British Isles and Ireland
The British Isles includes the landmasses of Great Britain and Ireland as well as more than 6,000 smaller islands, many of which can only be visited on a cruise.
Whether you're drawn to the royal heritage of England, Scotland's Highlands and islands, the rugged landscapes of Wales or the historic towns and cities of Ireland, cruise holidays showcase the best features of these hugely influential islands as well as lesser-visited destinations.
Most cruises of the British Isles depart from London or Southampton and call at ports in modern cities and quaint harbour towns around the coast, and noteworthy islands including the Shetlands, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann.
A main drawcard of the British Isles is its rich history. From prehistoric monuments and Norman castles to royal palaces and modern engineering, the stories of the region can be discovered at world-leading museums and preserved heritage attractions.
- Currency - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use British Pound Sterling (GBP). Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50-pence (cent) and 1 and 2-pound denominations. Notes come in 5, 10, 20 and 50-pound denominations.
The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro (EUR). Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50-cent and 1 and 2-euro denominations. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500.
- Population - the British Isles are home to 68 million people, with 80 per cent living in England. The most densely populated region, Greater London has 9 million inhabitants.
- Language - English is the most widely spoken language and the official language of England, Scotland and Wales (alongside Welsh in the latter). Irish is the official language of Ireland, though English is much more widely used, especially in Northern Ireland.
- Time Zone - the UK and Ireland use Universal Coordinated Time (UTC±0), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The time zone advances 1 hour to UTC+1 between March and October for British Summer Time.
Who goes there?
Local and international cruise lines operate routes around the British Isles stopping at major ports, and combine key destinations in Britain and Ireland with cruises of Western and Northern Europe.
Major cruise lines that operate in the region include Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises, Silversea, Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery.
Best time to go?
High season for cruises of the British Isles is between late spring and early autumn, with most cruise lines operating from April to October. The colder temperatures and unpredictable weather of the winter season means few cruises operate in these months, with the exception of dedicated Christmas-themed cruises.
- Ireland - the Emerald Isle combines spectacular nature with charming cities and world-renowned cheer. Visit the cultural attractions of Dublin, Cork and Northern Ireland's Belfast and discover the island's natural beauty, from the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher to the rocky steps of the Giant's Causeway.
- Scotland - with its Highland scenery and more than 790 islands, Scotland offers the chance to escape the bustle while still being close to some of the UK's biggest cities. Historic Edinburgh and Glasgow are rich in culture, the former drawing millions of international visitors each summer to the world's biggest arts festival.
- England - most cruises of England begin at coastal ports or set off from the River Thames in the heart of Central London. Leaving the capital behind, you'll see a more laid-back and pastoral side of England, stopping off in picturesque seaside towns and off-shore favourites such as the Isles of Scilly.
- Channel Islands - many British Isles cruises include a visit to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey to experience the unique continental charms of these islands off the French coast. See why Guernsey's St. Peter Port is admired as one of the most attractive ports in Europe, and visit unspoilt Sark where the horse-drawn carriage is the primary means of transport.