Although Scotland might not be the largest country in the world, it makes up for its modest stature with a huge culture and heritage that permeates every loch, bay and town.
If you’re ready to be welcomed by incredibly friendly locals, great food and warming drams of whisky, then you should definitely consider Scotland for your next cruise.
Popular ports in Scotland
Aberdeen offers a glimpse of the quieter elements of Scotland, but that doesn’t mean boring or subdued, as there is easy access to fantastic golfing facilities, museums and wonderful whisky tasting opportunities.
Widely considered to be the best European port for dolphin watching, Aberdeen is a popular destination for wildlife fanatics and is well equipped for welcoming large cruise ships, with plans to further expand in the near future as well. Tranquil but unforgettable, that’s what Aberdeen is all about.
You’d have to sail a long way to encounter someone that hasn’t heard of Edinburgh and what a vibrant, diverse and cultural city it is, but why not consider heading there directly instead? Fast becoming a favourite cruise destination, Edinburgh has something for everyone and best of all, Leith port can accommodate any size of ship.
The historic city centre is little over two miles from the port and is ready to welcome visitors with an abundance of shops, tourist attractions and fantastic eateries. There are a host of cultural events throughout the year as well, many of which are free to attend.
The main port for Glasgow, Greenock treats cruisers to incredible views of nearby mountains as soon as the ship pulls into port, which really sets the tone for a day trip. Disembarking to a traditional Scottish pipers’ welcome certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
With historical tourist spots and exquisite shopping opportunities all within easy reach, Greenock is an exceptionally well-positioned port that gives a glimpse of both scenic and social Scotland as soon as you arrive. Which version you want to embrace is up to you.
What are the best cruise ships for a cruise to Scotland?
When heading to an exciting country like Scotland, it’s vital to ensure that you’ve chosen an equally dynamic ship to sail on.
Fred. Olsen Black Watch
Black Watch is a smaller yet no-less-luxurious cruise ship that regularly transports keen travellers to the natural wonders of Scotland. Offering a far more intimate experience, you’ll be sharing your voyage with hundreds, rather than thousands of other holidaymakers and you’ll soon see that size isn’t everything.
A more modest ship, Black Watch is able to dock in a wider variety of locations, but every care has been given to passengers’ comfort, with a full roster of fantastic amenities on board. From a gym to swimming pools and a luxury spa, not to mention a tennis court and plenty of dining options, you’ll be spoiled for choice in terms of how to spend your time at sea.
Shore excursion ideas
Scotland has a plethora of natural and man-made sights to behold, but the following are on most people’s bucket lists.
The most well-known castle in the whole of Scotland, Edinburgh is a real tourist draw and never disappoints. Set up high on a clifftop, the castle is amazing to behold and is even more fascinating inside, given that it houses some serious jewels.
A daily gun firing at 1pm, spectacular views out over the city and a central location all make Edinburgh Castle a tourist attraction that shouldn’t be overlooked. Once you’ve seen what the castle has to offer, a walk into Old Edinburgh is a great way to keep the historical theme going.
The Great Glen Way
If you’re sailing to Scotland with a view to getting your walking boots on and enjoying some fresh air, few trails are better than the Great Glen Way. Connecting Fort William and Inverness, the trail is just over 70 miles long, but can be split into manageable segments.
The trail actually runs across a natural fault line and offers glimpses of various lochs along the way, depending on which village you start your hike in. Proper walking boots and breathable clothing are a must as this is a frequently challenging route, but there are pubs and shops dotted throughout.
Loch Ness is packed with natural beauty and a choice of activities to indulge in. With ruins to explore and bordering villages to spend a little time in, you won’t be sitting around, just waiting for a prehistoric monster to make an appearance. Be sure to have your camera at the ready, just in case!
Loch Ness itself is a tranquil body of water that is popular with sailing and fishing enthusiasts alike, not to mention walkers and even marathon runners, who complete a full circuit around the loch.
Lowland Whisky Distilleries
There are more than 100 whisky distilleries in Scotland. Choosing which ones to visit can be tricky, but those in the Lowlands are famous for their light, gentle style. The most popular Lowland distillery is Glenkinchie, but there several to choose from, each offering a unique insight into the whisky-making process. The gift shops are perfect for picking up souvenirs for friends and family.
Top ports of call