Why go to Invergordon (Inverness)?
This walkable town offers pretty cafes, castles and whiskey tours galore
The industrial town's scruffy waterfront is not very attractive
Charming Invergordon is a terrific gateway port for manifold Scotland adventures, including trips to Loch Ness
Invergordon (Inverness) Cruise Port Facilities?
There's no cruise terminal at the pier, but you will find a souvenir shop with a tea room, taxis, tour company signs with prices and phone numbers, and a large placard with a map of the town.
Tourism representatives sometimes come aboard ship to offer information and maps. There's also an information kiosk on the first road you'll reach if you continue straight off the pier toward High Street. It's not staffed full-time but should have someone there when you first come ashore. Either way, there are maps, lots of brochures for attractions all over the Highlands and a signboard with thorough bus and train information.
If you walk left when you hit shore, you'll be headed toward an industrial area; to the immediate right is a nicer area and waterside pathway.
Good to Know?
If you decide to drive, remember that the Scottish drive on the left-hand side of the road. Be particularly careful when you make a right turn, because you have to cross oncoming traffic. Be a cautious as a pedestrian, too, when crossing streets -- though Invergordon doesn't have much traffic to worry about.
On Foot: You can pretty much stroll to any place of interest in Invergordon, but to head for the Highlands, you'll need to organize transport or sign up for an excursion.
By Train: It will take you about 15 minutes to walk to the Invergordon train station. Head for High Street, then turn left. Toward the end of High Street, the train station will be to your right, down Station Road. A 50-minute journey gets you to Inverness; an hour and 20 minutes will take you to Dunrobin Castle (a request stop). Service to Dunrobin is limited, and there are no trains to that destination on Sundays. ScotRail train schedules are posted in the tourism kiosk.
By Bus: Buses can also take you to Inverness, with a connection onward to Loch Ness. It takes between 45 minutes and one hour to reach Inverness (depending on which route you take), and then after a change of bus, it's another 45 minutes or so to reach Loch Ness. You can reach the charming little town of Dornoch in about 55 minutes (no Sunday service) and Tain, home to Glenmorangie distillery, in about 35 minutes. Bus schedules, through Stagecoach Bus, are posted in the tourism kiosk.
By Taxi: Taxis should be waiting at the pier, and four companies offer taxi or private-car touring: Scotland Taxi Tours, Invergordon Shore Excursions, Invergordon Tours and Highland Classique Tours. All have set itineraries or will do custom tours; they provide four-seat cars or six- to eight-seat vehicles.
By Rental Car: You can rent a car to drive yourself from Ken's Garage (+44 01862 842266; Jane@KensGarage.co.uk). Book in advance to have a car waiting for you at the pier.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The pound is Scotland's currency, comparable to -- and interchangeable with -- the British pound. For currency-conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. A few shops in Invergordon will accept U.S. dollars and euros (SER Supplies, for example), and credit cards are usually accepted, too.
There are no ATMs at the port, but you'll find several along High Street, including at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the SPAR convenience store, both on High Street -- a five- to 10-minute walk once you're onshore. Bank hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
English is the primary language, but you may have to listen closely because of the accent (unless you're a "Star Trek" fan, practiced at deciphering Scottie's speeches). Gaelic is spoken by 1.2 percent of the Scottish population, but most Gaelic-speakers live on the islands.
Where You're Docked?
When you disembark, there is a pier, about 750 feet long, to walk along to reach the shore. Any excursion buses will be parked there.
A five-minute walk takes you a bit uphill to High Street, the town's main business street. Just keep walking straight ahead from the pier and you'll hit it. There are several ATMs, a pharmacy, cafes with Wi-Fi and a post office inside the SPAR store.