Recent years have seen a growing number of cruise lines homeport in U.K. ports. These include popular British lines, European favourites and the major U.S. cruise lines, including P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, 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 in 2023.
If you want to cruise from Southampton in 2023, you're in luck, with 22 ships homeporting from Southampton, plus a selection of one-off departures and many more calling in.
The ships are offering a wide range of itineraries including a Norwegian fjords cruise from Southampton, mini cruises from Southampton and a Northern Lights cruise from Southampton.
Ship: Celebrity Silhouette
From: May 3 – October 22
Highlights: The 2,800-passenger Celebrity Silhouette is one of the line's popular Solstice-class ships and this year will mark its 6th year based in the U.K.
Itineraries: Silhouette 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.
From: April 23 for both ships
Highlights: Both ships offer 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.
Ship: Disney Dream
From: July 22 – September 17
Highlights: Disney Cruise Line celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with special programming onboard its ships, including Disney Dream.
Itineraries: Norwegian fjords, Iceland, Norway and Denmark, British Isles and Spain.
From: August 13 – 19 November (Bolette) and April 6 – May 31 (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.
From: Year-round (Virtuosa); Oct 12-December 30 (MSC Euribia).
Highlights: With MSC Cruises ramping up its U.K. presence in recent years, MSC Virtuosa is permanently based in Southampton, while new ship, MSC Euribia will sail a short season later in the year.
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.
From: May 4 – October 14 (Norwegian Dawn); August 8 October 24 (Norwegian Getaway);
June 4 – October 1 (Norwegian Prima) and May 11 – 31 & September 23 – October 23 (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.
Ships: Arcadia, Aurora, Britannia, Iona, Ventura, Arvia
From: April 7 (Britannia); year-round (Ventura, Iona, Arcadia & Aurora) and April 2- October 19 (Arvia)
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).
P&O Cruises also has recruited ex-Take That frontman Gary Barlow to oversee the entertainment in Iona's 710 Club and Nicole Scherzinger, the godmother of Arvia, is the line's entertainment partner who will music and dance shows to be performed onboard P&O Cruises ships.
Itineraries: Northern Europe, Norwegian fjords, Baltic Sea, Spain & France, Western Med and the Canary Islands.
From: April 1 (Sky); April 30 (Regal Princess) and June 28 (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.
Ship: Anthem of the Seas
From: May 12 - October 15
Highlights: Anthem 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.
Ship: Carnival Pride
From: June 9 – September 10
Highlights: Carnival Cruise Line brings its brand of fun with venues such as Guy's Burger Joint, Bonsai Sushi, Alchemy Bar and RedFrog Pub to Dover.
Itineraries: British Isles, Iceland, Western Med, Baltic Sea and Norwegian fjords.
Ship: Balmoral, Bolette
From: September - November (Balmoral)
Highlights: Bolette 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.
The 1,350-passenger Balmoral is one of the older ships in the fleet (1988), and has a wide variety of solo cabins.
Itineraries: Bolette will offer a combination of British Isles cruises, short breaks to Amsterdam and longer cruises to Madeira and the Azores, as well as the Norwegian fjords.
Balmoral repositions here from Rosyth in September, offering cruises to France and Norway.
Ship: MS Maud
From: Maud has been based in Dover since winter 2021/2022.
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.
From: May 7 – September 24 (Spirit of Adventure) May 21 – June 4 (Spirit of Discovery)
Highlights: The over-50s line's new-build 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.
Ship: Seabourn Ovation
From: April 23 – September 24
Highlights: Luxury cruise line Seabourn returns to Dover with its 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation and 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.
From: April 2023
Highlights: Ambience has five restaurants including specialty dining options; two cafes, nine lounges, a swimming pool, spa, day and evening entertainment, fitness and leisure facilities complemented by enticing enrichment and lifestyle programmes.
Itineraries: Baltic Sea, British Isles, Norwegian fjords, Iceland, Western Med, Greenland, Canary Islands, Belgium and Germany
Ship: Spirit of Discovery
From: June 22 – August 6
Highlights: Spirit of Discovery, the first of Saga Cruises’ two new-build 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.
From: May 12
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,
Ships: Balmoral & Bolette
From: April – July 25 (Bolette), August-September (Balmoral)
Highlights: Stylish and friendly vessels with high levels of personal service geared toward mature British travellers.
Itineraries: Balmoral will offer cruises to Iceland, the Baltic Sea, Scotland, Northern Europe and Western Med.
Highlights: Brit friendly ship with exceptionally friendly crew.
Itineraries: Balmoral will offer cruises to Iceland, the Baltic Sea, Scotland, Northern Europe and Western Med.
From: July 7 - September 3
Highlights: Ambition 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
From: May 22 – July 27
Highlights: Borealis, the second of the two HAL ships bought and refurbished in 2020, is near identical to Bolette. Borealis will offer a series of sailings from Liverpool and Belfast.
Itineraries: Iceland, Greenland, Norwegian fjords, Western Mediterranean.
Ship: Spirit of Discovery, Spirit of Adventure
From: April – may & August – end of year (Spirit of Discovery), October 9 – through to 2024 (Spirit of Adventure).
Highlights: These 999-passenger ship 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.
Ship: Viking Venus
From: April – September
Highlights: The plush 999-passenger Viking Venus will offer six cruises from central London, departing from the city’s Greenwich Pier.
Itineraries: British Isles, Norway and Northern Europe
A slew of exciting cruise calls is set to liven cruise ports in the U.K. alongside ships homeporting here. Here are some of the highlights:
Launching in July 2023, the 922-passenger Explora I will mark cruise giant MSC Group's move into the luxury market. On September 2, the ship will depart Greenock (Glasgow) on a seven-night Scottish Highlands & Icelandic Geysers voyage.
Beginning with the new 148-passenger National Geographic Resolution on April 21 through to MSC Cruises' new 6,327-passenger MSC Euribia on October 22, this beautiful Channel Island will welcome 12 maiden cruise calls among its summer 2023 progamme.
Riviera departs on August 23 and September 2 on the 22-night British Isles and Baltic Sea voyages; while Marina departs on September 5 and September 17 on a Northern Europe and a Western Europe and Mediterranean voyage, respectively.
Portsmouth will also welcome Noble Caledonia’s Hebridean Sky on a one-off 14-night British Isles voyage, departing August 24.