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  • Writer's pictureDean Nelson, (he/him) CTC, LLD

Europe - a destination focus

It doesn’t take long to figure out that each European port has its own unique culture, identity and language. Although, most Europeans speak two or more languages, and English is becoming the standard for conducting business and tourism. The best part, you can choose from various options of experiencing Europe from history or arts to the region’s fresh culinary flavors.

Europe harbors more than 40 countries in an area about the same size as the United States. Europe is essentially divided into two basic cruise groupings: Northern Europe (Baltic countries) and the Mediterranean. There are also the transatlantic repositioning voyages out of Miami, Orlando (Port Canaveral), Tampa and some cases New York. 

A cruise makes Europe’s ports more convenient to visit: Roughly 80% of Europe’s great cities are on or near significant bodies of water. As a result, you can unpack once and have easy access to some of the most celebrated architectural, cultural and beautiful attractions in Europe.


Sometimes we only get one opportunity to travel to Europe. So naturally, you will want to see as much of it as possible during your trip. Although this is possible, it involves seemingly endless bus, car or train time, luggage hauling and rushing from landmark to landmark. It can be a very exhausting experience. A cruise however, is an entirely different story. Here’s why…

On a ocean or river cruise vacation you benefit from the regular features of a European cruise as well as the personal touches of the cruise line:

Since many European ports brim with many interesting things to see and do, you may want to stay shore side as long as possible. Some excursions you can experience on a European cruises include a Night of Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg, bathing in the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik or a trip to the Berlin Wall in Germany, and so much more.

Some of the cruise lines offer opening dining so you can take your time and return to the ship and eat aboard when you are ready.


Here are just a few of the reasons why Europe is so popular

  1. To see some of the most famous places in history– all in relatively close proximity

  2. It’s an ideal family vacation – even for multi-generations, because the Europe cruises offer a broad range of cultural experiences and complete ease of travel

  3. For the great shopping

  4. To experience varied languages, people and cultures

  5. For the fine cuisine and wines

  6. To sightsee in a part of the world with famous attractions

  7. In some cases, for watersports

  8. It’s romantic


  • Paris, France

  • Marseille, France

  • Cannes, France

  • Corfu, Greece

  • Santorini, Greece

  • Mykonos, Greece

  • Rome, Italy

  • Florence, Italy

  • Venice, Italy

  • Lisbon, Portugal

  • Barcelona, Spain

  • Malaga, Spain

  • Split, Croatia


  • Southampton, England

  • Dublin, Ireland

  • Cork, Ireland

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Oslo, Norway

  • Bergen, Norway

  • Stockholm, Sweden

  • Hamburg, Germany

  • Berlin, Germany

  • Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Helsinki, Finland

  • Tallinn, Estonia

  • St. Petersburg, Russia

There's no better way to experience the history, landmarks and culture of Europe than with some shore excursions. You will have the opportunity to experience all these destinations have to offer. The sights, sounds and flavours of Europe are like nowhere else in the world, and are best explored with local guides. Whether it's a charming drive through the lemon and olive tree dotted Corfu countryside, admiring the beauty of St. Peter's Square and the Sistine Chapel, or seeing Bergen's Hardanger Fjord, the third largest fjord in the world←there is something for everyone to enjoy! Here are some of the most popular shore excursions you may want to consider.

The Mediterranean

Cannes → Monaco & Monte Carlo

This tour takes you aboard a coach from Cannes to Monaco, to the top of the rock by escalators and elevators. On the upper level is a guided walking tour passing by the Oceanographic Museum, the cathedral, and view the exterior of the Prince's palace. Afterwards, you may wish to stroll across the street to admire the Hotel de Paris, window shop, or try your luck at the Casino de Monte Carlo.

Civitavecchia → Rome & The Vatican

The Eternal City is seen on an orientation drive passing iconic structures like the Colosseum of ancient Rome. In Vatican City admire the beauty of St. Peter’s Square, and view some of the treasures of the world’s largest church, St. Peter’s Basilica during your brief visit. The Vatican Museum is home to masterpieces spanning the centuries, marvel at the Sistine Chapel, topped by Michelangelo’s magnificent ceiling. Lunch is included.

Livorno → Florence & Pisa

If you enjoy being active and walking about two miles, you will enjoy this tour. The excursion starts off with a scenic drive through the Florence countryside then a stop in the Piazza del Duomo to admire the exterior of the Cathedral (Duomo) of Santa Maria del Fiore. Next up is a look at the statues in the Piazza della Signoria on your way to the Ponte Vecchio. Lunch is included at a local restaurant followed by free time.

Naples → Pompeii Excavations

Pompeii once supported a flourishing civilization that was revealed nearly intact after being buried for about 1,700 years. The once, prosperous commercial and political center with a population of 25,000 was hidden under 20 feet of volcanic ash and cinders during the fateful eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Wandering through this ancient city, you will be in awe as you discover the still active Mount Vesuvius towering above.

Palma → Magical Majorca & Train to Soller

This tour points out some of the most scenic parts of Mallorca, the lovely village of Soller and enjoy a picturesque ride on the Soller Railway.

Malaga → Granada & the Magnificent Alhambra

In the shadow of the mighty Sierra Nevada lays Granada, representing a unique blend of Arab and European culture with a wealth of extraordinary monuments. Take in the views, as you travel north over the Malaga mountains and through the picturesque countryside. Visit the Alhambra, palace of the sultans and one of the finest examples of Moorish art in Spain.

Barcelona → Barcelona’s Best Experience

Barcelona’s diverse architectural heritage. Stroll the narrow streets and handsome squares of the Gothic Quarter, lined with medieval buildings and scattered about with remnants of walls and other constructions from an earlier Roman city. View the magnificent cathedral and the palace of the kings of Aragon, work from Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s celebrity architect and see the elegant Passeig de Gracia with its wrought-iron street lamps and fine array of Modernist buildings.

Funchal → Best of Madeira

You will board a cable car for a ride over the city and harbor on the way to the Village of Monte, located in the outskirts of Funchal. At Monte you'll have the opportunity to take a trip back to the past when you join the toboggan ride to Livramento. The ride downhill in a wicker sledge is an exciting one, providing you with a taste of the Madeira of past decades, when this was the established form of transport from Monte to Funchal. A short walk up to the viewpoint on Pico do Serrado at an altitude of approximately 3,592 feet (1,095 meters) offers views of the village of Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley). The last stop is at a wine lodge in Funchal, where you'll sample and may purchase the world famous Madeira wine.

Mykonos → Scenic Views of Mykonos

The island of Mykonos’ stunning beauty is comprised of windmills, sparking bays, superb beaches, white houses and churches with their colourful blue and red domes. You will pass by Ornos Beach, one of the most cosmopolitan beaches on the island with an abundance of luxurious hotels, tavernas and yachts mooring offshore. Other stops include a photo opportunity at the beach of Kalafatis, the village of Ano Mera and the Monastery Panayia Tourliani.

Piraeus → The Acropolis & Leisure

Drive through the picturesque marinas of Zea and Microlimano in Piraeus as your tour heads to the center of Athens. You’ll have the opportunity to admire some of the most important sites of Athens such as Constitution Square, the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, Temple of Zeus, Royal Palace, and the Old Marble Olympic Stadium. Sights include the Propylaea, Temple of Apteros Niki, Erectheum and Architectural Triumph of the Parthenon.

Dubrovnik → Croatian Riviera & Dubrovnik

Romantic charm and beautiful scenery make Dubrovnik memorable. After a photo stop to take in the magnificent view of Dubrovnik from a vantage point by the road, the tour travels through the picturesque villages of the fertile Konavle Valley to a restaurant located in an old mill next to the cascading waters of the Ljuta River. After a light snack of local specialties the tour continues to the seaside resort of Cavtat.

The Baltic

Helsinki → Discover Helsinki

You will see the main sites of interest in Helsinki, also known as the 'White City of the North.' The tour passes Embassy Park, Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, Senate Square, and buildings attributed to the Neo-Classic architect Carl Ludwig Engel, including the famous Lutheran Cathedral. You will pass the open-air market on your way to the Olympic Stadium where the 1952 Olympic Games were held. Then it’s on to Sibelius Park where for photographs of the monument honoring the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Also on the list is the Opera House, Temppeliaukio Rock Church, and Mannerheim Street. At the end of the tour, you can explore the downtown area to see the city on your own or return by bus to the cruise pier.

St Petersburg → Best of St Petersburg

This two full-day tour combination lets you enjoy the best of St. Petersburg: Catherine's Palace, Hermitage Museum, Peterhof Grand Palace and a city tour. Day 1 tour visits Pushkin (former Tsar's Village) to see Catherine’s Palace and Hermitage Museum, the largest art museum in Russia. Day 2 begins with a transfer to Peterhof, the town of palaces, fountains and parks, which was built by Peter the Great to rival Versailles. The Grand Palace is known as the most brilliant of all the summer residences of the Russian Tsars. The layout of the 300-acre park and spectacular fountains was designed by Peter himself. The Grand Cascade consists of three waterfalls, an avenue of 64 fountains and 37 gilded statues. Lunch is included and will either be offered in Peterhof or once you return to the city. A hydrofoil boat transfers from Peterhof back to the city center. Next, head over to the Spit of Vasilievsky Island for a tour of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

Stockholm → Best of Stockholm

A short panoramic drive of Stockholm kicks off the tour before moving on to the City Hall, renowned for its architecture, murals and which is the site of the Nobel Prize Banquet. Pass through the city center to the neighboring Island of Djurgarden, regarded as Stockholm's outdoor recreation center, with Grona Lund Tivoli, Skansen Open-Air Museum and extensive park lands beyond.

Tallinn → Highlights of Tallinn

A drive from the harbor takes passengers through the city center and along the main street passing Estonia’s modern and elegant 19th century buildings. The walking portion of your tour begins at Nun’s Street in the Lower Town with sight of the beautiful medieval guild houses, the Gothic Town Hall and the charming 15th century apothecary. Also spied is the Baroque palace, the Song Festival Ground, 15th century St. Brigit’s Convent, Estonian Russalka monument and the summer residence of Count Orlov.

Warnemunde → Best of Berlin

A chartered train is dispatched for the journey to Berlin. Upon arrival, the tour covers the top ten highlights of the city including the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Bebelplatz and Potsdamer Platz. Next up is a stop at the Holocaust Memorial, followed by the Brandenburg Gate then a traditional German pub-style lunch at a local restaurant. Also on the itinerary is the Charlottenburg Palace, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Victory Column.

The ease of travelling Europe by ship

  1. Excellent value - exploring Europe by ship will provide one of the most economical ways to see multiple European destinations once you arrive on the continent. And this will be without the hassle of packing, changing hotels, taxis and tips along the way. Some of our cruise partners also offer air-inclusive packages on select itineraries, which will help you save money.

  2. Predictable budgeting - most cruises charge in U.S. dollars throughout the entire journey from on board added expenses to the ship's Shore Excursions.

  3. Unfamiliarity with language, money, electricity, customs, ground transportation—A cruise mitigates these concerns both on board and on shore. On board, the electric current is 110 volts, the same as at home, and the U.S. dollar is the official currency. English-speaking tour guides on our Shore Excursions make sure that you get the most out of the tour learning many interesting and exciting things along the way.

  4. Passport and Customs - the ship will work with the local port authorities to help streamline the immigration process when moving in or out of the Schengen Region so you have more time to sit back and relax and wait for the ship to be cleared.


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