British Isles cruising vacations travel guide


Scotland wins hands down when it comes to British Isles cruising vacations, not surprising given the tradition of marine meanderings along the west coast, where island idylls like the Inner and Outer Hebrides call out to visitors like seductive sirens. Nothing dangerous about these trips, however, neither for travelers nor for the environment, when you travel with skippers who are totally sussed about sustainability. And Scotland is sussed. Respecting and protecting its wildlife filled islands, dolphins, whales and other marine life, and also tapping into plenty of local communities and local food en route. Drop anchor and take the dingy on land to buy mussels for dinner. Or fish for your own mackerel. On British Isles cruising vacations you will also be seduced by the types of boats on offer, from converted wooden fishing vessels to elegant tall ships. There are plenty of options to rock your boat.
Read our British Isles cruising vacations travel guide for more details.

Is a British Isles cruise for you?


Go on a British Isles cruising vacation ifÖ

Ö you are craving a digital detox and complete switch off from urban madness.

Ö you are looking for something a little bit different as a family vacation. Great for older children who want to learn some sailing skills, with a bit of fishing, swimming and sometimes kayaking thrown in.

Ö you enjoy wildlife watching. Scotland, in particular, is a revelation, with dolphins, porpoises, humpback whales, superb birdlife including sea eagles as well as seal colonies on remote sandy beaches.
Ö you are an island lover. Isles off the Isles. With 51 inhabited islands in the Hebrides alone, not to mention hundreds of others, they are like little gems just waiting to be gathered up and treasured.

Donít go on a British Isles cruising vacation if...

Ö you like to be in control. The skipper is boss on these trips. And the skipperís boss is the weather. And the coastguard. So no messing with them either.

Ö you are a wheelchair user. Although tour operators do their utmost to cater for people with special needs, steps, narrow doorways and berth beds arenít always practical for those with mobility issues.

Ö you donít like getting wet. Even if it doesnít rain, you will need to get in and out of dinghies or hop onto beaches. And if you want guaranteed sun, well, these are the British Isles. Itís not our forte.

Ö you dislike being sociable. Communal eating and hanging out is part of hanging out on a boat.

Best time to go on a British Isles cruising vacation


In Scotland, if you want to see porpoises, basking sharks and minke whales the best time to go on a cruising vacation is the summer months. For whales, April to September are best.
The Dartmouth Royal Regatta, which you can immerse yourself in on board a tall ship, takes place at the end of August every year.
Birdlife is at its most buoyant in Scotland around June.
Scotland is also known for its midges, June to October. The great news is that on boat trips, you will rarely encounter them, as they donít like the sea breezes.
Going on a small ship cruise out of season is just bliss. April and September are great months for empty waters, beaches and welcoming pubs.
Remember that in Scotland, the summer school vacations are different to rest of British Isles if you want to book a cruising vacation. They tend to start third week of June with schools back mid-August, so popular islands such as Skye and Mull are quieter before and after those dates.
Photo credits: [Scottish loch cruise, topbox: john mcsporran] [Puffins: Scott Presly] [Helpdesk box: Majestic Line]
Written by Catherine Mack
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