Across the pond, the United Kingdom is among the best places to cruise to in 2018—partly because of a fairly favorable dollar-to-pound ratio for Americans—making now a great time to see the historic castles, serious cliffside views and hopping cities.
Our 12-night British Isles cruises are an incredible way to soak up the region’s culture, from castles and palaces that have stood for centuries to the incredible natural landscapes (and even the pubs!). Need more incentive? Royal Caribbean was named the top-rated British Isles & Western Europe cruise line for large cruise ships by travelers this year!
Here’s a peek at the adventures in store:
Scotland’s stone houses, castles and abbeys will transport you back in time. In the capital of Edinburgh, make the enchanting Edinburgh Castle your first stop. You can’t miss this place—literally—since it sits atop the towering Castle Rock near the city’s Old Town. At Stirling Castle—perched high on an extinct volcano, you can trace notable battles from the Wars of Scottish Independence, made famous in Braveheart.
Scotland is known for more than castles though, so why not get a taste of the culture with a bagpipes and whiskey tour or sip a scotch at the famous Glenmorangie Distillery founded in 1843? When your ship arrives at Inverness, see the legendary Loch Ness—the body of water said to house the mythical monster—from the Urqhart Castle ruins.
Scotch is to Scotland as Guinness is to Ireland, and you can kick off the action in Dublin by visiting the famous St. James’ Gate brewery, where the iconic stout was born in 1759. Irish history goes back even further—Dublin Castle was built more than 800 years ago, and is filled with medieval manuscripts decorated with ornate drawings.
In Cork, located in the south of Ireland, you can visit the legendary Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone—said to bestow “the gift of gab”—or see the towering gothic spires of St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral and warm up with an Irish coffee.
This region north of the Republic of Ireland has been a separate entity and a part of the U.K. ever since Ireland’s partitioning in 1921. In the capital city of Belfast, learn all about this nation (or province) and its past, present and future, which includes building the Titanic.
Outside of the city, witness the other-worldly beauty of Giant’s Causeway, an impressive place of some 40,000 interlocking ballast columns created by a volcanic fissure long ago. Legend has it, an Irish giant built this structure to cross the North Channel and fight a Scottish giant. Who won? Depends who you ask!
The port of Holyhead, Wales offers its own breathtaking landscapes, like the beautiful Snowdonia. This region was designated the first national park in Wales and houses the country’s highest mountain, Snowdon, towering over numerous waterfalls, and lakes or “llyns”.
The village of Betws-y-Coed, northeast of the park, also presents great photo opportunities; visitors can traverse stone bridges to catch a glimpse of charming cottages and the renowned Swallow Falls. Speaking of stone bridges, you can also catch the much larger Menai Suspension Bridge, an 1820’s architectural marvel, and the first to connect the island of Anglesey with mainland Wales.
The famous white cliffs in Dover, England greet approaching ships—appearing almost as icebergs reaching 350 feet above the water. And the Castle of Dover (one of the best-preserved in the world) sits atop them. You can journey through this extensive fortress that dates back to medieval times and was built on Roman ruins—including eerie defense tunnels.
Another world-renowned structure, Canterbury Cathedral in nearby Kent was the center of Christianity in early medieval England and boasts ornate pillars, gorgeous stained-glass windows and UNESCO World Heritage status. If you have a full day in Dover, visit the lavish Leeds Castle—once the residence of King Henry VIII.
Last but not least, the Channel Island of Guernsey to the south of England is a Crown Dependency (meaning a self-governing possession of the Crown) offering travelers up-close experiences with nature. Guernsey is most famous for its cows, which produce some of the creamiest, golden-colored milk. Taste it for yourself at Meadow Court Farm, as you tour hundreds of green acres where herds graze (and don’t forget to sample their famous cheeses.)
You can also head to the smallest of the three main Channel Islands, the nearby and car-free Sark. To get around, you can bike along the narrow cliffs, with water on either side of you.
With something for every traveler, a cruise to the British Isles lets you easily tour this incredible part of the world. Head here to plan your next vacation!