A cruise holiday lets you explore some of the most exotic corners of the world, seeing tropical delights and natural wonders beyond your dreams. However you don’t need to travel far to have a fantastic time, with many cruise lines offering amazing itineraries showcasing the beauty, history and culture of the British Isles.
It’s also one of the most flexible regions around, whether you’re looking for a mini break for a couple of nights or something longer with an occasional visit to a nearby port in another country. It makes for a top break where you can unwind and explore, with ships to suit all tastes available.
Cruises are available to every country in the UK as well as Ireland, so you get a chance to fully get to know the islands. Sometimes you’ll also have itineraries that include Iceland or Le Havre for Paris, depending on who you choose to cruise with and the length of your trip.
There are loads of ports along the English coastline, so you aren’t short of choice. Some of the highlights include the lively northern cities of Liverpool and Newcastle, with ports close to the city centre letting you experience the thriving atmosphere that includes many great museums, a variety of mainstream and independent shops, contemporary bars and plenty more besides. I’m biased in that I’m from Newcastle and I’ve been to Liverpool many times but both cities truly are brilliant, and a cruise calling in at either, or ideally both, offers something comparable to many cruises further afield.
Of course neither city is as big as London, with many ports along the south and south-east coast mainly focused on providing excursions into the capital. If you’re not from the area then there’s loads to keep you busy, whether it’s just sight-seeing or you explore the famous shopping and cultural centres.
If you simply have to see the biggest cities then you’ll be delighted to know that both Glasgow and Edinburgh have ports close by, Greenock and South Queensferry or Rosyth respectively, with regular excursions right into the city centre. Edinburgh in particular is popular with tourists as it is a great mix of historical landmarks, including the famed Edinburgh Castle, contemporary shopping and attractive green spaces.
Scotland is also well known for its amazing scenery. Cruise into Invergordon and you’re within easy reach of Inverness and the highlands, as well as having excursions to Loch Ness available to see if you can find the legendary monster.
There’s only one port in Wales that cruise ships tend to visit, and that’s Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey. If you want to get a feel for the beautiful Welsh countryside then this is a delightful place with many amazing walks along the coast, as well the quaint town itself with traditional seaside attractions including cafes and ice cream parlours.
Belfast is the capital and highlight of Northern Ireland, where you’ll find a lively atmosphere and plenty of interesting streets to wander around, with many bars and pubs showcasing live musicians. Again it also combines these with history, in the form of Stormont Castle and the areas around the docks where the Titanic was built, and natural wonders, in the form of Giant’s Causeway, which formed following an ancient volcano eruption.
While not a part of Great Britain or the United Kingdom, Ireland is a part of the British Isles and, with its ease of access and popularity, it’s usually included in any British Isles cruise itinerary. Excursions include a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, a trip to the stylish Temple Bar district or the chance to see the older architecture of the Dublin Castle.
By Ian Lewis