When thoughts turn to European cruises, the Mediterranean Sea is often the first destination to come to mind. It’s a great choice, but there are several regions of Europe that provide tempting cruise options.
In fact, the Mediterranean itself has three distinct cruise regions. Western Mediterranean itineraries usually include port calls in Spain, France, and along the western coast of Italy; they sometimes call on islands like Corsica, Mallorca, or Ibiza as well. Eastern Mediterranean cruises call on Croatia, Greece, and the Greek Isles, and sometimes Cyprus or Turkey. Cruises of the Southern Mediterranean may include ports in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Summer is the busiest (and warmest) time to cruise the Mediterranean, but spring and fall offer nice weather and smaller crowds. Some cruise lines sail the Mediterranean all winter as well.
Summer is also prime time to cruise Northern Europe. You can explore great Scandinavian cities like Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; and Helsinki, Finland. Some cruises focus on the Baltic Sea, calling on Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; and St. Petersburg, Russia’s beautiful former imperial capital. Another option is to sail the western coast of Norway and its dramatic fjords. If you sail Northern Europe in June, you can experience the glow of the “midnight sun,” when the sun goes below the horizon for only a few hours each night.
A cruise of the British Isles is another summertime treat and one that’s steeped in history. In addition to a pre-or post-cruise stay in London, you can sail around England, Scotland, and Ireland, visiting castles, manor houses, ancient churches, and traditional pubs along the way. Imagine tasting Scotch whiskey in the shadow of brooding Edinburgh Castle, strolling around St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, or sailing into Cork’s lovely harbor with a view of brightly colored row houses.
Finally, the great rivers of central Europe offer fantastic cruise itineraries that wind through scenic countryside, making port calls in quaint villages or major cities like Paris, Cologne, Munich, Vienna, and Budapest. The storied rivers you can cruise include the mighty Danube, which connects ten countries; the Rhine, where romantic castles overlook the river; the Rhone, which glides through the Burgundy and Beaujolais regions of France; the Seine, which takes you from the lights of Paris to the windswept beaches of the Normandy coast; and the Douro, which runs through Portugal’s hilly port wine country.
For more information about these and other European cruise possibilities, talk with your professional travel advisor.
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