Why go?

Invergordon is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. It’s an ideal base for cruise passengers wanting to travel to some of Scotland’s most iconic sights, including the pretty town of Inverness, romantic Urquhart and Eilean Donan Castles or the peaty depths of Loch Ness for a spot of monster hunting.

Cruise port location

Passengers disembark at Admiralty Pier, less than 1640ft (500m) from Invergordon high street. There are berths at the pier for several large liners and also anchorage in the vast natural harbour when tenders are required. Invergordon receives 100,000 passengers a year and most cruise lines that travel to northern Europe visit.

Can I walk to any places of interest?

Cruise ships are welcomed to Invergordon with a pipe band and dancers on the pier. The village is small (a 10 minute walk). There’s not a lot to see, but it’s known for its colourful historical murals by local artists and the Naval and Heritage Museum traces the town’s long naval history.

Getting around

Invergordon is so small you can walk everywhere. You’ll find a bus just beyond the pier in the high street to Inverness (number 25X) that runs every 30 minutes. It takes around 45 minutes and costs £11 return.

Hotels

The Ship Inn and Tuckers Inn are both right on the shoreline with views of the Cromarty Firth (and the cruise ships) – you can’t get much closer to the port than this. For romantics who like the idea of a Scottish baronial castle, there is the four star Kincraig Castle Hotel and there’s a Premier Inn in town for a budget stay. For a home from home, try the charming and well-equipped apartments at The Servants’ Quarters at Delny House.

Eilean Donan castle is one of many to be seen from around Invergordon

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What to see and do

What can I do in four hours or less?

If time is tight, go to nearby Fortrose, one of the best places to see the dolphins of the Moray Firth. This region is full of whisky distilleries, many offering tours and tastings and within reach if you only have a half-day. You’re also within striking distance of Macbeth’s Cawdor Castle. In fact, nothing to do with Macbeth, it was built in the 15th century and became the home of the Campbell clan in the 16th century and remains so today this day. Its gardens are exceptional, especially the Walled Garden originally planted in the 17th century.

What can I do in eight hours or less?

Inverness is the capital and largest city of the Highlands and deserves a day to itself. You can get to know the place with a hop-on, hop-off, open-top bus. In the Old Town, you’ll find the 19th century castle (not open to the public), the Cathedral of St Andrew and the cast-iron covered Victorian Market full of specialist shops offering local products.

Organised excursions from your ship will take you further afield. Top spots include Glen Affric, surely one of the most beautiful glens in the Highlands and filled with wildlife; brooding Culloden Moor was the site of the last major battle in mainland Britain; and there are plenty of castles to visit – Eilean Donan, Dornoch, Beauly, Dunrobin, Urquhart.

Glen Affric offers woods, lochs and moorland

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Undoubtedly, the most famous inhabitant in these parts is Nessie and there are plenty of boat trips on the loch for would-be monster spotters. Choose one with sonar if you’re hoping to find something lurking in the peaty depths – and maybe it’s not impossible. Loch Ness not only could contain all of the country’s other inland waters with room to spare, it could hold the world’s entire population three times over. Who knows what’s down there?

For the less whimsical, there are locks rather than lochs. There’s a marvel of Victorian engineering in the Fort William flight of locks built by Thomas Telford, known as Neptune’s Staircase and the longest in Britain.

What can I do with a bit longer?

For a real taste of the Highlands, hire a car and go either north – Thurso, Wick, John o’Groats and the late Queen Mother’s Castle of Mey; or west to the beautiful west coast and across another feat of engineering, the Skye Bridge to the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Cruise ship passengers are greeted by bagpipe players when they stop in Invergordon

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Eat and drink

The Highlands have some renowned foodie specialities. Scottish salmon is regularly voted the best in the world. Venison is now a major arm of the farming industry in the country and is both healthy (less fat than chicken) and versatile (not just haunches but burgers, sausages and carpaccio). Haggis – well, everyone should try it once – is best served with neeps and tatties.

Don’t leave Invergorden without…

Whisky. You can get a Glenmorangie single malt distilled in Scotland’s tallest stills (the same height as an adult giraffe), a bottle of Dalmore (produced since 1263), a Singleton from Glen Ord or Invergordon own Old Particular.

Need to know

Safety

This is a very safe and peaceful region and crime rates are low.

When to go

Your cruise visit will inevitably be between Easter and October as during the winter the ships don’t visit and many places of interest are closed. During the cruise season, you’ll find a volunteer host service opposite the pier gate in Invergordon with the latest up-to-date local information.



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