Why Cruise To Europe?

Thanks to the many romantic cathedrals, museums, and cobblestone streets, cruising in Europe is a way to speed-date fine art, music, food, natural beauty, and ancient history. With Europe’s most diverse collection of ports on the planet, it’s possible to visit a different country every day in a weeklong cruise.

Civilizations have been rising and falling on the continent since the beginning of time, so the glories of the past stand side by side with thriving cities of the 21st century.  

In the Mediterranean, the fallen empires of Greece and Rome accompany flawless beaches and wine-infused feasts. In the Baltic, fairy tale capitals such as Tallinn and Stockholm lead to the ornate palaces of the czars and the fiercely beautiful fjords of Norway. River cruises down the Danube and Rhine take visitors to the very heart of the continent, while new itineraries in the Adriatic boast a little-explored world of feudal ruins and all-night party towns. After a day of tromping around castles in the British Isles, you can warm your bones with a dram of whiskey in a pub full of raucous song and stories.

Enriching for both the historian and the adventurer, Europe’s sheer variety makes it a benchmark for travelers. From humble village bakeries to museums teeming with great art, to urban fashionistas on mopeds, Europe is a walking parade of the good life. 

When To Go To Europe

Summer offers the broadest selection of European cruise itineraries from May through September, when the days are long and the weather ranges from a balmy 65 F to a steamier 85 degrees.

Ships are found in most European waters in summer but migrate to the islands of the Mediterranean in cooler months. The North Sea and the Baltic have long endless nights during their short summer, May through September. The popular Med is a packed party in summer months when the weather is sunny and dry, but temperatures can soar well past 90 degrees. Deep winter itineraries take intrepid travelers to offbeat destinations such as the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Egypt.

August is a traditional vacation month for Europeans, so expect stores and restaurants to be closed, and beaches and museums to be packed.

To save money, look for deals in the shoulder season months, March through May or October and November, when children are in school and the locals are at work; the days may be a little wet, but the discounts are enticing. 

European Cruise Routes

Eastern Mediterranean

The Eastern Mediterranean covers the territory that was once ancient Greece: Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.

Good For: In the Greek Islands, remote coves with turquoise waters and epic history can often only be reached by boat.

Downside: If you aren’t a fan of crowds, the best time to be in the Mediterranean is also the most populated.

Western Mediterranean

The romantic Western Mediterranean includes Spain, Italy, Southern France, and Morocco.

Good For: The Western Med offers a buffet of shore excursions for culture vultures, foodies, and history buffs. It’s typically easy to find flights, with several major cities for cruise embarkation.

Downside: Some Mediterranean highlights aren’t actually on the coast, so visitors whose itineraries include Rome and Florence, Italy, can expect to spend time on a bus.

Baltic

The summer routes of the Baltic take in Scandinavia, Germany, the Baltic states, and Russia.

Good For: Baltic itineraries tend to attract seasoned travelers who’ve already had their first heady European experiences.

Downside: The window for cruising is May through September, and at the end of August the weather can be capricious, from frigid rain to blistering sun, all in the same day.

British Isles and Western Europe

Take in the rough-hewn beauty of coastal Ireland, England, and Scotland. Many itineraries jump the puddle to France, Belgium, or Holland.

Good For: While circling the British Isles, everyone will speak English — but never with the same accent.

Downside: Itineraries tend to be on the longer side and might not be great choices for those with less than two weeks to explore. 

Europe Cruise Itineraries

Black Sea Cruises

Europe Cruises

Ports

  • Southampton (London), England
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Olden, Norway
  • Molde, Norway
  • Kristiansand, Norway
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Ports

Southampton (London), England - Bergen, Norway - Olden, Norway - Molde, Norway - Kristiansand, Norway - View more ports

View All 2766 Europe Cruises

Europe - Mediterranean Cruises

Ports

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Cannes, France
  • CARRARA, ITALY
  • Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
  • Souda (Chania), Crete
  • Mykonos, Greece
  • Piraeus (Athens), Greece
  • Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
  • Santorini, Greece
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Ports

Barcelona, Spain - Cannes, France - CARRARA, ITALY - Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - Souda (Chania), Crete - Mykonos, Greece - Piraeus (Athens), Greece - Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey - Santorini, Greece - View more ports

View All 1725 Europe - Mediterranean Cruises

Europe - Northern Europe Cruises

Ports

  • Southampton (London), England
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Olden, Norway
  • Molde, Norway
  • Kristiansand, Norway
View more ports

Ports

Southampton (London), England - Bergen, Norway - Olden, Norway - Molde, Norway - Kristiansand, Norway - View more ports

View All 618 Europe - Northern Europe Cruises

Europe - Western Europe Cruises

Ports

  • Southampton (London), England
  • St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands
  • Cobh (Cork), Ireland
  • Dunmore East (Waterford), Ireland
  • Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland
  • Liverpool, England
  • Akureyri, Iceland
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland
View more ports

Ports

Southampton (London), England - St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands - Cobh (Cork), Ireland - Dunmore East (Waterford), Ireland - Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland - Liverpool, England - Akureyri, Iceland - Reykjavik, Iceland - Belfast, Northern Ireland - View more ports

View All 400 Europe - Western Europe Cruises

Best Europe Cruise Excursions

Best Europe Cruise Ports

Photo of Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

4.6
(4064 Reviews)
Photo of Malaga, Spain

Malaga, Spain

4.4
(1032 Reviews)
Photo of Naples, Italy

Naples, Italy

4.4
(3257 Reviews)

View All 186 Europe Ports

Best cruise lines to Europe

Fred Olsen

Sails 6 Ships

Average rating of:

4.5

Crystal Cruises

Sails 4 Ships

Average rating of:

4.4

P&O Cruises

Sails 11 Ships

Average rating of:

4.3

Seabourn

Sails 9 Ships

Average rating of:

4.3

Marella Cruises

Sails 6 Ships

Average rating of:

4.3

Cunard

Sails 3 Ships

Average rating of:

4.2

Uniworld River Cruises

Sails 29 Ships

Average rating of:

4.2

Royal Caribbean

Sails 26 Ships

Average rating of:

4.1

Princess Cruises

Sails 19 Ships

Average rating of:

4.0

Viking River Cruises

Sails 102 Ships

Average rating of:

4.0

Silversea Cruises

Sails 13 Ships

Average rating of:

4.0

MSC Cruises

Sails 21 Ships

Average rating of:

3.7

View All 12 Cruise Lines

Expert advice about Europe

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12368 Reviews

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It was Fantastic to be Cruising again! by springer890

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Harmony of the Seas / Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean

One will have noticed that we stayed onboard for the entire Cruise, and ask themselves why Cruise? After 20+ months of not cruising, this was our change to get back on the high seas. Yes, we have previously visited all of the Port destinations, but that did not matter. Being able to be back onboard Royal Caribbean and having the feeling of being home was comfort enough.

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8 Comments

Smooth & Easy by adverb23

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Norwegian Getaway / Destination: Europe - Mediterranean

We purchased the Vibe to make sure we didn't have to fight for a lounge chair everyday. The Vibe is a private area where only a select number of people are allowed access for lounge chairs and the bartenders know you by name. It was nice, but after paying nearly an additional $500 for this they should have a separate pool for Vibe members. Also, they don't provide food. You can pay additional for food which is kinda crazy since we already paid close to $500 to be up there or you can walk down to the buffet and bring it back up for free. Drinks were great and bar staff very friendly. It didn't make sense you weren't allowed to sit at the bar, but in other places you were. They also had cabanas at the Vibe which seemed to be a waste cause I never saw anyone go in one probably because it was another additional fee. Overall the Vibe is a good thing if you want a little privacy and a little quieter, but it would be way better with it's own pool and it's own food service The ship was only at about 60% because of Covid so with less people that made it nice. The Buffet was staffed with lots of people to serve you which was different, but worked out okay. One complaint was you had to book excursions on the ship and weren't allowed to go off on your own which to me just seemed like an additional money maker for the cruise line. They charged more than booking on your own even with the excursion "discounts" they gave. You had to be with a guide off the ship supposedly for Covid although I don't see how they would make a difference. All in all I will definitely be cruising again before too long. It was a great time so get out there and do it!!!

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12 Comments

Excellent cruise on Viking Sea by KentB

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Viking Sea / Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

Viking Ocean cruises are operating smoothly...in spite of COVID19. Malta and the Greek Isles provided a fascinating glimpse into ancient history. The tour guides were exceptional. Highly recommended.

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7 Comments

Great Cruise by snr

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Eurodam / Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

This was our fifth attempt to cruise since the pandemic. We enjoyed every aspect of the cruise and felt the staff and those who served us were excited to be back cruising. They were wonderful, helpful, and courteous. The dining roomWas excellent and the Covid protocol was superior.

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Great unusual Cruise by rirish1

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Eurodam / Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

Pandemic cruise which did everything in it's power to keep us safe. 100% vaccinated and were tested 2x on cruise. Mask wearing was mandated inside and mostly had compliance. Only had 900 passengers which allowed the staff to pamper guests to a greater degree than normal cruises

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Was this review helpful? 103
7 Comments

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