European Cruises: Where Rich Culture And Natural Beauty Meet
European cruises offer the perfect vacation experience
When most people thinking of cruises, thoughts turn naturally to the white sand beaches and clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. However, Europe offers some of the most exciting cruising destinations and opportunities for new experiences in the industry. With waters that have been traveled for thousands of years, the Old World offers a unique blend of vibrant, storied culture and spectacular scenery. From Norway's fjords to the majestic blue Danube and the Mediterranean Sea, Europe's treasures would take a lifetime of travel to discover, but a relaxing week long jaunt is a great way to begin.
Before you plan the luxury European cruise of a lifetime, it's a great idea to know a little bit about your many options as well as what to expect aboard the ship. Consider this your quick crash course and overview on the many incredible adventures European cruising has to offer.
Aboard the Ship
European cruises use ships that are virtually identical to their Caribbean counterparts, and so, offer most of the same accommodations and amenities. The most important factor to decide before booking is the type of cabin you'd prefer. The accommodation fee includes all major amenities, including basic meals in most cases.
Cabin prices vary depending on their location and size. If you are traveling on a budget, it would make sense to book a more inexpensive room, which are invariably located low on the ship and toward the center. These rooms rarely offer windows and are sometimes cramped, but provide a very stable berth.
At the time of booking, many cruise lines offer complete deck plans. If you book early, sometimes it's possible to choose a room close to the activities you like best, i.e. buffets, dancing or swimming.
Activities on the ship are comparable to those you might find at a resort town with perhaps a special treat thrown in. Nearly all ships offer full spa services, several pools, live music and theater performances and nonstop parties. You might also enjoy strolls down floating streets full of boutiques and duty free shops or staff-organized events every hour of the day.
Shore Side Excursions
When it's finally time to leave the exciting microcosm that is your cruise liner, you'll have some of the most interesting destinations at your fingertips. If exploring Europe's cities seems a bit daunting to you however, don't sweat it; European cruises usually offer informative lectures about each port you'll be visiting en route as well as group tours and helpful experts that can design a whole day's worth of activities for you.
Of course, activities vary from port to port and you can learn a bit more about what specific places have to offer below. In general though, expect welcoming locals, fascinating historical landmarks, world class museums and gastronomic delights of all types. Europe is used to its fair share of tourists and most residents enjoy a special surge of pride when suggesting great restaurants and activities, so don't be afraid to ask!
Cruises and Destinations
Because it's such a big and old place, Europe offers a veritable smorgasbord of experiences for your enjoyment and education. Here are a few classic cruises to consider and the destinations you can expect to visit.
One of Central Europe's most important waterways, the beautiful blue Danube has been immortalized in song and serves as the ancient highway between some of the world's most culturally important cities.
No Danube cruise would be complete without a visit to the City of Music, Vienna, where Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss gleaned inspiration for their greatest works. Other sites not to miss include Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic and vibrant Budapest, Hungary.
The Western Mediterranean
With exciting Barcelona, the beautiful and chic French Riviera, Monte Carlo, Mallorca and Naples, cruising the western Mediterranean is one of the most stimulating and diverse vacations available.
A food lover's dream, the many destinations of the western Mediterranean present a wide range incredible dining, fantastic shopping with access to the cutting edge in fashion and fascinating museums and cultural heritage sites. Barcelona and Cannes may find you laying on the beach during the day and partying all night while peaceful Naples offers the chance to unwind at an easy pace.
The Greek Islands
Widely regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization, Greece is rich in both history and hospitality. Cruising the Greek Isles, you can expect a surprisingly varied experience; Some islands enjoy bustling nightlife and youth culture while others offer the simple pleasures of local wine and cuisine, breathtaking landscapes and interesting archeological sites.
With their warm weather, spectacular vistas and easy going charms, the Greek Islands make for a perfect romantic getaway.
Whether you're an adventure seeker, a history buff, relaxation enthusiast or all three, European cruises offer the perfect vacation experience. Book your Old World getaway today!
About the Author
Courtney Allen is a freelance writer who writes about several topics including cruise deals.