Five Ways to Explore the World: Cruising for the Rest of Us

Say “cruise vacation” and one of two things will usually come to mind. Either a group of barely intelligible, completely inebriated college students, half dressed and headed towards Mexico on Spring Break, or a boatful of parents and small children, napping and coloring their vacation away on a floating amusement park. Now there’s nothing wrong with that kind of getaway, but if you’re craving something with a little more culture, it probably doesn’t exactly sound like a dream come true. However, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on the idea of a vacation afloat just yet. Have you considered a European cruise?

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If there is any part of the world that is almost tailor-made to be enjoyed from the deck of a ship, it’s Europe. Europe cruises eliminate a lot of the logistical and transportation challenges of driving or flying through this part of the world, while maximizing your exposure to beautiful scenery and amazing destinations. Plus, you’re guaranteed a luxurious room and amazing cuisine every night. But be warned, once you take your first cruise vacation, you will be hooked:

1. The Eastern Mediterranean

Many Europe cruises depart from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. Eastern Med itineraries are an explorer’s dream come true, as they typically visit dream cities like Venice, Ephesus, and the sun drenched Greek Islands. Some Eastern Mediterranean and Europe Cruises also include trips to Egypt and Israel, making them once in a lifetime excursions.

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2. The Western Mediterranean

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing the western Italian coast, southern rim of France, Portugal, or coastal Spain, then the Western Mediterranean Europe cruises are your best bets. These cruises, which stop at such amazing destinations as Monte Carlo, Lisbon, and Barcelona, have the added bonus of being easier on the budget than a traditional European vacation. (Food, transportation, entertainment and lodging are all included—leaving you with a little extra sightseeing and souvenir cash)

3. East/ West Med Combinations

If you have the time and budget, you can always book back to back eastern and western Mediterranean cruises. Whether on the same ship or two different ones, this is the consummate way to see the best that this part of the world has to offer.

4. Baltic Cruising

When it comes to Europe cruises, nothing provides more diversity and artistry than a trip through the Baltic region. Once almost unheard of, these cruises are gaining popularity among people looking to experience the unparalleled natural beauty of the fjords (along with the areas culture and history) for themselves. Highlights of Baltic European cruises include stops in St. Petersburg and Copenhagen.

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5. European River Cruising

For the more seasoned traveler, why not bypass the major cities and explore a European country’s more intimate rivers and waterways. River cruising is slower paced, and allows you to visit smaller villages and enjoy spectacular country sides that you normally would never get to see. Think a river cruise means you’ll be roughing it? Think again. Most European river cruise ships include all of the amenities—from well appointed cabins to lounges and gourmet restaurants.

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