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Destination Overview

Europe is a very popular, and expensive, cruise destination. What it lacks in value it more than makes up for in history and beauty. In few other destinations would you have the chance to visit a variety of diverse, modern, ancient, and famous sites in just one vacation. Among the many tourist attractions in Europe are Rome's Colosseum, Greece's Parthenon, Barcelona's Las Ramblas, Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eifel Tower and Louvre in Paris, as well as Buckingham Palace in London. Europe Cruises

The typical cruising season in Europe has been from April through November; however, lately a few cruise lines (such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Costa Cruises) are featuring ships year-round in Europe. However, due to the colder temperature in Northern Europe this doesn't hold true for cruises in that particular region (which are usually available from May through the first few days of September).

A Europe cruise is usually anywhere from 7- to 16-nights in length, but there are a few cruises that fall below or above that range. For instance, (Italian line) MSC Cruises actually offers several 1- to 4-night Europe cruises. Northern Europe cruises tend to be longer (at least 10-nights in length), compared to Mediterranean cruises (many which can be 7-nights long).

In the cruising industry, Europe is divided up into 3 main sections:

On a Mediterranean cruise you may depart from, or visit ports of call in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey

Northern Europe
On a Northern Europe cruise you may depart from or visit ports of call in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden

Western Europe
On a Western Europe cruise you may depart from or visit ports of call in the Canary Islands, England, France, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland and Spain.

Some cruisers like to take a transatlantic cruise from the US to Europe, or the reverse direction, as such cruises are usually priced quite well. Plus, another price-driven benefit is that it's possible for many travelers to avoid paying for a flight in one direction. For example, someone that lives near (or in) New York can take a cruise from New York to Europe and then just have to pay for a return flight. One thing to keep in mind is that on a typical transatlantic cruise you're going to have a lot of days at sea, and not too many ports of call. Because of this, those that take such a cruise often times stay a few days in a hotel or two to get more time in Europe.

Cruise Lines in Europe
Many cruise lines offer Europe cruises. Among the leaders in European cruising are Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and MSC Cruises. Also featuring several ships in Europe are Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Many high-end cruise lines, such as Azamara Club Cruises, Cunard Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn and Silversea Cruises, feature the majority of their cruises in Europe.

Of the many cruise lines in Europe, some of them primarily market towards select niches. Some cruise lines mostly market to European countries in general, such as P&O Cruises and Fred Olsen Cruise Line. Other cruise lines market themselves towards specific countries and/or speakers. For instance, AIDA Cruises (owned by Carnival Corporation & plc) is a German-based cruise line that mainly is marketed towards German-speaking travelers. Pullmantur (owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.) is based out of Spain and is mostly marketed to Spanish-speaking travelers.

Disney Cruise Line returned to Europe in 2010, after a few years away. They've come back again in 2011 and are featuring Disney Magic, offering a very unique product relative to the Europe cruising world.

Popular Ports of Call
Being such a historic part of the world, Europe is filled with fabulous places to visit while on a cruise. Among the most popular Mediterranean ports of call are Barcelona, Venice, Rome (via Civitavecchia), Athens (via Piraeus), Mykonos and Santorini. Favorites in Northern Europe include Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and SVenicet. Petersburg. In Western Europe, some of the favorite ports are London (often via Southampton), Paris (via Le Havre), Dublin and Lisbon.

When's the Best Time To Go?
It depends on what your priorities are. If you're a price-driven consumer, then the best time for you to go would usually be during the fall or winter. However, what you're gaining in price-savings you're losing in optimal weather conditions. A nice compromise between the two can often be found in the early to mid-spring sailings, as the weather is pretty nice in Europe then, and the prices are not nearly as high as the "peak" travel dates (typically mid-June through mid-August). The summer is considered peak because that's when children are off from school, allowing for many families to travel.

As far as the weather in Europe goes, it varies quite a bit depending on which part of the continent you're referring to. For example, in Northern Europe the winters can be very cold (too cold for cruise lines to offer cruises there during that time of year), while those in many parts of the Mediterranean (such as the Greek Isles) are quite mild.

Popular departure ports for Europe cruises:
Barcelona (Spain), Civitavecchia/Rome (Italy), Copenhagen (Denmark), Istanbul (Turkey), Lisbon (Portugal), London (via Dover, Harwich or Southampton, England) Piraeus/Athens (Greece), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Stockholm (Sweden), Venice (Italy)

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