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.
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 –