London, England, UK, British Isles, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
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Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament iStock.com / IR_Stone
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland, British Isles
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Cliffs of Moher iStock.com / Voyagerix
Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland, British Isles
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Calton Hill in Edinburgh iStock.com / Leonid Andronov
Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, British Isles
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Stonehenge iStock.com / vencavolrab
Full English Breakfast
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Full English Breakfast iStock.com / rez-art
Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland
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Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland iStock.com / Rainbow79
Edinburgh, Scotland, British Isles, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Highland Dancers
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Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo iStock.com / domhnall20

The British Isles

Scotland, British Isles, UK, Fresh Scottish Oysters Fresh Scottish Oysters iStock.com / dmuir2009

"Island cruising" typically brings to mind the sunny ports and sandy beaches of the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Consider the British Isles, though, where small coastal towns have tons of charm, and land adventures include everything from drinks at the pub to tours of castles and gardens or a day on the links at a world-famous golf course. Most cruises are one to two weeks and sail from the English ports of Southampton or Dover. The season spans the warmer months between April and October. Itineraries focus on ports in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, with some going farther to the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and France.

What We Love

Literary Culture: Some of the world’s most respected writers from the 1800s to today have come from the United Kingdom and Ireland, including Charles Dickens, James Joyce, and William Wordsworth. Many of their homes are open to visitors or have been made into museums.

Golf: You'll find some of the world’s best golf courses in the British Isles, including Scotland's famed St. Andrews.

Best Known For

Gorgeous Coastline: Rolling green farmland leads to dramatic rocky bluffs above crashing surf and arcs of beach along the coasts of Ireland, England, and the Channel Islands.

Antiquities: From Roman ruins to ancient Neolithic, Celtic Christian sights, there’s a lot of history to absorb.

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Best Ports

Edinburgh, Scotland: The medieval Edinburgh Castle is the top draw, but there's much more to behold, from beautiful old churches and castles to museums and galleries. Both the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Dublin, Ireland: With beautiful architecture and historic places, Ireland’s capital is a great walking city with plenty to see and do.

Cobh, Ireland: This historic port is where 2.5 million Irish embarked for new lives in Australia and America, and the last port of call for the Titanic before her fateful crossing in 1912.

St. Peter Port on Guernsey, Channel Islands: Step ashore at this lovely harbor to enjoy stunning gardens, castles, and cobblestone streets lined with shops and cafes.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

There May Be Gray Skies Ahead: Though the British Isles can seem enchanting at first, the frequently dreary and rainy weather can be depressing. Hope for at least a couple sunny days.

Heidi Sarna

Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.

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