The Beauty of the British Isles - UK’s best cruise ports

UK’s best cruise ports

The Beauty of the British Isles

The Beauty of the British Isles

Posted by Stefan DP – Last Updated on December 23, 2023

Let’s have a Look at some of the UK’s best cruise ports.

A cruise around the wonderful British Isles is one filled with unique charm and real Great British experiences.

In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the most popular cruise ports in the UK for embarkation and in-transit cruise passengers.

There’s so much more to a British Isles cruise than just one or two interesting ports, every stop can fill you with adventure, history and a look at ancient cultures and traditions.

Read also: Best Hotels near Southampton Cruise Port


Cruise ship in port of Southampton
Port of Southampton

As the busiest cruise port in the UK and a major embarkation port for thousands of passengers every year, it felt only right that we start off with a visit to Southampton.

It was from here that the RMS Titanic departed on her fateful maiden voyage and the city is steeped in maritime traditions and customs.

Southampton has had a cash injection in recent years and there’s now more to enjoy in the city than ever before, including West Quay shopping centre, numerous restaurants, bars and cafes, and just across the Solent in Hythe, the longest-operating public pier railway in the world.

You may also be tempted to spend the day in London, which is easily doable from Southampton. There’s a regular daily service from Southampton Central to London Waterloo that takes approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Southampton being a major embarkation and disembarkation port naturally offers a wide variety of hotels and these are some of our favourites:

These are some of the closest hotels to the docks, within walking distance in some cases, but they do fill up quickly, so it’s always recommended to book well in advance of your cruise.


Edinburgh Old Town in Scotland
Edinburgh Old Town

The port of Rosyth is the gateway for day visits to Edinburgh. Some ships do embark guests at this port, but it is primarily an in-transit stop and one that will leave you wanting so much more.

One day isn’t enough time to see and do everything that Edinburgh has to offer, so plan your time here wisely. Edinburgh Castle is an absolute must, as well as a walk along The Royal Mile.

You may not know this, but Edinburgh has been the Scottish capital since 1437 and it was inscripted into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1995 and the second you step foot inside the city you’ll see why. The history to be found here is incredible, both above and below street level.

There are also several FREE options to enjoy in the city, including St Giles’ Cathedral, Museum of Edinburgh and National Museum of Scotland.

Newcastle upon-Tyne

Newcastle Port of Tyne

Port of Tyne is your gateway to the northern city of Newcastle and the surrounding areas of Northumberland. There’s usually a shuttle bus service offered for in-transit guests that will take you to the local shopping outlet or into the city centre.

If you’re embarking here, why not arrive the day before and explore some of the stunning north-east and its coastline. Just an hour from the port will bring you to Seashouses and a mile from there takes you to Bamburgh, home to one of the most impressive and historical castles in England.

Bamburgh Castle in England
Bamburgh Castle

You can also enjoy stately homes and gardens, including Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Gardens. Drive up to Berwick upon-Tweed which sits just 2 miles south of the Scottish border. If you’d rather explore your immediate area, then you’re just a short drive or Metro ride away from the likes of Whitley Bay, Tynemouth and Cullercoats which is the heart of the north-east coastline.

If you venture into Newcastle city centre, be sure to check out the Grainger Market, which has been in operation for almost 200 years. There are some incredible street food options to enjoy here.

Of the hotels listed below, all within easy reach of Newcastle cruise port, only the Premier Inn North Shields Ferry Terminal is within walking distance and we would not recommend booking a hotel in South Shields the evening before your cruise simply because of the potential to experience travel disruption:


Jersey Channel Islands

Situated in the Channel Islands and always a popular addition to British Isles itineraries is the small island of Jersey, where your ship will tender you ashore and into the parish of St Helier.

Jersey is always an in-transit port and in the summer-months visits here increase dramatically – there’s usually always a cruise ship on the horizon. The War Tunnels are one of the most popular historical sites to visit on the island, but if time allows, you should also visit Elizabeth Castle and the Channel Island Military Museum.

If you’d like more of a guided tour, consider taking the Le Petit Train service, which runs frequently throughout the day from Liberation Square.

The train offers live commentary and it only takes around 30 minutes to get from St Helier to St Aubin. It’s a slightly more exciting way to see some of the island.


Liverpool UK waterfront buildings

Voted the European Capital of Culture in 2008, Liverpool is one of those city’s that has quite literally everything to offer – one day is just not enough.

Whether you’re visiting as an in-transit passenger or embarking in this iconic city, you’ll be faced with a never-ending list of exciting things to do, see and explore. For fans of The Beatles, The Beatles Story Exhibition is an absolute must for you, and don’t forget to also stop at Penny Lane and the Cavern Club.

For those interested in maritime history, a walk along Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage waterfront is just for you. This area extends from Albert Dock, through the Pier Head and up to Stanley Dock.

Albert Dock is also where you’ll find Liverpool’s Maritime Museum, which is free to enjoy. You could always end your time in the city with a crossing on the world-famous Mersey ferry.

Liverpool is another busy embarkation port, so there’s no shortage of hotel options available and these are some of our favourites:


Lighthouse in Portland England
Portland Lighthouse

The small island of Portland sits on England’s south coast and is connected to the mainland by Chesil Beach, in the county of Dorset. It’s the most southern point of what is known as the ‘Jurassic Coast’.

The Jurassic Coast stretches from Exmouth in Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset and was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2001. More than 185 million years of geological history can be found here, and this is one of the main reasons many people visit.

The area provides incredibly dramatic scenery and cliff faces with hundreds of fossilised creatures. In fact, fossil hunting is often a popular shore excursion choice. It’s a naturally beautiful and hugely intriguing part of the UK and the main focus is on outdoor exploration.

Beaches such as Lyme Regis are frequented by locals and tourists and each one offers its own species of ammonite. The area around Lulwoth Cove contains an ancient submerged fossil forest.


White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover

Dover is another of the UK’s main embarkation and disembarkation ports and is famous for its White Cliffs. One of the biggest attractions here is without doubt Dover Castle, a medieval castle founded in the 11th century.

A full day is ample time to visit here and enjoy everything on offer, including the more recent War Tunnels. It’s packed full of history and is as engaging for adults as it is children.

Many people will spend a short amount of time in Dover itself and if you’re visiting as an in-transit passenger, we would highly recommend you spend your time here at Dover Castle.

Dover Castle in England
Dover Castle

If you’re arriving pre-cruise, you always have the option of heading into London by train, some journeys take as little as 1 hour and 5 minutes and run frequently throughout the day.

Other popular places of interest include Canterbury Cathedral, the gardens at Goodnestone Park and the Roman Painted House.

There are numerous hotel options available in Dover and many of them offer great views of the harbour mouth, so you can watch the ships and ferries come and go before you join your own. These are some of the most popular ones available and they are all just a short taxi ride from the port:

(Latest updated December 23rd 2023)

Please contact us if any information is incorrect or not up-to-date.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you click through and make a reservation.

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