Here is the list of big UK cruise ports of departure. Reading it is a must if you're planning a cruise from UK ports only. Share your time with us to find out what are the major UK cruise ship ports and what are their regular best "clients".
UK Cruise Ports
The Southampton cruise port (in England, the largest city in Hampshire, located 75 mi (120 km) southeast of London) is the largest UK cruise port, with the best UK cruise lines ships sailing from there. Ship cruise deals from Southampton generally pertain to itineraries in the Baltic Sea, like the so-called "Baltic Capitals Tours" to Scandinavia and Russia, UK Fjords cruises to Norway, Mediterranean Sea cruises, trips to the Canary Islands.
Most of the Transatlantic crossings also start here - the regular crossings by the Cunard's Queen Mary cruise liner to New York, also 3-4 sailings per year by some of the P&O ships (to Canada and Caribbean), and several relocation cruises in Fall (usually to Florida). The list with best Around the World cruise ships from Southampton includes all P&O world cruise liners and the Cunard ships. Port Southampton is operated by ABP-Associated British Ports (abports.co.uk).
Port Dover (England)
Dover cruise port is the second largest in the UK (2 passengers terminals, over 200,000 passengers a year), with modern facilities located on the western docks. Terminal 1 is the old Marine Railway Station, the new Terminal 2 is farther down the pier. As a pre-cruise option, you can take the shuttle bus to see the city center or the Dover Castle above the "White Cliffs of Dover". For more info - doverport.co.uk (port's website) and cityofdover.com (official city website).
Port Leith (Edinburgh Scotland)
The Edinburg cruise port is the Port of Leith (located three miles from the city center) and one of the largest in Scotland. The majority of UK cruise ships from Dover sail to Scandinavia and Northern Europe (to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Germany), smaller lines offer tours of the British Isles with one-way and round-trip cruises from Scotland to Ireland and England.
Port Greenock (Glasgow Scotland)
The Greenock (port of Glasgow) is the old Greenock's Ocean Terminal (a container ship terminal, operated by Clydeport). Nowadays, the Greenock port is one of the best cruise ports of call in Scotland, constantly increasing the number of passenger ships calling on it. The port of Greenock is visited mostly by big UK cruise lines ships, like those of Cunard, P&O, and Princess, with over 40 passenger ships booked to call there per year. The list with famous small UK cruise companies with ships visiting Greenock includes Fred Olsen and Hebridean.
Port Harwich (England)
The Harwich cruise ship port (Essex) is England's main car-cruise-ferry port for the North Sea. Harwich (located 70 mi (130 km) northeast of London) is also a historical place, famous with its lighthouse (now a maritime museum) and the Redoubt Fort. Cruise lines ships from Harwich - mostly from the fleets of Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Holland America lines.
Port Hull (England)
The Hull cruise port is the only one on the Humber River, offering mostly short and mini cruises from the UK to Holland (Amsterdam, Rotterdam), to Finland (Helsinki) or to Belgium (Bruges).
Port Liverpool (England)
The Liverpool cruise port (located close to the Pier Head) is also one of the best Europe cruise ports of call for short UK city cruise breaks. The majority of departures from Liverpool offer Around Britain cruise tours of British Isles, UK cruise travel deals to the Canaries, Transatlantic crossings. The Liverpool cruise port offers disembarkation right downtown - a unique feature, common only to few other places in the world. Liverpool highlights - the Beatles, numerous museums and art galleries, and year-round cultural events. For more travel info - VisitLiverpool.com
Portsmouth and Newcastle (Port of Tyne) England
The Newcastle cruise port (Port of Tyne) is the only passenger ship port between Harwich and Leith. Itineraries - Baltic Sea cruises to Scandinavia.
Port Portsmouth (England, the 2nd largest city in Hampshire, located 19 mi (30 km) southeast of Southampton) handles ferries, cruise liners, and cargo ships. This embarkation/disembarkation point is easily accessible by train and car (the Southampton airport is close to it). The cruise terminal is located 1 mile north of the city. The list of UK cruise lines leaving from Portsmouth includes Fred Olsen, Voyages of Discovery, Hapag Lloyd, Hurtigruten and Lindblad Expeditions. City highlights - the Historic Dockyard (the oldest dry dock still in use), museums (like D-Day and Royal Marines), the Southsea Castle, an Aquarium, the Portsmouth Cathedral, the Portchester Castle.
Port Tilbury-London (England)
The London-Tilbury cruise port (England, Essex, Thurrock) is a modern purpose-built deep-water port and the cruise port of London. London Cruise Terminal (at the head of the River Thames) serves passengers and big cruise liners from all over the world. The Tilbury cruise departures offer mostly Northern European (Baltic Sea) destinations. The very presence of the name London here is sufficient to mark the Tilbury port as one of the most preferable UK ports of departure. Tilbury also handles ferries, bulk cargo ships, cars-container ships as one of the UK's 3 major container ports.
UK Cruise Lines
Get to know what are the UK cruise companies selling deals from the UK, accepting the UK's £, serving the ceremonial Afternoon Tea, and employing staff that speaks the (proper) British English. This survey (integrated with our cruise companies list) also shows a list of ships operating predominantly on the UK cruising market.
Ambassador Cruise Line
Ambassador Cruise Line (line review) is based in Purfleet-on-Thames (Essex England), with principal homeport being Tilbury-London.
Note: At this link you can read about the 2020-bankrupted CMV-Cruise & Maritime Voyages. CMV was an independent company specializing in brokering charters of cruise ships, also offering a range of management and operational services to charterers and owners, as well as to other important players in the global cruising industry. CMV's homeports were Leith-Edinburgh, Avonmouth-Bristol, Greenock-Glasgow, Hull, Harwich, Liverpool, Newcastle, Tilbury. CMV carried thousands of passengers and 95% of its customers rated the experience either good or excellent.
Cunard Line (line review) is among the world's most famous ocean liners. It is recognized in ocean travel with British heritage and as part of Carnival Corporation. Carnival also owns AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line. These member lines have a commitment to value and quality, thus offering cruises that attract different budgets and lifestyles and sail to the world's most thrilling destinations.
Fred Olsen Line
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (founded in 1848, line review) is part of the Fred. Olsen Group, UK-based, Norwegian-owned, with four cruise ships. The headquarters of the company are in Ipswich, Suffolk- United Kingdom. In 1848 the three Olsen brothers bought their first ships, thus beginning an international shipping company. The company is 5th generation of Olsen’s, operating various companies within cruise shipping trade, as well as aviation, shipbuilding, offshore industries. The group has business interests in estate management, luxury hotel sector, property development.
Thomson UK/Marella Cruises
Thomson / Marella Cruises (line review) UK-based TUI brand company, part of TUI Travel PLC) originally was named "Thomson Tour Operations" (founded 1965) part of Thomson Travel Group. Thomson UK headquarters are in Luton, England. Thomson Travel Group was acquired by Preussag AG in 2000- a transportation and industrial conglomerate. In 2002, Preussag was received its new name- TUI AG, and Thomson Travel was renamed TUI UK. Thomson Holidays, Thomson Lakes and Thomson Ski, together with Britannia Airways are members/brands/subsidiaries of the new group, which is part of TUI Travel PLC.
Swan Hellenic is a British cruise line which is specialized in tours of cultural or historical interest. The company is targeting the upper end of the cruising market. Swan Hellenic headquarters are in Burgess Hill, United Kingdom. In 1950s Swan travel agency organized a tour for interested in Greece antiquities visitors. Thus was developed a full cruises program, featuring well-known writers, academics, clergymen, as guest lecturers on board ship or onsite.
Big-ship brands with roundtrip departures from the UK are RCI-Royal Caribbean, NCL Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess, MSC.
By annual passenger traffic (statistical data 2019), the Caribbean's top-10 largest airports are:
- Luis Munoz Marin Airport/aka Isla Verde (San Juan Puerto Rico) with ~9,5 million pax
- Punta Cana Airport (Punta Cana Dominican Republic/La Romana) with ~7,2 million pax
- Jose Marti Airport (Havana Cuba) with 5,7+ million pax
- Sangster Airport (Montego Bay Jamaica) with ~4,8 million pax
- Lynden Pindling Airport (Nassau Bahamas) with ~4,1 million pax
- Las Americas Airport (Santo Domingo Dominicana) with ~4 million pax
- Piarco Airport (Port-of-Spain Trinidad) with 2,8+ million pax
- Queen Beatrix Airport (Oranjestad Aruba) with 2,5+ million pax
- Pointe-a-Pitre Airport (Pointe-a-Pitre Guadeloupe) with ~2,5 million pax
- Grantley Adams Airport (Bridgetown Barbados) with ~2,3 million pax
This explains why these port cities are used as seasonal turnaround ports for homeporting (roundtrip itineraries) by many major cruise companies with ship deployments in the Caribbean. The UK-based brands operate with fly-cruise deals mainly with roundtrip flights from Southampton to Barbados and Guadeloupe.