European Cruise Vacations

Written by Anmy Leuthold
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Considering a European cruise vacations? Europe fosters the perfect vacation for couples ready to experience more, or families looking to learn and feel a rich history. Whether you see the wine fields in France or Italy, kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland, hike the Swiss Alps, see the success of the Vikings in Scandinavia, explore the ruins of a castle in Germany, or take a siesta in Spain, you will live with a deeper understanding of the past. Furthermore, taking cruise vacations to Europe will allow you the time to comfortably kick back and relax and visit more places, instead of experiencing the hectic and stressful hardships of traveling from place to place by air or land.

Know that cruise line vacations principally market two regions: the Western Mediterranean and Baltic/Northern Europe. Secondary destinations include the transatlantic crossings and Norwegian Fjords, which take either a southern or northern course across the ocean and stop at offbeat places such as the Faroe Islands, the Azores, and Iceland. The Eastern Mediterranean, covering Turkey and Greece, are popular destinations as well. But for the greatest variety of European cruise vacations, offering a variety of prices, ship sizes, and ports to choose from are the regions of the Western Mediterranean and the Baltic/Northern Europe.

Tips on European Cruise Vacations

Cruising the Baltic typically involves departing from the United Kingdom or points north and stops at Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, and St. Petersburg. Common points of embarkation and disembarkation for Western Mediterranean itineraries, are Venice and Barcelona. Other ports to focus on are Spain, France, Italy, and the "low countries" of the Belgium and Netherlands, and exotic locations like Malta and Croatia. Concentrate on what kind of ship appeals to you, once you've narrowed down your choice of destinations. Smaller cozy vessels usually hit more offbeat spots, getting up-close-and-personal, in less conventional bays and harbors. On a larger scale, luxury cruises tend to hit the 'high' points or the well known places, in ultimate style and luxury.

The independent minded-travelers' will know when it's more fun (and cheaper) to explore on their own, and when to take organized cruise shore excursions. Some of the most interesting European destinations are located a fair distance from the coast. Among these places are Civitavecchia (Rome), LeHavre (Paris), Dover, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Cadiz (Seville), and Southampton and Harwich (London). In these destinations, cruise lines offer essential bus transportation to the main city. This is a good idea because, the ship will wait for you, should the bus return late to the dock. In places where the language and customs are utterly foreign, shore excursions can be a good idea. Taking a ship tour the first day is recommended fro situations like these. In any case, exploring ports of call is the best way to soak in the cultures and beauty of a foreign land or city.

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