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EUROPE

WESTERN & EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN, GREEK ISLES, NORTHERN EUROPE

Europe beckons with glorious history, fabled cities and spellbinding beauty. Stand in awe before the works of Michelangelo in Italy or Gaudi’s distinctive architecture in Spain. Witness the remains of ancient civilizations in Greece and Turkey. Tour Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the shadows of epic monuments, you will discover storybook towns hidden behind medieval walls, timeless gems and a taste of la dolce vita. Discover the lands of legends and kings while cruising to Europe’s most enchanting ports of call.

From the fjords of Norway to the waterways of Venice, to the ruins of the Mediterranean, Cruising through Europe allows you to discover the richness and beauty of many European countries in a totally new way. Many of the most popular sites in Europe are accessible to cruise travelers – either by ocean or by river cruise ships. Most of Europe’s major cities were built right on the water and are impressive to see from the deck of a ship. Cruising through Europe is also the most efficient and economical way to see Europe.

And due to the Euro’s wildly fluctuating value against the US dollar, cruising through Europe can be a much more economical option than a land-based trip to Europe. For the value conscious groups a cruise to Europe is much easier on your budget because big ticket items such as hotel accommodation and Food & beverage costs are all in US dollars

WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN CRUISES

The Western Mediterranean is one of the most diverse cruise regions. Spanning two continents (Europe and Africa), the region includes the artistic meccas of Italy, France and Spain and the Arabic culture in Morocco and Tunisia.

Western Mediterranean sailings are ideal for art and history lovers who also wish to explore the region’s landmarks, beaches, cafes and boutique shops. Tour the Med in bold new ways on a Western Mediterranean cruise!

Destination Highlights:
■ Don’t miss a stroll along Las Ramblas and a visit to La Sagrada Familia, one of Gaudi’s most famous works in Barcelona. Then savor some tapas while sipping on some ice-cold sangria.
■ Revel in Michelangelo’s Brilliance with a visit to the Sistine Chapel. Then stop for authentic, freshly made gelato in one of Rome’s bustling squares.
■ Take a ride up the Amalfi Coast. With its ocean views and beautiful vistas, it’s one of the most breathtaking stretches of road in the world.
■ Take a scenic drive through the Tuscan countryside. Stop in a local winery to sample some of its delicious product.

Cruise Tips:
■ Several cruise lines offer itineraries year round, but peak season is spring through fall
■ Early spring and late fall sailings offer the advantage of more competitive rates, fewer crowds and more pleasant temperatures.
■ Avoid August, as many Europeans tend to take the entire month off and many restaurants are closed.
■ The primary destinations in Western Mediterranean itineraries are Italy, France and Spain, with a few interesting detours.
■ Mega ships tend to visit the most popular or “greatest hits” of Western Med including Florence, Rome, and Barcelona and tend to be 7 days.
■ Luxury cruise lines with smaller vessels tend to avoid the high traffic ports with sailing including more intimate ports like Portofino, Cannes and Capri. Sailings are often longer in duration, but ships can be charted for shorter sailings.
■ Consider a river cruise, visiting the heart of Western Europe. There are many options.

EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN CRUISES

The Eastern Mediterranean stretches from the Adriatic Sea (east of Italy to Croatia), southeastward to the Greek Isles and Turkey, and into the Holy Land and Egypt. While the Western Mediterranean has traditionally been the most recommended European cruise itinerary for first-time cruisers, Eastern Mediterranean is increasingly becoming one of the more popular regions in Europe.

Most itineraries offer a combination of history, culture and beaches, making it easy to serve a variety of interests. History buffs can explore well-preserved temples at Ephesus or revel in the ruins of stadiums at Olympia. While the more adventurous travelers have plenty of terrain to explore. If relaxation is what you’re after, you can choose to take things at a slower pace and lounge on picturesque beaches, explore sleepy village shops or sip a glass of wine from a vineyard.

Destination Highlights:
■ Stroll the cobblestone streets of the Old Town of Dubrovnik dotted with Renaissance churches, shops and alfresco cafes.
■ Explore Venice with a view from the water on a gondola ride on the Grand Canal.
■ Witness the one-and-only Acropolis, a citadel more than 2,500 years old in Athens
■ Stroll the labyrinth of cobbled streets with cozy cafes and craft shops as you marvel the graceful old buildings of Kotor
■ Explore a few of Croatia’s finest UNESCO World Heritage Sites: discover the treasures of the medieval town of Trogir, and visit the Palace of Diocletian and see how the Romans influenced the old city of Split.
■ Visit Ancient Olympia where the first Olympiad was held in 776 B.C and where Greek mythology was born.

Cruise Tips:
■ Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean typically depart from Rome, Venice or Athens and include ports of call in Italy, Greece, Turkey and cities along the Adriatic Sea.
■ Consider a spring or fall cruise to avoid jostling with peak-season crowds. Groups can also enjoy highly discounted cruise rates and more comfortable temperatures.
■ Big ships tend to visit big ports — the “greatest hits” of the Eastern Mediterranean destinations, such as Venice, Athens and Istanbul.
■ Luxury vessels visit smaller ports, but they’re longer in duration and also include ports in Western Mediterranean. Luxury vessels can be chartered for a shorter itinerary.
■ Guests traveling from the U.S. would depart the night prior to the cruise and arrive in Europe in the morning to board the ship.

THE GREEK ISLES CRUISES

Surrounded by brilliant blue water and sprinkled with sun-bleached ruins, the Greek islands will fill your imagination with mythical tales, your belly with local flavors and your soul with calm and tranquility. The Greek Islands deliver something for everyone. History lovers can explore ancient ruins and antiquities of Athens. Shoppers will delight in the plethora of boutique shops and galleries. And if basking in the sun is the objective, pristine beaches can be found on nearly every island, some ranking among the best in the world.

There is no better way to experience the stunning scenery and wonder that the Greek Islands are famous for, than on a cruise. Discover the rich culture and stunning natural beauty, exquisite local cuisine and vibrant entertainment of multiple islands in one trip.

Destination Highlights:
■ Stroll down narrow, picturesque streets of Oia on the island of Santorini lined with shops, galleries and restaurants. Catch a glimpse of the iconic whitewashed church with a blue dome set against an equally blue sea.
■ Journey to Paradise Beach on the southern coast of Mykonos for soft sands and azure seas where you can sunbathe, relax and snorkel.
■ For stunning views all day long, don’t miss an epic hike through Samaria Gorge in Crete’s only national park.
■ Marvel at the world’s most breathtaking ancient ruin the Acropolis in Athens, or get lost in the Plaka district’s narrow pedestrian streets lined with quaint bougainvillea-draped houses and inviting restaurant terraces.

Cruise Tips:
■ Season runs from May to late October with June and September being the best months to avoid all the tourists and the climate is cooler. September is also grape harvest at Santorini’s vineyards.
■ Almost all the mainstream cruise lines with large ships offer itineraries that stop at the larger Greek Islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete.
■ To really get an in-depth tour of the Greek Islands, smaller luxury ships that stops at some of the off-the-beaten path islands like Skiathos or Hydra are recommended.
■ Tendering is more often the rule, not the exception at majority of the Greek Islands.

NORTHERN EUROPE CRUISES

The Northernmost region of Europe is comprised of  the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Explore the stunning Baltic capitals, including St. Petersburg, Russia, home to a myriad of cultures, languages and storied pasts.

From the Northern Lights to landscape masterpieces including the spectacular Norwegian fjords, embark on an enchanted voyage by sea that will transport you straight into the pages of a storybook fairytale.

Sail past magical castles and mystical buildings located in every corner of this northern land and marvel at stunning scenery that will surely capture your imagination.

CARIBBEAN

HAWAII

Destination Highlights:
■ St. Petersburg, Russia is the marquee attraction of a Baltic cruise. Marvel at the grand palaces of the Tsar and iconic cathedrals to the Hermitage museum offering some of the most profound works of art ever revealed.
■ Wander through the Fjords, waterfalls and verdant cliffs of Norway.
■ Kayak through the picturesque canals and harbors of Copenhagen and take in a delightful mix of rides, attractions and performances at Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest theme park in the world.

Cruise Tips:
■ Season runs from May into September with June being one of the best times to visit Russia as St. Petersburg celebrates “White Nights”. September is the best month to avoid all the tourists and climate is cooler.
■ Almost all the mainstream cruise lines offer Baltic Sea cruises, deploying newer, bigger and more contemporary vessels.
■ Luxury cruise lines are a staple of the region with expanded enrichment programs about ports as well as longer stays in key cities.
■ While several cruise lines sail 7- to 9-night itineraries, 10- to 14-night voyages are more common.

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