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British Isles Cruises: (Real Prices, Weather & More) – Everything You Need to Know

If you are considering a British Isles cruise you may be wondering how much they ACTUALLY cost and which itineraries are available.

I’ve been on multiple British Isles cruises, some visited just a couple of English, Irish or Scottish ports – others also included ports like the Channel Islands or Le Harve in France too.

I have also spent a lot of time researching the cheapest ways to cruise.

In this post we will look at the prices of British Isles and Irelands cruises on the following cruise lines: Princess Cruises, Cunard, Carnival, Fred Olsen, Ambassador NCL and Disney. 

I took the above photo on a British isles cruise I took with Princess.

Which Cruise Lines Offer British Isles Cruises?

Princess Cruises, Cunard, Carnival, Fred Olsen, Ambassador, NCL and Disney all offer British Isles cruises. Surprisingly, P&O, the largest British cruise line does not offer sailings around the UK at present. 

The same applies to MSC, who often have a number of cruise ships based in British waters.  They are regularly sailing from the UK to the Norwegian Fjords or to France, Spain, Portugal, The Canary Islands or the Mediterranean.

Some cruise companies do a whole season of British Isles sailings, others – such as NCL and Disney just have the odd cruise fitted in amongst their other itineraries.

How Long Are British Isles Cruises?

Most full British Isles cruises tend to be between 10 days and two weeks long.  Week-long cruises are often available, but only tend to visit three or four ports at most.

Popular ports to visit include:

Liverpool, Belfast, Cobh, Dublin, Guernsey, Greenock, Invergordon, Queensferry, Le Havre.

Which Ports do British Isles Cruises Depart From?

The most popular departure point for a British Isles cruise is Southampton, most of the larger cruise companies, such as Princess and Cunard leave from here.

Southampton is easy to reach from major airports.

If you’re travelling from Gatwick, Heathrow or Southampton airport, check out my transportation guides here:

Heathrow Airport to Southampton Cruise Port: Transport Guide

How to Get From Gatwick Airport to Southampton Cruise Port – Options Explored

Southampton Airport to The Cruise Port: Complete Transport Guide

Smaller cruise companies sometimes use other ports.

British Isles Cruise Usual Departure Port
Princess CruisesSouthampton
CunardSouthampton
AmbassadorTilbury
Fred OlsenDover, Liverpool, Belfast or Rosyth
CarnivalDover

Ambassador, the newest British cruise line leave from the port of Tilbury.  This is on the River Thames, much nearer to London – although the transport links are not so good. 

To learn more about Ambassador, check out this post: Everything We Know About The UK’s Newest Cruise Line – Ambassador Cruise Line

Fred Olsen, another British cruise line use a variety of British or Scottish ports – Dover, Liverpool, Belfast or Rosyth. 

Carnival is sailing from Dover at present.  This is another large historic British port, underutilised by cruise companies, and better known for cross-channel ferry traffic.

What Is The Weather Like on a British Isles Cruise?

The temperature in a British Isles cruise is usually mild with temperatures varying from 10c (50f) – 20c (100f) depending on the time of year. The warmest time of year is August with temperatures averaging at 21c (71f) in the South of England and 17c (62f) in Scotland.

The below photo was taken on a British Isles cruise with Celebrity in September.

Regardless of the time of year rain is always possible so ALWAYS bring a coat when cruising the British Isles.

For my full packing list, check out this post: British Isles Cruise – Complete Packing List + Printable Checklist

Southern EnglandScotlandNorthern Ireland
January8c (47f)7c (44f)7c (44f)
February8c (47f) 7c (44f)8c (47f)
March10c (50f)9c (49f)10c (49f)
April13c (56f)12c (53f)12c (53f)
May16c (61f)14c (57f)15c (59f)
June19c (66f)17c (62f)17c (62f)
July21c (69f)19c (67f)19c (67f)
August22c (71f)19c (67f)19c (67f)
September19c (65f)16c (61f)16c (62f)
October15c (59f)13c (55f)13c (55f)
November11c (51f)9c (47f)10c (49f)
December8c (46f)7c (44f)7c (44f)

Britain, Scotland and Ireland have a reputation for being rainy.  Sometimes this is the case, but without the rain, Britain, Scotland and Ireland would not be the beautiful, lush, green countries that they are.  Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, after all!

The below photo was taken on a British Isles cruise I took with Celebrity.

Celebrity Silhouette in Rain

Which Months are Best to go on a British Isles and Ireland Cruise?

The most popular times to take a British Isles cruise is from May through to September. Some cruise lines do extend this season but during the summer months the weather is best and there is more cruise line choice.

The school holidays in the UK are usually from mid July until the start of September.

How Much do British Isles Cruises Cost?

The average cost of a British Isles cruise is £96 ($114) per person per night, based on two sharing the cheapest inside cabin. Prices are highest during late July and August as this is when the UK schools are on break for summer.

Each cruise price was found either on the cruise lines website, or large cruise travel agent websites.

  Only one example from each cruise line was used for the comparison, but these are the cheapest prices I found available.

All these prices are for an inside cabin.  Balcony cabins will be more expensive. 

Some cruise lines include more than others, it is always worth checking what “extras” you may have to budget for. 

The prices of cruises do of course vary from month to month, year to year, but the prices below do provide a good example of what to expect.

The average cost of a British Isles cruise in June is £103 ($123) per person per night based on two sharing the cheapest inside cabin.

June
Princess (12 Nights)£1193 ($1456) Total – £99 ($121) per night
Cunard (12 Nights)£1299 ($1641) Total – £108 ($137) per night

The average cost of a British Isles cruise in July is £73 ($87) per person per night based on two sharing the cheapest inside cabin.

This list was gathered in July so the prices are slightly lower than average due to last-minute price drops. If you’d like to know when cruises are the cheapest, check out this post: Do Cruises Get Cheaper Closer To The Sailing Date?

July
Princess (12 Nights)£787 ($957) Total – £65 ($80) per night
Carnival (9 Nights)£519 ($631) Total –  £58 ($70) per night
Fred Olsen (8 Nights)£699 ($850) Total – £87 ($106) per night
Ambassador (11 Nights)£899 ($1094) Total – £82 ($99) per night

The average cost of a British Isles cruise in August is £92 ($109) per person per night based on two sharing the cheapest inside cabin.

August
Princess (12 Nights)£654 ($791) Total – £54 ($66) per night
Carnival (9 Nights)£619 ($753) Total – £69 ($83) per night
Fred Olsen (11 Nights)£1699 ($2066) Total – £155 ($227) per night
Ambassador (12 Nights)£999 ($1215) Total – £83 ($101) per night
Norwegian (10 Nights)£993 ($1208) Total – £99 ($120) per night

The average cost of a British Isles cruise in September is £120 ($143) per person per night based on two sharing the cheapest inside cabin.

September
Princess (12 Nights)
£1199 ($1451) Total – £100 ($120) per night
Ambassador (11 Nights)£1149 ($1398) Total – £105 ($127)
Norwegian (10 Nights)£993 ($1208) Total – £99 ($120) per night
Disney (7 Nights)£1247 ($1507)  Total – £178 ($215) per night

There is great variety in prices from one cruise line to another:

Are Princess Cruises a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

Princess Cruises are a cruise line owned by the Carnival Corporation.

I have taken a British Isles cruise with Princess and have another booked.

They focus on high-quality food, entertainment and service. Princess is definitely one of my favourite cruise lines, their ships are gorgeous and the experience onboard is very relaxing.

The below photo was taken onboard the Sky Princess on a British Isles cruise departing Southampton.

princess british isles cruise

There is usually a variety of nationalities onboard Princess cruises but English is the primary language spoken on board. 

Princess don’t include gratuities, but there is an option to upgrade to “Princess +.”  For an additional cost (at time of writing £40 a day) you will have gratuities, drinks and Wi-FI included.

To explore a Princess ship, check out this video:

Are Cunard a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

Cunard is what many would consider traditional ocean cruising.

Cunard have very strict dress code, and multiple formal nights. Cunard cruise ships are very traditional and elegant in their design, you’ll find a lot of wood, original artwork, and big bouquets of flowers. 

They have three cruise ships at present.  The Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Victoria and the last Ocean liner, The Queen Mary 2.  Another ship, The Queen Anne will join the fleet in 2023.

If you are looking for a relaxed, easy-going cruise, they are not the cruise line for you.  If you are looking for excellent service, and are happy to “dress up” for dinner, you may love them. 

There is a sense of history on Cunard ships, and you almost feel like you are stepping back in time.  The Cunard experience is quite unique and they do what they do, very well!

Are Carnival a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

Carnival Cruise Lines are a large American Cruise line. The whole family can have a fantastic time on board, whatever their age.  

They sail all around the world with an ethos of fun cruising.

If you’ve never cruised before, the Carnival may be great for a first-time cruise experience.  You don’t need to dress up every evening for your meal, it’s relaxed and casual.  You can be as active or as relaxed as you want to be. 

They offer very good value for money. 

Are Fred Olsen a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is a UK-based, Norwegian-owned cruise line.  Fred Olsen say:

“While the cruise industry has gone for bigger ships, brimming with more and more people, we have always believed that smaller is better.  We treat passengers as guests, we dock at smaller ports in more interesting places and we avoid overcrowding both aboard and ashore.”

 At full capacity, their smaller ships will only ever sail with between 900 and 1,400 guests. 

You will not find water slides or go-carts, as they cater to an older passenger demographic. 

Their cruises have a very British feel about them, and they offer a more traditional style of cruising.

Are Ambassador a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

Ambassador Cruise Line is a new British cruise line, sailing out of Tilbury, near London.  Ambassador Cruise Line’s first ship, Ambience, set sail from Tilbury in April 2022, and a second ship, Ambition will join her in 2023. 

Ambassador’s Ships are older, small to mid-sized classic cruise ships and say they offer a higher space to guest ratio.   

Ambassador Cruise Line says it is primarily aimed at the 50-plus market. However, it will run a number of multi-generation cruises over the summer holidays. It offers a more traditional cruising experience and offers very good value for money

Are Disney a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

Disney cruise lines only offer the occasional British Isles cruise.   They are a family-orientated cruise line with five cruise ships, the newest of which, The Disney Wish has recently launched. 

Many children (and adults!) will love the Disney-themed shows, films, the dressing up as Disney Characters, and the opportunity to have photos taken with Disney Characters. 

However, cruises with Disney are considerably more expensive than many other cruise lines, and if Disney morning noon and night is not your thing, don’t even consider them!

Are Norwegian a Good Choice For a British Isles Cruise?

I’ve been cruising with Norwegian Cruise Line since I was a child, the thing that really keeps me coming back time and time again is the flexible approach to dining.

I love the lack of dress codes and the variety of food available.

Norwegian Cruise line have been sailing for over 50 years.  They are a large, American cruise line.  They offer live music and Broadway-style shows, and there is always plenty of entertainment for any age!

It is important to know what each fare includes, so you can see what offers real value for money.

Don’t Cruise Without This – EVER!

As soon as you’ve booked a cruise, book your travel insurance. Don’t ever cruise without travel insurance, even if you’re from the UK and cruising around Britain. Here’s why:

You NEED Travel Insurance For a British Isles Cruise – Here’s How to Get it

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