British Isles Cruises

British Isles Cruises have always been popular with overseas visitors but in the past this itinerary has not been so popular with us Brits. We always seem to be seeking the sun in exotic destinations when in fact we have a lot to offer on our doorstep. The UK is full of diverse and interesting ports, and has so much history.

It is also likely when cruising restarts, cruises visiting just one destination such as the UK will be the first to resume. So if you are eager to cruise like us then this is the perfect time to consider a British Isles cruise. Here we show you where these cruises visit and the companies that are offering these cruises for 2021 and 2022.

Where does a British Isles Cruise visit?

sailing out of Dublin on the Marco Polo British Isles cruise
Templa Bar Dublin cruise British Isles
Molly Malone Dublin British isles cruise
cobh Ireland celebrity eclipse British isles cruise

Here are the most common ports included in a British Isles cruise –

Ports in Scotland

Greenock for Glasgow

The cruise terminal at Greenock is about a mile walk from the centre. With Glasgow only 27 miles away and Edinburgh 72 the large cities of Scotland are within reach by bus, train or taxi and obviously with the ship excursions. You can also visit Stirling Castle approximately 55 miles away and Loch Lomond which is even closer. In Greenock it self there is a shopping centre, so you can pick up anything you may have forgotten to pack. Find out more about Greenock here.

Queensferry for Edinburgh

There is no dock at Queensferry, the cruise ship will anchor and a tender will take passengers to shore. Queensferry is only 25 minutes from Edinburgh and some cruise lines will offer a transfer service, if not taxis and buses are available.

We have friends in Edinburgh and have visited many times, it is a great city and if you can time your visit with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August  (normally from around the 6th to the 30th August) then you will be in for a fabulous experience!

Invergorden for Inverness and Loch Ness

Invergordon is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. You can take a 10 minute walk into Invergordon, travel further and explore the pretty town of Inverness or you can go hunting the Loch Ness Monster!

Kirkwall – Orkney Islands

Kirkwall is the gateway to exploring the Orkney Islands, and depending on the size of the ship some ships will dock at Hatston Terminal which is around 2.5 miles from Kirkwall Centre. Bigger vessels may drop anchor in the bay and tender passengers closer to town.

Ports in Ireland

Cobh for Cork

Cobh is a charming and colourful town on the southern coast. It is famous as the last port of call the Titanic visited in 1912, and the Titanic Experience is set within the original White Star Line ticket office.  We visited on the Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship and loved our time here.

Other areas that are accessible are Cork which is just under 30 miles away, Blarney castle and the county of Waterford. We have friends who live in Mallow and they came to visit when we were there. Another bonus of a British Isles cruise is catching up with friends who live far from you!


We cruised on the CMV Marco Polo to Dublin, sadly this is one of many cruise ships that have now been scrapped. With a very easy transfer of about 20 minutes, you arrive in the centre of Dublin. A fun city with lots of history and lively bars. We headed to the cobbled streets of Temple Bar and enjoyed pints of Guinness and Irish coffee, whilst listening and dancing to some fabulous Irish music.


Belfast is found in the north of Ireland on the banks of the river Lagan and a short 10 minute drive form the port. You will find more Titanic history here as this is where the Titanic was built by shipbuilder’s Harland & Wolff. The Titanic Belfast is a popular attraction, as is the City Hall and Cathedral, or you could just go for a walk through CS Lewis Square, a public space commemorating the Belfast-born author, CS Lewis who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia.

If you want to see the Giants Causeway, it is approximately 2 hours away but can be reached by tours and excursions from Belfast.

Ports in Wales


Situated in the north of Wales the town of Holyhead has a good selection of shops, pubs and restaurants. You can also explore the Anglesey coast line with a variety of circular walks. The origins of Holyhead date from 450AD, St Cybi’s Church is still surrounded by the original fort wall and you will also find the Neolithic Trefignath Burial Chamber just over a mile out of the town.

Milford Haven/Pembroke

Situated at the western tip of Wales, smaller cruise ships can dock at Pembroke Dock or tender into Milford Haven so you can explore the beautiful county of Pembrokeshire. Visit Pembroke Castle, explore the town of Milford Haven, and if you want to explore further the superb beaches of Tenby and Saundersfoot are about 20 miles away.

Ports in England


Southampton is deemed as the cruise capital of England and is a fabulous city, we have cruised out of here many times. There are four cruise terminals in Southampton – Mayflower Cruise Terminal – we cruised out of here on our P&O Oceana Cruise. The QEII Terminal, City Cruise Terminal where we embarked on some of our Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Ocean Cruise Terminal where we joined the Fred Olsen Braemar cruise ship. Funding has now been agreed for a fifth terminal at Southampton, investing in a greener future ensuring a zero-emissions facility for cruise ships. All terminals are within easy reach of the city centre. Often Southampton is described as London but in fact it is approximately 80 miles away.

Southampton is a great city, full of history, great pubs and some fabulous restaurants, it also has an airport. We have stayed at multiple hotels here so if you are planning a hotel stay pre or post cruise then do have a look at our recommendations here.


About 22 miles down the road from Southampton you will find Portsmouth. A cruise port that is starting to welcome cruise ships in late 2021. It is well positioned for the English Channel, with London only 60 miles away. We visited friends in Portsmouth and enjoyed our time there. We stayed in Southsea at the Best Western Royal Beach Hotel and know we will be back to Portsmouth to explore some more and visit the Isle of Wight which is a short ferry ride away!


The cruise terminal in Liverpool is centrally located on the River Mersey close to the iconic Liver Building. Famously known for the home of the Beatles it is located on the Irish Sea which is ideally situated for British Isles cruises. We have not cruised from here yet but have visited and taken the iconic ferry across the Mersey, and can confirm that this is a very fun city to visit!


The Port of Tyne is situated on the River Tyne in North East England. Just 9 miles out side of the city of Newcastle and a 35 minute from the airport. More information can be found here.


We cruised from Dover on the Saga Spirit of Discovery. Situated on the south east coast of England, on the English Channel, and about an hours drive from London. It was great sailing in and out and seeing the White Cliffs of Dover!

We stayed at the Premier Inn in Dover prior to our cruise which proved to be a good choice. Book your stay by clicking the link here –



Saga Spirit of Discovery Dover wake view Paul and Carole
crown princess ocean terminal southampton

Which Cruise to Choose?

British Isles itinerary map Princess
British Isles itinerary map Cunard

Cruise Companies that currently have British Isles Cruises for sale in 2021/2022


Cunard Cruise Line

Cunard are offering British isles Cruises on the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria cruise ships varying from 4 nights to 14 night cruises – see the itineraries here.

Princess Cruise Lines

Princess Cruises new ship the Sky Princess is here and that is exciting to see a new ship cruising out of Southampton. We currently have a Baltic cruise booked on this ship in July but with the world still closed down we are looking at changing this to a British Isles cruise. Princess have itineraries cruising from May, June, July and August, September on three of their ships – Crown Princess, Island Princess and as mentioned above the Sky Princess.

Click here for the Princess Cruises website –

Saga Cruise Line

The Spirit of Discovery and the new Spirit of Adventure cruise ship both have itineraries in 2021 around the British Isles. From 5- 14 nights there really are some interesting itineraries to have a look at here. Saga are more expensive but the fares do include a lot including a door to door chauffeur service and travel insurance. Find out why why Saga has the highest return passenger rate in the cruise industry in our video here.


From July the P&O Arcadia has 12-14 night itineraries around the British Isles in 2021 and 2022.

Fred Olsen Cruise Line

Fred Olsen new ships Borealis and Bolette both have itineraries around the British Isles in 2021. Balmoral has some too. We had a fabulous time on the Braemar Cruise Ship so know we will be looking to cruise with Fred Olsen again.

Click the link here to the Fred Olsen website –


If you are looking at getting off the beaten track then you will need to consider Hurtigruten.  They have very unique itineraries that do cover the Bitish Isles but also do concentrated cruises in particular areas. Find out more about Hurtigruten here.


We hope you have found our introduction to British Isles Cruises useful, we do believe that if you want to start cruising in 2021 and live in the UK this will be the only option to start with. One thing we know for sure is that we will be eager to get on board as soon as we possibly can!


This post does contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us keep this site up and running.

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