By John Metcalfe
Europe is one of the premier cruise destinations in the world. Its attraction is overpowering - grand cities, relics of ancient civilizations and breathtaking scenery await European cruise passengers at almost every port of call. The variety is such that one visit to this part of the world is never enough - it'll have you coming back for more…again and again!
European cruises depart from most major seaports around Europe. They often cover a specific region of Europe, although some companies do offer a whirlwind tour of the major sites right around the European coastline.
Starting in Northern Europe, cruises around Scandinavia and the Baltic States are popular, especially those that take in the Norwegian fjords. Here, you can delight in stunning scenery where mountains rise up like towers in every direction, and where waterfalls and glaciers are almost within touching distance. There are majestic cities too. Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki, home to the Uspenski Cathedral - the largest orthodox church in Western Europe - can all be built into a European cruise itinerary.
Northern Europe also has its fair share of specialist cruises. You can do a cruise of the Baltic palaces or simply enjoy Norway's awe-inspiring craggy coastline. A very popular Northern European cruise is a tour up the Scandinavian coastline into the Arctic Circle to view the 'midnight sun'.
A European cruise around Western Europe embraces the British Isles, Ireland, the Low Countries and France. Scottish castles, the emerald green landscapes of Ireland and a visit to a French vineyard and chateaux are just some of the highlights of a cruise around Western Europe. You could also build in visits to historic ports of call, such as Portsmouth in England, where Nelson's 'Victory' can be toured.
Moving further south into the Mediterranean Sea, a European cruise takes in the glory of the historical and beautiful Mediterranean coastline. Portugal, Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey all have their own attractions. The colosseum of Rome, the birthplace of Salvador Dali, Monaco's grandiose vista and the famous Turkish bazaars await all those who elect for a European cruise in the Mediterranean.
There are a number of specialist tours in the Mediterranean region too. You can enjoy the delights of classical Greece and its magnificent islands, or discover the magic of island hopping from the Balearic Islands in the west of the Mediterranean to Cyprus in the east.
A European cruise is a true voyage of discovery. Tour this region and you'll unearth the very soul of Europe and uncover a past that is rich in intrigue and drama.
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