The Ultimate Cruise Travel Guide: United Kingdom

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Circumnavigating the United Kingdom on a cruise ship is an increasingly popular holiday choice for residents of the UK and further afield. Taking in a number of port visits throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during a round-trip cruise introduces the eclectic and often scandalous history of the island nations.

From the white cliffs of Dover to the myriad of tiny islands north of the tip of Scotland, the United Kingdom’s coastline is richly diverse, and exploration from the ocean provides a unique view of the four countries making up the UK.

Fast Facts

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Countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

Number of Port Cities: 62

Busiest Port: Southampton – 1.5million Passengers/Year

Popular Ports: Southampton, Tilbury, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Newhaven, Ballycastle, Cardiff, Isle of Skye, Shetland Islands, Harwich, Bangor

Regular Visitors: Harmony of the Seas, Queen Mary 2, P&O Britannia, Regal Princess, MSC Preziosa, MSC Splendida, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Eclipse, Caribbean Princess, Pacific Princess

Must Visit Cities

Love it or hate it, few cities in the world can match London for the sheer volume of history and number of world-famous landmarks located within the city limits. From visiting the Queen at Buckingham Palace to trawling the streets of Whitechapel to try and identify the infamous 19th century serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

The medieval old town of Edinburgh, overlooked by the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat, and embellished with charming shops, bars and restaurants, is an intoxicating mix of the old and the new. Significantly more relaxed and picturesque than England’s aforementioned capital, Edinburgh is popular with visitors looking for culture without the rush.

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The historic walled city of York continues to play a central role in England’s economy, culture and identity. The North Yorkshire city boasts battle scars from Old Norse, Roman and Norman conquests – and is still remembered for its role in the War of the Roses. Modern York is still built upon tradition with the small winding streets and gothic buildings protected by the maternal city walls.

The United Kingdom’s smallest city with a population of just 1,797, St David’s in Wales might be the size of a village, but packs plenty of punch. The resting place of Wales’ patron saint, Saint David, it was given city status in 16th century due to the impressive cathedral. This city status was removed in 1888, but reinstated in 1994 at the request of Queen Elizabeth II.

Hidden Gems

The Lake District is ever popular with holidaymakers and daytrippers, leaving some of the picturesque lakes, crags, walks and climbs littered with people. If you want a true taste of the unspoilt Lakes, Ennerdale Water is the most westerly and (arguably) the most isolated lake in the entire district. The glacial body of water makes a stunning centrepiece for a wonderful walk through the Lake District.

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Some were outraged when one of Scotland’s oldest castles, Kelburn Castle, was given a colourful makeover by graffiti artists a few years ago. The seat of the Earl of Glasgow, the castle was given its transformation in 2007 when Lord Glasgow listened to the advice from his four children to invite four artists from Brazil to paint the castle – creating an incredibly unique spectacle.

One mile to the south east of Land’s End in Cornwall is the beach of Nanjizal, one of the UK’s most remote beaches. The rugged beach has been shaped into an arch thanks to its position, exposed to the Song of the Sea. If beach combing is not your passion, Nanjizal is also a notable bird-watching location.

castlewellan uk travel guide

Castlewellan Forest Park in Co. Down, Northern Ireland is home to one of the world’s largest permanent hedge mazes, the Peace Maze. Representing a path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland, visitors have been trying to solve their way to the Peace Bell in the middle since the maze was planted in 2000.

We have a selection of great-value British cruise holidays to choose from – take a look at our latest deals here!

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The Ultimate Cruise Travel Guide: United Kingdom
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The Ultimate Cruise Travel Guide: United Kingdom
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Exploring the UK by cruise ship is increasingly popular with travellers - in this destination guide we take a look at the best that the UK has to offer.
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About Author

Belinda Goodman

Cruise 1st veteran Belinda has a passion for travel, especially cruising. She has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years, including a 3-year stint working on cruise ships as a croupier. Belinda regularly writes for the Cruise 1st blog, with a focus on company news and advice for first-time cruise travellers.

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