Edinburgh (from South Queensferry) cruises

As you sail up the River Forth you will spot the magnificent rail bridge with its lacy metalwork spanning the water in the distance. It is at this point you will know your cruise to South Queensferry will be a journey of culture and majesty. After docking at Hawes Pier passengers are transported to the mainland. However, before heading straight to the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, it is worth taking time to explore Queensferry itself.

Queensferry is somewhat defined by the road and rail bridges which stand either side of the town, dominating the skyline. The town slopes up from the shore and so the streets are intriguingly stepped to cope with the gradient, with one side much higher than the other. The houses are colourful, the shops quirky and the streets very narrow.

Things to see and do

South Queensferry, known as ‘The Ferry’ to locals, is a pretty town with winding lanes and historic attractions. Inchcolm Abbey is one of the top attractions in the town as it is one of the best preserved monastic buildings in Scotland. The 12th century abbey also provides stunning views across the coastline of the River Forth. You are also well advised to admire the Forth Bridge, an incredible cantilever railway bridge and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is only a 20 minute ride to Edinburgh from South Queensferry and this outstanding city is a different proposition altogether. The incredible architecture and majestic buildings seem to spill over from the extinct volcano now known as Arthur’s Seat. Edinburgh Castle crowns the city on top of the hill and has done so for well over a thousand years. Scottish monarchs commissioned these grand buildings as demonstrations of their wealth, power and sophistication.

Edinburgh is truly a shopper’s paradise with luxury brands, big department stores and exclusive boutiques. Princes Street offers shoppers an uninterrupted view of the castle and the old town landscape with shops only populating one side of the street. All the flagship department stores are represented, and every Saturday there is a traditional farmers’ market selling local produce and crafts.

Whenever you feel like a break from shopping, there is a diverse range of tea rooms, chic bars and traditional pubs to choose from. Food in Edinburgh is as varied and exciting as you would expect from a cosmopolitan capital. It has some of the best authentic international cuisine to satisfy everyone’s taste. For a flavour of the traditional, try the local speciality of haggis. Made with minced meat, oatmeal, suet and spices and boiled in the stomach of a sheep, haggis is an acquired taste but a must-try for visitors. Scottish shortbread and whisky are two more palatable delicacies to try in Edinburgh.

For the more curious spirits, beneath the bustle of the streets lies a network of tunnels and vaults that form a labyrinthine network of rooms and dwelling places dating back to early Georgian times. Today there are guided tours and ghost walks in the tunnels, some of which have recorded some very curious and unexplained phenomena. The vaults are unique and remind us of the city’s intriguing, colourful and mysterious past.

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • St Andrews

    One of Europe's finest coastal towns, St Andrews is a place of history and culture and the world's home of golf.

    St Andrews

    Set on the east coast and surrounded by countryside, St Andrews is named after Scotland’s patron saint and is home to the world’s oldest golf club, the Royal and Ancient.

    Your drive will take you along the main route that runs northwards from the Forth Road Bridge, before branching off onto country roads with fine pastoral views heading towards St Andrews. Upon arrival, a short photo stop will be made at the impressive ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, which are amongst the most photographed sites in Scotland.

    Your tour will then continue with a panoramic drive of St Andrews, through the bustling centre of town and then enjoying an overview of the layout of the golf courses. During your drive, you’ll also view the exterior of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which has been of central importance in the evolution of the game of golf, both in St Andrews and world-wide. A stop will be made close by to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, where you’ll have some free time to explore at your own leisure. Perhaps take a short stroll around the areas of the old course or browse the quaint specialist shops selling golfing memorabilia and clothing.

    Afterwards, rejoin your coach for the return drive to South Queensferry.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The journey to St Andrews is around 1¼ hours each way. Any walking undertaken is at the guests’ discretion. There are steps to negotiate on to and off the coach. Free time will be around one hour and 20 minutes.

    Tour code

    SQ1_015

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • A Royal Experience

    Visit the royal residence occupied by Her Majesty The Queen whenever visiting Edinburgh, and explore her beloved private yacht.

    A Royal Experience

    Once described as The Queen's floating palace and her 'home away from home', a tour around the Royal Yacht Britannia is a master class in style and luxury, and a unique insight into the lives of the British Royal Family. As host to glittering state and official occasions, this remains one of the most famous ships in the world. Discover Britannia's fascinating past through exhibits, displays and photographs, before visiting the Royal Apartments, where hundreds of original items are on display in the Sun Lounge, Drawing Room and Bedrooms, as well as the Working Deck, Officer's Mess, Garage and Engine Room.

    After the fascinating visit to Britannia, your journey will take you into the heart of Edinburgh for a tour of the bustling city highlights before stopping at a hotel for a delicious three course luncheon.

    After luncheon, you'll have time to browse the shops on Princes Street or see the magnificent Edinburgh Castle which is surrounded by lovely grounds before rejoining your coach for the drive along part of the Royal Mile. Standing proudly at the end of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Palace, the official Scottish residence of Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. The Palace was built in the style of a French chateau and contains the Great Gallery, which is adorned with over 100 portraits of Scottish monarchs through the ages. There is also a chance to explore the beautiful grounds where the Queen hosts her annual Garden Party.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There is up to three hours' of walking on this tour. The tour of Holyrood Palace will be partially guided, as you will have time to explore the rooms on your own. The rooms associated with Mary Queen of Scots are accessed via a narrow, spiral staircase consisting of 25 steps.

    Tour code

    SQ1_014

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Meal included

      Meal Included

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    8½ hours

  • Mary King's Close & Edinburgh

    Head to Edinburgh and discover Mary King’s Close, a piece of history that lies beneath the Royal Mile.

    Mary King's Close & Edinburgh

    Step back in time and picture the year of 1645, as you discover Mary King’s Close resurrected as one of Edinburgh’s major attractions.

    Beneath the City Chambers along Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile, lies Mary King’s Close, a network of narrow underground alleyways, winding streets and spaces. Archeologically and historically accurate, Mary King’s Close and neighbouring ‘closes’ were at the heart of Edinburgh’s busiest and most vibrant streets. Shrouded in mystery, discover how the streets became underground 400 years later as your costumed guide takes you on a tour through the ‘closes’. Your guide will depict one of the characters from the past whose life touched Mary King’s Close and will share fascinating and intriguing stories with you.

    Following your visit to Mary King’s Close, you’ll have some limited free time in Edinburgh, before returning to South Queensferry.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Children under the age of five may not participate. Guests must be in good physical condition. This tour is not suitable for those who suffer from claustrophobia or those with asthma, due to the dust that can be present in such a confined area. There are three flights of steps, 58 descending and 38 ascending. The ground is uneven in parts with some steep inclines and the walkways are dimly lit. Flat, non slip walking shoes are essential. Due to the nature of the attraction, pushchairs cannot be accommodated. The tour of Mary King’s Close lasts around one hour. Free time in Edinburgh is around 45 minutes. Please take careful note of the meeting point and time for the return drive, as coaches cannot be held for latecomers.

    Tour code

    SQ1_017

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Leisurely Edinburgh

    Visit the magnificent capital of Edinburgh, a city which offers an interesting balance between traditional and contemporary.

    Leisurely Edinburgh

    Enjoy a fascinating city tour that embraces most of Edinburgh's treasure trove of historical monuments and sights, in both the medieval 'Old Town', and the 18th century 'New Town', both of which form a World Heritage Site.

    During your journey, view the many elegant streets, mysterious cobbled alleys with Georgian and Victorian architecture, nestling alongside a variety of vibrant, cosmopolitan and modern elements, including an abundance of shops, bars and restaurants. The most majestic aspect of the city is medieval Edinburgh Castle which dominates the skyline. Before returning to the ship, drive along part of the historic and atmospheric Royal Mile, and pass Holyrood Palace, the Queen's residence in Edinburgh.

    This tour is ideal for those who prefer to sightsee from the comfort of a coach.


    This excursion will operate by coach. There will be a comfort stop en route.

    Tour code

    SQ1_001

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Magnificent Edinburgh Castle & City

    Visit Scotland's magnificent and historic capital, and explore its world-famous medieval Castle.

    Magnificent Edinburgh Castle & City

    Travel into Edinburgh, with its dramatic setting perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags. Enjoy a fascinating city tour before visiting the impressive Edinburgh Castle.

    Dominating the city, the Castle has been home to Scottish Kings and Queens through the centuries. Enjoy a partially guided visit of the Castle, before spending some free time on the historic and atmospheric Royal Mile.

    After rejoining the coach, pass Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s residence in Edinburgh, see the extensive, rather wild Royal Park, the landmark Arthur’s Seat and the Georgian New Town, with its elegant townhouses and private parks.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There is up to 1 ¾ hours of walking at Edinburgh Castle, with cobbled pathways and a long sloping pathway to the main area. This tour aims to provide around 30 minutes of free time at the Royal Mile, this is however dependant on local conditions on the day.

    Tour code

    SQ1_004

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Edinburgh On Your Own

    Explore Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital, whose Old Town and Georgian New Town form a World Heritage Site.

    Edinburgh On Your Own

    Edinburgh has a treasure trove of historical monuments and sights in both the medieval `Old Town`, and the 18th century `New Town`. These include Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, famous Princes Street and its shops, the Outlook Tower and its view over the city.

    Whether you are sightseeing or shopping there are an abundance of places to eat and drink to keep you replenished. This unguided tour gives you the freedom to choose what to do with your day out.


    This excursion will operate by coach. Guests are advised that this tour is unguided and exclusive of entrance fees. The journey time to Edinburgh is around 45 minutes each way depending on traffic. Maps will be provided. There is approximately 5½ hours of free time. Please take careful note of the departure time and pick up point for your return transfer to the ship.

    Tour code

    SQ1_009

    Features

    • Activity low

      Activity Level: Low

    • Shopping

      Shopping

    Duration

    7 hours

  • Holyrood palace & Panoramic Edinburgh

    An opportunity to see the Edinburgh residence of Her Majesty the Queen and enjoy a panoramic tour of the main attractions of this most royal of Scottish cities.

    Holyrood palace & Panoramic Edinburgh

    Departing South Queensferry by coach, you’ll head into Edinburgh and begin a tour of Edinburgh's treasure trove of historic sights and buildings. Tour the Old Town, dominated by the famous castle, before arriving at the intriguing, cobbled Royal Mile, with its innumerable alleys and closes, and on to your main visit, Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s Residence. The Palace was built in the style of a French chateau, the Great Gallery is adorned with over a hundred portraits of Scottish monarchs through the ages and the Royal Apartments are fascinating for their associations with Mary, Queen of Scots’ turbulent history. There is also a chance to explore the beautiful grounds where the Queen hosts her annual Garden Party to honour Scotland’s great and good, with its ingenious “ha-ha“ border that gives the illusion that there is no wall separating the Palace grounds from the rest of Holyrood Park.

    From here, you’ll continue your panoramic tour, visiting the elegant Georgian New Town before returning to the ship at South Queensferry.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The tour of Holyrood Palace will be partially guided, as you will have time to explore the rooms on your own. The rooms associated with Mary Queen of Scots are accessed via a narrow, spiral staircase consisting of 25 steps.

    Tour code

    SQ1_018

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Royal Yacht Britannia

    Visit Her Majesty The Queen's beloved private yacht and discover the heart and soul of this most special royal residence.

    Royal Yacht Britannia

    The Royal Yacht Britannia, once home to The Queen and the Royal Family, is now based permanently in Edinburgh. You will have the chance to explore the ship whilst your audio guide provides you with captivating stories and rare glimpses into the life of the British Royal Family.

    This magnificent floating palace is a master class in style and luxury, and remains one of the most famous ships in the world. Britannia has hosted many glittering state and official occasions, where she has welcomed some of the world's most famous and influential people including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Rajiv Gandhi and Boris Yeltsin.

    The tour covers five of Britannia’s decks which will take you from the fabulous State Apartments to the crew quarters and the gleaming Engine Room. Highlights will include the State Dining Room, Sun Lounge, Officers Wardroom and the on board garage which houses one of Her Majesty’s Rolls-Royces. You will also have the unique opportunity to see inside the Queen’s Bedroom, a rare insight that is not possible at any other royal residence.

    Discover Britannia's fascinating past through exhibits, displays and photographs found in the different rooms, the majority of these items are the original pieces, which have been loaned from the Royal Collection.


    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. All five decks are fully accessible for wheelchair users and there are lifts and ramps throughout. In order to enjoy the whole tour wheelchairs should be no wider than 26 inches.

    Tour code

    SQ1_012

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    4 hours

  • Falkirk Wheel & Antonine Wall

    Discover the Falkirk Wheel, a uniquely designed rotating boat lift that joins the Forth and Clyde Canals.

    Falkirk Wheel & Antonine Wall

    The Falkirk Wheel was designed and constructed to provide a solution to join 2 canals and today it is Scotland’s most exciting example of 21st century engineering. It’s unique and eye- catching sculpture makes it an unusual attraction, and it has already made its claim as a major Scottish landmark.

    Upon arrival at the Falkirk Wheel, you’ll embark on a canal boat ride that will take you more than 100 feet into the air. Your boat will manoeuvre into the bottom gondola of the wheel, which then makes a graceful sweep, lifting the boat up and depositing it on the Union Canal that is supported on columns 100 feet above. The ascent takes approximately 15 minutes, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the surrounding scenery. Once lifted, your boat takes you smoothly from the wheel straight into the Union Canal and passes along the aqueduct.

    As your boat ride comes to an end and once back on dry land, you’ll take a walk to the Antonine Wall. Built in 142 AD, the Roman wall still remains intact today and has the accolade of being a world heritage site. Here, you can enjoy a photo opportunity, before rejoining your coach for the return drive to South Queensferry.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves around 1½ hours of walking over some uneven terrain. The walk to the Antonine Wall is optional. Guests may choose to remain at the Falkirk Wheel Visitors Centre. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. A degree of agility is required to board the canal boat. A warm jacket is advisable as it may feel cooler during the canal boat ride.

    Tour code

    SQ1_016

    Features

    • Activity medium

      Activity Level: Medium

    Duration

    4½ hours

  • Holyrood Palace & Royal Yacht Britannia

    Visit the residence occupied by Her Majesty The Queen whenever visiting Edinburgh, and see her beloved private yacht.

    Holyrood Palace & Royal Yacht Britannia

    Once described as her floating palace and her ‘home away from home’, a tour around the Royal Yacht Britannia is a master class in style and luxury, and a unique insight into the lives of the British Royal Family. As host to glittering state and official occasions, this remains one of the most famous ships in the world. Discover Britannia’s fascinating past through exhibits, displays and photographs, before visiting the Royal Apartments, where hundreds of original items are on display in the Sun Lounge, Drawing Room and Bedrooms, as well as the Working Deck, Officer’s Mess, Sick Bay and Engine Room.

    Holyrood Palace, which stands proudly at the eastern end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, is the official Scottish residence Queen Elizabeth II. The Palace was built in the style of a French chateau and contains the Great Gallery, which is adorned with over 100 portraits of Scottish monarchs through the ages. There is also a chance to explore the beautiful grounds where the Queen hosts her annual Garden Party.

    This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The tour of Holyrood Palace will be partially guided, as you will have time to explore the rooms on your own. The rooms associated with Mary Queen of Scots are accessed via a narrow, spiral staircase consisting of 25 steps.

    Tour code

    SQ1_003

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    Duration

    5½ hours