Imagine, if you will, an archipelago of more than 136 permanently inhabited islands, many thousands more isolated and undisturbed, seas teaming with whales, seals, the skies filled with birds. Imagine deserted white-sand beaches, rock formations like lunar landscapes and cities with histories stretching back a thousand years.
Think cruise, and most people’s imaginations head straight to the Caribbean. But it’s the ships sailing around the British Isles that are starting to whip up a storm among the cruising cadre. Here are the six best luxury British cruises to book for 2019.
1. Cunard’s Around the British Isles
Cruise liner royalty Cunard has been navigating the craggy British coast for over 175 years. Its signature circumnavigation of the British Isles, departing from Southampton and arriving back 13 days later, sails each August on the Vista-class giant of the seas, the Queen Victoria. Hitting many of the UK’s coastal highlights, including Guernsey, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Invergordon, Edinburgh and Newcastle, this cruise offers some of the finest views of Britain from the ocean. Topped with a ship that was recently refitted in sumptuous British style, and you have a cruise of these islands that comes close to being a classic.
Departs 11 August, 2019, from £1,319pp (0344 338 8650; cunard.co.uk).
2. Windstar’s Belles of the British Isles
Windstar is best known for their triad of sail ships, but it’s their smaller luxury liners that plough the waters of the north Atlantic. Star Breeze, frequently rated one of the best small cruise ships on the water, departs Edinburgh each September for an anti-clockwise tour of the countries of the UK and Ireland before docking 10 days later in Portsmouth.
With a passenger load and tonnage a tenth of the Cunard’s Queen Victoria, this nimble craft stops off at Ullapool, Tobermorey, Fishguard and Falmouth, along with the deeper docks of Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin and Cork. Highlights include the tours of the Northern Highlands, Pembrokeshire National Park and St Michael’s Mount. A maximum of 212 guests and all suites with ocean views makes this a ship well worth sailing.
Departs September 15, 2019, from £3,922pp (001 844 798 5825; windstar.com).
3. Lindblad Expeditions Ancient Isles
Nothing says luxury quite like the wealth of naturalists, historians, photographic instructors and guides aboard Lindblad Expedition cruises that head off to some of the more remote islands of the UK and Ireland. The ultimate expedition ship, the National Geographic Explorer, replete with chart room, library, kayaks and a remote operating vehicle capable of diving to depths of 1,000ft, departs London and skims the southern coast of England before sweeping out to the majestic west coast of Ireland and to some of the farthest flung reaches of the Outer Hebrides. Highlights include Skellig Michael, St Kilda, Lewis and the Shetlands. The cruise concludes in Bergen.
Departs May 7, 2019 or May 26, 2020, from £11,684pp (001 212 261 9000; expeditions.com).
4. Royal Scottish’s Mythical Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal
Scotland rules the roost when it comes to luxury British cruises, and the Royal Scottish flagship, the Spirit of Fortitude, demonstrates why. This tri-deck is decked out with a plush wooden interior, library and whisky lounge, is both nimble and intimate, accommodating a maximum of 12 passengers in a spacious setting.
The ship’s signature cruise glides through the great Caledonian Canal between Oban on the west coast of Scotland to Inverness on the east (or in reverse) and constitutes Britain’s best, and only, inland cruise. This six-day adventure takes you through the heart of the Scottish wilderness, under the gaze of Ben Nevis and through Britain’s largest, deepest and most mysterious lake, Loch Ness.
Departures in April, May, September and October 2019, from £2,739pp (01577 861121; theroyalscottish.com).
5. Hebridean Island Cruises’ Westering Home and Whisky Galore
The Hebridean Princess is not only the most regal ship north of the border, it also has a solid royal fan base: the Queen has twice chartered this luxurious liner that is every inch palatial. A maximum of 50 passengers are attended by 38 crew as this vessel – on this particular cruise – traverses the Scottish Highlands, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides in search of Scotland’s finest dram. The Princess calls at the distilleries of Old Pulteney, Scapa, Harris and Torabhaig – to name but a few – in what must be the most salubrious whisky tour in the country.
Departs August 5, 2019, from £5,680pp (01756 704704; hebridean.co.uk).
6. Regent Seven Sea Cruises’ Celtic Inspiration
Some landscapes need context. Regent’s 38-day tour of north west Europe will take you on a voyage right around the British Isles, Ireland and the Isle of Man, while also steaming past Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Isles.
Cruising on the 245-suite Seven Seas Navigator – a floating five star hotel replete with spa, casino, cabaret lounge and cocktail bar – will leave you ready to tackle the rugged landscape…
Source: www.telegraph.co.uk ()
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