There are advantages to doing an ocean or river cruise in Europe this summer, particularly the strong US dollar – meaning more money in your pocket to buy European goods and to try local restaurants while in port.
Here we dispel five myths that shouldn’t be holding you back from cruising in Europe.
1. Europe cruises are all about the Mediterranean
First, the truth is that the Mediterranean is the most popular cruising region. Western Mediterranean cruises from places including Barcelona and Civitavecchia (the port city for Rome) take you to Italy, Spain and France with access to such must-see places as the Colosseum in Rome, Michelangelo’s David in Florence and the Leaning Tower of Pisa; eastern Mediterranean cruises get you to the Acropolis and other ancient historic sites and scenic islands of Greece and Turkey, and may include the wonders of Venice and Croatia. But these are hardly the only cruise itineraries in Europe. Baltic cruises, embarking from Copenhagen, Amsterdam and ports in the UK, get you to the Old World wonders and cutting edge design of Scandinavia and include St. Petersburg, Russia, where you can visit palaces of the Czars and see a Russian ballet performance. Costal Norway cruises bring you to fairytale landscapes and breathtaking fjords. Cruise the British Isles to explore Scottish history, visit pubs and kiss the Blarney Stone. Or explore high culture along the French Riviera. River cruises bring you to inland destinations including the world-class sights of Vienna or the Bordeaux wine region.
2. All Europe cruises are long
While you cover more ground on cruises of two weeks or more, there is a large variety of one-week itineraries. On Princess Cruises, you can explore in a week the western Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey or the Baltics – a sailing from Barcelona to Rome in June on Emerald Princess bargain-priced from $598 per person. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, among others, also have a variety of one-week itineraries this summer. Luxury line Seabourn’s seven-day sailings include the Baltics; sailing and motor yacht line Windstar has one-week cruises to the Greek Isles and Italian and French Riviera (including Monte Carlo). You can explore the Norwegian Fjords on a six-day cruise on Hurtigruten between Bergen and Kirkenes. River cruise lines such as Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways do weeklong cruises in France and on the Danube and Rhine.
3. All Europe cruises are for grownups
Depending on the cruise line, there are likely to be many families onboard. Your kids will find activities galore and have opportunity to meet youngsters from various countries in programs operated by lines including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises. Disney Cruise line, on its European cruises – in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean – gears much of the experience toward families. This year’s cruises on Disney Magic in Norway include appearances by Anna and Elsa and other characters from the movie “Frozen.” River cruises have mostly been the realm of adults, but lines inluding Tauck and Uniworld have specific kid-friendly sailings, and Adventures by Disney is doing family river cruises next year on a ship chartered by AmaWaterways.
A benefit of a cruise in Europe is that you visit several countries without having to hassle with going through several airports, taking trains or checking into a bunch of hotels – your floating hotel takes you comfortably on to the next destination, often several countries each week. Cruise lines have gotten more savvy of late in terms of understanding that some travelers want more time in port, so you may find an itinerary that spends 12 or more hours or even overnights in key ports, affording you more time to explore and experience the local nightlife. If you’re a DIY type it behooves you to check itineraries carefully in terms of time in port, especially if you plan to explore on your own any distance from the ship.
5. All you do is visit churches and museums
Shore excursions bring the benefit of targeting specific must-see attractions from ancient Pompeii to the Hermitage to the Vatican, getting you there with a guide in a hassle-free way, where you don’t have to exchange money or even speak the local language. But there are cultural tours and active tours and even, on some itineraries, beach excursions that have nothing to do with history or religious sites. Those who consider themselves “travelers” or who just don’t like organized tours are also free to take off on their own, mingling with locals at a market, discovering the perfect croissant at a bakery, visiting artist studios, dancing on tables at a taverna. The cruise is your transportation, but you can create your own exploration scenario. There is opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and rhythm of the places you’ll visit – albeit only for a day or two. Those who want to linger can also take advantage of pre- and post-cruise opportunities.
Now is the time to book your cruise. Call us today at 877-229-6008 or 757-229-6008.
Visit us on the web at www.vipleisuretravel.com