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 Highlands

Scotland’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 – the Sounds of Mull, 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 cruises

Reignite 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

Our top Small ship cruising Holiday

Skye and the Small Isles sailing holiday

Skye and the Small Isles sailing holiday

Sail Scotland's Small Isles and visit spectacular Skye

From £1360 to £2280 9 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2022: 16 Apr, 3 May, 14 May, 31 May, 21 Aug, 25 Aug, 10 Sep
2023: 8 May, 10 May, 28 Jul, 9 Aug, 16 Aug, 23 Aug, 4 Sep, 5 Sep
Travel Team
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.
Written by Sarah Faith
Photo credits: [Page banner: Raphael Chekroun] [Wildlife watching, Hebrides: caroline legg] [Photography course, Scotland: Neil Williamson] [Cruises that care: gbsngrhm]