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Europe - An Ocean of Opportunities

story by: House of Travel

History, culture, style and sophistication – Europe oozes every single one. Experience this phenomenon with fresh eyes, from its almighty waters, treating you to the highlights of a number of regions.

Why worry about navigating Europe's roads, railway stations and airports when you can glide effortlessly from port to port on a luxurious floating resort? Both first-time visitors to the continent, as well as seasoned European travellers, will be charmed by an alluring holiday journey across Europe's seas. 

Most of Europe's major, and incredibly bewitching cities are on or close to the water, along with many other famous sites just a short journey inland, so you're never far from another enthralling destination.

You’ll gaze upon the continent's world-renowned art, historical sites and magnificent natural features, all while being treated to delicious food, drink and wonderful entertainment on and offboard. Seeing so many sites all in one go, with all-inclusive accommodation, food and activities, makes cruising Europe a particularly cost-effective way of exploring the gorgeous array of sites. 

Being such a popular destination, there are a number of cruise lines to choose from that offer journeys through the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the North Sea and other coastal regions of Europe.

We’ve compiled some of our most loved ports of call, to give you a taster of what to expect and the spots to visit once you've set foot on shore, as you meander Europe's pavements and cobble stone alleyways.


The delectables of the Mediterranean 
Picture perfect Venice has enchanted many a traveller for centuries with its gorgeous canals and impressive feats of architecture. Visit St Mark's Square and step inside St Mark's Basilica, gazing upon its glittering golden mosaics. Then there's the Doge's Palace, which dates back to the 14th century, full of opulent art and design along with poignant features such as the Bridge of Sighs. Also be sure to feast your eyes upon the Torre dell'Orologio, a clock tower from the late 1400's. 

Visit the colourful and vibrant city of Barcelona and see the modernist architecture by Antoni Gaudi, particularly the Sagrada Familia. Or discover the flair of Istanbul, and haggle for bargains at the intoxicating Grand Bazaar – sure to invigorate the senses! Stop by the Sultan Ahmed, or Blue Mosque, for its dizzying feats of engineering, or head to the Topkapi Palace where you can see unique sights such as the sultan's harem. 

The Greek Isles are utterly unmissable, with Santorini and its quaint cliffside residences and sapphire waters sure to enchant you. Walk to the top of the township or opt to ascend on a mule!

Experience holiday hotspot Croatia with a stop at walled city Dubrovnik, perfect for spending an afternoon wandering its cobbled alleys and lanes. Take a stroll to higher ground to gaze down upon the gorgeous peach-coloured rooftops. 

And that's not all the Med has to offer. The port city of Piraeus provides access to the intriguing city of Athens, where you can visit ancient attractions such as the Acropolis which stands watch over the city, amongst other remnants of life from days gone by. Then, head downtown or to the suburbs for a taste of contemporary Greek life. 

Rome is another celebrated destination teeming with history, with famous sights such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and much, much more. Spend your time exploring these marvels while also enjoying the city's culinary finesse, with cafés, restaurants, gelaterias and other mouth-watering edibles. 

More Italian delights abound in Florence, where you can easily walk around the town taking in attractions such as the Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell'Accademia, definitely one for art lovers. Enter the city's cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, and be blown away by its sheer scale. You can even climb to the top of its extravagant dome for splendid views across the rooftops of Florence! Be sure to stroll alongside the Arno River and cross the charming, Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Florence's shops and dining options are exquisite, and if you want to venture further afield you can take a day trip to charming rural towns. 

For an insight into a life of luxury, experience the French Riviera, thriving with a glamorous nightlife, beautiful beaches and quaint architecture. Soak up the razzle-dazzle of Nice, Cannes, Saint Tropez and destinations such as Monte Carlo, where high fashion, casinos and gourmet wining and dining are all in a day's work.

Smooth sailing through the Baltic Sea 
The Baltic is home to gorgeous port destinations such as Stockholm, Tallinn, St Petersburg and Copenhagen. These are some of Europe's real hidden gems, and you will feel like you're uncovering captivating secrets as you travel throughout the region. 

Experience sailing into Stockholm's stunning archipelago with gorgeous emerald isles, before exploring the city's delightful streets and bold-coloured facades. 

Tallinn is Estonia's best kept secret, and is said to be the most preserved medieval old town in Europe. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997, you'll feel like you've stepped into a fairytale. With a mixture of traditional restaurants and on-trend cafés, there's something for everyone in Tallinn ... and don't leave without trying the Elk soup! 

Then there’s the incomparable grandeur of St Petersburg. The Winter Palace, former residence of the Russian Tsars and the site of revolution in the early 1900s, is now home to the Hermitage Museum. Nestled in front of the Neva River, the Baroque treasure features exquisite halls and rooms host millions of pieces of art. Gaze at work by artist legends such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and more. 

Copenhagen is another enchanting port. Take a boat tour through the colourful canals and be totally captivated by the city's glorious castles, gardens and art, then take a stroll through the wonderful shopping streets to add some weight to your suitcases!


Navigating around the North Sea 
The North Sea is a smaller part of the ocean encompassing a number of destinations between Great Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, granting access to a wonderful and diverse set of ports.

Begin by making your way to Norway and exploring the stylish and relaxed city of Oslo. It’s a great place for shopping, visiting museums, galleries and parks, and also has wonderful natural features to explore such as Bleikoya Island and Huk. 

A short skip from Oslo is Bergen, where you can take a journey that is often described as ‘the world’s most beautiful voyage’, cruising over 2400km of Norway’s stunning coastline. This incredible experience will not only see you sail breathtakingly close to beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife, but you can also visit fjords, waterways and small port towns and hamlets, truly showcasing Norway’s diversity – with an exciting menu of excursions to match! 

Explore Amsterdam’s charming canals by boat and visit the outstanding Rijksmuseum, with its amazing collections of over 1 million objects of art and history including masterpieces from Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. 

France’s most westerly point, the Pointe de Pern, takes you to the picturesque port of La Rochelle. Stroll around the city admiring the beautiful architecture, or explore the marshy natural park known as Green Venice on a punt boat ride. In the south of France, a visit to Bordeaux allows access to the stunning town of St Emilion, brimmed with landscapes devoted to wine-growing. While from the port of Lorient you can explore the hidden gem of Pont Aven, best known for inspiring artist Paul Gauguin. 

Honfleur is one of the most charming old fi shing ports in France. Wander the narrow streets in the footsteps of artists or explore the colourful and composed Monet’s garden in Giverny. The vast number of attractions and experiences Europe has on offer can seem overwhelming, but a cruise can help you get a taste of some of the region's very best. Indulge in this stylish way of seeing Europe's most-loved areas and return home fulfilled from your travels, with a wealth of stories to share.

There are plenty more cruises in the sea! To push the boat out on a European extravaganza, visit houseoftravel.co.nz, give us a call on 0800 838 747 or come instore.

> Check out all Inspire Magazine - Your Gateway to Cruise articles or click here for Europe Ocean Cruise Inspire Deals.

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