Cruise Ports Of Call In The British Isles
London is planning a new cruise terminal on the banks of the River Thames at Greenwich, due to open next year. The London City Cruise Port, which will accommodate mid-size ships, will be within easy reach of the UNESCO Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and The O2 venue.
Until the new terminal is open, many vessels heading off for a cruise of the British Isles leave from Southampton on England’s south coast. Take some time out to explore the Old Town before you board, with its medieval town walls, wine vaults and churches; as well as fine Georgian houses and hotels.
The town has a fascinating history as a maritime port dating back to medieval times; as an 18th Century resort town (Jane Austen holidayed there); and it was the site of many attacks up until the Second World War. The pilgrim ship The Mayflower left its shores in 1620.
Known for the Beatles, the buzzing city of Liverpool in England’s northwest has so much more to offer, with the largest collection of museums and galleries outside London, including the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the World Museum. Step aboard a Mersey Ferry to see the waterfront at its best; make a pilgrimage to Anfield, home of Liverpool FC; or visit Albert Dock’s Beatles Story for insights into the life and times of the Fab Four.
Guernsey, Channel Islands
Guernsey’s capital, St Peter Port, has been a port since Roman times, and was once home to French writer Victor Hugo. You can take a stroll through the town to the 13th Century Castle Cornet, the last Royalist stronghold of the English Civil War. Or visit the German Military Museum to discover what life was like under German occupation in World War II. But leave some time for shopping – Guernsey has duty-free status and bargains are to be had.
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The viking town of Kirkwall is the capital of the Orkney Islands, and home to a medieval cathedral and restored Stone Age village. The locals speak with a curious Scottish/Nordic accent.
Don’t miss the Highland Park Distillery, which makes delicious, peaty whiskies; learn about the German fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow (now a world-famous dive site); and pick up some knits made from North Ronaldsay wool – the sheep live on the beach and feed almost entirely on seaweed.
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
The main town on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, the fishing village of Stornoway is the gateway to Neolithic sites, Iron Age forts such as Dun Carloway broch, and ancient stone circles, such as the Callanish standing stones. You can also walk the grounds of Lews Castle, and discover the story of the famous Harris Tweed (it’s hand-woven in people’s homes).
Invergordon is in the unforgettable Highlands, a wild area of mountains, glens, lochs and rivers. You can take an excursion to Loch Ness for some monster spotting, and the ruined Urquhart Castle; as well as Cawdor Castle (of Macbeth fame) and the Culloden battlefield; and make your way to the Glenmorangie distillery for a dram or two.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Some of the biggest ships have been built at Belfast, including the Titanic. Check out The Titanic Experience, which tells the story of the ill-fated vessel through exhibitions, rides, reconstructions, artefacts and interactive features.
Also visit the contemporary arts space The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre); compare the relative merits of Irish and Scottish whiskies; or take an excursion to the World Heritage-listed Giant’s Causeway.
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