Edinburgh's principal cruise port is Port Leith, located on Firth of Forth’s southern shore. Firth of Forth (mainland Scotland) is River Forth's estuary. The Harbour of Aberdeen is approx 99 ml (160 km) away. Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, covering total area approx 264 km2 (102 ml2) and with population around 0,5 million (metro 1,35 million). Edinburgh is also UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting international and UK tourist with its historic sights, castles, numerous entertainment and activities options, the annual Edinburgh Festival.
Port Leith (Edinburgh)
Port Leith is to the northeast of Edinburgh City, and is within city's council area. Leith is one of Edinburgh's most profitable enterprises, with annual cargo shipping capacity over 1.5 million tons.
Leith Docks became Edinburgh's port inearly 19th century. Here were built numerous facilities serving the shipbuilding and ship repair industries. During 19th century, Leith also became a major port serving Scotland's herring export trade.
Currently, Port Leith is Scotland's biggest enclosed (harbour) deepwater port. It has capability to handle vessels up to 50,000 DWT (deadweight tons). Port Leith provides easy access to major motorways in Scotland, including A1, Edinburgh by-pass, M8 and M9. It offers road and rail connections and is perfectly located for North Sea shipping operations of any kind.
Port Rosyth (Edinburgh)
An alternative cruise port for Edinburgh is Port Rosyth, but it is rarely used. Large-sized liners usually anchor near South Queensferry (opposite to Rosyth), from where their passengers are tendered ashore. Port Rosyth is located across Forth Railway Bridge, approx 35-min drive distance from Edinburgh's downtown. Rosyth is a ferry port used by Blue Star Ferries. Next photo shows South Queensferry's cruise ship anchorage area.
South Queensferry (aka "The Ferry") is a small port town located approx 10 ml (16 km) to the northwest of Edinburgh city centre. The town is between Forth Railway Bridge and Forth Road Bridge. The prefix "South" is used to distinguish it from the town "North Queensferry". Both towns are named for the established by Queen Margaret (aka Margaret of Wessex, 1045-1093) ferry service between them. The service discontinued in 1964, when the Forth Road Bridge was inaugurated.
The above photo shows Rosyth Dockyard (part of the seaport). Rosyth Dockyard is a naval dockyard owned and operated by Babcock Marine Ltd (2007-founded subsidiary of Babcock International Group / multinational corporation). Before company's privatisation in 1987, the large shipyard complex was named "Royal Naval Dockyard Rosyth" and was operated as British Government-owned and contractor-managed facility. In 1997, Babcock International purchased the shipyard. Currently, this is the shipbuilding yard for UK's newest and largest aircraft carriers of the Queen Elizabeth-class.
In 2017, the Fred Olsen ship Black Watch offered a total of 8 cruises leaving roundtrip from Rosyth. Operated in the period August 14 through October 14, the roundtrip itineraries included 7-night Norwegian Fjords, 10-night Northern European cities, 16-night Canary Islands and Madeira. Also roundtrip from Rosyth, In 2017 the company offered (for the first time ever) 2 river cruises. The itineraries were themed "French Rivers" and "German Waterways".
Highlights: Historic City & Castle, Holyrood House, Scone Palace
Leith-Edinburgh cruise terminal
Smaller-sized cruise ships to Edinburgh dock at Leith port's cruise terminal, located approx 3 ml (5 km) from downtown Edinburgh. Cruise vessels enter the port from River Forth's estuary. The dock can accommodate vessels with max LOA length 720 ft (220 m).
Port Leith is an important destination for Northern Europe's ship cruising industry. The port handles around 40 cruise vessels and 20,000 passengers annually. Leith Cruise Terminal provides good facilities for turnaround (roundthrip) and transit calls. Its central location is convenient for shore excursions and tours to Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.
- The cruise ship terminal building features a modern design and has all the necessary passenger facilities, including waiting area, phone, internet, toilets.
- More amenities are offered by the "Ocean Terminal" shopping mall, located at 5-min walking distance from the Leith cruise port terminal. The nall has shops, banking facilities, restaurants, cafes, car parking, and is served by Lothian Buses lines 11, 22, 34, 35, 36.
- Available at the Leith port are taxis and shuttle buses. The port's parking area is adjacent to the cruise terminal and can accommodate up to 450 vehicles (cars and tour buses).
- The closest to the cruise port airport (Edinburgh Airport) is about 30 min ride. The closest to the port railway station (Waverley) is about 15-min ride from the cruise terminal.
At Ocean Terminal is also the permanently berthed Royal Yacht Britannia (officially "HMY Britannia"). This is Queen Elizabeth II's former royal yacht, operated in the period 1954-1997.
Large cruise ships dock at Newhaven (Edinburgh City's district) located between Leith and Granton. It is approx 3 km (2 ml) north of downtown Edinburgh. These liners actually anchor near Newhaven and their passengers are transported between the anchorage point and the tender pier via tender boats. This distance is approx 1,7 ml (3 km) or about 15-min ride.
At Port Rosyth, due to the lack of public transportation service, the available ways for cruise ship passengers are taxis (at the passenger / ferry terminal building) and eventually shuttle bus service provided by the cruise company.
Most cruise operators offer shuttles to Edinburgh's downtown. This service is at fee pp. The local bus operator Cramond Coaches provides an alternative shuttle service to downtown. Cramond Coaches staff will be waiting at the pier. Their buses go to Charlotte Square, from where passengers can catch the green bus (hop-on / hop-off) for the popular Edinburgh Tour. Cruise line's bus shuttle offers 25-min travel to Waterloo Place (a green bus stop).
Leith-Edinburgh tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Edinburgh castle: the castle is the most popular landmark in the city. It is two kilometers from Edinburgh cruise port. It is located on a volcanic rock’s top. The view from the highest point offers panorama of the Firth of Forth and Fife. Inside you can seethe Great Hall, the St Margaret’s Chapel and the Stone of Destiny.
- The Royal Mile: the one mile long road connects the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, both Royal Residences.
- Royal Botanic Garden: the second oldest (after Oxford’s) British botanic garden. It dates from 1670 and was originally medicinal plants garden. It is located near the Palace of Holyroodhouse and are amazing, especially in spring time.
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival: the world’s largest art festival is held for three weeks every August.
- National Museum of Scotland: located on Chambers Street. It was reopened in July 2011 after a renovation for £47 million. It houses 16 galleries and displays more than 8,000 different objects.
- Camera Obscura: spend really fun time! Located in Victorian rooftop chamber near the Edinburgh Castle’ entrance.
Leith-Edinburgh cruise port videos
Port Leith-Edinburgh cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Leith-Edinburgh, Scotland. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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The Leith-Edinburgh cruise port map is interactive. It shows the port's exact location, along with the real-time cruise ship traffic (if any) in its vicinity - today, and right now. By zooming-out you can see other cruise ship ports located near Leith-Edinburgh, Scotland.
If you lose the Leith-Edinburgh location on the map, simply reload the page (also with F5 button). This feature is integrated with the CruiseMapper's cruise ship tracker tracking the vessels' current positions at sea and in ports.
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