When it comes to cruising, a common hesitation people have is that they will get bored. For a European cruise, boredom is just about the last possibility. Europe offers so much, from white sand beaches to cities filled with history. You can visit vineyards, see the world’s best art, tour a medieval castle, or opt for a relaxing day on a Mediterranean beach. The only real difficulty when picking a European cruise is choosing where to go. The region is very large and there are endless options. Below we have laid out some of the major cruising regions to help you narrow down your choices.
If you really want to experience the heart of Europe, your best option is to take a European river cruise. These cruise routes are covered by small ships that offer a different kind of cruising experience and a chance to see destinations that no ordinary cruise ship could reach. Following the major rivers in Europe, the popular routes include Danube river cruising, the Douro River through Portugal and Spain, the Rhine River through the Netherlands, Germany, and down into Switzerland, and the ever popular Seine River cruises which often start or end in Paris, France. River cruises are a great way to get off the beaten path and to enjoy unique excursions without the cruise ship crowds.
The most popular European cruises tend to focus on the highlight rich Western Mediterranean region. Italy and everything to the west is included on these routes. Port of call destinations often include stops to see Rome, Pompeii, and Sicily in Italy. After that ships move on to stops in southern France where you might see Monaco or Nice. Finally, it’s on to Spain where cruises often stop or start in the city of Barcelona. Occasionally, on longer cruises, there might even be a port of call in North Africa.
Sailing to the east, Greece and Turkey become the cruising destination highlights. This region of Europe is great for cruisers looking for everything from beautiful beaches to ancient cultural traditions. From Athens ships often include a few Greek Isle ports of call before heading for Istanbul in Turkey. Other Eastern Mediterranean cruises also spend time sailing along the eastern coast of Italy with stops in Venice and then over to ports in Croatia. For longer cruises, additional ports of call in the Eastern Mediterranean may include places as far south as Lebanon or even Egypt.
Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea
For summer cruises, the northern European cruise routes are a great option. Cruises here are often divided again to the east and the west with the eastern routes covering the Baltic Sea region. Destinations along this route include St. Petersburg in Russia, Stockholm in Sweden, and more out of the way places like Tallinn, Estonia. Western route ports of call include stops in the Netherlands, the British Islands, and during longer cruises, Iceland. There are specialty cruises that even head to the Arctic circle with expeditions to see the endangered arctic polar bear.
As you can see, Europe has plenty of options when it comes to cruising destinations. Even once you narrow down the route you’d like to take, you will still have endless choices when it comes to ships and in-port excursions. But that is the beauty of Europe as a cruising destination - it has a bit of everything to satisfy any type of cruiser.