Top 5 cruises from the UK
Our best small ship cruises in the UK depart from Scotland’s west coast – but don’t think that means they’re all the same. Like the tartans you’ll see furnishing beds, chairs, menus and outfits, each small ship and sailing itinerary is distinct, and comes with its own rich story to tell. Read on to discover our top five cruises from the UK.
1. Wildlife cruises, Hebrides
Keep a weather eye out for dolphins, minke whales and orca as you sail the sounds around Mull, or head out to the base of St Kilda’s towering sea cliffs to experience the commotion of some of Europe’s most important seabird colonies. Wildlife cruises in the UK get you up close to some of our rarest creatures on itineraries dictated by the tides.
2. Island-hopping cruises, West HighlandsScotland’s west coast is littered with islands, be they tiny rocky outcrops populated by puffins or larger archipelagos offering safe harbours crowned by rows of pastel-coloured houses. The best small ship cruises in the UK float between fishing villages and hideaway bays – hopping between islands in search of wildlife, whisky and warm Highland welcomes.
Our top trip: Hebrides cruise – Mull, Islay, Luing, Jura and Shuna
See all our trips: Scotland small ship cruising holidays
Read more: Small ship cruising in Scotland travel guide
3. Art & photography cruises
Turn your cruise into a week-long creative workshop in the company of an expert on-board tutor. Art and photography cruises in the UK make the most of the clear Hebridean light as it weaves its magic across moody skylines and illuminates the purple haze of heather-draped mountains. Both beginners and more experienced artists are welcome.
4. Family cruisesReignite family time on a cruise where the on-board entertainment programme is more wildlife than wild. Our top UK family cruises offer adventure in spades – you might be beachcombing with the kids on impossibly soft Hebridean sand, taking off socks to tickle toes in rockpools or watching dolphins play in your wake. Older kids can help sail or catch their own dinner off the deck of the boat.
Our top trip: Scotland family cruise
See all our trips: Scotland family holidays
Read more: Travelling in Scotland with kids travel guide
If you'd like to chat about Small ship cruising or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
5. Cruises that care
Sailing small ships. Staff trained to watch wildlife without disturbing them. Boats that have adopted basking sharks to fund research. Dinners that only feature local produce. These are just a few of the ways that our best UK cruises ensure local communities – and the wildlife you’ll see along with way – benefit from your holiday.
More about Small ship cruising
They take you to another world. Places with names like the Mergui Archipelago, the Kyles of Bute, Wrangel Island or Wolf. Welcome to the world of small ship cruising holidays.
Small ship cruising comes in all shapes and sizes without ever entering that supersize, floating hotel territory. Read on to find out which type of small ship cruise is for you.
We've created a guide that sums up where you can go when on a small ship cruise. Of course the weather dictates everything, so you must always be prepared for flexibility.
What is a small ship, anyway? It might be a family-sized yacht, a schooner designed to tuck into orca fjords, or a 200-passenger icebreaker that delves into the frozen Arctic.
From weather, time at sea and your wildlife wish list, to low carbon credentials and accessibility – there are a boatload of considerations when choosing a small ship holiday.
Our top 10 cruises vary from the well known, such as the Galapagos or the Nile in Egypt, to some really far out there expeditions: Kamchatka in Russia or Svalbard in the Arctic.
Small ship cruise activities are far from the world of mini golf and lounge singers. The evening entertainment is more likely to be an eco lecture or a photography tutorial.
Some of the most characterful creatures on the planet can only be reached on a small ship wildlife cruise. Find out how you can see polar bears, penguin colonies and whales.
You can go on a small ship sailing holiday as an expert, novice or total beginner. Read our guide to work out which sailing holiday floats your boat and where you can go.
Whether you’re gliding down the Nile on a felucca, aboard a groundnut boat in the Gambia, or exploring Kerala, river cruise holidays explore cultural and spiritual monoliths.
Go to southern Spain and you can see 700 years of Moorish influence, go to Morocco and see millennia of it.
Who says cruises aren’t for kids? Some of the smallest Caribbean-bound yachts can be fitted with toddler-proof safety nets, while Antarctic icebreakers come with quad rooms.
We run through your options as a solo traveller on a small ship cruise, whether that’s booking a single cabin or recommending months when supplements are kicked to the kerb.
Our experts have given us some top cruise tips, from packing tips and remembering that you might be at sea for a few days, to sea sickness and whether to bring children.
Giant cruise ships have come in for a lot of bad press, and we believe that they really are cruising for a bruising. Read on to find out why we really don’t need a bigger boat.
Find all our small ship cruising guides in one place from Alaska and the Maldives to Scotland, Arctic cruising and many more.