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Europe / Northern Europe Cruises / United Kingdom

Cruises to Kirkwall

Cruises timetable and data for this port of call

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Kirkwall main data and map

As the main town in Orkney, Kirkwall (ON Kirkjuvagr - Church Bay) makes a good starting point for a visit to the islands. It is first mentioned in the sagas as the dwelling place of Earl Rognvald Brusison about 1035, who built a church dedicated to King Olav of Norway there. The town developed around the Cathedral, and became the administrative and commercial centre, with its access to the North Isles, central position and sheltered harbour in the then much bigger Peedie Sea. Today the winding main Street still follows the shape of the original settlement, and many of the fine old houses with end-on gables date from the 16th to 18th centuries. Narrow lanes run off the Street which has many attractive shops. At Broad Street it opens into the expanse of the grass-covered Kirk Green in front of St Magnus Cathedral. The attractive harbour front is the scene of much activity with ferries and fishing boats. Over the last 200 years the pier has greatly expanded, but the Harbour Basin still retains much of its charm. The Orkney Museum is housed in Tankerness House, parts of which date from the 15th century. This museum is a good starting point from which to gain an insight into Orkney’s rich past. The Tankerness Gardens behind the museum make a pleasant place for a seat on a nice day. St Magnus Cathedral is across the road, and makes an excellent finale to a visit, with its peaceful interior. The nearby Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces date from Norse and Scottish times. Wideford Hill, just to the west of Kirkwall is situated on the Old Finstown Road. It can be reached by footpath and by road. From the summit most of the North and South Isles, East and West Mainland and Scapa Flow can be seen. Kirkwall is an excellent place to seek out interesting souvenirs or presents, with its wide variety of quality shops stocking knitwear, Orkney jewellery and crafts, local books, as well as many other home-produced items. In addition there is a good selection of Orkney food and drink products such as Highland Park Whisky, Orkney Herring, Orkney Cheese, smoked fish of various kinds and of course the famous Orkney Beef. The Highland Park Visitor Centre on the edge of the town offers visits to the distillery and an excellent audiovisual introduction to Orkney and the making of Highland Park, as well as an enchanting shop which stocks many interesting items.

Schedule for the upcoming cruises to Kirkwall

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