A British Isles cruise will allow you to explore many parts of the region that you might otherwise never see. Did you know Scotland is surrounded by more than 600 islands and the best way to discover them is on the water? Britain's crumbling castles, rolling countryside and bustling cities date back millennia, making it a great island to explore. From royal palaces, to World Heritage sites, stunning scenic countryside to wild moorland, once you've done this cruise, you'll understand why it's named Great Britain.
Main ports of call include England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However, many itineraries also take you into Europe. Check out the primary ports of call below, pick your cruise from our key offers and then give us a call to start your adventure around Great Britain.
P&O Cruises, Oriana, 2nd Sep 16, 8 nights, sailing from Southampton
Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Magellan, 3rd Sep 16, 9 nights, sailing from Tilbury, England
All inclusive drinks package - only £17 per person per day* , 150 superior twin cabins available for single use at only 25% single supplement*
Oceania Cruises, Nautica, 9th Sep 16, 12 nights, sailing from Southampton
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Black Watch, 29th Oct 16, 2 nights, sailing from Harwich
Cunard, Queen Mary 2, 1st Nov 16, 4 nights, sailing from Southampton
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Black Watch, 22nd Dec 16, 11 nights, sailing from Tilbury, England
This coastal town has seen its fair share of battles. The legendary White Cliffs have witnessed many an army, and Dover Castle has faced invasions from the Romans and French to name a few. It's located around 80 miles from London, so if you do have some free time on your cruise then a trip to the capital is a must. Take in the amazing architecture of Westminster Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament; visit the Queen's residency, Buckingham Palace; or take a trip on the London Eye for panoramic views of the capital's skyline and beyond. If you're free in the evening then a trip to the West End, including Covent Garden and Leicester Square, has to be on the itinerary.
Be a part of the world's largest celebration of the arts during the month of August at the Edinburgh Festivals. Comprising of jazz, books, art, politics and comedy immerse yourself in a world of performing arts. A visit to Edinburgh isn't complete without a wander around the castle. Towering over the city centre, not only can you not fail to see this ancient structure, you can also hear the 1pm gun salute made daily. Finally, for those who enjoy hiking a walk up Edinburgh's tallest hill, which is also an extinct volcano, takes you to the summit of Arthur's Seat and allows you to take in spectacular views.
A visit to Ireland's capital city wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse. Walk around this old factory and learn about how the drink is made, past advertising campaigns, and even how to pull the perfect pint. Finish your visit off at the Gravity Bar on the top for 360 degree views of Dublin, along with a pint of Guinness of course. If history and architecture are up your street then visit Dublin Castle (dating from 1204AD), Malahide Castle (home to a grand banqueting hall) and Trinity College. End your visit among the animals at Dublin Zoo, home to 400 animals.
If shopping is your passion then a trip to Victoria Square is a must. Belfast's number one shopping destination is split over four levels, offering you a wide choice of high street stores and food outlets. The centre provides panoramic views across the city including the River Lagan and even to the Mourne Mountains beyond. If you're after something a bit more traditional then you'll love a trip to St George's Market. One of Belfast's oldest attractions it was built between 1890 and 1896 and features fresh produce and antiques over 248 stalls. A trip to Belfast also wouldn't be complete without a tour to the brand new Titanic Museum. Learn about the fateful day the world-famous ship perished - if you're up for it before heading back to your own ship of course!
Well known for its bustling ferry port, Holyhead, the largest town on the Island of Anglesey, has a rich history and plenty of medieval monuments to explore. Visit the burial chambers at Barclodiad Yr Gawres and spot the church in the sea at Porth Cwyfan. Being so close to the water, Holyhead has some great water sports on offer - whether you want to relax on the front with a spot of fishing or battle those Irish Sea winds on a sail boat. Other places of interest include the Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the 100+ shipwrecks that surround the island, or the South Stack Lighthouse, perfect for a short stroll.
A historic industrial town located by the Firth of Clyde and 25 miles west of Glasgow, Greenock is a popular port on a British Isles cruise. The town is rich in maritime history, and was once a small community fishing village now has a status as a worldwide port for shipbuilding and overseas trade. If time permits take the trip to Scotland's largest city, Glasgow. Visit Princes Square for a haven of luxury boutiques or if you're after some evening entertainment why not see what's on at the unique Old Fruitmarket, part of Glasgow's Centre for Music? Nature lovers can escape the city with a visit to the picturesque 'Bonnie Banks' of Loch Lomond!
If sport is your passion then Liverpool is a great place to explore whether it's football (Liverpool is home to Premiership sides Liverpool and Everton), or horse racing (take a trip to Aintree Racecourse, home of the world-famous Grand National) you'll have plenty to keep you occupied. If your interest lies with retail therapy then you won't be disappointed either. Liverpool has over 400 shops and 5 shopping centres including Liverpool One. End your visit with a trip to Liverpool's Waterfront and dine at the best restaurants, have a drink in one of the many lively bars, or take part in a Beatles sing-a-long to leave Liverpool with a grin on your face.
This medieval city is steeped in history; why not take a trip to the Galway City Museum to explore its heritage? Galway's fascinating past is also visible at the Claddagh basin, a small fishing community just outside the walls that was present long before the city itself, located at the mouth of the River Corrib. Fishing has been a big part of this city's history in general, see if you can spot a traditional sailing boat, named Galway Hookers, or take a boat trip up the River Corrib.
The capital city of this tiny island off the coast of western England is set against a two mile sweeping bay. Take in the views in style with a horse tram along the seafront or explore the island further with a short train ride into Laxey - this small village is set within a deep valley and is home to the world's largest working waterwheel! Of course what the Isle of Man is probably most famous for is its racing - the world-famous Isle of Man TT Races take place every May.
Situated in southern Ireland, this compact city is perfect for strolling around. As you are walking consider the fact that many of the main streets (including the Grand Parade, St. Patrick’s Street and South Mall) are built on former river channels. You'll notice that the River Lee splits the city centre into two, creating an island. For a bit of fun why not visit the famous Shakey Bridge - jump up and down to get the full effect of this suspension bridge? If you love sport then a trip to watch a Gaelic football match is not to be missed. Pairc Ui Caoimh is Cork's home of Gaelic football, holding 50,000 people; be amazed by the skill and speed needed to play this historic game.
It's not hard to see why the capital city of Guernsey, with its picturesque marina, cobbled streets and unique boutiques, has been voted one of Europe's prettiest ports. Castle Cornet dominates the backdrop of this Channel Island town - dating back over 800 years it now hosts musical concerts and theatre productions. If you love shopping then you'll enjoy strolling around the streets of St Peter Port. Packed full of boutiques, high street shops and souvenir markets, it's certain you'll leave with a handful of bags.
Did you know that Portland is not quite an island but reached over a narrow causeway? It's built on limestone, and the famous Portland Stone was quarried here and used to make many famous buildings including St Paul's Cathedral (Christopher Wren used the material to rebuild many structures in London following the Great Fire). Henry VIII built a fortress around the port to protect Weymouth from French and Spanish invasions. Take a stroll around the Tudor-built Portland Castle, which has witnessed many a battle including the Civil War and World War I (it was formerly a seaplane station).
Kirkwall sits at the heart of Orkney, a group of 70 islands just off the coast of Scotland. It has an exciting Viking history and was founded in 1035 by Earl Rognvald Brusason; its name comes from the Old Norse, 'Kirkjuvagar' meaning 'church-bay'. Kirkwall has some great places of interest to visit including St Magnus Cathedral (founded in 1137), The Orkney Museum and The Bishop's Palace (built in the 12th century). Orkney is also renowned for its excellent bird-watching and wildlife. Visit the island in the winter months and you'll spot species native to Alaska and Iceland including Slovenian grebes and velvet scoters. Keep an eye out on the water for Grey Seals and their pups (around September), dolphins and even whales.
Make sure your British Isles cruise itinerary includes a stop-over at this Scottish island, once voted the fourth best island in the world by National Geographic magazine. The picturesque landscape is made up of wild rivers, rugged moorlands and is rich in wildlife from the Eurasian Otter, to the Red Deer and Brown Hares. If you're lucky you may even spot a majestic stag wandering the landscape! Portree is the main town on the island and here you can shop and dine into the evening.
Pick a summer’s day, take a wander around the marina and you’ll see why Torquay is known as the English Riviera. Water sports and boat trips dominate the seafront, and it’s still a working harbour meaning various boats come and go throughout the day. Walk across the Millennium Bridge, which links the two piers, and take note of the interesting feature (the bridge is designed to reflect the sails of ships). History and family fun can be found further inland as you explore this prehistoric town; did you know that the oldest remnants of modern humans ever found were discovered in Torquay? Attractions include Torquay’s Living Coasts Zoo, Penguin Beach and Seal Cove. The English Riviera really is a great spot for families.
This small fishing village in Ross & Cromarty, part of the Scottish Highlands, has only 1,300 inhabitants. Despite its small size it still offers plenty of activities as a port of call. Visit during some of its key events, including the Loopallu Music Festival (September) and Ullapool Guitar Festival (October), and you’ll see this sleepy region come alive with music and dance. There are plenty of sporting activities to take part in as well, including Highland golf (offering picturesque views), water sports (from diving to fishing) and hiking.
Arriving in this southern Highland city the first thing you’ll spot is Inverness Castle. Perched on the cliff edge this pink structure dominates the skyline and the views from the High Street - the original castle dates back to the sixth century. It’s worth taking a walk around the castle, along the river past St Andrew’s Cathedral, to the Ness Islands where you’ll find peace and quiet, along with a few anglers. Wander into the Old Town and immerse yourself in the shops, culture and various eateries on offer.
Fresh clean air, peace and quiet, open spaces.., if this sounds like your idea of heaven then make sure the Shetland Islands are on your British Isles cruise itinerary. This is where you can truly be at one with nature, spot the playful nature of the seals and otters; hear the extraordinary sounds of the seabirds and of course make sure you capture a Shetland pony on camera. The islands are a Geopark, they have more than 100 sites of interest and a human history dating back to around 6,000 years ago. Discover the amazing landscape on two wheels and rent a mountain bike – there’s around 2,700km of coastline and 138 sandy beaches to relax on when you’re done.
Known as ‘Britain’s Ocean City’ there’s plenty going on in this seaside town. Key events include the Plymouth Festival of Sail (June), Powerboat Racing (June) and Flavour Fest (August), while the town is also bidding to become a UK City of Culture in 2017. If you fancy exploring Plymouth’s maritime history then make sure The Barbican is on your ‘Things to do’ list. This delightful old port really does symbolise Plymouth’s history of trade and war. Take a stroll down its picturesque cobbled streets, wander into the many art galleries on offer and stop for a bite to eat at a restaurant. Learn about the town’s past as you go; did you know Sir Francis Drake sailed from Plymouth, as well as the Pilgrim Fathers departing to search for the New World?
This north eastern city of England is dominated by shops, restaurants and of course football. If you love to discover quirky, vintage souvenirs then a trip to the cobbled streets of High Bridge is a must. Fantastic vintage clothing can be found in Attica, a specialist clothing store voted one of the best UK stores outside of London by Vogue magazine. Mainstream shopping can be experienced at the Metrocentre – one of Europe’s largest shopping complexes. Of course one particular piece of clothing dominates Geordieland, and that’s the black and white strip of Newcastle Utd. Take a tour around St James’ Park, visit the gift shop and learn the history of this Premier League club. Other key attractions include the Angel of the North, Britain’s largest sculpture, and Tyne Bridge, the most iconic of the seven bridges crossing the River Tyne.
We never make the most of what's on our doorstep, and what better way to discover the beauty of Great Britain than with a cruise. The ports of call and packed itineraries include locations you may never venture to see. And the wildlife is beyond anything you'd imagine witnessing in dear old 'blighty'.
If you're planning on birdwatching in Scotland then travel during the winter months to see the best of the Alaskan and Icelandic migratory species. If you're after daytrips and walks/hikes then pick the spring to summer months for slightly warmer conditions.
The great thing about cruising around Britain - no long-distance flights! Pick from southern ports including Southampton, Dover or Harwich; or northern ports including Newcastle, Liverpool, Greenock or Rosyth.
Cruise lines offering British Isles cruises include Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Thomson Cruises, and many more.
We like making things easier for you, so all you have to do is give our UK-based contact centre a ring on 08001072323 and our cruise experts will be happy answer any queries you have and book your cruise.