17 March 2021 by David Ward
While we might have missed those far-flung corners of the world over the past 12 months, it's also been a reminder that there’s much beauty and intrigue right on our doorstep, waiting to be explored. Following government confirmation that domestic travel will be possible again from 17th May, now is the perfect time to book a luxury cruise, taking in the UK and Ireland’s spectacular islands and coasts. What’s more, with many cruise lines repositioning ships to UK waters, the choice of sailings is not only the most comprehensive we’ve seen, but also looks set to continue to grow.
To help you plan, we’ve picked out some of our favourite cruise lines and their top itineraries for this year and next, each a spectacular showcase for the history, culture, landscapes and wildlife of our precious island home.
Best known for their adventure-packed itineraries along the coast of Norway, Hurtigruten have turned their attention to our own picturesque shores with a programme of spectacular UK voyages.
Our pick of the bunch is their Remote Islands, Natural Wonders & a Diverse Coastline itinerary, which takes in everything from the World Heritage wonders of faraway St Kilda to Stornoway’s Viking heritage to the glorious beaches of the Scilly Isles. It’s all enjoyed aboard the newly refurbished MS Maud, where stylish accommodation and state-of-the-art facilities, including an onboard science centre, will ensure a comfortable and memorable voyage.
Another superb Hurtigruten option is their Island Hopping in the Hebrides itinerary aboard MS Spitsbergen. This is a chance to explore some of the most pristine waters on Earth, seeking out tiny island and hidden lochs far off the beaten track.
Ceann Hulavig, Stornoway
Hebridean Island Cruises
Definitely another one to consider if Scotland’s on your wish-list, Hebridean Island Cruises offers a range of voyages between four and nine nights, each designed to showcase the very best of its islands and highlands. Our top pick? On the Trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie, which takes in northwest Scotland’s wild and wonderful remotes aboard their boutique luxury ship, Hebridean Princess.
Not only is it a chance to explore the likes of Raasay island and Loch Boisadal, but you’ll also sail in boutique luxury fit for royalty (Queen Elizabeth II has chartered her twice), complete with Scottish-inspired dining, champagne receptions and some particularly lavish afternoon teas.
Another interesting option is Hebridean’s Clyde Castles and Stately Homes, a weeklong sailing around the Firth of Clyde, the islands of Arran and Bute and up into the Highland lochs of Striven and Goil. While many cruises take you far and wide, this is a rare chance to focus on a localised region and discover it in depth. Alternatively, for those short on time, a similar four-night programme, Argyll Escape, is planned in for 2022. Contact our specialists for details.
For something completely different, Tradewind Voyages are heading to UK waters for a collection of ‘taster sailings', taking in everywhere from the northwest’s maritime cities to the islands of Scotland. Available for this summer only, it’s a unique chance to explore our coastlines from aboard the world’s largest square-rigged sailing vessel, using the power of the wind and currents, where possible.
Our ones to watch include an introduction to England’s south coast, including a visit to the Isle of Wight, timed to coincide with Cowes Week, and a six-night sailing between the islands, castles and distilleries of Scotland’s beautiful west coast.
Looking further ahead, we can’t wait to welcome expedition cruise pioneers, Swan Hellenic, to the UK in 2022. Swapping the likes of the Russian Far East and Antarctica for the myriad pleasures of bonnie Scotland, our top-pick sailing takes in a spectacular array of ports, from fair Dublin to Lindisfarne via Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast, remote St Kilda, Stornoway, Lerwick and Leith.
Expect delicious dining, enrichment lectures and photography workshops from onboard experts and all the other creature comforts that their brand-new ship, SH Vega, provides.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Stepping up the luxury, Regent Seven Seas cruises have laid down the marker for six-star UK cruises, with a fabulous range of itineraries including two 2022 standouts – Regal Lands and Historic Castles and Breathtaking Irish Landscapes, both on the stunning Seven Seas Splendor.
Along the way, you can look forward to a fully inclusive programme of expert-led shore excursions, taking in ancient sites, cultural landmarks and an abundance of iconic wildlife. Then, back onboard, there’s everything from included fine dining and free-flowing drinks to pre-cruise hotel stays and butler service in selected suites.
Looking to travel sooner? The 2021 version – Historic Isles – sets sail on 11th September. Just ask our specialist for details.
Also flying the luxury flag is our last recommendation, Silversea – a longstanding Wexas favourite. Their September 2021 offering is a spectacular circumnavigation aboard Silver Spirit, combining Silversea’s signature brand of ultra-luxury – fine dining, butler service and a raft of expert-led excursions and activities – with visits to a wide range of exciting and intriguing ports. Expect everything from historic castle tours to distillery visits and guided national park hikes.
Silver Wind departing from Tower Bridge
For more information on any of the cruises mentioned above, simply call our expert cruise specialists. Their unmatched experience of the cruise industry means you’ll receive only the best and most up-to-date advice when planning and booking your UK cruise holiday.