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Travelling around Europe on a cruise is breathtaking. Having chosen to travel by ship, you can visit and stop at great spots along Mediterranean Sea, and / or float down some of the most famous rivers in the world while enjoying the passing sights of both major cities and delightful, small towns and villages.

Discover medieval castles, cathedrals and palaces during sightseeing stops, and wander through fantastic cities during daily shore excursions; the fabulous thing about taking a European cruise being no flights or stressful transit involved.

However like all travel, the biggest challenge is deciding which cruise you want to do. So to help, here are a couple of your options when choosing a European cruise.

Different Types of Cruises You Can Choose From in Europe

Reasons for Cruising in Europe

Before looking at some of the best cruises, let’s first find out why you should opt for cruising while in Europe.

Reasons for Cruising in Europe

➡ The most beautiful sites and cities are built on the water and the best way to view them is from a ship’s deck.

➡ Cruise travel is an efficient way to get around. Cruises travel during the night and arrive in the morning. As a traveler you therefore have the whole day to explore, without the hassles and stresses of transit.

➡ Cruises offer great value for money. Think about it – everything you could possibly need for a great trip is bundled into the one fare, and depending on the cruise line, prices can start as low as $100 per person, per night.

➡ Not only is it cheaper to travel on ship, but also, it is more comfortable. You only unpack one time while on a cruise.

Cruise Liner

Offering some of the best Europe cruise options, cruise liners are among the largest and most impressive vessels at sea. Not only is a cruise liner the equivalent to a floating hotel, it’s essentially a floating city in itself!

Cruise liners today offer absolutely everything you could possibly want or need on-board, especially if you’ve chosen a Europe cruise with Celebrity; from Wi-Fi, phone reception and satellite TV, to shops, casinos, clubs, bars and rooftop pools – you’re definitely not going without by stranding yourself in the middle of the sea!

All ships include medical facilities with trained professionals on-call, and housekeeping services will keep your linens fresh with regular turned-down services throughout your stay. Gyms, restaurants, cinema screens – there really is everything on-board!

Cruise liners are among the largest and most impressive vessels at sea.

Cruise liners are among the largest and most impressive vessels at sea.

Disney Cruises

Disney cruises are a fabulous option for those traveling with kids. Disney Cruise Line is renowned for creating magic at sea with one-of-a-kind onboard entertainment, recreation and dining.

On one of these cruises, you have the opportunity to explore the spectacular seaside villages and captivating cosmopolitan cities of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, each offering incomparable shopping, sightseeing and fine-dining opportunities for the entire family.

River Cruises

Do you know the difference between the Rhone and the Rhine? What about the Rhine and the Seine?!

European river cruises are a wonderfully tranquil way to explore some of the most historic towns and cities in Europe. This form of cruising is a voyage along inland waterways, often on much smaller and more intimate ships than a cruise liner, stopping at multiple ports along the way.

Since cities and towns throughout Europe often grew up around rivers, river cruise ships frequently dock in the center of cities and towns. This is a fabulous perk, as the large nature of many cruise liners mean you have to dock a considerable way out of town.


Venice sightseeing

Canal Barge Cruises

Canal barging is a unique form of slow travel popular throughout Europe, especially in France, Italy, Scotland and Ireland. The size of the canal dictates the size of the barge, but the maximum number of guests on board usually ranges from 4-12 passengers.

On board the barge are a handful of crew members who will help make your journey an effortless one, and while the options for barge cruises are vast, a luxury, all-inclusive barge cruise is definitely way to go.

Expedition Cruises

For the more adventurous cruiser, expedition cruises operate in the very northern parts of Europe, offering access to the frigid, remote lands of and above the Arctic Circle.

Expedition ships are smaller ships with limited number of passengers, offering an adventurous and hands on experience more likely torn from the pages of National Geographic than Travel + Leisure. 

These types of cruises sail well off the beaten path, and not only offer “spectacular landscapes – deep fjords choked with ice, rugged snowy peaks, the sun shining throughout long summer nights – but also Arctic animals, some of the world’s most unique wildlife.”


Lonely Planet Europe

Europe on a Budget

Lonely Planet Western Europe


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.


  1. I don’t do Disney cruises. But, I have enjoyed Norwegian and Carnival. And, you are absolutely correct- the ability to pack and unpack once is among the most important reasons why my trips have been so glorious. (Of course, the places I visited contributed dramatically, as well!)

    • Disney cruises definitely require a specific set of interests! But really are quite fun if you’re traveling with a young family. I’ve traveled with Celebrity, but not yet Norwegian and Carnival – they both look like stunning cruise liners too though. Glad you enjoyed each of your cruises!

  2. Ya. HAve always wanted to do the European river cruises. I do understand the options and good to know that you can fit in so much on short trips too! The good bit is that many great places are so close to each other I guess! So lots of day trips on the way! Unlike the transcontinental sea cruises.

    • There are some fabulous European river cruises for sure, and with so many of Europe’s most iconic cities on the water, it’s easy to put together a really cool itinerary … and definitely a lot of options for epic day trips!

      Hope you have the chance to enjoy one soon!

  3. I have just been on day cruises on some rivers and on the backwaters of Arabian sea. Hope to travel on a cruise liner sometime to experience living in luxury on water. Good to know that cruises are not really costly and one can easily afford them. Yes, there is nothing like watching the coastal city skylines from the water.

    • Day cruises are a lot of fun too – thinking I should update to include that as an option actually, you can get some fabulous day cruises from ports in Europe :)

      Cruises are definitely affordable – it obviously depends on the cruise liner though, luxury cruises, or cruises with a smaller # of people, or to a hard to reach destination like the arctic are usually more expensive than your more popular, and easier options like around the Mediterranean. So it just depends on what you’re after :)

  4. Me and my mom were planning to book a cruise for us and my sister before she gets married this summer and we never realized there were so many options in Europe! Above all, I had no idea that we also have Disney cruises in the Mediterranean! We’re not travelling with kids but we’re kids at heart so I’m looking into them now, we might be in for a ride!

    • Sounds like a fabulous way to celebrate! Yes, there are so many options, and if you’re all Disney fans that could be a super fun girls trip!

      Happy travels! And congrats to your sisters engagement :)

  5. I’ve never been on a cruise but river cruising sounds really intriguing. With so many options offered in Europe I’d like to give a go, maybe on a Rhine cruise. For certain a different way of exploring places and a relaxing vacation: as you say, a great way to avoid packing and upacking all the time!

    • River cruising would be a wonderful introduction if you’ve not been on a cruise before – it’s a very chilled out relaxed pace, and with less people than on your huge cruise liners. A very relaxing way to explore Europe! Hope you have the chance to try it soon :)

  6. We really want to try a river cruise as they boats look really nice and far more intimate than the large ships. We’ve seen them moored during our visits to Amsterdam, Hungary and Vienna. Also, we both get seasick, so obviously a river cruise will be much calmer.

    • River cruising is definitely more intimate that your large cruise liners, and would definitely be calmer if you have trouble with rough seas. If you try one on your next trip to Europe let us know what you think!

  7. Cruise liners seem ideal for traveler couple like us. It has bars, housekeeping, and rooftop pool. Although I’d like the Disney cruise! I’m a kid at heart! I’ve done cruising in Halong Bay, Vietnam! But it was too short that I didn’t enjoy very much! I’m still on the stage of convincing my partner to go on another cruise with me in Europe because he’s not into cruising very much, whilst, I’m also a bit terrified being in the ocean so I can go Canal Barging! lol

    • If you’re a kid at heart the Disney cruise option is so much fun! A cruise through Halong Bay is on my bucketlist – I actually saw a travel show on TV about it last night and everyone said the same thing, that it was too short and they wished they could have stayed longer!

      If your partner doesn’t like cruising and you don’t like the ocean, river or barge cruises might be a really great option – they’re a smaller and much more intimate version of the huge cruise liners – might be perfect for you!

  8. I haven’t been on a cruise yet, I get seasick really badly so wouldn’t want to be stuck on the boat for days if I feel ill! I like the sound of a river cruise though, down the Danube, or maybe on a canal boat through France. I’ve seen boats on the Canal du Midi, and it looks so peaceful and you can always hop off for some yummy French food!

    • If you’re not great with rough oceans perhaps a river or barge cruise would be a better option for you – they have some fabulous itineraries too, so you’re definitely not missing out by not choosing the ocean liner option :)

  9. I will have to search out some affordable cruise, really keen to experience one. Like you said you pack/unpack only once yet get to see a lot many places which is never possible in case of road trips.

    • Cruising on ocean liners especially can be really affordable, the river cruising and barge cruising options are more expensive as they’re smaller ships with more personalized service, so if you’re looking for a starter on a budget, I would recommend the cruise liner options :)

  10. I have yet to experience a cruise but it’s definitely something I’m keen to try out one day. There are a lot of cruises coming into Saranda, Albania where I live which I think would be super beautiful! It’s great to know there are a few different options out there to choose from.

    • Glad we could give you an overview of your different options Anita :) If you’re based in Europe there are a lot of opportunities to pick up a fabulous cruise, let us know if you have any questions when you go to choose :)

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