There’s no place like home – and that’s music to the ears of Scotland’s tourism bosses.
Spending by tourists generates £12 billion a year and last week saw confirmation of a boom in the numbers drawn to our biggest attractions.
The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, reported a fifth consecutive year of increase in numbers.
More than 30 million visits were made to the sites, including Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland.
And seeing the nation beautifully portrayed on screen, in the likes of Outlander and Outlaw King, has attracted many to see sites such as Culloden and Glasgow Cathedral.
But while there’s no place like home – home and away can be even better.
And cruising, where you stop by to get a taster of several places, can be the perfect way to combine the best of what we have to offer with a flavour of foreign shores.
A new cruise, setting sail next summer, does just that – and there’s even greater temptation at the moment with a Buy One Get One Free offer.
The Best Of Norway And Scottish Isles cruise is a partnership between DC Thomson Travel and Cruise & Maritime Travel and is a nine-night/ten-day trip that showcases the stunning scenery of both countries.
It leaves Dundee on June 14 2020 – so if you haven’t visited the City Of Discovery recently it’s well worth getting along a little earlier and taking in the wonders on show at the new V&A Museum on the waterfront.
The second day of the cruise is at sea, and that’s the ideal time to get acquainted with your floating hotel for the next week or so.
The recently-refurbished Magellan is one of the smaller vessels in the cruising world – but that definitely doesn’t mean small.
She has a capacity of around 1,250, but the 700-plus cabins are spread over nine spacious decks served by eight lifts so there’s plenty of space to stretch out and relax.
And there’s no chance of going hungry, or thirsty, with a great choice of dining rooms, bistros, bars and even a casino. And there are lots of activities to keep you as entertained each day.
The size of the Magellan means to can get right into some of the magnificent fjords that are among the highlights of the Norwegian leg of the trip.
Eidfjord is first up and up is where you’ll be looking, at the near-2,000m-high mountains. And watery wonders await if you take an excursion to see one of the country’s most famous waterfalls.
Next on the itinerary is the tiny village of Flam, nestling at the head of the innermost arms of the Sognefjord.
It’s a real contrast with the final Norwegian stop, bustling and beautiful Bergen.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and from the moment you cast your eyes on the quaint and colourful timber buildings on the wharf you’ll understand why.
The beauty of a cruise is that it lets you see where you’d like to go back to. And from the fabulous fish market to the great shopping, the rich history to the soothing spas, there is loads to check out during your next visit.
But Scotland can more than hold its own when it comes to scenery and history and Shetland is a great starting point.
The raw beauty is on show at the moment in the BBC crime series and, rugged coastline apart, the maze of little cobbled streets of Lerwick are worth exploring.
The sandstone buildings date back to the 18th Century, but much more ancient is Jarlshof, the prehistoric settlement. It has been hailed as one of the most remarkable archaeological sites ever excavated in the British Isles.
Next, it’s off to the Orkneys with a wealth of exploration on offer. That could be anything from Skara Brae to the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, which is a legacy of Kirkwall’s Viking heritage.
Skye is one of the absolute gems in Scotland’s tourism crown and the eighth day of the cruise, when you step ashore at Portree, will let you see why.
Dunvegan Castle and the Skye Heritage Centre Aros Experience are just a couple of the options.
And you really must visit the spectacular Fairy Pools.
And your Scottish island-hopping adventure ends in Mull with ever-so-pretty Tobermory worth a wander before the tenth and final day when you sail into Greenock.
Find out more about cruising Scotland and Norway here .