Tilbury
The Port of Tilbury is the principal port for London and is located some 25 miles (40 km) downstream of London Bridge. A few minutes walk from the London International Cruise terminal is Tilbury Fort, one of the finest and best preserved examples of 17th century engineering in England. Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries Tilbury and the batteries at Gravesend across the river formed the first line of defense for the Thames and London. Tilbury Town railway station is about 20 minutes walking distance from the port. From here you can reach central London in about 40 minutes.
Dover is one of those ports well worth getting up early for. As your cruise ship approaches the port you’ll be treated to amazing views of the famous White Cliffs. The city itself boasts plenty of shopping and history. Start your day with a visit to the Dover Museum and the Bronze Age Boat Gallery that displays the Dover Bronze Age Boat, the world’s oldest surviving seagoing boat. The main highlight is definitely Dover Castle. The castle is perched high above the town and its history goes back some 2000 years. The central Norman keep was built in 1180 and houses most of the castle’s exhibits. Inside the Great Tower are richly furnished chambers. The banqueting hall displays medieval feasts. Other interesting parts of the complex include the wartime tunnels and underground hospital. Another must-do is a clifftop walk along White Cliffs. The walk offers breathtaking views across the English Channel and you might even spot France in the distance.
Are you taking a seacation around the British Isles this summer and visiting one of our favourite ports? Let us know in the comments.