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Cruises to Edinburgh (South Queensferry)

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Edinburgh (Photo:Johannes Valkama/Shutterstock)

About Edinburgh (South Queensferry)

Historic Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, has so much to offer that you can't possibly do it in a day. The city lies in a beautiful setting, sprawling over an extinct volcano, known as Arthur's Seat, and dominated by the grey, brooding hulk of the Medieval Edinburgh Castle -- the tourist hub of the Royal Mile, a street exactly one Scots mile long. (The outdated measurement is equivalent to 1,807 meters, longer than the standard 1,609-meter mile.)

Old Town, as this area is known, features a wonderful labyrinth of alleyways and cobbled streets filled with a castle, museums and churches. After the 1707 Act of Union joined Scotland and England politically, many of Edinburgh's wealthier residents abandoned Edinburgh for London. The Georgian terraces -- individual terraces found on the front of Georgian-style row homes -- of nearby New Town were built in an effort to attract them back. Both Old Town and New Town are part of the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tourism staples include Scotch whisky (with opportunities to learn taste and buy) and golf at St. Andrew's Links, 50 miles north of the city. Edinburgh is, perhaps, most well known for its annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, taking over the city for three weeks every August (if you can time your cruise during this time, it's well worth it). In addition to a wide array of performances, the city's iconic Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place at the same time, with the castle as its backdrop.

Alongside this tradition, Edinburgh has an edgy, modern vibe, too. Galleries display cutting-edge art, while chic restaurants, day spas and hotels peddle sophistication. A hip pub culture and nightlife scene complete the picture. Meanwhile, on the city's doorstep is the Scottish countryside -- miles of rolling, heather-covered hills, craggy mountains and still-as-glass lochs (one has a resident monster you might have heard of).

  • More about Edinburgh (South Queensferry)

  • Why go to Edinburgh (South Queensferry)?

  • Edinburgh (South Queensferry) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

10 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
May 4, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Star
Norwegian Star

12 Night
Europe - OtherDetails

2,493 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
May 31, 2023
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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

15 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jul 12, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

10 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
May 14, 2023
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10 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jul 27, 2023
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10 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jun 3, 2023
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14 Night
British Isles ExplorerDetails

95 Reviews
Leaving:Greenwich
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Sep 2, 2024
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12 Night
Iceland & Scotland CruiseDetails

1,613 Reviews
Leaving:Amsterdam
Cruise Line:Royal Caribbean International
May 12, 2023
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Cruise Critic Favorite

11 Night
Europe - Northern CruiseDetails

243 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Apr 22, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Lands Of The CeltsDetails

1 Review
Leaving:Greenwich
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
May 12, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
British Isles ExplorerDetails

95 Reviews
Leaving:Greenwich
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
Sep 16, 2023
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12 Night
Europe - Northern CruiseDetails

329 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Jul 26, 2024
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10 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jul 2, 2023
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10 Night
Europe - British IslesDetails

2,901 Reviews
Leaving:Copenhagen
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Aug 24, 2023
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78 Night
World CruiseDetails

281 Reviews
Leaving:New York
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Jun 23, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Edinburgh (South Queensferry)

Why go to Edinburgh (South Queensferry)?

Pros:

One of the most stunningly situated capital cities in Europe; world-famous arts festival in August

Cons:

Wet and cold from November to April

Bottom Line:

Scotland's capital is beautiful, the people are welcoming and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking

Edinburgh (South Queensferry) Cruise Port Facilities?

In Leith, the purpose-built cruise terminal offers tourist information, while the adjacent Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre has a taxi rank, bus stop with service to Edinburgh and ATM, in addition to a variety of retailers, a large cinema, cafes and restaurants -- some with stunning views out across the Firth of Forth. The Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen's retired floating palace, is moored on Leith's waterfront (entry via the shopping center) and is worth a visit.

At Rosyth, there's a shuttle to the terminal building (two minutes), where volunteers provide information. This port has no shops, although souvenirs are available. The terminal lounge has restrooms and free Wi-Fi, and taxis are available. There's no ATM, but you'll find them, as well as shopping, in Dunfermline (15 minutes on the free shuttle service). Security does not allow passengers to depart the port area on foot.

South Queensferry doesn't have a terminal building, but the little town of South Queensferry is a few hundred yards from the pier. There, you'll find an ATM at Clydesdale Bank on High Street, as well as restaurants, shops and pubs. A welcome team at the pier can provide you with transport information, and a list of cafes with free Wi-Fi.

Good to Know?

Rain. It rains a lot, which gives the city some of its allure -- the misty, cobbled alleyways, the gorgeous green gardens -- but you will get wet.

Speaking of cobblestones, you'll encounter plenty of them in Old Town, so good walking shoes are a must.

Be careful when crossing streets because the Scottish drive on the left-hand side of the road. It's easy to forget that you need to look in the opposite direction for oncoming traffic. Same goes for mass transit. You need to board on the opposite side of the street from what you may be used to.

Many streets change names from block to block, so don't let this mix you up.

In July and August, especially out of town, Scotland is plagued by small biting insects called midges, so take plenty of insect repellent.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Once in central Edinburgh, you can walk anywhere. Old Town and New Town are separated by the easily traversed Princes Street Gardens.

By Taxi: Central Taxis offers 24/7 service, and cabs can be booked in advance (0131 229 2468). Another option is City Cabs (0131 228 1211). Edinburgh Taxi also accepts bookings for mini-buses and chauffeur-driven cars (0131 610 1234).

By Bus: Buses are easy to figure out, and they're trackable on smartphones. The Leith port terminal is also a terminal point for several bus routes. Drivers do not make change; plan on exact fares. It's also possible to purchase a day pass (available from ticket machines at tram stops, from the tourism center, or by downloading an app from Lothian Buses) for unlimited combined travel on both buses and trams. For maps and timetables, check the Lothian Buses website.

By Tram: Trams travel in New Town on Princes Street and head as far as the airport, with many stops along the way. You need to buy a ticket from the machines, located at each stop, before boarding. It's also possible to purchase a day pass (available only at tram stops or from the tourism center) for unlimited combined travel on buses and trams. For information, check Edinburgh Trams.

By Car: Enterprise has a lot near the Leith port terminal (0131 555 0555). Other Edinburgh rental agencies include Thrifty (0131 337 1319) and Hertz (0843 309 3026). If you rent a car, remember that you need to drive on the left in Scotland.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Currency is the pound Sterling. Scotland has its own bank notes, but they're interchangeable with English notes and have the same monetary value. For currency-conversion rates, check www.xe.com or www.oanda.com.

Old Town, New Town and the port area in Leith all contain plenty of ATMs.

If you are visiting from outside the European Union, you can get back some of the 17.5 percent VAT (value-added tax) you pay on certain goods. Not all shops participate, and there's a minimum purchase level. You need to have your passport and fill in a form at the time of purchase. Present the forms to customs officials at the final departure from the European Union, but keep in mind the agents probably will ask to see the goods. Visit www.globalrefund.com for more information.

Editor's Note: ATMs in Scotland require a PIN to be no more than four digits long, so plan ahead. Also, many display only numerals on the keypad. For pin codes that include letters, commit them to memory or jot down the translation to numbers.

Language?

English is spoken -- with a Scottish accent. This is fairly gentle in Edinburgh but much stronger in Glasgow, should you choose to take a daytrip there.

Where You're Docked?

Smaller ships (less than 50,000 tons) usually dock in Leith, while large ships stop at Rosyth or South Queensferry.

Leith is a historic port that's a 30-minute bus ride, a 15-minute taxi ride or one-hour walk from central Edinburgh. Located two miles from the foot of the Royal Mile, this is the closest and most convenient place to dock for sightseeing in Edinburgh.

Rosyth is on the other side of the Firth of Forth estuary, 15 miles from the Royal Mile, and has no direct public transportation, aside from taxis. For some ships, the port operates a free hop-on, hop-off service, which takes you to Dunfermline and North Queensferry. Or, you can opt to take a taxi to central Edinburgh (30 minutes). There's also a train from Dunfermline (35 minutes) or a bus (five-minute taxi ride to the stop; 40 minutes to central Edinburgh).

South Queensferry is a tender port, with good transportation connections; it's located 10 miles from the Royal Mile. You'll be anchored with great views of the Forth Bridge. Once ashore at Hawes Pier, you can take a private shuttle service directly from the pier to the city center (30 minutes), or opt for a public bus (40 minutes), train (10-minute walk to the station before a 20-minute train ride) or taxi (30 minutes).


Edinburgh (South Queensferry) Cruise Reviews
Edingburgh is a fascinating city with a long history. The Royal Mile, Holyrood, the Castle and other buildings are great to see and explore. Trying to see them on a relatively brief bus tour is not the way to see ERead More
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Knyght1
Did not do a tour from the ship. This was a tender port which adds much time to get out and about. The city had people to help buy a bus pass. Getting to the Royal Mile was easy. The Royal Mile was disappointing.Read More
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Stancruiser
Edinburgh is an awesome city with a wealth of history...so much to see but little time. Walking the Royal Mile is a must.Read More
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Normansipad
Having visited Edinburgh several times I opted to take this excursion out of the city. The gardens were lovely.Read More
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bhess53

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