The Beginners Guide to Great Britain’s Major Cruise Ports


Forget jetting off to commence cruises from nearby European destinations. According to recent statistics from the Passenger Shipping Association, one in four British cruisers opts to sail from a UK homeport. Given the easy access and state-of-the-art facilities it’s not hard to see why UK ports have emerged as a popular departure point for British holidaymakers. Furthermore, British ports are quickly emerging as a popular destination for lines wanting to offer their passengers an exciting itinerary of destinations. In 2013 UK ports welcomed a record 866,000 passengers, with 2014’s figures expecting to top this number and experts predicting that 2015 will be even more successful. To help you gain a better understanding of what’s on offer, we’ve put together a guide to Great Britain’s major cruise ports and what to expect when departing or arriving.


As the UK’s biggest cruise port, Southampton welcomed over 1.6 million holidaymakers in 2013. Over the past few years, it has won itself £35 million worth of cruise-related investments which have ensured it offers visiting lines state-of-the-art facilities. It currently acts as homeport to a handful of prestigious vessels including P&O’s Azura, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, Celebrity’s Celebrity Eclipse and Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. Visitors can spend the day exploring the Maritime Museum, shop up a storm at the West Quay Shopping Centre, marvel at the Stone Henge or take a daytrip to nearby Isle of Wight.


Located in the South East of England, Dover is Great Britain’s second largest port. Over the past year Fred Olsen’s Black Watch and Braemar, Princess Cruises’ Ocean Princess and Holland America’s Ryndam have all called Dover home. Thanks to its convenient Kent location the port is a popular embarkation point for Northern European cruises. Tourists flock to the majestic White Cliffs while the nearby Garden of England and Canterbury Castle make for fascinating day trips.


Thanks to its East Coast location Harwich is ideally placed for Scandinavian and Baltic cruises. It’s home to Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas and welcomes a constant flow of visiting vessels throughout the year. At just 70 miles from London, visitors can take a day trip to the bustling capital or explore the beautiful countryside.


Edinburgh’s port of Leith is located in the North East of the city and offers passengers a charming and small scale docking experience. At just two miles from Edinburgh Castle, 15 minutes from Waverley Rail Station and 30 minutes from Edinburgh Airport it’s ideally positioned for departing travellers and cruise passengers wanting to explore the city.


Located in North East England, the Port of Tyne won itself the crown of 2014 UK Port of the Year. The deep water port offers vessels top notch docking facilities and exceptional efficiency. Passengers also enjoy perks such as covered walkways, secure parking and automated baggage handling. For visiting passengers, the city of Newcastle offers a plethora of activities and attractions to suit all interests.


Nestled between London and Edinburgh, Liverpool City Council and Peel Ports have their sights set on transforming the River Mersey into a premier cruise destination. The lively city is packed full of attraction including  the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Waterfront Regional Park, wildly popular Beatles exhibition and stunning coastal landscape.

Want to take advantage of Great Britain’s state-of-the-art cruise ports? As the UK’s leading cruise package specialist, Cruise 1st has fantastic offers on itineraries departing or calling at all of the above ports. Whether you explore Liverpool’s rich maritime history, soak up Edinburgh’s historic charms or hit up Tyne’s buzzing urban scene, the company’s team of in-house cruise gurus will help you book the perfect voyage.

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Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: leo.wan


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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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