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Best Tips for Planning a European Cruise Vacation

Imagine waking up each day of your cruise vacation to the sight of an incredible new country? The best European cruises take you to the vibrant heart of some of the world’s most fascinating places across the continent. Check out our top European cruise tips and get ready for a cultural adventure of a lifetime.

Best Time to Cruise Europe

You’ll be happy to know that, in terms of weather, there’s a wide window of time in which to choose when to cruise Europe. The general cruise season runs from April to November, to avoid the winter chills.

If you love to bask in the summer sun, pick a cruise in the months of June, July or August. For comfortable yet cooler temperatures, take your cruise vacation in May or September.

carnival ship sailing past beautiful seaside city in europe

What to Pack for Your Europe Cruise

Wondering what to wear on a European cruise? Packing is easy when you keep it simple. For ladies, daytime attire of shorts, T-shirts or sundresses with non-slip boat shoes that provide good traction is suitable. In the case of cooler weather, a pair of jeans or linen pants with a rain jacket or light sweater usually suffices.

Don’t forget your bathing suit, sunglasses, a hat, a daypack for your phone, your room key, water and valuables.

Similarly for men, shorts, T-shirts, sneakers and sandals are appropriate, with a couple of lightweight sweater and pairs of jeans. In terms of evening wear for women and men, pack at least one elegant cocktail dress or suit for glamorous nights on board the cruise, and smart casual attire for dining.

Top European Cruise Destinations

So, now that you’re all packed and ready to cruise, what are Europe’s top cruise destinations?


Cruises throughout Spain depart from Barcelona, home of dramatic Gothic spires, the eccentric architecture of Antoni Gaudi, delicious tapas and designer shopping. On a Spanish cruise, visit Cartagena to see ancient Roman ruins and its bustling marina.

Dock in Malaga, one of Spain’s oldest cities and the birthplace of the artist, Pablo Picasso. Palma de Mallorca offers castles and cathedrals on a backdrop of soaring mountains and sparkling beaches.

On the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife, you’ll discover crystal clear seas and excellent handicraft shopping in the port of Santa Cruz. Just off Spain’s south coast, visit the British overseas territory of Gibraltar and the famed Rock of Gibraltar.

view of the colorful city of barcelona, spain from park guell

United Kingdom

Depart on your UK cruise from Dover and you’ll feast your eyes on its dramatic white cliffs. Shop up a storm in London and explore some of the world’s most famous attractions, including the Tower Bridge and Big Ben. Further afield in Northern Ireland, cruise to Belfast and see it’s Victorian streets and dine on fresh seafood.


Enchanting Venice is a departure port for cruises in Italy, with the majestic Grand Canal, gondola rides and waterfront palaces. When you dock in Civitavecchia, you’re on the doorstep of Rome’s historic grandeur, including the Colosseum and Vatican City.

Naples is the home of towering Mount Vesuvius, where you can visit the Blue Grotto in nearby Capri and tour the ruins of Pompeii. Sail into Messina, Sicily, for views of Mount Etna and Livorno to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Florence Cathedral.

boats docked around the beautiful marina in livorno italy


Paris is a bucket list travel destination and the port of Le Havre is a gateway to the dazzling ‘City of Lights’. Take a pic in front of the Eiffel Tower and shop til you drop on the Champs Elysee. Visit Marseille, in Provence, to explore its picturesque countryside and the Chateau d’lf.


Cruises to Portugal are full of sun-drenched fun on a backdrop of colorful history. The capital city, Lisbon, rests within seven hills on the banks of the River Tagus, overlooked by the fairytale castle, São Jorge.

Dock in Funchal on the island of Madeira to tour Gothic cathedrals and museums, and Ponta Delgada for natural wonders and marine life spotting.

view of the colorful coast of funchal portugal from the side of a cliff


Norway is a land of incredible fjords, thundering waterfalls, wildlife and charming mountain villages. Gaze in awe at the views from Pulpit Rock near Stavanger, see Bergen’s historic old Bryggen district and sample succulent, fresh seafood in Alesund.

In Molde, you’ll be in the midst of some of the country’s most spectacular fjords, while Trondheim offers a wealth of folk history and vividly painted architecture.


If you’ve ever wanted to discover the Greek Islands, a cruise to Corfu is a magical place to start. Sitting pretty above the stunning blues of the Adriatic Sea, the island is blessed with pristine beaches, a UNESCO-listed Old Town and quaint fishing towns to explore.

tourists enjoying the cliffs along the island of corfu


Croatia’s Dubrovnik is a highlight of any European cruise, with a medieval walled city atop cliffs facing turquoise seas. Another port of call, Rijeka, is an intriguing blend of cosmopolitan cafes, Roman walls, landscaped gardens and Austro-Hungarian buildings.


Cruise to Montenegro and you’ll be spellbound by the port of Kotor. Its fortified Old City is one of the Mediterranean’s best preserved, with the Cathedral of St. Tryphon and St. John’s Fortress, where you’ll find panoramic views of the harbor and mountains.

breathtaking view of the coast of kotor, montenegro and a famous church


Greenland is a natural wonderland filled with art, Norse history and culture. You’ll dock in Qaqortoq, the largest town in South Greenland. It’s filled with colorful, colonial buildings and museums, encircled by fjords and lush mountainscapes.


Sail into Malta’s capital, Valletta, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of lavish Baroque buildings, palaces and ocean views. The island nation is crowned by the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Grand Harbor, a seaside fortress that dates back to 1530.

clear blue waters along the coast of malta’s capital, valletta


Iceland is famous the world over for spectacular volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers and thermal hot springs. You’ll arrive in the port of Reykjavik, which is the northernmost capital in the world and known for its trendy art, music and culinary scene.

By now, no doubt you can’t wait to pack your bags for a cruise to Europe! The good news is that Carnival Radiance® will be sailing Europe, starting in 2020. So, choose your destinations and get ready to savor an enchanting, European cruise vacation.

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.