We know the British Isles very well – in fact, our very first office is located in the south of England! That’s one reason why we love cruises to the British Isles so much – it’s all part of our heritage! Great Britain and neighbouring Ireland offer spectacular scenery that looks even better from the sea, just check out those White Cliffs of Dover as you sail through the English Channel! Cruises to the British Isles take in ports that are prominent in the countries’ maritime history: Glasgow, Liverpool, Southampton and of course London, accessed by the port of Harwich.
Great Britain is a densely populated group of islands and individual countries: England is rolling dales and cosmopolitan cities; Wales is wild valleys and forested parks; Scotland offers snowy highlands and watery lochs (lakes); while Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have plenty of history to discover, striking coastal landmarks and a friendly population.
Because the area is so small you’re rarely more than a few hours from the sea, so most of the sights are easily accessible within short distances. You’ll get longer periods ashore than on some other cruises so you’ll be lucky enough to see the sights that make Britain and Ireland such fascinating and rewarding places to explore, rich in history, culture and natural beauty.
Scotland and her outlying islands is also a fabulous cruise destination – with so many islands strung out around the coastline they are much more easily visited on a cruise. The west coast of Scotland is a mass of islands and sea lochs where the mountains often plunge straight down into the sea. Many cruises stop off at Greenock, the gateway to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city and a vibrant cosmopolitan hub. If the hustle and bustle of Glasgow seems all too much then take a tour into the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, ideal for cycling and hiking in the fresh air and natural scenery. Sail further north along the rugged coastline passing the Western Isles and the north coast and eventually you’ll reach the Orkneys and the picture postcard capital of Kirkwall. This is wild country indeed and of scientific interest both for its geology and migrating bird life.
Most cruises to the British Isles call at the port of Southampton on the south coast. From here you’ll have no problem getting into London to see all the fantastic sights of the capital, like Buckingham Palace and the shopping on Bond Street. Travel into the rolling countryside of the Cotswolds and you can explore Shakespeare’s birthplace and picturesque villages like Bibury, or travel to Stonehenge to see the eerie ancient standing stones.
Best time to travel
If you’ve ever visited the British Isles before you’ll know that it can rain – a lot!
There’s a chance of rain any time of year though May to September are the driest months. It’s best to pack light layers and a waterproof, and perhaps your umbrella!
British food is hearty to help warm you up, so you’ll be able to try all the classics:
fish and chips, roast dinners, puddings and lots and lots of tea! London has many Michelin-starred restaurants run by famous chefs from all over the work. Many of the cities are melting pots of culture where you’ll also find Indian curries, Chinese dishes and superb Thai favourites.
There are 470 different varieties of sausage in the United Kingdom. We’d recommend you try the English version of a boerewors – it’s known as a Cumberland sausage and is made of pork and well-seasoned with pepper.
Elizabeth I was the first British monarch to have a fully-fitted flushing toilet.
Things to do
- Step over the enormous basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway
- Soar to the top of The Shard for fantastic views over London
- Navigate the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge – if you dare!
- Learn about the industrial heritage of Manchester
- Have a ‘wheely’ good time as you ride the London Eye above the River Thames
- Explore Belfast’s historic docks to learn about the history of the Titanic
- Visit the home of William Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon
- Window shop in the exclusive designer stores on Bond Street
- Try a traditional afternoon tea in the romantic villages of the Cotswolds
- Dip into the noodle bars of London’s Chinatown
- Go punting down the river through the city of Oxford and see the universities
- Watch the Changing of the Guard in front of Buckingham Palace
- Shop for artisanal jewellery in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter
- Hike around the beautiful natural parkland of the New Forest
- Keep an eye out for the famous White Cliffs of Dover