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Portsmouth will welcome Virgin Voyages' third ship, Resilient Lady in 2024 (Photo: Portsmouth

Which Ships Are Cruising From U.K. Ports?

Portsmouth will welcome Virgin Voyages' third ship, Resilient Lady in 2024 (Photo: Portsmouth
Contributor
Kerry Spencer

Last updated
Jan 18, 2024

Read time
10 min read

A growing number of cruise lines have ships based in U.K. ports, offering a thrilling array of itineraries. These include popular British lines, European favourites and major U.S. cruise lines, including P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Viking Ocean Cruises.

The majority of cruise lines homeport from Southampton, the U.K.'s largest homeport with five dedicated terminals. There's also Dover, London Tilbury and Newcastle among the U.K.’s homeports.

In preparation for a bumper season ahead, with a mix of new ships and returning favourites, here’s a comprehensive guide to the ships cruising from U.K. ports.

Cruises From Southampton Range from Celebrity Cruises to Cunard

If you want to cruise from Southampton, you're in luck, with a plethora of ships homeporting from Southampton, plus a selection of year-round, one-off departures and many more calling in.

Among the most exciting cruises from Southampton in 2024 is Cunard's Queen Anne, launching in May 2024. The 3,000-passenger ship's inaugural sailing will depart Southampton on May 10 for the Canary Islands.

Cruises from Southampton offer a wide range of itineraries including Norwegian fjords cruises, mini cruises and a Northern Lights cruise from Southampton. You can sail to France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, and further afield to the Canary Islands and Med.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Apex at sea (Image: Celebrity Cruises)

Ship: Celebrity Apex

From: May 15 – October 23, 2024

Highlights: The 2,910-passenger Celebrity Apex is part of the line's ground-breaking, Kelly Hoppen-designed Edge-class, which has pushed the bar with features such as the jaunty Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform that juts from the side of the ship,  infinite verandas staterooms and the chic Celebrity Apex Retreat.  

Itineraries: Apex will mix it up with short-break cruises to Bruges and longer itineraries to the Norwegian fjords, Baltic Sea, Spain, Portugal and France and Iceland and Ireland towards the end of the summer.

Cunard Line

Ships: Queen Mary 2Queen Victoria and Queen Anne

From: April 28 for both QM2 (Transatlantic sailings recommence) and Queen Victoria (European sailings); Queen Anne debuts in Southampton in May 2024

Highlights: The highlight is Queen Anne, which has the cruise industry and cruise fans excited to see the line's first new ship 12 years.

Cunard famously offers a throwback to the Golden Age of cruising, with formal nights de rigueur and even a class system, depending which cabin you are in (Balcony cabin passengers dine in the Britannia dining room, Queens Grill suite guests in the Queens Grill etc).

Itineraries: Queen Mary 2 will be recommencing the iconic Transatlantic to New York and back as well as a few mini-cruises; and Queen Victoria will offer a mix of mini-cruises from Southampton, plus Norwegian fjords, Baltic Sea, British Isles, Iceland, Spain, France and Portugal and Mediterranean sailings. Queen Anne will sail a mix of round-Britain, Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Norwegian fjords cruises.

Disney Cruises

ShipDisney Dream

From: July 24 – September 8

Highlights: Disney Cruise Line will base the 2,500-passenger Disney Dream in Southampton for the summer season, With passengers getting to visit real-life "Frozen"-inspired scenery in Norway and Iceland.

Itineraries: Norwegian fjords, Iceland, Northern Europe, British Isles, Spain and Portugal

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

ShipBolette, Balmoral

From: February 20 - April 17 (Bolette) and Jan through to February 28, returning December 16 (Balmoral)

Highlights: The former Holland America Line ship is the line's flagship, carrying 1,338 passengers, with six restaurants and 11 bars and lounges.

Itineraries: Fred. will offer a wide variety of cruises from Southampton, including Norwegian fjords and Northern Lights during winter, British Isles, Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

MSC Cruises

Ships: MSC PreziosaMSC Virtuosa and MSC Euribia,

From: Through April 23 (MSC Euribia); April 22 - November 8 (Virtuosa); October 4 - April 18, 2024 (MSC Preziosa)

Highlights: MSC Euribia's weeklong Northern Europe sailings are an excellent introduction to the line. This family-friendly ship has restaurants and and entertainment to suit all tastes, and cabins to accomodate couples, families and multi-gen groups.

Itineraries: MSC Euribia will offer a series of seven-night Northern Europe sailings to France, Belgium and Germany. MSC Virtuosa sails a mix of short (some just one-night to Zeebrugge, Belgium) and longer sailings to the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, France & Spain, Western Mediterranean and Canary Islands.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Ships: Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Star

From: June 26 – September 9 (Norwegian Dawn); May 13 & June 6 (Norwegian Getaway);

May 12 – October 6 (Norwegian Prima) and May 11 – 31 & September 29 – November 12 (Norwegian Star)

Highlights: NCL's ships are action-packed with West End-style shows, race tracks and multiple drinking and dining venues. Norwegian Prima, the line's dazzling newest ship, will  spend a mini season in Southampton this year.

Itineraries: Norwegian Dawn will offer British Isles, Northern Europe and France, Spain and Portugal sailings. Norwegian Star will offer a mix of Ireland, Norway, Spain and France cruises during May, September and October. Norwegian Prima will offer Iceland, Norway and Belgium and Western Med voyages. Norwegian Getaway will offer a mix of Northern Europe, Iceland and Norway cruises.

P&O Cruises

Ships: Arcadia, Aurora, Britannia, Iona, Ventura, Arvia

From: April 21 (Britannia); year-round (Ventura, Iona & Aurora), April 15 (Arcadia) and March 31 (Arvia)

Highlights: The line's latest ship, the 5,200-passenger Arvia, which debuted in December 2022, will spend its second summer season sailing from Southampton, along with sister vessel Iona.

There's a P&O Cruises ship for every type of traveller sailing from Southampton. Arcadia  and Aurora are adults-only ships; Britannia, Arvia, Iona and Ventura are child-friendly and are packed with kids' facilities and popular British cuisine. There is a strong emphasis on food across the fleet (with P&O Cruises associations with name chefs such as Marco Pierre White and wine expert Olly Smith).

Itineraries: Northern Europe, Norwegian fjords, Spain & France, Western Med and the Canary Islands.

Princess Cruises

ShipsSky Princess, Island PrincessRegal Princess

From: March 25 - November 28 (Sky); April 21 - October 6 (Regal Princess) and July 26 (Island)

Highlights: Strong emphasis on food; excellent kids' facilities, immersive shore excursion options.

Itineraries: The ships will offer a mix of British Isles, Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Baltic Sea, Scandinavia, Norway and Iceland and Transatlantic sailings.

Royal Caribbean

Ship: Anthem of the Seas

From: May 10 - October 14

HighlightsAnthem of the Seas boasts a huge range of entertainment options (virtual skydiving, virtual surfing, roller disco, dodgems), as well as incredible shows and a wide range of bars and restaurants. Kids facilities and programming is some of the best at sea.

Itineraries: Spain & France, Norwegian fjords and the Western Med.

Dover to Host Ambassador Cruise Line, Carnival, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Hurtigruten & Saga Cruises

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Legend (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)

Ship: Carnival Legend

From: June 16 – August 18

Highlights: Carnival Cruise Line brings its brand of fun with venues such as Guy's Burger Joint, Bonsai Sushi, Alchemy Bar and RedFrog Pub with a short summer season sailing from Dover.

Itineraries: British Isles, Iceland, Western Med, Baltic Sea and Norwegian fjords.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen's Borealis at sea. Photo: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Ship: Borealis

From: June 26 - August 14

Highlights: Borealis is a former Holland America Line ship, carrying 1,338 passengers. After enjoying a significant refit, the ship has six restaurants and 11 bars and lounges.

Itineraries: Borealis will offer a combination of British Isles cruises, Iceland, Baltic, short breaks to Amsterdam and longer cruises to Madeira and the Azores, as well as the Norwegian fjords.

Hurtigruten

ShipMS Maud

From: April 14 - June 1

Highlights: The former Midnatsol has not been fully refurbished but has had a spruce up with the addition of new restaurants: Fredheim, for casual bites; and Lindstrom for a la carte dining, ahead of bigger makeover.

Itineraries: Maud offers expedition cruises along the west coast of Britain, calling in at the Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Ireland and the Western Isles. Some voyages are extended to Iceland.

Saga Cruises

Ships: Spirit of AdventureSpirit of Discovery

From: May 9 – September 5 (Spirit of Adventure) June 22 - September 9 (Spirit of Discovery)

Highlights: The plush over-50s line's ships combine luxury and style, with a strong emphasis on food with a music partnership with Jools Holland.

Itineraries: Norway, Baltic Sea, British Isles, Iceland, Mediterranean and even the Caribbean.

Seabourn

Ship: Seabourn Ovation and Seabourn Sojourn

From: May 18 – June 8 (Ovation); July 13 - September 7 (Sojourn)

Highlights: Luxury cruise line Seabourn returns to Dover with its 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation and Seabourn Sojourn to offer a taste of the high life, including unlimited Champagne and caviar.

Itineraries: Sailings are fairly port-intensive, including the British Isles, British Isles & Western Europe, British Isles & Iceland, Greenland & Canada, Transatlantic to New York and Western Mediterranean.

Tilbury is the Homeport for Ambassador Cruise Line's Flagship Vessel

Ambassador Cruise Line

Ship: Ambition and Ambience

From: February 29 - April 7 (Ambition); May 5 - into 2025 (Ambience)

Highlights: Ambassador Cruise Line's two ships have five restaurants including specialty dining options; two cafes, nine lounges, a swimming pool, spa, along with Brit-friendly entertainment.

Itineraries: Baltic Sea, British Isles, Norwegian fjords, Iceland, Western Med, Greenland, Canary Islands, Belgium and Germany

Saga Cruises

Ship: Spirit of Discovery; Spirit of Adventure

From: June 22 – September 9 (Spirit of Discovery) and May 9 - September 5 (Spirit of Adventure)

Highlights: Saga Cruises' two like-for-like ships offers a luxury, all-inclusive cruise that is specifically geared towards the British over fifties market.

Itineraries: Norway, Baltic Sea British Isles, Iceland, Mediterranean and Greenland.

Newcastle Will Host Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Ambassador

Ambassador Cruise Line

Ship: Ambition

From: August 16 - November 21

Highlights: Ambition, the line’s newest ship, will alternate between Newcastle, Dundee, Belfast and Liverpool for a series of departures in summer 2023.

Itineraries: Britain, Spain and France, Norwegian fjords, Iceland,

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Ships: Balmoral

From: March 1 - November 19 (Balmoral)

Highlights: A stylish and friendly vessel with high levels of personal service geared toward mature British travellers.

Itineraries: Balmoral will offer an extra-long season cruising from Newcastle, with voyages to Iceland, the Baltic Sea, Scotland, Northern Europe and Western Med.

(Rosyth) Edinburgh also Hosts Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' Balmoral

Ship: Balmoral

From: June 27 - August 22

Highlights: Brit friendly ship with exceptionally friendly crew.

Itineraries: Balmoral will offer cruises to Iceland, the Baltic Sea, Scotland, Northern Europe and Western Med.

Liverpool Will Host Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Ambassador Cruise Line

Ambassador Cruise Line

Ship: Ambition

From: July 7 - September 3

HighlightsAmbition launches in May 2023 as Ambassador Cruise Line’s second ship following the debut of Ambience in 2022.

Itineraries: Iceland, France & Guernsey, Norway, British Isles

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Ship: Bolette

From: April 19, 2023 into 2025

Highlights: Bolette offers travellers in the northwest of England a convenient embarkation and debarkation port with a lengthy Liverpool season in 2024. The 1,338-passenger ship is a glamorous vessel with six restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, a swimming pool, spa and culinary theatre, among its facilities.

Itineraries: Iceland, Greenland, Norwegian fjords, Western Mediterranean.

Portsmouth Will See its Busiest Cruise Season Ever

Nobel Caledonia

Hebridean Sky (Photo: Noble Caledonia)

Ship: Hebridean Sky; Island Sky

From: 1, 11 & 25 May; 22 August and September 1

Highlights: This sublime ships feature teak decking and gorgeous wood panelling inside, setting the scene for truly elegant voyages.

Itineraries: Great Britain circumnavigations and themed British Isles cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Sky will sail twice from Portsmouth in 2024 (Photo: NCL)

Ship: Norwegian Sky

From: May 8 & 18

Highlights: An older ship, but some nice features, including the lovely Atrium and bright Spinnaker Lounge.

Itineraries: The first is a British Isles voyage and the second is Iceland.

Saga Cruises

Ship: Spirit of Discovery, Spirit of Adventure

From: April - June; October into 2025 (Spirit of Discovery), January - April 17 & September 21 - March 2025 (Spirit of Adventure).

Highlights: These 999-passenger ships offers plush, all-balcony cabins, a selection of included speciality dining venues, and door-to-door transfers.

Itineraries: Western Europe, Western Med and Transatlantic to Canada and New York. Spirit of Adventure will offer a range of wintertime Canary Islands sailings.

Virgin Voyages

Ship: Resilient Lady

From: August 23 - September 29

Highlights: This buzzy adults-only cruise line by Sir Richard Branson showcases its third incarnation of the Virgin Voyages brand for a range of late summer sailings.

Itineraries: A mix of short Netherlands and Belgium voyages, and longer Spain, France and Morocco voyages.

London (Greenwich Pier, Central London) Will See a Return of Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises

Ship: Mostly Viking Venus, ad-hoc sailings also on Viking Saturn, Sky and Neptune

From: February 5 – September 2024 (Viking Venus)

Highlights: The plush 999-passenger Viking Venus will offer six cruises from central London, departing from the city’s Greenwich Pier.

Itineraries: Nine voyages, including British Isles, Norway and Northern Europe cruises.

Publish date April 21, 2023
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