British Isles cruise ports

Here are short descriptions of the ports we visited during our recent British Isles cruise.

Southampton, EnglandPrincess cruise itinerary

The south of England boasts a dramatic coastline that encloses some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. The landscape of hills and heaths, downs and forests, valleys and dales, is without rival. Southampton serves as your gateway to the countryside – and to a wide variety of historic sites, national landmarks and charming. And of course, London is a two-hour drive by modern highway.

The United Kingdom’s premier passenger ship port, Southampton was home for many years to the great transatlantic liners of yesteryear.

St. Peter Port, Channel Island

The British isle of Guernsey lies just eight miles off the coast of France. The second largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey possesses a mild climate, breathtaking scenery and a peaceful, unspoiled ambience. All these attributes combine to make it a popular destination for British and French vacationers. Once the haunt of sea dogs and pirates, St. Peter Port is one of the prettiest harbors in Europe.

Castles and forts dot the Guernsey coastline, including German fortifications from World War II. The Channel Islands were the only part of the United Kingdom to be occupied by the Nazis.

Cork (Cobh), Ireland

Founded in the 7th century by St. Fin Barre, Cork is your gateway to romantic Ireland. Stroll down narrow country lanes or see the Lakes of Killarney. The intrepid visitor may scale the narrow passages of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. The region around Cork is also home to one of the densest concentration of prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. And, in a land where fable and fact blend to become folklore, it was near Cork that the great Tuatha De Danaan, a race with magical powers, was driven underground by the conquering Celts.

Cobh (pronounced ‘cove’) was the single most important port of emigration from Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin has experienced a renaissance. Today, this gracious and cosmopolitan city on the Liffey is one of Europe’s premier destinations. The capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is an intimate place that is easy to explore. Stroll past St. Stephen’s Green or survey the gray, stone façades of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university. The city is also remarkably well-preserved – every June 16, scholars retrace the paths of James Joyce’s characters in the novel “Ulysses,” set in Dublin on June 16, 1904.

Dublin possesses a storied history. A settlement has existed on the banks of the River Liffey for at least a millennium and a half. Succeeding waves of Gaelic, Viking, Norman and English invaders have left their mark on the city.

Dún Laoghaire gets its name from the Irish translation Fort (Dún) of Laoghaire as it was once the seat of King Laoghaire, the ancient High King of Ireland. The town is on the east coast of Ireland, about seven miles south of the capital Dublin and its focal point is the splendid harbour.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

The capital of Northern Ireland – part of the United Kingdom – Belfast has experienced a renaissance since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that promised an end to the decades-old “Troubles” between Catholics and Protestants. Stretching along both sides of the River Lagan, this graceful city of Victorian and Edwardian buildings has become a cosmopolitan tourist destination. Once a major industrial center, Belfast is also your gateway to the rich, Irish countryside of Counties Antrim and Down.

Belfast was an industrial giant in the 19th century, famed for its linen and its shipyards. Explore this exuberant city, marvel at the Giant’s Causeway or shop for superb Irish linens.

Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland

Glasgow was Scotland’s great industrial center during the 19th century. Today, the city remains the commercial and cultural capital of the Lowlands. Lying on the banks of the River Clyde, Glasgow boasts some of the finest Victorian architecture in the entire United Kingdom, including the stately City Chambers. Elegant Princes Square offers excellent shopping, and among the host of museums and galleries, the Burrell Collection features a superb treasure trove of paintings and art objects.

Kirkwall, Scotland

Kirkwall is the largest town and capital of the Orkney Islands, off the coast of northern mainland Scotland. Kirkwall’s most outstanding feature is perhaps its sandstone St. Magnus Cathedral, widely considered the finest medieval building in the north of Scotland. The original town is one of the best-preserved examples of an ancient Norse town. Other sites of historical interest in the town include the Bishop’s Palace and Earl’s Palace. Kirkwall was once a quiet place of contemplation but is now a bustling market town, a lively center for shopping and eating out.

Inverness (Invergordon), Scotland

In 1933, an enterprising editor in Inverness enlivened a slow news week with the story of an odd sighting in Loch Ness. The legend grew overnight – and today individuals still scan the dark waters of the Loch for a sight of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Legend goes back as far as the 6th century and insists that the celebrated Loch Ness Monster inhabits a cave beneath the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle. Welcome to Invergordon, your gateway to Loch Ness and that area of the Highlands known as the “Great Glen.”

Edinburgh (South Queensferry), Scotland

South Queensferry is the gateway to Edinburgh, the political, commercial and cultural heart of Scotland. Nestled between the Highlands and the Border Hills, Edinburgh is a gracious city noted for its superb skyline, its impressive collection of architecture and its beautiful parks. The streets of the elegant New Town are lined with graceful Georgian buildings, many designed by the great architect Robert Adam. Edinburgh has also exerted a tremendous cultural force on Europe and the English-speaking world. The International Festival has been one of the premier European cultural events for over half a century. Among those who have called the city home are the writers, Robert Burns, James Boswell, and Sir Walter Scott and the philosophers, Adam Smith and David Hume. To stroll the streets of Edinburgh is to experience one of the world’s great cities.

Paris/Normandy (Le Havre), France

Perhaps no other place in France holds more associations for English-speaking visitors than Normandy. The historic Allied landings on D-Day – 6 June, 1944 – live on in the memories of British and Americans alike. Nor has Le Havre forgotten the dark days of the war. The port was nearly completely destroyed during the Normandy campaign. Today, Le Havre is France’s second largest port and the gateway to Paris, “City of Light,” the Norman countryside, and the historic landing beaches.

Travelers usually head for the historic landing sites or to Paris. Yet Le Havre was designated a World Heritage Site in 2005. The Musee des Beaux Arts Andre Malraux boasts one of the finest collections of Impressionist painting in the world.

Copyright © Margaret Owen, Cruise Pro