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12 best cruises from Newcastle for your next getaway

by Staff

Newcastle welcomed its first cruise ship back in 1999 and the Port of Tyne has since made sailings to everywhere from the Arctic to the Netherlands. It’s perfect for those who live in the northeast and don’t want to travel to southern cities such as Southampton for a flight-free cruise and it also makes a fun base for a couple of days before a sailing; the port is just nine miles from the buzzy city centre. Here are 12 of the best cruises from Newcastle. 

Main photo: cruise ships in the harbour on the Tagus river in Lisbon (Alamy)

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1. Scandinavia

Sunset over the harbour in Copenhagen, Denmark
Sunset in Copenhagen, one of the stops on this cruise of Denmark and Sweden (Getty Images)

Take in two cool capitals, Copenhagen and Stockholm, on this 12-night cruise to Denmark and Sweden. Ambassador Cruise Line, the first new British cruise line in a decade, provides a premium-value experience aimed primarily at the over-fifties market. You’ll be on-board the line’s latest ship, Ambition, which joined the fleet in 2023 and carries 1,200 guests. Highlights include Copenhagen’s historic harbour, once the home of fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, and the Swedish island Gotland, where Vikings once lived.  

Details 12-night Treasures of Denmark & Sweden with Ambassador Cruise Line departing on September 30, 2024, from £1,247pp

2. Scotland 

Skyline of Edinburgh at dusk looking down the Royal MileSkyline of Edinburgh at dusk looking down the Royal Mile
Spend some time in Edinburgh at the end of this mini-cruise to Scotland (Getty Images)

Curious to find out more about cruising but don’t want to commit to a long voyage? Your best bet is a mini-sailing to test the water. Try Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ friendly 1,325-passenger Balmoral, the smallest ship in the fleet, on a scenic sailing with no stops, on which you’ll head along the Scottish coastline to the town of Rosyth. It’s the chance to savour a brief taste of cruising with a five-course à la carte dinner and a full programme of evening entertainment — and when you disembark you can take a look at Rosyth Castle, close to the dockyards, or spend a day or two in Edinburgh before heading home. 

Details One-night mini-cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing on June 26, 2024, from £179pp

3. Antwerp

The half-timbered houses of Rouen in NormandyThe half-timbered houses of Rouen in Normandy
The half-timbered houses of Rouen, a stop on this Ambassador cruise (Alamy)

It’s unusual to combine a sea cruise with a river cruise, but Ambassador Cruise Line’s small ships are able to navigate waterways that are inaccessible to larger cruise ships. Ambition sails up the River Scheldt and moors in the heart of Antwerp, a stone’s throw from the grand main square with the chance to explore the city’s dazzling diamond district or sample Belgium’s famous beers. From here, the nimble Ambition sails along the Seine to Rouen, the colourful capital of Normandy, known for its medieval half-timbered houses and gothic churches.

Details Eight-night River Seine Experience & Antwerp sailing with Ambassador Cruise Line departing on October 19, 2024, from £815pp

4. The Mediterranean

Barbary macaques in GibraltarBarbary macaques in Gibraltar
Passengers will meet the Barbary macaques of Gibraltar on this Fred Olsen cruise (Getty Images)

Explore the riches of the Mediterranean on this extended island-hopping cruise where you’ll have four days to enjoy the amenities aboard Fred Olsen’s Balmoral before arriving in Gibraltar. Here you can visit the eponymous rock to get acquainted with the most famous locals — the Barbary macaques that are Europe’s only primate species. Other stops include Malta, to discover a legacy shaped by the Romans, Greeks, Crusaders and British, and the charming town of Propriano in Corsica, before visiting Spanish cities including ancient Cadiz.

Details 19-night Exploring the Islands of the Mediterranean cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing September 14, 2024, from £2,618pp

5. Normandy

Claude Monet's garden at GivernyClaude Monet's garden at Giverny
Monet’s garden at Giverny, visited on this cruise focusing on horticulture (Alamy)

Keen gardeners will enjoy this green-fingered voyage that includes horticultural highlights in the Netherlands, France and temperate Scilly Isles. Timed to coincide with the Dutch tulip season, there’s a chance to visit spectacular Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Equally famous is Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, reached when Borealis moors at Honfleur, where the lily ponds are instantly recognisable from his paintings. On the Scilly island of St Mary’s, guests can discover the wonderful, subtropical Tresco Abbey Gardens.

Details Eight-night Floral Amsterdam, Normandy & the Scilly Isles with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing April 17, 2025, from £1,066pp

6. The British Isles

The harbour in Hugh Town, St Mary's, Scilly IslesThe harbour in Hugh Town, St Mary's, Scilly Isles
The harbour in Hugh Town, a stop on this Ambassador cruise (Alamy)

Discover the length and breadth of the British Isles on this immersive sailing. After stopping at Dundee and enjoying a day at sea, Ambassador’s Ambition will visit bustling Kirkwall on Orkney before heading to the Shetland Islands. Other ports include Ireland’s maritime capital, Belfast, where the evocative Titanic Experience relives the history of the ill-fated liner’s last port of call. Next up are the Isles of Scilly, with plenty of time to wander around charming Hugh Town on St Mary’s, before sailing to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. 

Details 12-night British Isles & Ireland Discovery sailing with Ambassador Cruise Line departing August 28, 2024, from £1,391pp

7. Iceland

Snorkellers in Iceland at the Silfra rift, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates divergeSnorkellers in Iceland at the Silfra rift, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates diverge
Snorkellers in Iceland at the Silfra rift, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates diverge (Alamy)

Wildlife and nature come to the fore on this voyage to Iceland to marvel at striking landscapes, ranging from glaciers and icebergs to geysers and hot springs. With vast stretches of unspoiled nature, it’s an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts who can snorkel through the glacial waters of Thingvellir National Park or embark on a glacier hike and walk behind a waterfall in Reykjavik. Representatives from the wildlife charity Orca will join the cruise on Balmoral to help passengers spot cetaceans from the deck, and you can also meet astronomers from Go Stargazing to pinpoint planets and constellations in the clear night sky.

Details Nine-night Iceland’s Whales, Waterfalls & Way of Life itinerary with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing August 29, 2024, from £1,357pp

8. The Arctic

The northern lights near Tromso in NorwayThe northern lights near Tromso in Norway
The northern lights near Tromso (Getty Images)

With one of the shortest cruising distances to Norway, Newcastle is ideally placed as the gateway to go in search of Norway’s northern lights, Mother Nature’s most spectacular wonder. This sailing aboard Ambition is ideally timed to maximise chances of spotting the lights dancing across the sky and scientists predict that the 2024 season will bring some of the best displays in 20 years due to optimum solar conditions. You’ll visit Tromso, the world’s northernmost university city, lying 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle and dubbed the “Gateway to the Arctic”. On the way home Ambition moors at picturesque Bergen, which is surrounded by mountains and fjords and with pretty waterfront buildings.  

Details 14-night Norway’s Land of the Northern Lights sailing with Ambassador Cruise Line departing November 7, 2024, from £1,592pp

9. Norwegian fjords

Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, Norway Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, Norway
Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, one of the stops on this Norway cruise (Alamy)

Seasonal wonders abound on this springtime sailing to Norway. It’s the time of year when mountain ice starts to melt and waterfalls are at their strongest. Fred Olsen’s 1,388-passenger Borealis is small enough to sail into the fjords and provide amazing close-up views. You’ll visit picturesque towns such as Vik, nestled on the bank of Sognefjord, which is the largest and deepest fjord in Norway at over 125 miles long and 1,300m (4,265ft) deep. Cultural excursions include walking in the footsteps of musical greats such as Grieg and Kygo in Bergen.

Details Seven-night Springtime Norwegian Fjords sailing with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing April 25, 2025, from £1,163pp

10. Scottish islands

The uninhabited island of Staffa in ScotlandThe uninhabited island of Staffa in Scotland
The uninhabited island of Staffa, which guests will see on this cruise of Scotland’s remote places (Alamy)

Sail north of the border on Borealis and delve into some of Scotland’s most remote areas. You’ll take in the remarkable basalt columns of Fingal’s Cave, on the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides, and the bonnet-shaped island of Bac Mor near Mull. The shis also drops anchor in Skye and in Stornoway on the Isle of Harris there’s a chance to find out how the famous tweed is made, and create a souvenir to take home.

Details Seven-night Scenic Isles of Scotland cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing May 7, 2025, from £1,066

11. Portugal

Pastel de nata, Portuguese pastryPastel de nata, Portuguese pastry
Learn how to make pastel de nata in Lisbon on this cruise of Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar (Getty Images)

Join a lesson to learn the fiery flamenco on this cruise which aims to highlight the cultural traditions of Gibraltar, Spain and Portugal. Gibraltar guards the entrance to the Mediterranean and there’s a tour to explore a maze of tunnels carved during the 18th-century Great Siege. The ship then sails on to Cadiz, the birthplace of tapas, while in Lisbon you can uncover Portugal’s seafaring history or learn to make the city’s flaky egg tarts, pastel de nata, with a local chef.

Details 13-night Maritime Traditions of Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar sailing with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines departing April 4, 2025, from £1,648pp

12. Spain

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in SpainThe Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which guests will visit on this cruise of Spain and France (Alamy)

Can’t make up your mind between France and Spain? Then go to both. This sailing is a treasure trove of history and culture with a wide range of shore tours from Ambition to make the most of your time. Visit Spain’s Santiago de Compostela, marking the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and the reputed burial site of the apostle St James. If you like your wine, don’t miss booking the excursion from Le Verdon to Bordeaux to sample the region’s famous reds.

Details 14-night Hidden Gems of France & Spain sailing with Ambassador Cruise Line departing September 16, 2024, from £1,986pp

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