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A Day in the Life of a River Cruise

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Northern Europe Cruises and Cruise Lines

Northern & Central Europe Cruises and Cruise Lines


One of the most popular itinerary options in Europe, a Northern Europe cruise presents passengers with cultural diversity, historical attractions, and magnificent scenery. Cruises in Northern Europe typically combine visits to Copenhagen and other Scandinavian capitals and overnights (on the ship) in St. Petersburg.

From St. Petersburg’s opulent palaces of the Tsars to Stockholm’s beautiful harbor to Copenhagen’s charming Tivoli Gardens, few cruising regions offer the diverse treasures of the Baltic. Best of all, on a Northern Europe cruise, cruise ships typically dock within walking distance of the city center, allowing you to step off the ship and explore on your own.

How Many Days?
Northern Europe cruises come in two lengths. Weeklong cruises to the Norwegian Fjords or the Baltic Sea, and cruises longer than 10 days, covering more Northern European ports. Cruises longer than 10 days are by far the most popular Northern Europe cruises among cruisers from the U.S., but weeklong cruises are growing in popularity. When choosing a weeklong cruise a couple of days are often added to explore the port of departure.

Royal Caribbean in Europe Northern Europe Cruising Regions
Northern Europe cruises come in three flavors: Scandinavia & Russia, the Norwegian Fjords, and the British Isles. Scandinavia & Russia cruises will take you to the Baltic, to countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Russia. The highlight on these cruises is St. Petersburg, where most ships stay overnight. Norwegian Fjords cruises will take you on a spectacular voyage along the Atlantic coast of Norway. National Geographic Traveler rated the Norwegian fjords as the world’s number-one unspoiled travel destination. Finally British Isles cruises will take you on an in-depth cruise to ports in England, Scotland and Ireland.

Deluxe River Cruises
In 1992, Europe’s age-old maritime landscape changed dramatically. It was that year that the Main-Danube Canal opened, connecting the Continent’s main arteries — and along with them, all of Europe.

Viking River Cruises The completion of the canal spawned grand cruise itineraries from Amsterdam to Budapest — and beyond. An engineering marvel, the 106-mile Main-Danube Canal permits modern-day vessels to travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea, opening up more than 2,200 miles of river and exposing today’s travelers to life along the banks.

River cruises offer opportunities to step ashore in fairy tale towns and fabled cities. To immerse in contemporary culture, and learn something about the history of the towns along Europe’s greatest rivers.

For many travelers, the slow chug along the river is just the right pace for getting the lay of the land. Sitting on the top deck of a ship under brilliant blue skies, you gaze on fabled landscapes dotted with castles, villages and vineyards. A flight of stairs down, and you have all the amenities of a modern hotel — restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness facilities, spas, internet access and comfortable staterooms.

The 21st century river cruise experience has evolved into a deluxe experience, with river cruise lines such as AmaWaterways and Viking River Cruises leading the way with the newest ships.

Ports of Departure
The majority of Northern Europe cruises depart from Copenhagen or Amsterdam, or from a number of different ports in England, such as Dover, London-Greenwich, London-Tilbury, Harwich and Southampton.

Scandinavia & Russia cruises mostly depart Copenhagen, a great city to spend a couple of days, or from one of the ports in England. Norwegian Fjords cruises depart from a number of the ports mentioned, while British Isles cruises of course depart from one of the ports in England.

Holland America Line in Europe Amsterdam
A fairly small city, Amsterdam is packed with treasures for travelers. The city’s signature feature – perhaps most beautiful, too – is the network of canals through and around the city. A canal cruise is a must, whether in an open-top canal boat or a self-pedaled “canal bike,” so that you can see dozens of spectacular Amsterdam sights, including stunning architecture that ranges from medieval to modern, tree-lined neighborhoods and quirky houseboats. With thousands of bridges, Amsterdam is a great walking city, too. The museums are special attractions here, especially the Rijksmuseum, a Neo-Gothic delight with the finest collection of 17th century Dutch art, and the Van Gogh Museum, devoted to the dotted-and-dashed brush strokes and somewhat troubled life of one of the world’s most-loved European artists. If time allows, see the Anne Frank House, too, for some poignant memories of that brave girl.

Copenhagen
A beautiful and eminently livable city, Scandinavia’s largest city was originally a fishing village that evolved into a major port of trade and is now a jewel of Northern Europe. Despite massive 18th century fires, Copenhagen retains its charming medieval layout with plenty of Old World appeal, even as it modernizes. Foremost among Copenhagen’s attractions are the Rundetårn, an observation tower honoring astronomer Tycho Brahe, and Amalienborg Palace, the royal residence. Other can’t-miss sights include the Rådhus (Town Hall), with its ornate interior and gilded statue of Bishop Absalon (founder of Copenhagen). Of course, no feature is more visible than Tivoli, the city’s much-loved amusement park and a destination for culture, sociability, and dining as much as for thrilling entertainments.

London
Set along the banks of the Thames, London is Europe’s largest city, boasting more than 7 million inhabitants and deserving of at least several days of exploration. Its oldest section, where the Romans first garrisoned, is now its business and financial center, referred to as the City, or the Square Mile where you will also find the Tower of London. Otherwise, tourist matters fall largely to the city’s social and cultural center, the West End, or to the bars, clubs and restaurants of Soho. The major museums, such as the Victoria & Albert, are in South Kensington. London boasts many beautiful parks. For recreation and pastoral settings, Hyde Park and Serpentine Lake are perfect, but Kew Gardens in southwest London features an enormous collection of plants, landscaped panoramas, and charming greenhouses. For history hounds, Buckingham Palace, the royal residence, delivers a glimpse of aristocratic life. Plus, venerable Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral serve as time-tested counterpoints to newer sights like the London Eye and the Millennium Dome.

Stockholm
A large city offering travelers and visitors many events, attractions and activities, Sweden’s capital is a friendly, attractive place built on 14 islands. Most popular of those islands and receiving more than 10 million visitors each year, Djurgården (translated as Game Park) is an island park right in the middle of Stockholm, perfect for a pleasant two-hour stroll. At the Vasa Museum, the restored Royal Warship Vasa, which lay at the bottom of the sea for more than 300 years after it sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, is on display with more than 4,000 coins, carpenter’s tools, sailor’s pants, fish bones and other pieces of archaeological interest retrieved along with nearly all of the ship’s 700 original sculptures.


Big Ship or Small Ship?
What is the best way to see Europe, on a small ship or a big ship? Well, both have their advantages.

Big Ship Northern Europe
The big ships cruise to all the major Northern Europe ports. Superliners from Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and others provide a cruise vacation that can be wild and wooly one minute and cool, calm and collected the next. The facilities on these floating resorts, which all deserve the state-of-the-art label, will satisfy everyone from the health nut who wants to stay fit to the party animal who wants to dance all night.

Aside from offering something for everyone and nonstop activity, big ships are generally better-suited for families, particularly if children are part of the mix. Almost all large ships feature children’s and teens’ activity centers as well as staterooms designed for families.

Small Ship Northern Europe
Smaller ships often visit ports that the big ships cannot get into because of their size. This provides for a completely different, more personal Northern Europe experience. Small ships in the Northern Europe are all of the luxury or deluxe variety, with a high level of service. Luxury cruise lines include Silversea Cruises and the Seabourn, while Oceania Cruises is the leader in the deluxe small ship category.

best luxury deal:
Seabourn

Find best Northern Europe deals on Seabourn. Book your cruise online.

Best Northern Europe Luxury and Deluxe Cruise Deals