Just hours from London, Wales retains a character distinctive from the rest of Britain and has always been a popular countryside escape with its rolling hills and valleys, majestic mountains and sandy coasts.
Cruises stop at 6 long-established ports in Wales, including Holyhead on the island of Anglesey in North Wales, Fishguard and Milford Haven in rural Pembrokeshire and Cardiff, Newport and Swansea on the Bristol Channel.
Each region has its unique charms, whether you're interested in visiting traditional villages and hearing the Welsh language or you're drawn to the cultural attractions and shopping opportunities of the big cities.
- Currency - like the rest of the United Kingdom, Wales uses 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. Most international credit cards are accepted and foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks.
- Population - Wales is the least populous country in Great Britain with 3.1 million inhabitants. In the most recent census from 2011, 2.2 million residents of Wales were born in the country.
- Language - English is the most commonly spoken language in Wales, but the Welsh language still has a strong presence, especially in western and northern regions where it is the first language for many people. Street signs and public notices commonly feature both languages.
- Time Zone - Wales occupies the same time zone as the rest of the British Isles, observing UTC±0 (or Greenwich Mean Time) during the winter months and UTC+1 (or British Summer Time) in the summer.
- Weather - Wales' west coast receives more hours of sun per year than anywhere else in Britain. Average temperatures range from 20 degrees Celsius in the summer (July and August) to 6 degrees Celsius and lower in the winter months. The most rainfall occurs between October and January.
Did you know..?
Wales has more castles per square mile than any other place in the world. Many of its castles have been very well preserved and are popular spots on the tourist trail, including Caerphilly Castle in the South Wales Valleys and Laugharne Castle in Carmarthenshire, which provided inspiration to the poet Dylan Thomas.
Who goes there?
Destinations in Wales are included on many cruise itineraries of the British Isles and Europe. Major cruise lines stopping at Wales include Fred Olsen Lines, Silversea Cruises and Voyages of Discovery.
Holland America Line and Princess Cruises operate large cruise ships, while Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises offer luxury tours on smaller vessels.
Best time to go?
Most people visit Wales in the warmer summer months between June and August. The spring and autumn shoulder seasons of March to May and September to October still offer comfortable cruise conditions, but with a higher chance of rain.
- Cardiff - named Wales' first capital in 1955, Cardiff has a long history stretching back 6,000 years. Today, Cardiff is renowned as one of the liveliest and most cosmopolitan cities in the United Kingdom, with attractions including a grand medieval castle, Edwardian civic buildings and the 21st century Millennium Centre.
- Milford Haven - one of the world's deepest natural harbours, Milford Haven is the gateway to the Pembrokeshire countryside and the UK’s only coastal national park. Explore the ruins of 11th century Pembroke Castle, visit Britain's smallest city of St. Davids, and cruise the islands of Skomer and Skokholm in search of puffins and other wildlife.
- Swansea - the birthplace of Dylan Thomas is justifiably proud of Wales' most famous poet, whose life and works are celebrated at the Dylan Thomas Centre. The nearby village of Mumbles is steeped in Victorian seaside charm, while nature lovers shouldn't miss the Gower Peninsula’s scenic beaches and coves.
- Holyhead - the largest settlement on Wales' largest island of Anglesey, Holyhead is reputed to contain the greatest density of historical sites in the UK, from Viking tombs and medieval castles to elegant manors and more than 100 shipwrecks off the coast. The Anglesey Coastal Path circles 200 kilometres around the island.