While a cruise through the New World or the Far East is always a pleasure, look to a cruise through Europe for a taste of culture and class. The natural beauty of the terrain, together with the sunshine of the south and the chic fashions of the north, make the continent a varied and engaging place to play. You’ve got shopping aplenty, good food galore and more history than you could shake a selfie stick at. A cruise is only as grand as its itinerary though, so take a look at the best places to cruise to in Europe before you plan your next escape.

The Mediterranean

The Med is a mainstay of the cruising world for a reason. Its position on the globe promises hot sun whenever you cruise, while the atmosphere you’ll find at every port is one of passion and excitement. European cruise deals often put the Mediterranean front and centre, and for very good reason.

Spain

Perhaps the most obvious stop on your Mediterranean cruise will be sunny Spain. There’s so much to see here, but a shore excursion in the form of a city break shouldn’t be missed. Leading cruise lines like Marella Cruisesoften stop at the world-renowned city of Barcelona. Complete with modernist architecture and dazzling art, the city is a must-see and boasts a thriving foodie culture – the likes of which rivals even the most varied cruise ship dining options. That’s no small feat, considering the kind of dining found on a cruise ship like Marella Discovery.

On the more cosy side of things, you’ll find that a cruise often touches those places package holidays ignore, like the Marella mainstay, sleepy Palamos. Stop by the fish market to see locals haggling over the catch of the day, or dine on the promenade on that same fresh seafood. On the other hand, Cunard includes the charming seaside city of Vigo in Spain as a port of call, complete with its colourful buildings, coffee shops and cobbled streets.

Italy

The beautiful country of Italy entices cruisers time and time again. Many cruises stop at the port of Civitavecchia, which boasts a locally famous Roman Port that once saw the ancient empire flourish across the seas. From here excursions take you to the historic capital of Rome, with its vibrant streets, magnificent fashion and incredible Coliseum. You can flourish in your own way on a cruise ship like Marella Spirit, which often visits Civitavecchia and stylish Naples in its Mediterranean packages.

And don’t forget…

Islands like Spain’s Majorca and Greece’s Corfu, are sunny little hideaways that cruises stop off at, often away from the usual package holiday hotspots. Mainland Greece is also well worth mentioning, with the heartland of the ancient Olympics, Katakolon, and Athens’ 7,000 years of history each featuring in plenty of cruise itineraries.

Western Europe

It might be the fields of The Netherlands, or the stunning sights of Marseilles in France, but one thing’s for sure – a cruise through Western Europe promises magic memories without having to travel too far.

France

Cherbourg is a French coastal community well known as a major port for the ferry crowd, but it’s gained plenty of appeal for anyone taking a cruise through Europe thanks to its handsome huddled houses and its historic connections. Marseilles is also a city that deserves your attention thanks to its handsome buildings and slow-paced quality of life. Marella Cruises lets you tour the domes and spires of this city by foot, bicycle or via comfy coach, making for a shore excursion as active as you choose, before retiring to the sumptuous suites offered by the likes of Marella Celebration.

The Netherlands

The Dutch capital of Amsterdam is another hot cruising destination, with its colourful buildings and quirky streets inviting guests to join in with the laid-back living. Museums like the one dedicated to painter Van Gogh, combined with a vibrant old quarter make Amsterdam a city that wears its historic pride on its sleeve. Expect coffee shops and shopping aplenty, together with guided tours of the sights that promise much beyond the famous Dam Square. Visiting onboard Marella Discovery will give you plenty of ways to enjoy Amsterdam, as well as sailing to nearby Zeebrugge in Belgium for chocolates and wine.

Scandinavia, Fjords and the Baltic

The sleek modern style and cosy northern cabins of Scandinavia do plenty to attract cruisers all year round. Peaceful Norway and sumptuous Sweden, the hi-tech hub of cashless coffee shops, vie for your attention. Stockholm’s popularity with the cruising world is growing rapidly, thanks to its exquisite crystal craftsmanship and countless museums. Marella Discovery, and its sister ship, Marella Discovery 2, are happy to whisk you there and keep you entertained at the magnificent five-storey atriums.

Norway

While this peaceful country’s got plenty of charm, we’ll let you in on one of the best kept secrets of cruises that stop by Norway, and that’s Flam. It’s a sleepy coastal town with old churches and medieval architecture, but the main appeal is the classic railway rides uphill. They make for a superb shore excursion with magnificent views to enjoy, before retiring for cocktails on a cruise ship like Marella Dream.

Finland

Cruise-goers love Finland, and more specifically Helskinki, for its gorgeous and photogenic buildings, a frequent stop on Marella Discovery voyages. The Presidential Palace and the Opera House are equally remarkable, but you can also take a walk on the wild side in Gardenia, a series of tropical groves the city has put together.

Further afield

Estonia is a hidden treasure of European cruising, with Tallinn offering 1,000 years of history in one exciting epicentre. Witness everything from Viking relics to medieval castles and stunning clock towers in this city named 2011 European Capital of Culture. You can also get the Viking connection in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, as part of Marella Cruises’ itineraries, and immerse yourself in geothermal baths galore.

Wherever you choose to take your next European cruise, there are ample opportunities to explore history and mystery alike. Take a look through our countless deals to see which itineraries offer the best adventures, and get ready for a voyage you’ll never forget.

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