The queen of British ports, with upwards of 400 cruises each year, is one of the largest cruise ports in Northern Europe. With four main terminals - QEII, Ocean, City and Mayflower.
Cruise lines: P&O Cruises, Cunard and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines base ships here year-round, while Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have ships here during the summer. New for this summer is NCL’s Norwegian Jade. Saga Cruises also has regular departures and other sailings are offered by lines including Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and MSC Cruises.
Sailing to: mainly Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic to New York. World cruises also depart from Southampton
Dover The venerable white cliffs need little introduction.
Cruise lines: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Saga Cruises offer several departures from Dover, while others that sail from here include Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn.
Sailing to: mainly the Channel ports, Scandinavia and the Baltic, although there are one-off sailings to the Mediterranean and further afield.
London Tower BridgeSailing from the heart of London under the raised bascules of Tower Bridge and past the graceful splendour of the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich has to be one of the world’s ultimate cruise departures. Only small ships can squeeze this far up the Thames to moor at London Tower Bridge, adjacent to HMS Belfast, with passengers boarding by tender from the north side of the river close to the Tower of London.
Cruise lines: Silversea offers the most departures this summer. National Geographic Expeditions and Ponant also cruise from London Tower Bridge. Next year Azamara Club Cruises and Voyages to Antiquity will have two departures and one departure from here, respectively. Sailing to: the British Isles, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltic.
Harwich has long been one of the UK’s key deep-water ports.
Cruise lines: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, with CMV starting sailings in 2018.
Sailing to: France, Belgium and the Baltic.
Portsmouth historic naval port is Southampton’s smaller and, some would say, more interesting sister. Sailing from Portsmouth certainly provides more enticing views, punctuated by the distinctive masts of Admiral Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory. Nearby is the distinctive Mary Rose Museum, which showcases the ill-fated Tudor vessel and is one of the main attractions of the port's Historic Dockyard.
Cruise lines: Noble Caledonia offers several departures, and Ponant and Crystal Cruises also use the port. Saga Cruises is to base Saga Pearl II at the port from January to April in 2018, while CMV will make its debut at the port with four autumnal voyages in September and October 2018.
Sailing to: the Baltic, Canary Islands, around the British Isles, France, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.
Tilbury selling point is convenience to the capital.
Cruise lines: CMV bases its ships Magellan and Astoria here, while its new vessel Columbus, which joins the fleet in June, will also be based at the Essex port. In 2018, the trio will be joined by Marco Polo. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has Tilbury departures, as does Crystal Cruises and Voyages to Antiquity.
Sailing to: Northern Europe and around Britain, the Canary Islands, Amazon and Caribbean, Australia and the Arctic, Baltic and Mediterranean.
With its eminent maritime heritage and impressive waterfront, Liverpool is making a name for itself as a leading cruise destination.
Cruise lines: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines offers the most departures from here, followed by Cruise & Maritime Voyages.
Sailing to: the Canary Islands, Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords, Canada, Greenland, Azores, Indian Ocean, Iceland, Bermuda, the British Isles and Ireland.
Port of Tyne (Newcastle) This North Shields port is the gateway to not only one of the country’s most engaging cities but also the entire north-east region of England.
Cruise lines: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Cruise & Maritime Voyages. New this summer is Thomson Cruises which is offering 12 new itineraries aboard Thomson Celebration. In 2018 the line will base one of its newest ships, TUI Discovery, at the Geordie port from May, where it will spend the summer before moving to Southampton.
Sailing to: the Norwegian fjords, Spitsbergen, Sweden, Baltic, Spain, British Isles, Iberian Peninsula, Channel ports and Iceland.
This is one of four access ports to the Scottish capital, with the cruise terminal located on the north shore of the Firth of Forth. Although Rosyth is further from the city than Leith, it offers stunning views of the Forth and its magnificent road and rail bridges.
Cruise lines: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and CMV.
Sailing to: the Norwegian fjords, Scandinavia, Greenland, Scottish lochs and islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Iberian Peninsula and Canaries.
Regarded as Scotland’s flagship port, Leith is on the Firth of Forth’s southern shore and is home to the decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia. Aside from Edinburgh’s attractions, you can visit the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, with its trio of steam trains and Scotland’s largest railway museum.
Cruise lines: Windstar Cruises, Silversea, Noble Caledonia, National Geographic Expeditions, Sea Cloud Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
Sailing to: Scandinavia, Iceland, Scottish Isles, the Scilly Isles and the Baltic.
Located in the Clyde estuary, Greenock is the port for Glasgow and the gateway to Scotland’s west coast. The town is a few minutes’ walk from Greenock Ocean Terminal.
Cruise lines: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Voyages to Antiquity, Hebridean Island Cruises, CMV.
Sailing to: the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands, Scandinavia, Ireland and Iceland.