Feed on

I’ve been having a look through the options that exist this year for people to cruise from ports in the UK, and the choices are wider than I had imagined. I do perhaps concentrate on P&O, and to a lesser degree Cunard in this blog, which means my focus is firmly on their cruises which, in summer, are all ex-Southampton. For this post I’ve taken a wider look at cruises from the UK.

  • So let’s start with P&O and Cunard and just say that they both will be doing their normal varied program of cruises from the UK this year. With few if any exceptions, these cruises will depart from Southampton. No need to say much more about them – most readers will be very familiar with their schedules;
  • Celebrity will have two ships based in the UK this summer. Solstice-class Celebrity Eclipse will again be based in Southampton doing a varied programme of 8 to 14-night cruises, while Celebrity Infinity (Millennium-class) will be based in Harwich from late June through to mid/late September. She’ll be doing cruises to Norway, Iceland and ‘Round-UK’. Also, if you can get to Amsterdam, Celebrity Constellation (also Millennium-class) will be based there from June through to late August doing cruises to the fjords and to the Baltic.
  • Royal Caribbean will have three ships in the UK.  Freedom-class Independence of the Seas will be based in Southampton for the whole of the summer, as she has been for several years, doing a varied program of cruises to the Mediterranean, the Canaries, and short cruises to northern Europe. She’ll be joined in Southampton in early May by Voyager-class Adventure of Seas which will be doing a few Baltic cruises, plus a couple to the Mediterranean and a few shorter cruises; she’ll finish her program in September. Finally, the slightly smaller Radiance-class Brilliance of the Seas (Panamax-compliant, 2,100 passengers) will be based in Harwich from May to late August and will offer a programme to northern Europe and to the Baltic.
  • Princess will also have three ships in the UK. Two of them are Grand Princess-class ships, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess and are sisters (or very near sisters) to Ventura and Azura. Both will sail from Southampton. Emerald Princess will be offering a varied programme – Mediterranea, Canary Islands, the Baltic – while Ruby Princess will mainly provide round-UK cruises, from May through to September. (I believe these are very popular with US passengers.) Princess will also have Ocean Princess, a former R-ship and very-near-sister to Adonia which will be sailing out of Dover between June and August, to northern Europe and the Baltic.
  • Holland America Line (HAL) will have Ryndam, one of their smaller ships, based in Dover from May until September. She’ll be doing a lot of 7-night cruises to Norway, plus a smaller number of 14-night cruises to the Arctic circle and into the Baltic.
  • Thomson (updated, after I realised my original content was based on a 2015 brochure – thanks to David Archer whose comment helped me spot this) have Thomson Spirit based in the UK this summer. She’ll be cruising from Liverpool in the spring, from Newcastle in the summer, and from Harwich in the late summer and into September. Most of these cruises will be to northern Europe ports, but there will also be a small number of ’round UK’ cruises, including repositioning cruises from one regional port to another.
  • I’m finding it hard to get hold of any information about Saga – their website seems singularly unhelpful and I haven’t got a brochure. But it looks as if they’re sailing their two ships, Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II, mainly out of Dover and Harwich.
  • Cruise and Maritime Voyages will be providing a program on two ships, Marco Polo and Discovery, out of a number of UK ports. Marco Polo will cruise out of Tilbury for most of the year with some cruises out of Newcastle in June and July, while Discovery will sail from a wide range of ports: Bristol (Avonmouth, I think), Liverpool, Hull, Rosyth, Greenock, and Leith. These extend from February – which means she’s already doing them – up until late October.
  • And finally there is Fred Olsen, who have blazed the trail for cruises from regional ports for a number of years (especially with the old Black Prince). They now have just four ships. Balmoral, their largest, will sail out of Southampton throughout the year. Black Watch will sail from Southampton, Dover, Newcastle, Rosyth and Tilbury, and sister-ship Boudicca will sail from Southampton, Avonmouth, Liverpool, Belfast, Greenock and Dublin. Finally, Braemar will sail from Harwich, Dover, and Southampton.

I’d like to think that Fred Olsen’s and C&MV’s exploration of regional ports is a bold and adventurous initiative, but in reality I think that these lines may be feeling the heat a bit. I believe that the regional departures are a defensive strategy to try to find a market that the leading lines can’t exploit, because these regional ports simply can’t accommodate the larger ships. Even when the berth can take a big ship there isn’t the terminal capacity for 3000 passengers or more that the larger ships accommodate. But I hope that the lines using the regional ports will find success: the cruise market is once again a growing market, so there ought to be customers for all comers, as long as they provide a cruise experience of a high-enough quality.

6 Responses to “Cruising from the UK in 2014”

  1. David Archer says:

    Hi Tom

    Thomson have repositioned their ‘Spirit’ ship to the UK for this summer sailing from Harwich, Liverpool and Newcastle on various ‘up north’ itineraries.

    First one is from Liverpool (Celtic Adventure) on the 7th May.

    • Tom says:


      Many thanks – I’ve now realised that I was looking at a 2015 brochure for Thomson. I’m updating the post now.

  2. George Berry says:

    If you arrange any travel with Bolsover, check that all the elements of the travel are on a single e-ticket.
    Bolsover persuaded me to fly to a Southampton cruise from Manchester and booked a “cheaper” ticket with only 20kg of luggage. There was a 23kg allowance for the return from South America to Manchester.
    They looked like being on the same e-ticket (from Cunard) as they were all itemised on the same single piece of paper.
    It cost me £90 in excess luggage because – the airport explained – my Agent had not put them on the same ticket. ON each e-ticket, the highest allowance for any part of the journey applies to all the elements of the journey.

    The fact that Bolsover will not compensate me for the sum of £90 for excess baggage is not the issue – it is not meeting my expectations and not giving me best advice that I will not longer be using them as my agent. It is not their first error with one of my bookings.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the comment, George.

      Was this is a bricks & mortar branch of Bolsover? I do sometimes wonder what it is that these companies can offer. I tend to use on-line TAs, but I have booked direct with the cruise lines in the past, without any issues. Bolsover are about to open a branch at Meadowhall, so I’ll have the chance to find out for myself.

  3. pennyalexander says:

    Love the idea of cruising from the UK, especially with kids. We’ve done Venice and Miami so far, they were amazing places to sail from, but the idea of just a drive and then setting sail appeals to me greatly.

    • Tom says:

      There are pros and cons. So far the pros are winning out, though on reflection i think we’re both wondering if this year we might have enjoyed a fly-cruise on Ventura more than what we’ve booked. There again, the dates of the Ventura cruises – mid-week to mid-week – aren’t good for workers like us because they require nearly three weeks off work.

      And there’s stress in “just a drive and then setting sail”. What if the car breaks down? Roadworks (very relevant in Southampton at the moment)? Accidents? Just being too tired to do the drive? My dear wife could stress for England. Which is odd, because at work – she works in software implementation, a very stressful environment – everyone says she’s the epitome of calmness and confidence. Maybe she makes up for it in a domestic situation…. In fact, because of all the issues above, she insists on us driving down the night before.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: