North East England’s amazing cities, historic sites and stunning, sweeping coastline is receiving more cruise ship visitors year on year. And, when you look at the wealth of attractions encompassed within such a welcoming, relatively compact area, it’s hardly surprising that the really savvy, forward thinking lines are already visiting and, in some cases, even basing ships on Tyneside during the long, light days of summer.
History in it’s most classical sense is on display in dignified, dramatic Durham, the third oldest university city in the United Kingdom, and also the site of a truly stunning Norman castle and cathedral, dating from the year 1086, that sits overlooking the meandering sweep of the River Wear. Granted UNESCO World Heritage Status, this remarkable brace of Romanesque revelations constitute the most completely intact constructions of their kind anywhere in Northern Europe.
All cruises to date arrive at North Shields/Port Of Tyne, the gateway to the region. Not far away is Newcastle, a swaggering, graceful city garlanded with some stunning Georgian architecture, and an amazing span of bridges that vault the steel grey Tyne itself. This alone makes for one of the most heart stopping and dramatic photo opportunities in the world. Not too far away is the stand alone Angel Of The North, initially controversial, but now as much a symbol of the region as the famous Tyne Bridge itself.
Intrigued by Harry Potter? Just north of Newcastle is stately, patrician Alnwick, with the castle and formal gardens that were used as sets for the world famous film series. And the local White Swan Hotel also contains many of the first class fittings and fixtures from the Olympic, the almost identical twin sister ship of the Titanic. It’s a wonderful setting for afternoon tea, or just a look around.
That same coastline of Northumbria is famed for some amazing, honey coloured beaches, crowned by ancient ruined castles clinging to stunning headlands, where the play of light across sea and landscape is truly breathtaking. This is the area around Lindisfarne, a storied and stoic outcrop steeped in lore, legend, and memories of Saint Cuthbert.
Moving south from Durham, you have cities such as Stockton, quite literally the birthplace of modern rail travel, and historic Hartlepool, with its preserved old naval quarter that plays home to the HMS Trincomalee, an outstanding example of a Nelson era, fully restored ship of the line. Sunderland has beautiful, covered winter gardens, with a riot of gorgeous fauna displays, and swathes of sturdy old Victorian architecture right throughout the city centre.
When you combine all of this with world class shopping and dining, and add in the natural warmth and friendliness of the local population, the wonder surely is that more cruise ships do not have Port Of Tyne on their schedules. As time passes, expect that to change dramatically.
And, if you want to actually cruise from here to the convenient, absolutely spellbinding scenery of Norway and Scandinavia, both Cruise And Maritime and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have ships that sail, round trip, from the Tyne during the summer. A great opportunity, then, to combine a fantastic cruise adventures with the warmth and beauty of North East England.