Whether you are a first time visitor to Europe or a seasoned traveler, a cruise in Europe allows the traveler to visit many of the continent’s main attractions without the hassle of figuring out transportation and accommodation requirements. Once you have boarded your cruise ship, the navigation is safely in the hands of professionals, inviting you to enjoy the scenery, amenities and comforts of an all-inclusive resort, while at the same time allowing you the freedom to visit diverse ports in different countries.
Since ships typically cruise at night, daytime is for sightseeing in a different city daily. Most of Europe’s major cities were built right on, or very close to, the water, with access typically directly at the port or a quick bus or train ride away. A ship is often in port for the entire day, so you have the flexibility to choose how much of the day to spend in each city.
It is wise to study up on each port and the city’s offerings before docking. Once in port, choose from select guided tours or sightsee independently. You often have the choice of returning to the ship for meals or enjoying the regional cuisine and ambiance at a local restaurant. (Likewise, one drawback to a cruise is the lack of opportunity to interact with locals or spend quality time getting the feel for the local culture.)
Another bonus to cruising is that you only have to unpack your suitcase once. A daypack with your money, water and a sweater or jacket will be all you need to take with you on your day excursions.
Options to consider before booking your cruise include the amount of luxury you desire, size of the ship, on-board amenities and itineraries—both on board and ashore. Probably the most important consideration is which country, city, and port you most want to visit. Don't take a Mediterranian cruise if your passion is Norwegian Fjords!
European cruises are vastly different from Caribbean or Alaskan cruises. Cruising in Europe focuses on historical and cultural highlights, as well as beautiful beaches and ports. Another difference is the choices available to the cruiser. Do you prefer a cultural tour to Europe’s most historical spots? Whale watching far from major cities? Maybe island hopping between Mediterranean ports is your passion. If remote natural beauty is more your cup of tea, Scandinavian cruises have many options.
When should you go? Most cruise ships offer cruises from April to November. June through August are the busiest (and hottest) months, and are often more expensive at this time. Spring and Fall tours can be the best value, with pleasant weather, less crowds, and lower rates.
Once you have decided to on a cruise in Europe for your vacation, take all of these factors into consideration. Make sure to fully research the cruise line as well as the specific ship that you are looking at. Your cruise experience can make or break your impression of the places that you travel.
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