Have you taken a British Isles Cruise? If not, you are missing out!British Isles cruises are fabulous. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the two British Isles Cruises I have taken. In the past I would have ignorantly poo hoo-ed the idea of a cruise so close to home. Then after taking a couple, I am so grateful to live near such beautiful towns and cities and to be able to easily visit them by sea.
Do note that the British Isles, refers to a group of islands in the North Atlantic situated off Continental Europe, it describes the location, rather than a country. Ireland, the country, is included in this group, however Ireland is its own sovereign state and not part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain which consists of England, Scotland and Wales, and Northern Ireland. When travel reconvenes post lockdowns, then eventually when Cruising is deemed safe to continue, do seriously consider a British Isles Cruise. In my opinion, specifically Great Britain (the largest island of the British Isles) cruising may potentially commence sooner than multi national cruising, so if it does what better way to support both the Cruise industry and British Tourism. I have heard so many times, the popular, naive question aren’t British Isles cruises full of old people? No, no they are not! They were a fabulous cruise to take back in pre covid times, now becoming even more popular , with being seen as a potential first return to cruising.My previous British Isles cruises with the British cruise company P&O Cruises have also taken in the Channel Isles & Ireland, which are technically part of the British Isles and also the Faroe Isles, which are not. The Faroe Isles are a self governing archipelago, which are part of the kingdom of Denmark, they are physically located between Iceland and Norway, so they’re easy to add on to a British Isles cruise and are absolutely gorgeous, so definitely worth a visit! I won’t discuss the Faroe Isles in this blog post. Do look out for a future Nocruisecontrol Blog post on the gorgeous Faroe Isles, coming soon!You may not find a cruise which actually circumnavigates the island, Great Britain, most will head up into the Irish Sea and up to Scotland, some may head over to the east coast of Great Britain for a port visit or two, then head back to the West side of the Island.I have embarked my British Isles cruises in Southampton ( of note not particularly close to London, which cruise lines try to tell non Brits , a good 80 or so miles away so do investigate transport options if they are not included in your fare, trains from central London are easy but can be expensive, so book well in advance, or use a coach instead for a cheaper option).
𝔾𝕦𝕖𝕣𝕟𝕤𝕖𝕪, ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕟𝕖𝕝 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕖𝕤
A common cruise stop south of the British Isles is the gorgeous Island of Guernsey. Guernsey is not technically part of the British Isles, it is actually located, with the other Channel Isles, just off the coast of Normandy, France. However as the Baliliwick of Guernsey, is a British Crown Dependency it is often included in British Isles Cruises. It is a spectacularly beautiful island to visit. I have visited Guernsey and the Channel Isles regularly since childhood, a day in St Peters Port, Guernsey’s capital, gives you a small taste of the Channel Isles, do visit for longer, it is a fabulous break for peace and quiet! Guernsey is a tender port, so if the swell is a bit high you may not be able to visit. If you are lucky, and it is safe to head ashore, do take some time to explore around St Peters Port. Explore the cobbled streets and narrow passageways in town, explore the Marinas, with fabulous little boats all bustling with activity, stroll over to Castle Cornet and admire the views. If you’ve already visited St Peter’s Port, perhaps plan to explore slightly further afield, immerse yourself in a tour taking in the military history of the island. If you’re happy to decant from a Ship to a boat, then head off and explore a neighbouring island such as Sark, for the day. I would suggest you take a trip to Sark with an organised Ship tour, if the tides interfere with ferry times, then if you’re with an organised ship tour, at least the ship will wait for you, if you’re exploring Sark solo and are delayed, you’re unlikely to have the ship wait for you.After a fabulous night at sea, possibly a welcome aboard Gala party, we then sail on to spend a day exploring another gorgeous spot.
Cobh, is a port in Ireland. It is a beautiful port, geographically within the British Isles, a popular spot for British Isles cruises to visit. Cobh is a beautiful town on an island in Cork City’s Harbour. Most people visiting Cobh may use the town as a gateway port to visit the City of Cork. Cork is the second largest City in Ireland, located in the South West of Ireland. The City is beautiful, it’s located on an island between two channels of the River Lee, full of history, architecture and fabulously friendly locals. However the real gem in a Cobh port day is the town of Cobh itself.Cobh is a beautiful little town, full of nautical history. It’s claim to fame is being the last port of call by Titanic back in 1912. (Maybe not a tragedy everyone wants to be reminded about whilst on a Cruise). Tourism in the town focuses on the maritime and emigration history of the area. You can visit the Queentowns ( Cobh’s previous name) Story in the Cobh Heritage Centre, explore the area by following the Titanic Trail walking tour. Alternatively head to Spike Island learn about its history, including how until relatively recently it was used as a Prison.In Cobh, wander the streets, immerse yourself in the town, it is quite hilly so wear some comfortable shoes, take a bottle of water and some sunscreen (if you’re lucky with the weather…there is a reason Ireland is known for its 40 shades of beautiful green) and walk… there are gorgeous little colourful houses to admire as you stroll around, fantastic shots to take of your ship, perhaps even looking down on your Ship in some higher areas of town.St Colman’s Cathedral holds a prominent position in Cobh, enjoy a walk up the hill to admire this beautiful Neo-gothic building close up, a fabulous place to pose for some photographs with your ship in the background. Occasionally if there are a few ships visiting Cork/Cobh for the day, you actually dock in the village of Ringaskiddy. Your only option here really is to take the shuttle bus to Cork for the day, or to take Ship excursion. Do look out for Pfizer on your drive in to Cork… previously famous for the erm ‘Pfizer riser’ now a more PG fame for one of the first Covid vaccines! On a bus trip to Cork from Ringaskiddy we had a hilarious Irish chap drive us the 30 minute or so journey, singing Irish folk songs all the way, one of the funniest Coach journeys I have ever taken! If you do dock in Ringaskiddy, when your ship sails out, make sure you are out on deck on the Port side and you will be able to catch a glimpse of beautiful colourful houses of Cobh, definitely photo worthy, so ensure you have your camera with you on deck or your balcony! If you are docked in Ringaskiddy, it probably means another ship is in Cobh, so you may get a chance to take some Ship photographs when you sail past too.
Onwards to the fantastic City of Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Your ship will dock in the commercial docks, it is possible to walk into the City along the River Liffey, but much safer to take the shuttle bus, as Dublin is a very busy working dock.There are so many ways to spend your day in Dublin, a city sightseeing bus might be a good start to get your bearings if you are new to the city. Alternatively you could head to Dublin Zoo, or explore the history of Guinness in the Guinness Storehouse, (including tastings and a fabulous view from Gravity, the rooftop bar) or perhaps you would rather hit the shops, then treat yourself to a drink and a bite to eat in the vibrant Temple Bar area of town. I do really suggest you research where you want to spend your day here in Dublin, as there really are so many things to do!On the sail out from Dublin, try to get onto deck, you will sail past lots of ferries. Most of which sail over from my home country of Wales. Do keep an eye out for the unusual little lighthouse, the North Bull Lighthouse. It is one of 4 lighthouses in the port of Dublin. Built back in the 1880s it is located at the end of the North Bull Seawall, it is 15m High and its light can be seen for 10 nautical miles, you’ll see this lighthouse on the port side as you leave Dublin port. I think it’s really quite cute, looks like a little house, although it is completely automated and public access is strictly forbidden, great view from passing Ships!Another common Irish port of call on a British Isles Cruise is Belfast, the fantastic Capital of Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.
𝔹𝕖𝕝𝕗𝕒𝕤𝕥, ℕ𝕠𝕣𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕟 𝕀𝕣𝕖𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕.
Beautiful Belfast! I’ve only ever been to Belfast once and was very impressed, a lovely city with friendly, welcoming people. Steeped in history, famous for its Shipbuilding and other industries. Belfast’s Harland and Wolff Shipyard built the Titanic! Infamous for ‘The Troubles. Nowadays Belfast is extremely popular with tourists, visit attractions such as Titanic Belfast or tour locations used in the very popular HBO series, Game of thrones. I have only ever watched one episode of Game of Thrones, (so it was a bit lost on me), we docked next to a huge complex where they were filming the finale episode when we were in port.If you are interested in learning about the history of Belfast, I really would suggest doing a city sightseeing style bus tour, there is so much history in Belfast, especially related to the Troubles and no short tour will explain everything to you, it will give you an overview of Belfast history and current attactions, to allow you to plan a further in depth trip!The open deck bus tour drives out to show you Stormont, the beautiful Greek Classical style building which houses Northern Irelands government. In pre covid times free tours were offered to allow people to admire the magnificent building inside , hopefully post covid, these will eventually restart.There are so many rural areas to explore beyond the City centre, your ship may host certain shore excursions to explore a bit further afield. Definitely research what you want to do with your day in Belfast to make sure you make the most of your day in port!
Our final stop in Ireland is a quieter post, a little town in Country Donegal.
Killybegs is a beautiful town in County Donegal, Ireland. It is the largest fishing port in Ireland and was certainly busy when I visited! Killybegs may be used as some guests for a way to visit Donegal Town, however If you have not visited Killybegs before I suggest you stay to explore town!I was on the only ship in town when I visited. I can not imagine more than one ship does visit at a time. I enjoyed a lovely walk along the coast into town. There were signs all over from local businesses welcoming passengers to Killybegs, which is always a lovely touch! It is always nice to feel welcomed! The local hotel put on an Irish dancing show for the passengers of the ship along with a local crafts market, a perfect place to buy friends and family little souvenirs whilst helping support a local crafts and trade.
Now onwards to Scotland! A country which forms part of the Island, Great Britain. Scotland covers around 30,000 square miles of land including around 790 islands. We shall be visiting two ports on the mainland and two islands.
I have a soft spot for Greenock. Most passengers will probably head into Glasgow either with the ship or independently by train or express bus. I lived more or less 50/50 between London and Glasgow for 5 years, when my Husband, then boyfriend lived there for 5 years, so I tend to like to stay in Greenock. If you chose to head to Glasgow, do plan your day to make the most of your trip.If you chose to stay in Greenock, you can have a more relaxing day. Do not expect to do any big shopping in Greenock, there is a shopping centre with your usual British town shops, perfect to pop into Primark or Tesco for any bits and pieces you forgot to bring with you!Otherwise a great way to spend a few hours in Greenock is to walk, always good considering you’re probably eating far more than usual on the Ship!I often enjoy a stroll along the Greenock Esplanade, it was officially opened in 1867, built with the stone excavated to build the Albert Harbour. Once you start walking, look back, spot the Estuary Control Tower, the pilots which helped your ship into port are based here! Walk along the South Bank of the River Clyde admiring the rolling hill views either side of the River. Admire the magnificent villas on the riverside, built for the then rich ship owners of the times. Whilst on the waterfront in `Greenock, check out the small naval ships seeming to sail around in circles. Opposite Greenock is the entrance of Gare Loch. This ship is protecting the entrance. Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde. It is the Royal Navy’s base in Scotland and famously known as the home of British Nuclear Submarines… sailing out you never know what could be sailing out to sea close to you!If you’re feeling you want a slightly longer stroll, look up the Greenock cut walk, a circular walk over moorland and the Greenock cut itself, an aqueduct allowing fantastic views over the Clyde.Do ensure you are out on deck or on your balcony for the sailaway from Greenock, stand on the port side and be entertained by a fabulous Pipe band! Stay around to admire the fabulous landscape views sailing away from town.Now, lets explore some Scottish Islands!
𝕂𝕚𝕣𝕜𝕨𝕒𝕝𝕝, 𝕆𝕣𝕜𝕟𝕖𝕪 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕖𝕤.
Larger ships will visit Kirkwall, the largest town in the Orkney Isles. The Orkney Isles are an Archipelago of islands which lie about 10 miles north of the North mainland Scottish coast. They consist of about 70 islands. in total, only 20 are inhabited. The island on which Kirkwall is located is called Mainland. Do pack layers, even if you’re visiting in the summer, it can be quite chilly up here.Kirkwall has a quayside on which Cruise ships are able to dock, you can then take a short walk or a short bus ride into town. Before Covid, over 100 Cruise ships a year would visit. The centre of town is full of fabulous independently owned shops, this is definitely a town to hunt for a thoughtful souvenir for your friends and family. If you’re British, you won’t even need to change any currency! Visit the Brig Larder, on Albert street, its hard to miss, inside you’ll find an extensive choice of fabulous premium Orkney products. Their gin selection was impressive! The William Shearer shop on Victoria Street is another shop to visit with a selection of lots of yummy goods for yourself or for others. When we visited there was a very handsome cat sat on the counter!If you’re looking for something unusual to do in Kirkwall, take an Orkney Trike tour! An unique, exciting way to explore. I’ve not been on one myself, my parents have, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They booked on the day, check on their website and book http://www.orkneytriketours.co.uk I did take a tour in Kirkwall, on a covered wagon called Thomasina pulled by two gorgeous horses, a lovely horse drawn tour around tour with plenty of resting spots for the hard working horses! Look out for them in front of the Cathedral.There are plenty of roads to enjoy peaceful walks around town too, you will not need to head too far out of town before you are the only people around. Keep an eye out for the fauna and flora, the butterflies in Orkney are amazing. Keep your camera handy for shots of your ship in the distance.Make sure you head out onto your balcony or the deck to watch the Local Pipeband play and march up and down the quayside whilst you sail away. The Scots definitely know how to send a Ship off! Have your camera handy.
Onward to the Shetland Isles!𝕃𝕖𝕣𝕨𝕚𝕔𝕜, 𝕊𝕙𝕖𝕥𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕀𝕤𝕝𝕖𝕤.
Lerwick is the main town and port of the Shetland Isles. The Shetland Isles are located around 120 miles off the North coast of the Scottish mainland. I’ve only visited Lerwick once and I loved it, I’d love to return.Depending on the size of your Ship, you may dock, or more likely for mid to larger size Ships you’ll drop anchor and be tendered to shore. Have that camera ready!In Lerwick I decided to walk around town, a beautiful thriving port town, there are plenty of shops to buy local produce, souvenirs for loved ones or treats for yourself. There was an abundance of fudge and chocolate shops! Delicious!Explore around Fort Charlotte, built back in the 17th Century or visit the Shetland Museum and Archives, to trace the History of the Islands. Are you a Shetland TV programme fan? Walk through town to the distinctive Lodberries which feature in the series. Carry on past the Lodberries onwards to The Knab, a coastal walk where you might come across your ship!Keep any eye out whilst on the Ship at anchor in Scotland, we spotted Military helicopters undertaking exercises nearby.Onwards to Invergordon.𝕀𝕟𝕧𝕖𝕣𝕘𝕠𝕣𝕕𝕠𝕟, 𝕊𝕔𝕠𝕥𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕.
Invergordon is a fascinating place! A small port town in the Highlands of Scotland with a history in construction of rigs for the North Sea. Most people will probably disembark the Ship to go and explore the Scottish highlands. We decided to pass on a trip having explored the Highlands previously and decided to explore a bit around Invergordon.We took a walk around the town centre, then walked along the coast beyond Saltburn, the next town along from Invergordon.The sail out from Invergordon is unique. Dozens of Rigs are laid up in Cromarty Firth, no longer in use out in the North Sea. I am not going to try to persuade you that a rig is beautiful, but against the Scottish Highland Coast line they just looks so striking. It’s a bizarre yet strangely beautiful sailaway. Ensure you head out on deck and keep your eyes peeled, as you sail along, you may spot Dolphins! This is the only place in the UK in which I have spotted Dolphins, a beautiful sight!Sadly we then set sail back to Southampton… I can not wait to embark on a British Isles cruise again. We are so lucky to have such beautiful scenery and historical places so close to, or within our own country. Hopefully it’ll be safe to travel at some point this year and we can all begin exploring again!I’ve cruised the British Isles with P&O Cruises. According to Iglucruise.com you can cruise the British Isles with the following lines, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Seabourn, Silver Seas, Royal Caribbean International, Holland America Line, Tradewind Voyages, Hurtigruten, Celebrity Cruises, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Windstar Cruises, Cunard Line, Saga Cruises. Carnival Cruise Line, Ponant, Costa Cruises, Azamara and MSC. So basically many many cruise companies covering all sorts of budgets, you’re bound to find a cruise to suite you in that vast selection.Do let me know when you are off on a British Isles Cruise, I would love to hear about where you visit and on which ship! Alternatively if you have any questions about the ports I have written about, please feel free to ask!Have a fabulous time on your future British Isles Cruise!