Kirkwall Cruises – Cruise to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands Scotland with P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises now offer a selection of cruises that include the town of Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands Scotland as a Port-of-Call.

The 70 or so Orkney Islands lie at the north west tip of Scotland, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea. Kirkwall, the capital of the archipelago, is a Viking town founded in 1035 by Earl Rognvald Brusason.
You’ll find that the original ancient Norse town has been beautifully preserved and provides an intriguing place to while away your time.

For such a small town, there is plenty to see and do. Visit one of Scotland’s finest town houses – The Tankerness House Museum – where examples of Orkney’s rich archaeology are on display. Alternatively there are two palaces to explore; the mid-century Bishop’s Palace and the stunning Earl’s Palace, with its French Renaissance style of architecture. And there’s St. Magnus Cathedral, which was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald Kolson in memory of his uncle Saint Magnus. The island’s 5,000 years of culture ensures you will find history around every corner.

A full list of the P&O cruises that feature Kirkwall as a Port of Call can be found here:

Kirkwall Cruises from P&O Cruises

P&O Kirkwall Cruises also feature a fantastic selection of shore excursions. We’ve listed a few of the most popular excursions below. Please check the P&O Kirkwall Excursions page for a complete list of current excursions.

Orkney Panorama
Discover a veritable haven abounding with fantastic wildlife, breathtaking panoramas and fascinating ancient wonders.

Follow the marvellous coastal trail through the Parish of Evie. Here you will be afforded stunning views across Eynhallow Sound to the Island of Rousay and the spectacular tidal roosts on either side of the mysterious Isle of Eynhallow, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Skirting the nearby Birsay Moors RSPB Reserve, a stop will be made at the sandy beach of Birsay Bay, from where the imposing cliffs at Marwick Head can be seen, another designated reserve and arguably the best sea bird cliffs in Orkney.

Keep your eyes alert for your stop at the magnificent cliffs of Yesnaby, where you will find one of the most dramatic seascapes in Orkney and also the rare Primula Scotica (Scottish primrose) which blooms only in May and July.

Travel inland through an area of rich farmland, rolling hills and moorland on the way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’. Here you will see the great ceremonial stone circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, and stop at the imposing Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.

Your journey then takes you via the Brig o’ Waithe and the Kirbister Loch, eastward around the coast and close to the World War II Naval Base of Scapa Flow. Your guide will tell you dramatic wartime stories that make this one of the best known stretches of water in the world.

Archaeological Wonders
This scenic circular tour takes in the beautiful West Mainland and a concentration of World Heritage pre-historic sites.

Travel through an area of rich farmland, rolling hills and moorland, fringed by magnificent cliffs, to visit the great ceremonial megalith circles of the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness before arriving at Skara Brae.

Skara Brae is one of Orkney’s most exciting and oldest monuments, an entire 5,000 year-old Neolithic village, beautifully preserved and interpreted in a new visitors’ centre. Lying beside the pretty, sandy crescent of the Bay of Skaill, this stone age settlement was totally buried under sand for thousands of years, until suddenly revealed during a fierce storm in 1850. Amongst the fascinating relics found here are tools, beads, pottery and whalebone artefacts. Looking across the village, it is easy to imagine how it looked all those centuries ago, and close inspection of the houses gives a unique insight into how our ancient ancestors lived.

The hardship of life in Skara Brae can be directly contrasted to Orkney’s finest manor house, Skaill House, located next door. It was built by a powerful Bishop in 1620 on an ancient graveyard and is now surrounded by spacious lawned gardens in a beautiful secluded spot between the sea and the Loch of Skaill.

Return to Kirkwall via the historic bay of Scapa Flow, one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.

Sagas, Relics and Whisky
Combine causeways and fascinating relics of World War II with a visit to the northernmost whisky distillery in Scotland.

Founded in 1798 the Highland Park Distillery is the world’s most northerly producer of whisky. Enjoy an interesting guided tour of the distillery with a presentation and a tasting of the traditional ‘peedie dram’ (shot of whisky).

Afterwards, you will hear dramatic wartime stories as you drive close to the World War II Naval Base of Scapa Flow, one of the best known stretches of water in the world. The causeway that links the 2 islands together was originally built from cement blocks to restrict access to the Naval Base, but is now surfaced with a roadway to provide a service to the islands previously connected by ferry.

On Lamb Holm, stop for a brief visit of the beautifully hand-painted Italian Chapel. Built by Italian prisoners during the last World War, the Chapel has been preserved and maintained for its historical connection with the soldiers from Italy.

Back in Kirkwall there will be free time to enjoy this pretty town, dominated by the magnificent 12th century, red sandstone St Magnus Cathedral, known as the ‘Light of the North’. It is the finest medieval building in northern Scotland.

Scenic South Isles
Discover the local history and scenery as you take a leisurely drive around Orkney’s picturesque southern islands.

As you travel close to the Second World War Naval Base of Scapa Flow, your knowledgeable guide will tell dramatic wartime stories relating to this well known historic stretch of water. Heading south, you’ll reach the southern islands which are linked by a series of causeways called the Churchill Barriers.

On the small island of Lamb Holm you’ll stop to visit the beautifully hand-painted Italian Chapel. Known as the miracle of Camp 60, this remarkable structure was built by Italian Prisoners during the last World War. The Chapel has been preserved and maintained for its historical connection with the soldiers from Italy.

Continuing on to the island of South Ronaldsay, you’ll head for the pretty village of St Margaret’s Hope, which sits at the head of a sheltered bay. There will be time here to explore the craft workshop, browse the shops or stroll along the attractive waterfront.

Rejoining your coach, your journey will take you to the island of Burray. A stop will be made for refreshments at the Sands Hotel, located in a delightful setting overlooking the peaceful harbour of Burray Village, before returning to the port.

You will find the full and current list of P&O Kirkwall Shore Excursions at

Kirkwall Shore Excursions from P&O Cruises

Book online and qualify for P&O online booking discounts.

All P&O Cruises to Kirkwall are fully bookable online at P&O Cruises.

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