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5 Incredible European Cruise Itineraries You Must Try

There is so much to see and do on a European cruise – and so much variety in the different counties and ports you can visit.

If you are planning a cruise to Europe, these are the top five itineraries you might want to consider.

Emma Cruises, Greece
Emma Cruises, Greece


There are two popular Mediterranean cruise routes that you will often see advertised. These are Western and Eastern Med cruises

You can visit so many different countries on a week’s cruise.

Western Mediterranean Cruises

Many of these Itineraries start from either Barcelona or Rome. Both have large cruise terminals.

Typically you will visit Spain, Italy, France – and often other countries and islands – Malta, Corsica, Sicily, Majorca – there are all sorts of possibilities.

If you are sailing from Rome, the port of Civitavecchia is between an hour and ninety minutes from the airport. The tax fare will be in the region of 100-130.

Sagrada Familia In Barcelona
Sagrada Familia In Barcelona

Barcelona’s cruise terminal is around a 25-minute ride from the airport, and the taxi fare will be in the region of 40

Find out more about everything you need to know about cruising from Barcelona here:

Everything You Need to Know About Cruising From Barcelona (Location, Transport and More)

The cities of Rome and Barcelona are both unmissable – so whichever you sail from, consider extending your holiday with a couple of nights in a hotel at the beginning or end. You won’t be disappointed.

Find out about the Western Med cruise I took on the unique ship Celebrity Edge below. It has a “Magic Carpet” sticking off the side!

Eastern Mediterranean Cruises

Eastern Med itineraries typically visit Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, and a selection of Greek Islands – Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Crete etc

Sailing on the Adriatic Sea and around Greece is a very memorable experience.

Many of these cruises start in Piraeus, the port for Athens, or Venice – again, both are fantastic.

Leaving from Greece on Celebrity Infinity
Leaving from Greece on Celebrity Infinity

If you do find yourself visiting the port of Athens, you can get a hop-on hop-off bus from the port that will take you into the centre and show you all the sights.

Find out about cheap, last-minute cruise I took on Celebrity Infinity from Athens in the video below:

For the majority of the ports on Mediterranean cruises, the currency is the Euro. This makes things so much easier!

If you visit Turkey as part of your Eastern Med cruise, the currency there is the Turkish Lira – but you will find Euros are often accepted.

Peak Season For Mediterranean Cruises

The Peak Season for Mediterranean cruises is June to September -this is when the weather is at its best.

You can get some really good deals on out-of-season Mediterranean cruises, but the weather is not as reliable in the winter months.

School children in Europe tend to be on school holidays from the end of July to early September – so prices will be higher and ports will be busier.

If you don’t have to take your holidays when the children are off school, you may be better cruising in the “shoulder seasons” – so April, May or September.

You should still have good weather, but you won’t have such large crowds of people in the ports.

Mediterranean cruises are typically a week long. You can take a fly cruise from anywhere in the world – often embarking your ship in Rome or Barcelona.

You can sail to the Mediterranean from the UK, but these cruises usually have two two-week (or longer) itineraries.


Summer Norway Cruises

Visiting Norway by cruise ship is an amazing experience!

I often recommend it to first-time cruisers, for me it is a perfect cruise destination.

Norway Cruise Pros

You can just get off in port and explore, there is no need for excursions or transfers – you are not going to be docked in a container port far from the city.

Norway can be an expensive holiday destination, food and drink may cost more than you are used to. 

When you visit by cruise ship, you can spend as little or as much as you want to in each port, which makes it far easier if you are travelling on a budget.  

7 Reasons Why Your Next Cruise Should be to Norway

I sailed to Norway on the Royal Caribbean ship, Anthem of the Seas. Find out what I thought of her here:

Peak Season For Visiting the Norwegian Fjords

Norway is a very popular destination to sail to from the UK.

Most itineraries are a week-long, although some that travel up further north along the Norwegian coast typically take two weeks.

The peak season for summer cruises to Norway is May to September, most cruise lines tend to move their ships away from the area in winter months.

You might be able to get a cheaper deal in April or late September – but the weather is unpredictable.

I have sailed to Norway in May and it has been glorious weather – and taken exactly the same trip in June and it has rained every single day! You just can’t predict Norwegian weather.

In summer, some parts of northern Norway have daylight 24 hours a day. That takes some getting used to!

Winter “Northern Lights” Itineraries

Sailing to Norway in winter “In search of the Northern Lights” is a very different experience.

Seas can be rough in the winter, and the weather is cold. It’s worth it, though, if you get to see the amazing Aurora Borealis!

Find out whether my worst seasickness experience ever was worth it, and whether I got to see the Northern Lights in the video below:

The currency in Norway is the Norwegian Krone. I never take local currency with me when I visit Norway, I tend to make any payment by card because I find that easier.

Peak Season For Winter Sailings

Winter Sailings to see the Northern lights happen between October and March.

The weather will be cold, but there is little light pollution out at sea and the skies are dark – so if the Northern Lights do appear, they will be stunning.

emma cruises northern lights fred olsen bolette
I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights on my Fred Olsen cruise

This is what Cunard has to say about the chances of seeing the Northern Lights:

In January-March the nights are longer and there tend to be fewer snow clouds blocking the view, but in autumn the weather is milder, and has had some fantastic light displays in recent years. November and December can be good for sightings too, but we suggest wrapping up extra warm!


Baltic Cruises

A typical Baltic cruise will stop in several Capital Cities – Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and Warnemunde, for Berlin.

Longer itineraries may add Hamburg, Riga, and ports that are sometimes part of a Norwegian Fjords cruise, such as Stavanger, Norway.

It is wonderful to be able to visit so many capital cities in such a short period of time – the only slightly confusing thing is that many of these countries have their own currency.

In Denmark they use the Danish kroner. In Norway, it is the Norwegian Krone, and the Sweden they use the Swedish Krona. The Euro is used by Finland, Germany, Latvia and Estonia.

Again, it may be better not to get too much local currency, and use card payments instead.

Baltic Cruise StockHolm Cruise Tips
Stockholm, Sweden

Peak Season for Baltic Cruises

The peak season for Baltic cruises is May to September. Again, it may be worth planning a trip outside the school holidays, which are normally between the end of July and the beginning of September.

This is when ports will be at their busiest, and prices will be at their highest.

If you can sail in the shoulder seasons – April, Early May or later in September you still have a chance of good weather, at a more affordable price.

British Isles and Ireland Itineraries

I love a British Isles cruise – which you might find surprising as I live in Great Britain.

British Isles cruises give me the opportunity to see parts of the country I am unlikely to visit otherwise.

Port stops often include Liverpool, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some “British Isles” cruises have stops in The Republic of Ireland and France too.

I can use public transport to visit cities and places of interest – and in Liverpool, you are docked very centrally, very close to the famous Liver Building.

The Liver Building, from the famous River Mersey

If you are considering a cruise around the British Isles, it is worth staying in London for a few days before or after.

London is a couple of hours from Southampton Port, and there is so much to see and do there, you won’t even scratch the surface in a day.

The currency is the British Pound in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you stop at The Republic of Ireland the currency is the Euro – as it is in France if you visit there too.

british isles cruise loch ness

Find out about the sights I visited on my British Isles cruise in the video below:

Peak Season For British Isles Cruises

Peak season for British Isles cruises would be June to August when the weather is at its best.

The weather in the UK is unpredictable, you may still get rain showers, but it is unlikely to be cold.

The British school children are usually on holiday from the last week in July to the first week in September. That is when the towns and cities will be at their busiest and the prices will be at their highest.

If you could sail in the “shoulder seasons” April, May or September, you will find things less busy and the prices more affordable.

Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a favourite winter sun spot for those living in Great Britain – but they are a great destination for people from all over the world.

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago, but they are closer to Africa than Europe.

The Canary Islands are many and varied – there are mountains, volcanoes and deserts as well as lovely beaches you can explore.

Popular cruise stops include Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote – and often the wonderful Portuguese Island of Maderia. Other stops may include the historic city of Cadiz in Spain or Lisbon in Portugal.

christmas cruise canary islands
The Canary Islands are a popular destination for British people wanting some winter sun.

The above photo was taken on Christmas Day and the temperature was 26 degrees Celsius, 78 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s far warmer than the temperatures at home!

I have taken two Christmas cruises that visited the Canary Islands. With hindsight, I would prefer to take a fly-cruise to the Med or the Canary Islands, rather than sail from Southampton through the notorious Bay of Biscay.

Find out why people avoid sailing through there here:

Cruising Through The Bay Of Biscay: What to Expect (Real Experiences)

The cruise I took from Southampton to the Canary Islands in December was very rough! Find out all about that cruise here:

Peak Season For Canary Island Cruise

The peak season for sailings to the Canary Islands is May to September – but the weather is reasonably warm all year round, making a very popular place for British and European holidaymakers.

Prices will be highest in the peak season, and the islands will be at their most crowded. In my experience, the weather is good all year round – so book when it suits you best.

Find out more about what to consider when booking your European cruise in the article below:

Cruise Destinations and Timings (Peak Seasons, Popular Itineraries and Weather)

Before You Go

Find out in more detail why a Mediterranean cruise is a great idea here:

7 Reasons Why Your Next Cruise Should be in The Mediterranean

Find some hints and tips for taking a Baltic cruise here:

15 Baltic Cruise Travel Tips You NEED to Know

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

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This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.