Europe is a delightfully multifaceted cruise destination, with some of the world's most impressive coastal cities just a short boat ride apart. Linger in the extravagant oceanfront principality of Monaco one day and stroll around the Colosseum in Rome the next. On just one Europe cruise, you can experience Nordic hospitality in Oslo and take a shore excursion to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Depending on which direction you go, a cruise to Europe could involve gliding beneath the aurora borealis or swimming in the balmy Aegean Sea along a sun-soaked Greek island.
With so much to see and do, cruise lines often separate their European itineraries by regions. Drift through the awe-inspiring fjords of Norway or into some of Russia's spectacular cities on a Baltic cruise. Pull into port in Lisbon, Monte Carlo or Florence in journeys through the Western Mediterranean. Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean may take you to the ancient ruins of Athens, the charming towns of Montenegro and the atmospheric islands of the Cyclades.
Don't forget that the glorious, green British Isles also welcome cruise liners throughout the year. Sail past medieval castles, charming coastal towns and spectacular highland vistas. Your Europe cruise could also take you to majestic Iceland, where days ashore promise the chance to glimpse breathtaking waterfalls and dramatic volcanoes.
The immense popularity of Europe cruise vacations means that there are numerous ship options. Smaller luxury vessels can take you and a more intimate group around quieter ports such as Tallinn or Portofino. Major cruise lines all run expeditions around some of Europe's most famous sites in big-capacity, family-friendly vessels. Itineraries and timelines vary. Mediterranean 7-day excursions are quite common, although longer alternatives are available for multi-city routes.
The variety of destinations for Europe cruises also means that the best time of year to visit changes according to where you are. Cruises to the Baltic and Scandinavia are largely limited to the sunny summer months of July and August. In the Mediterranean, you can find Europe cruise deals in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
Tip: The best cruise fares, plus extras like reduced airfare and onboard credits, can be found in the spring (March to May) or autumn (Sept to Nov). You'll need a warmer clothes and an umbrella, just in case, but you'll have none of the tourist crowds and heat of summer.