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Inspire Magazine - European Cruises

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Inspire Magazine - European Cruises

story by: Inspire Magazine

The temptation to include lots of different destinations during a European holiday can lead to the dissatisfactory situation where you seem to constantly live out of a suitcase. Fortunately there are ways to visit lots of places without turning up everywhere in a rumpled sweatshirt – just travel in style!

Cruising the major rivers of Europe aboard an award winning luxury vessel is to enjoy without doubt one of the most relaxing and rewarding ‘great tours’ available to the contemporary traveller. Arriving in style and luxury into the historical heart of spectacular cities, unhurried, refreshed and ready to enjoy your destination – this is the ultimate in travel. Purpose-designed vessels, complete with sumptuous suites, beautiful lounges, beauty salons, fine dining and even plunge pools or whirlpools provide an environment of unrivalled elegance. Imagine visiting Amsterdam, Cologne, Nürnberg, Vienna and Budapest without the hassle of constantly packing and unpacking your bags. Just move into your spacious suite, pour a glass of champagne and take a seat on your private balcony to watch the landscape roll by.

Journeying in comfort is likewise the attraction of luxury barge cruising. Rick Stein introduced television viewers to this unhurried and unique experience, and the same memorable holiday of good food and idyllic waterways awaits you on a fleet of lovely barges in England, France, Italy, Germany and more. Each of these unique vessels features an individually crafted environment of refinement with comfortable cabins, light and airy saloons and in some cases a sunken spa pool on the deck. The crew, consisting of a knowledgeable captain, chef, housekeeper and tour guide will bring the experience they’ve gained from countless trips into play as they ensure that you get the most out of your journey in a friendly and relaxed holiday.

These luxury barges have been configured to accommodate from 8–12 guests, so there is the option of chartering a barge in its entirety for a family group or for a holiday with friends. Although it has to be said that the slow pace of barge travel does lend itself to making new acquaintances as your shared journey of discovery unfolds.

In the past, Royalty always travelled Europe by rail. Iconic trains like the Orient Express were the last word in luxurious travel and their arrival in exotic locations like Istanbul was frequently met with the pomp and ceremony of a state occasion. Today there’s less likely to be a delegation to welcome you on the platform, but the opulence of the journey itself remains resolutely undimmed. The proud owners of these grand trains still adhere to the gracious refinement of bygone eras, with meticulously renovated carriages resplendent in their original decor and 5-star service.

Although the Venice Simplon Orient Express is the most famous of Europe’s luxury rail journeys there is an equally glamorous and refined opportunity to see some of Spain’s most spectacular scenery aboard the El Transcantabrico. This suite only train delivers a very exclusive experience with a maximum capacity of just 54 discerning passengers.

Cruising is a particularly rewarding way to compare the diversity of Europe's scenic experiences. Anchoring in Santorini's mammoth crater is to be transfixed by the power of natural forces just as surely as you are in the shadow of a towering Norwegian fjord. Floating off shore from the canals and islands of Venice reminds the seasoned traveller of that 'Venice of the North', Stockholm. Spread across 14 islands linked by some 50 bridges, Stockholm is considered one of the world's prettiest capitals, surely that's ample reason enough to compare the two for yourself?

If you have an explorer's passion for diverse lands and their cultures you'll find cruising the perfect way to sample both, as there's no requirement to stay close to the shore when there's something to see inland. Florence, Pisa and Rome are all regular features of cruising itineraries, and the port of Kusadasi in Turkey is invariably the entry point for a visit to the ruins of ancient Ephesus.

The cruise line operators will also have experienced guides specifically employed to make sure that you get the richest travel experience possible. The Acropolis in Athens is a hugely popular attraction, and visiting as a part of an organised excursion from a cruising operator helps to reduce the time you'll be stuck in the inevitable queues.    

For the traveller who wants to visit a range of destinations within a single holiday and still enjoy a comfortable, stress free journey there's much to recommend a cruise on a modern, spacious vessel. You will see the best that each destination has to offer and you'll always arrive in style!

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