Holidaying at home doesn’t mean you need to miss out on visiting some of the world’s most stunning locations. On the contrary, the UK is jam packed with stunning scenery, picturesque ports and villages and historical landmarks that date back centuries. If you’re interested in making the most of the time you have away, choosing a cruise for your next UK holiday may be just the thing. To help plan your next trip, we share our top five ports to visit on a UK cruise staycation.

Orkney, Scotland

Scotland is, in itself, one of the world’s most beautiful countries, with skyscraping mountains, flowing lochs and lush flora and fauna. But add the Orkney Islands into the mix and you’ll experience a whole different level of beauty and serenity.

Laying just north of the Scottish mainland, Orkney consists of a chain of 70 islands, some inhabited only by the different species of seabird that are native to the area. Visiting the Orkney Islands on a UK cruise staycation is really the most magnificent way to experience them in all of their beauty, with cascading cliffs reaching down into the sweeping waves below, licking at the beautiful golden sandy coastlines. As well as the picturesque scenery that awaits you, your UK cruise to Orkney will take you back to a time where the Vikings influenced the area and as you meet the locals, you’ll find this a prominent feature in their slightly Scandinavian accent. 

Our recommended cruise to Orkney

Discover the Orkney Islands on a 12-night Princess cruise around the British Isles. Explore some of Europe’s most concentrated prehistoric sites including the 5,000 year old Neolithic Skara Brae and the eerie Ring of Brodgar stones while ashore in Kirkwell. Learn about the Island’s rich Nordic history and visit the 12th century St. Magnus Castle or taste some local Orkney whisky at the Highland Park distillery. This circumnavigation cruise of the UK also visits Cork and Dublin in Ireland and Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland as well as a stop in Guernsey.

Highlights of Orkney

Find out more about Princess’s 12-night British Isles cruise with Orkney


Belfast, Northern Ireland 

Discover rich Celtic history combined with breath taking scenery and a jolly good craic in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast. As well as the vibrant green landscapes that invite peace and tranquility, Belfast is perfectly positioned to discover Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway and is best experienced on a Causeway Coastal Route walk, an easy adventure to enjoy when arriving in Belfast on a UK cruise staycation

For those interested in maritime history, a British Isle cruise to Belfast will also allow you to explore HMS Caroline, a rare survivor of WWI’s Battle of Jutland and SS Nomadic, a tender ship for RMS Titanic and today’s only remaining White Star Line vessel. Due to the city’s strong connection with the Titanic, prepare to visit some of the largest memorials and greatest visitor experiences around. Learn about Titanic from concept to creation, right through to the events that made her the most memorable passenger vessel of all time at the Titanic Experience. Pay homage to those who perished at the Titanic Memorial Garden and walk along the historical slipways that launched the ship back in 1912.

Our recommended cruise to Belfast

Explore the bustling city of Belfast on a 5-night scenic British Isles cruise with Fred. Olsen. Departing from Liverpool, you’ll spend a night at sea before arriving in Belfast where you can head ashore and experience some of the highlights the city has to offer. Take a walk around the stylish and lively city centre before heading to the old Harland and Wolff shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built and launched. Pay a visit to the Belfast City Hall and walk along the Causeway Coastal Route, culminating at Giant’s Causeway. 

Highlights of Belfast

Find out more about Fred. Olsen’s Touring Scenic British Isles cruise

St. Peter’s Port, Guernsey 

One of the Channel Islands, Guernsey has a rich history and featured heavily during World War II when it was taken over by German militants in 1940 and occupied for the remainder of the war. Discover ancient ruins dating back to the Neolithic period and visit castles older than the Tower of London. As well as fascinating history, you’ll enjoy relaxing strolls along the golden sands, witness mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets and wander through lush gardens and landscapes. 

Approaching the island on a UK cruise enables you to really marvel at Guernsey’s beauty, with Cornet Castle standing prominent as you enter historical St. Peter’s Port. This 13th century fortress has been protecting ships at anchor since it was built and is a staunch reminder of what the island has experienced throughout history. While visiting St. Peter’s Port during a UK staycation, you can learn about the island’s military and naval history in Cornet Castle’s five museums and visit Hauteville House, home to French writer Victor Hugo. For keen horticulturalists, no trip to Guernsey would be complete without a visit to the sweet smelling orchid fields when the flowers are in bloom. 

Our recommended cruise to St. Peter’s Port

Step on board MSC’s Magnifica for a 2-night cruise from Southampton to St. Peter’s Port. After a night at sea, you’ll arrive in port with plenty of time to enjoy the very best highlights that the island has to offer. Visit Cornet Castle to learn about the island’s maritime history, enjoy some time walking along the stunning coastal cliff paths and head to the Guernsey Diamond Museum for a special souvenir.

Highlights of St. Peter’s Port

Find out more about MSC’s 2-night cruise to St. Peter’s Port

St. Mary’s, Isle of Scilly (TWV Rounding the South West Peninsula)

The largest and most heavily populated island in the Isle of Scilly (just 1,800), St. Mary’s sits in the centre of this archipelago of islands around 45km from the southwest coast of Cornwall. Lined with rustic beaches and private coves, St. Mary’s is a popular destination for a UK staycation thanks to its balmy climate and stunning scenery. Visit Hugh Town, the central hub of the island and home to a number of shops, pubs and restaurants, and spend some time perusing the art galleries in Porthloo and Porthmellon.

Discover the island's heritage on a walk along the Garrison Wall and visit the ancient settlement of Halangy Down or one of the eerie Iron Age burial chambers in Bant’s Carn. St. Mary’s is also popular for its luscious landscapes, with wild coastal paths that snake around the edge of the island and allow visitors to revel at the picturesque surroundings out to sea and across land. Approaching the island on a cruise is an ideal way to really take in St. Mary’s in all her wondrous glory.

Our recommended cruise to St. Mary’s

Sail from Liverpool on a 10-night cruise Rounding the South West Peninsula with Trade Wind Voyages, on board her brand new UK only square-rigged sailing vessel, ‘Golden Horizon’ -  the perfect way to enjoy a staycation at sea. You’ll head into St. Mary’s on day six of your UK cruise, having docked at Holyhead, Fishguard and Ilfracombe, and spend a day discovering the island. Wander along the coastal path, shop in Hugh Town, grab a drink in the Dungeon Bar at the Star Castle Hotel and soak up the sun on Porthcressa Beach before heading back on board for the remainder of your British Isles cruise

Highlights of St. Mary's

Find out more about Trade Wind Voyage’s 10-night cruise to St. Mary’s


Rich in maritime history and a bustling shopping scene, Portsmouth is one of England’s south coast gems. Famous for its Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth boasts an incredible collection of prominent naval heritage, and is home to HMS Victory, the Royal Navy flagship skippered by Lord Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. You’ll also step back in time at the Mary Rose exhibition, learn about the history of the Royal Navy and can head across the water to Gosport to visit the Royal Navy Submarine museum. The Dockyard is great for kids too, with lots of fun activities taking place daily in the ‘Action Station’s’ building.

For shopping and nightlife, head to Gunwharf Quays, a short walk from the port. This outdoor shopping centre has over 100 retail outlets and a number of popular restaurants all based below the Spinnaker Tower. Heading into Portsmouth on a cruise of the British Isles, this colossal tower stands proudly over you as you approach, passing Royal Navy Ships such as the newly commissioned HMS Queens Elizabeth aircraft carrier. Just outside the main town, visit Southsea Castle or if time allows, you can hire some bikes and head off for a cycle along Solent Way.

Our recommended cruise to Portsmouth

Explore Portsmouth before you depart on 4-day Historic Ports of the English Channel and Irish Sea cruise with Hurtigruten. Arrive in Portsmouth a day before your cruise departs to start your UK staycation early and discover the city through day and night. During the day, visit the Historic Dockyard, venture up the Spinnaker Tower and shop until you drop at Gunwharf Quays. At night, wander through the cobbled streets of the Old Town and enjoy a meal in one of the area’s traditional pubs before you set sail on your cruise staycation. 

Highlights of Portsmouth

Find out more about Hurtigruten’s 4-day cruise from Portsmouth

Find out more 

If you’d like to find out more about the UK cruises we offer, take a look around our website or call our knowledgeable team on 01737 646412.