The best UK cruises for 2021

Phoebe Grant
·4-min read
Photo credit: P&O
Photo credit: P&O

From Town & Country

When the government announced that domestic travel could be allowed from as soon as 17 May, reservations for hotels and Airbnb’s around the UK soared, meaning it’s now about as hard to book a staycation this summer as it is to get an alfresco table in April. But, hope is not lost and there is an alternative for those who weren’t quick enough off the mark: a staycation at sea.

This month, the maritime minister Robert Courts announced to the All Party Parliamentary Maritime Group that cruise lines would be able to restart domestic sailing at the same time as hotels were allowed to open across the UK. Off the back of this, several cruise companies have announced they will be offering UK-based voyages, including some of the biggest names such as Swan Hellenic, Fred Olsen, Saga, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Hurtigruten, Marella, NCL, Hebridean and Lord of the Glen.

With such a variety to choose from, we’ve rounded up our favourite British Isle cruises with itineraries so covetable, they may make you question why anyone would have their sights set on going abroad.

Tradewind Voyages

Tradewind Voyages invites you to set sail in historic style on its ship Golden Horizon, which claims the title of the world’s largest square-rigged vessel, and is a near replica of the 1913 ocean vessel, France II. This summer, it will be launching seven UK voyages ranging from six- to 10-night stays, with highlights including dolphin-spotting off the Isle of Mull, exploring the breathtaking terrain of Giant’s Causeway, strolling on Ian McEwan’s Chesil Beach, or visiting the Isle of White during the Cowes Regatta. It’s also a win on the sustainability front, with the ship’s expansive sails allowing it to follow prevailing currents, requiring minimal usage of a polluting engine and a more authentic sailing experience. For more information, visit www.tradewindvoyages.com.

Cunard

Cunard’s scenic cruises offer holidaymakers the chance to take in iconic British beauty spots, such as stunning Isle of Scilly and the jaw-dropping Jurassic Coast, without needing to leave the comfort of their ship. Or, for the more Covid-conscious, there’s the ‘Summer at Sea’ experience, which includes 13 new voyages on its luxurious Queen Elizabeth cruiser, exclusive to UK residents who have been vaccinated against Covid-19. The cruises, which will run between July and October, will sail directly from Southampton, with exact routes to be confirmed when tickets go on sale on 31 March. For more information, visit www.cunard.com.

Photo credit: Azamara
Photo credit: Azamara

Azamara

Specialising in smaller ships that provide a ‘boutique-hotel’ experience, the luxury cruise company Azamara is offering a 12-night trip around the British Isles this summer. Starting in Edinburgh and stopping off at some of the UK’s finest cities, including Glasgow, Belfast and Liverpool, this cruise is especially catered towards golf enthusiasts. Avid putters can purchase the ‘seven-course package’ that includes play at three Open Venues: Scotland’s Carnoustie, Ireland’s Royal Portrush and England’s Royal Birkdale. For more information, visit www.azamara.com.

Photo credit: Swan Hellenic
Photo credit: Swan Hellenic

Swan Hellenic

This heritage British company, known for its culturally enriching cruises that educate guests about the remote destinations it visits, has undergone an exciting revamp. Relaunching at the end of 2021, the two new ships are currently being built in Finland and will combine the latest polar-ice technology with Scandi-luxe style. Sticking with tradition, it will specialise in visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations like the polar regions, but will also be offering an 11-day tour of the Scottish islands, with highlights including a trip to the magical Calanais Standing Stones and exploring the wild islands of Shetland, Orkney and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. For more information, visit www.swanhellenic.com.

Photo credit: P&O
Photo credit: P&O

P&O Cruises

If you’re a first-time cruiser and looking for a safe pair of hands, then P&O is the way to go; not only does it welcome aboard more British travellers each year than any other cruise line, but it also offers flexible booking and promise to price match your holiday if you find a better deal elsewhere. This summer, it’s launching a new UK getaway series, (exclusively for vaccinated travellers), sailing around the coast where the sun shines brightest. For those craving a foreign holiday experience, its seven-night ‘Southern Short Break’ is a close as you can get, sailing through the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, before heading near to the coast of Biarritz where guests can relax on deck and catch some much-needed rays. For more information, visit www.pocruises.com.