European cruises offer the chance to see some of the most beautiful and intriguing destinations in the world. From the European cuisine to the Middle Eastern bazaars in Turkey, and from the cool Northern Europe climate to the intricate Asian-designed buildings in St Petersburg, there isn’t a better place to immerse yourself in such diverse culture. From legendary ruins surrounded by myth and grand palaces steeped in royal history, to gorgeous landscapes and diverse cultures, Europe is simply unforgettable.
While all continents vary in their climate, geography, culture, and politics, there is perhaps nowhere quite as contrasting as Europe. This popular cruising region can transport you from one extreme to another overnight - something that really needs to be experienced to be believed.
Cruise passengers can visit hundreds of beautiful and fascinating ports throughout Europe, although these can generally be broken down into one of four categories - the British Isles, filled with charm and tradition, Northern Europe, known for its cool climate and snowy landscapes, the Mediterranean, famous world over for the glorious golden sandy beaches, and Eastern Europe which incorporates a blend of both European and Asian culture, cuisine, and architecture.
Let’s not forget that cruises around Europe are perfect for a short getaways, as an introduction to the cruise way of life, or for those who want to see the world without flying.
The British Isles may well be home, but you’ll be surprised at how much more you can learn about the region by taking a cruise around England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Not only will passengers have opportunities to explore both traditional and up-and-coming cities in the British Isles, there’s also the chance to visit ports in some of Britain’s most remote areas which retain their natural charm, unspoilt by mass tourism. You will have a unique view of Britain’s coastal areas, and you may well discover a few hidden gems, such as the picture perfect beaches of the east coast which wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean!
Northern Europe is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque destinations in the world. Whether you visit in the spring when the snow and ice is just starting to melt, or later in the season when the lush green foliage is at its peak, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries are simply gorgeous. Along with the one-of-a-kind scenic views here, there’s also tons of history to explore, particularly from the time of the first Viking settlers which really influenced Scandinavia in terms of architecture, work ethic, and even cuisine. Be sure to leave room after your breakfast to enjoy the mouth-watering Danish pastries in Denmark, and sample Finland’s favourite of cold smoked salmon.
Moving onto the Mediterranean ports, these are perfect for sun seekers and those who thrive in warm climates. The beaches of mainland Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands in particular are excellent for sunbathing and topping up the tan.
The Mediterranean is much more than simply pretty beaches. Italy, is home to the most important religious site in terms of Catholicism in the world. Greece is bursting at the seams with mythology and legend, with the Acropolis housing the ruins of what some believe to be the temples of the Gods and is home to some of the most breath-taking ports in the world. Monaco is renowned for its royalty, casinos and the Grand Prix. The cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, Barcelona, is known for its art and architecture, some of the finest tapas and the fantastical Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dotting the city.
Elsewhere, cruise ports in Russia and Turkey portray a totally different environment and atmosphere from the rest of Europe. Both are heavily influenced by their Asian neighbours, with Turkey's capital of Istanbul, straddling both Asian and European continents - the only city in the world to do so, and visiting these destinations really is like stepping into another world.
There really is no typical climate for Europe, with certain regions providing warmer weather than others. The Mediterranean, for example, is generally very mild all year round, and is perfect for escaping the cold British winters. Northern Europe, in contrast, is much colder, and you may even require a jacket during the summer. However, it’s well worth putting up with a few chills to witness the snow-capped mountains and frozen waterfalls that are regular sights at the start of the Northern Europe cruise season in the spring.
While it’s a little clichéd, Europe really does have something for everyone to love. With such diversity, ranging from the warmth and vitality of the cosmopolitan cities, to the isolated and serene beach havens, a cruise to Europe is sure to appeal to couples, families, and solo travellers alike, regardless of personal interest.