WE ARE FLOCKING TO EUROPE
Europe has become the fastest growing segment of the Australian cruise market with an increase of 50% in the past year. More 35,000 Aussies now cruise the continent on a diverse range of cruise lines.
There are two distinct cruise areas in Europe, the Mediterranean and the northern European region. Many Australians couple a cruise with a land based tour and what better way to start or end your European adventure.
You can choose to start your cruise in any number of European ports or out of Southhampton. The beauty of this kind of cruising is the ease with which you get to see some of the great cities of the world. Imagine cruising up the Grand Canal in Venice or voyaging up the Dardanelles to Istanbul.
Mediterranean cruises fall into three main categories. You can visit Italy, Spain and France on a western Mediterranean itinerary with Barcelona, Monaco, Florence and Rome all popular ports.
In the east you can sail to Venice, Dubrovnik, the Greek Islands, Egypt and Turkey to name some of the most popular destinations. If you have the time and resources, a grand cruise of the entire region will take you 15 days or more, but is well worth the effort.
Many cruise lines operate in this region and most cater for a wide selection of nationalities. If you are worried about being stuck on a foreign ship and not knowing anyone, then you should consider one of the many Australian based groups that travel to Europe. This is especially the case for senior passengers.
The other major region for cruising in Europe is the northern area including Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic. Popular ports include Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Bergen, Reykjavik and St Petersburg. It is also possible to cruise the Fjords and Iceland.
Major cruise lines in Europe include:
Their northern cruises depart from Southampton which makes it easy for Aussies flying into London. Mediterranean cruises depart from a number of ports, but again you can cruise from Southhampton. Known for their relaxed atmosphere mingled with traditional cruise values. The modern P&O fleet includes Azura, Adonia, Aurora, Oriana, Arcadia, Oceana and Ventura.
Royal Caribbean International:
Their ships are known for being large, having plenty of facilities and excellent cuisine. Life on board ship is an adventure in itself. Ships in Europe include Liberty of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, and Independence of the Seas.
Known for their spacious design, fine service and large verandas, Celebrity Cruises is amongst the foremost European cruise lines. Ships include Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Silhouette, and Celebrity Eclipse.
Carnival Cruise Line:
Opulent ships offer seven, 10 and 12 night cruises in a fun filled, laid back atmosphere, Lots of facilities on board. Ships include Carnival Magic.
Feature elegant mid-sized ships with a larger feel. Very casual and friendly like a country club atmosphere. Most of their cruises are between 10 and 15 nights. Ships include Marina, Nautica, Insigna, Regatta and Riviera.
Featuring larger ships with an Italian ambience. Most cabins have balconies and there is an array of dining options. Ships include Poesia, Linca, Fantasia, Splendida and Melody,
At the higher end of the market, all cabins have views and service is at a premium. Ships include Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.
Azamara Club Cruises:
For those who prefer smaller, boutique style cruise ships. Surprisingly well priced, they feature longer and overnight port stays and thoughtful itineraries. Ships include Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.
Other cruise lines in Europe include Costa, Fred Olsen, Princess, Seabourn, Windstar and Silversea. Look for future reviews in Australian Cruise Magazine.