Shore Excursions in the UK and Northern Europe

Ports of call in Northern Europe include some of the most beautiful (St Petersburg, Stockholm), historic (London, Edinburgh) and laidback (Amsterdam, Helsinki) cities in the world. Explore scenic archipelagos, tour centuries-old castles and look at some of the planet’s best art.

Cruises to Amsterdam dock at the Eastern Docklands, about a 10- to 20-minute walk from Central Station (Centraal Station). Explore the city by bike and canal boat, taking in the row houses and leafy lanes, and then visit one of the city’s well-known art museums—the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum. The language in the Netherlands is Dutch, but English is widely spoken by most locals. The currency is the euro.

Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is the original home of the Titanic, and there are a few attractions devoted to the planning, building and voyage of the ship. If you’re interested, check out the Titanic Experience in the Titanic Quarter, across the harbor from the port. Ships dock in Belfast Harbour, a couple of miles north of the city center. Take a cab into town to see city sights like St Anne’s Cathedral. Belfast is part of the United Kingdom; the language is English and the currency is the British pound.

The capital and largest city in Denmark sits between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea on the Oresund strait, which separates the country from Sweden. Most cruises dock at Langelinie Pier, within walking distance of the city center; some ships may dock at the Freeport Term, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from downtown. Take a harbor cruise shore excursion to see the city from the water, and then visit landmarks like the Little Mermaid statue and Amalienborg Palace. The language is Danish, but English is often understood. The currency is the Danish krone.

Cruises to Dublin, the Republic of Ireland’s capital city, dock at either Alexandra Quay or the Maritime House on the River Liffey; it’s a quick cab or shuttle ride into the center of town. Check out big-name attractions like the Guinness Storehouse and St Patrick’s Cathedral, or take a walking tour shore excursion to see the city’s historical and literary sights. The official languages are English and Gaelic, and the currency is the euro.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland boasts a long, and sometimes dark, history of kings and queens. Today, the city has a thriving arts and culture scene. Combine the two with a visit to Edinburgh Castle, a walk down Royal Mile and a tour of the city’s contemporary galleries. Then visit George Street in New Town for shopping and a bite to eat. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom; the language is English and the currency is the British pound. Ships dock in Leith, a 30-minute walk or 10-minute cab/bus ride from the city center.

The second-largest city in Germany sits on the River Elbe, and its port is one of the largest in the world. Ships dock at the Altona terminal, about 2.5 miles (4 km) from the center of the city; some ships may dock closer to the city at the new HafenCity cruise terminal. Book a shore excursion with a hop-on hop-off bus pass to visit attractions like St Michaelis church and the warehouse district. The language is German, but English is often understood. The currency is the euro.

The Baltic Sea city of Helsinki—the capital and largest city of Finland—is nearly surrounded by water. Ships dock at either the South Terminal, which is walking distance to the city, or West Terminal, where you can catch a cab. Visit Market Square to pick up souvenirs, and then visit Suomenlinna Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re a museum person, you’ll be in heaven with the Design Museum, Natural History Museum, City Museum, and more. The language is Finnish and the currency is the euro.

Cruises to London don’t actually dock in London, as the city isn’t on the coast, but instead pull into ports in Dover, Harwich and Southampton. Book a private port transfer for a comfortable ride into the city, or book a shore excursion that includes transport from the port with detours to attractions like Stonehenge, Canterbury and Leeds Castle. The language of England is English, and the currency is the British pound.

Oslo, the capital and largest city of Norway, sits at the base of the Oslofjord, an arm of the North Sea. Ships dock within walking distance of downtown, where you can see many attractions on foot, including the Nobel Peace Prize Center. To enjoy the area’s fjords, book a shore excursion that includes a sightseeing cruise. The language of Norway is Norwegian, and the currency is the Norwegian krone.

Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital and largest city, and sits on the southwest coast of the island. Small ships may dock in town, but most cruises pull into the Skarfabakki dock, about 2 miles (1.2 km) from the city center. The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most famous attractiontake a shore excursion for easy transport there. Or if you’d rather
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