Additional European Cruise Departure Ports
Apart from the cities above, you can start your vacation in some other iconic places in Europe, like Amsterdam, the land of 100 canals, and nearly as many world-class museums. Or Southampton, near London, home of St. Pauls Cathedral and 350-acre green space Hyde Park.
We also depart from Lisbon, the city of the seven hills, which contains the resting place of explorer Vasco de Gama, Jeronimos Monastery, and Venice, if you can bear to leave its spectacular architecture and food behind. No matter what port you leave from on your European cruise, it will be a memorable experience for you and your fellow travelers.
Small Ship Line : Quasar Expeditions
The first luxury line to sail the Galápagos, Quasar Expeditions is best known for its in-depth trips aboard its two intimate ships that carry fewer than 32 passengers each. Yet note the street cred of said ships: One of the two, the Grace, is the former yacht of Princess Grace of Monaco. The other, the Evolution, will allow you to retrace Darwin’s footsteps in the Galápagos. Book the Baltra Island itinerary, where you’ll work your way from San Cristobal Island to Baltra, and explore all the central and southern islands of the archipelago in between.
Medium Ship Line #: Holland America Line
Of Holland Americas 10 ships, eight of them fall into the medium-size category, carrying between 1,400 and 2,500 passengers. The refined ships sail to destinations across the world, but one of the most popular destinations for the cruise line is Alaska. When cruising resumes, we think you should check out the Noordam, which was refurbished in 2019, as it sails itineraries around the Japanese archipelago, China, and Southeast Asia.
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Large Ship #1: Costa Cruises
Italian cruise line Costa Cruises, which operates under parent company Carnival, has quite a history: It was founded in 1854 as a cargo shipping company, transporting olive oil and textiles around the world. Transferring to the leisure cruise side of the business in 1959, Costa now operates 17 shipsthe majority of which accommodate between 2,800 and 5,300 passengersthat sail all over the world, with two more scheduled to join the fleet by the end of 2021.
Medium Ship Line #1: Marella Cruises
U.K.based cruise line Marella, which is operated by TUI UK, has a fleet of six ships that hold between 1,100 and 2,000 passengers, sailing itineraries around Europe, the Middle East, North America, and the Caribbean, with some special journeys to Asia. The sailings are billed as all-inclusive, and they do include alcoholic beverages and tips, but some of the specialty restaurants cost an extra fee.
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The Best Christmas Cruises
Whether you need a break from holiday overkill or are contemplating a new family travel tradition, cruising for Christmas may be exactly what you need. You can utilize the kids’ long winter break to explore new cultures or escape on your own while letting the cruise line handle the party planning. The best way to ho-ho-ho might be to go-go-go. Here are five options to consider as you make your holiday cruising plans.
Best River Cruise Companies Overview
With the average price of a European cruise coming in just shy of £280 per night, river cruising might not look like a budget holiday. But factor in food, drinks and daily excursions, which are all typically included as standard, and the figures start to sound more reasonable.
Take Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, top of our annual river cruise survey. It promises an all-inclusive experience, so you wont face any on-board surprises. Plus, youll get free beer and wine with lunch and dinner, as you do with Emerald Waterways, APT Luxury River Cruises and Viking River Cruises, three of our other Which? Recommended Providers this year.
Of course, you wont find the range of on-board facilities of the vast ocean liners, but then you wont be spending whole days at sea either. River cruises get you straight to city centres so theres more time for sightseeing and excursions. That said, with nearly all meals taken on board and usually only one dining option youll want to be sure the food and drink pass muster.
In the table below, we show the results from our annual river cruise survey. Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours remained top of our table for the second year running with impressive customer service scores. Its sister company Emerald Waterways came joint second with APT Luxury River Cruises, Viking River Cruises was rated fourth, while Riviera Travel came fifth. All five brands received our Which? Recommended Provider Rating.
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Medium Ship Line #: Azamara
Though Azamaras three 700-passenger ships are lovely, with top-quality dining and plenty of on-board activities to fill days at sea, passengers choose this cruise line for the experience at its destinations, which span all seven continents. Azamara not only offers personalized shore excursions , they also do a number of overnights, allowing guests to explore more destinations farther inland. The overnights also allow passengers to experience an evening out on the town in port cities, if they so choose.
River Cruise Line Reviews
Of the 16 providers we’ve reviewed, just five are good enough to earn Which? Recommended Provider status: Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, APT Luxury Cruises and Tours, Emerald Waterways, Viking River Cruises and Riviera Travel.
Not only can you rely on them to organise a fantastic cruise, but you can also count on them to promptly return your money if things go wrong and your cruise can’t go ahead. Unfortunately, that’s more than can be said for many cruise companies.
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River Cruise Refunds And Cancellations
All river cruises booked in the UK and lasting more than 24 hours are protected by the Package Travel Regulations. So, if your provider cancels your cruise, whether that’s due to coronavirus or for another reason altogether, you are entitled to a full cash refund within 14 days.
However, not all river cruise operators have been meeting their legal obligations on refunds, so if you’re thinking of booking a river cruise, it pays to do your research. Thankfully, all our WRP river cruise providers are refunding promptly and also put on exceptional cruises, so that’s where you should start.
But the Package Travel Regulations don’t protect you if you decide to cancel the cruise, so only book if you’re sure you’ll want to travel when the time comes. And always take out travel insurance as soon as making any travel booking.
The 8 Best Cruises For Adults In 2021
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the bestproducts youcan learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
- Best Overall: P& O Cruise See Rates“Ideal for cruisers who enjoy ocean cruising on a mid-sized ship, with an array of dining options and several cabin choices.”
- Best Music Festival Cruise: Norwegian Pearl See Rates at Expedia“Offers music festivals at sea a great way to meet like-minded adults.”
- Best for Over 50: Saga See Rates“Entertainment onboard the vessel is more traditional and a hybrid between the river ship model and ocean cruises.”
- Best Cruise Experience: Holland America See Rates at Expedia“Offers a musically-themed cruise voyage that appeals to an older demographic.”
- Best Traditional Cruise: Tauck See Rates “Tauck’s more traditional themed cruises have excursions that are aimed at adults.”
- Best Holiday Cruise: Azamara Club Cruises See Rates at Expedia“Spends New Years Eve at Copacabana Beach in Brazil.”
- Best Modern Cruise: U River Cruises See Rates“Takes hip approach to river cruising, with modern, stylish ships featuring chic rooftop lounges.”
- Best Historical Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises See Rates“Has excursions geared toward older travelers interested in art, history, and culture.”
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Small Ship Line #: Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourns five ships feature fewer than 300 suites eachbut they leverage that small size into access at some of the worlds most beloved yacht ports: St. Tropez in the south of France the Greek island of Kos and popular large ports like Dubrovnik and Monte Carlo. Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller designs specialty menus on the ships, and a partnership with UNESCO ensures shore excursions and sustainable tourism practices at some of the wildest and most wonderful destinations around the world. In 2021, the line will debut its first expedition ship, Seabourn Venture.
Best Overall: P& o Cruise
Courtesy of P& O Cruise
- Ship Name: Aurora
- Itinerary: Andalsnes, Norway Romsdalsfjord, Norway Tromso, Norway Alta, Norway Stavanger, Norway Southampton, UK
After undergoing a refurbishment in early 2019, the 1,874-passenger Aurora is now one of three adults-only vessels that sail under P& O cruises . Aurora is ideal for cruisers who enjoy ocean cruising on a mid-sized ship, with an array of dining options and several cabin choices ranging from interior to spacious suites. Dance classes, a full-service spa, a theater, movie cinema, casino, and a number of bars and lounges including the bustling, four-story central atrium are all available onboard the vessel. For a chance to see the northern lights, Aurora sails round-trip on a breathtaking voyage through Norwegian fjords and dramatic scenery.
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Apt Luxury River Cruises Review Which Recommended Provider
Like Scenic, APT is another Australian river cruise company offering luxury river cruises in Europe and Asia. But in addition to the luxury cruises, APT also has an essential cruising tier for those wanting to see the sites for a little less expense. It didn’t rate poorly in a single part of our survey, but customer service and the quality of food on offer are really where it really stands out.
, or read our full APT Luxury River Cruises review for more information.
Medium Ship Line #: Cunard
While Cunards Queen Mary 2 fits more than 2,600 passengersand a number of cats and dogson board, her sister ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria only have a capacity of about 2,000 passengers. Though theyre quite similar in layout, the QE and the QV differ in design. Both nod to the historic ocean liners of the early 20th century, but the QE takes on a bolder Art Deco vibe, while the QV features more subdued yet equally elegant decor. Guests on board both ships are likely to partake in afternoon tea before donning a glamorous gown for dinner.
Emerald Waterways Review Which Recommended Provider
If you like the sound of Scenic’s river cruises but are put-off by the cost, you’ll want to consider it’s more cost-conscious sister, Emerald Waterways. All its ships have been built within the last 10 years, so it’s no wonder they were highly rated for spaciousness and facilities. The food is top-quality, too, making Emerald Waterways a great option for a slightly more wallet-friendly European river cruise.
, or read our full Emerald Waterways review for more information.
Large Ship Line #: P& o Cruises
The United Kingdoms premier cruise lineand the worlds oldest, having commenced passenger operations in 1837P& O sails Europe, North America, and the Caribbean with a crowd made up primarily of British nationals. As such, prepare for the ships amenities to have a British bent . Three of the fleets five current ships fall into the large category, while its two upcoming ships, MS Iona and her as-of-yet unnamed sister, will be mega-ships.
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Mega Ship Line #: Norwegian Cruise Line
Known for its colorful ships, Norwegian Cruise Line first broke into the mega-ship category in 2010 with the launch of Norwegian Epic, which can carry just over 5,000 passengers at full occupancy, and have since introduced five others in the Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus classes. The crowd aboard these vessels, which primarily sail in North America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, often consists of families who take advantage of amenities like waterparks, virtual-reality gaming, and go-kart racing, though the cruise lines newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, has a decidedly more mature atmosphere. In November 2019, Norwegian launched the newest member of its fleet, Norwegian Encore, which is the most luxurious of its mega-ships.
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Small Ship Line #1: Silversea Cruises
Silversea’s five expedition ships stop in the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Galápagos, and Antarctica on shorter duration sailings, but they also offer around-the-world itineraries for an international clientele. Off-the-beaten-path excursions make for once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like penguin spotting in Antarctica or private catamaran tours in tropical locales. In September 2019, Silversea completed its first journey through the Northwest Passagea monumental featwith the Silver Explorer, a 144-passenger expedition vessel. The fleet was joined by the new Silver Origin, a Galapagos-specific ship, in 2020.
European River Cruises Highlights
- Glide through countries filled with captivating history, impressive cities and spellbinding beauty.
- Unpack once and wake up to a new city every day to the sights, sounds and flavours of Europe.
- Relax without having to navigate roads, your cruise is an all-in-one travel experience.
- Enjoy ultimate luxury from the second you step on board youll be spoilt for choice.
- Danube: With a dozen languages spoken on its banks, the Danube is a haven for traditional delicacies and panoramic views.
- Rhine: Explore fairytale castles and vineyards along the banks which highlight the value of the historical towns that line the waters.
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Best Overall: Msc Meraviglia
- Ship Name: MSC Meraviglia
- Itinerary: Ocho Rios Jamaica Georgetown, Cayman Islands Cozumel, Mexico
MSC, the Mediterranean cruise line thats been breaking into the American market, is known for being very family friendly and has a variety of vessels that will appeal to teenagers. Its newest ship, Meraviglia, has a roster of activities like the waterpark with a thrilling body slide, a bowling alley, a 4D cinema, two Formula 1 virtual-reality race cars, and a dazzling Cirque du Soleil show. The ship hosts two teens clubs: one for 12 to 14-year-olds and one for ages 15 to 17 with air hockey, board games, foosball, and table tennis. Teens can learn to mix beats at the DJ music center, lounge around with alcohol-free cocktails, take dance lessons, play video games, or stay up late at the teens-only disco.
Best Cruises To The British Isles And Ireland
Norwegian line Hurtigruten explores remote parts of the British Isles on a 12-night itinerary next spring and summer, with the recently updated 532-passenger Maud. Sailing roundtrip from Dover, United Kingdom, passengers will visit places known for Neolithic sites, bird colonies, whiskey, and woolens. Among the destinations are Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland, with easy access to the basalt columns of the Giants Causeway, and Scotlands Inner and Outer Hebrides, including the rocky and wild St. Kilda archipelago, home to the second-largest gannet colony in the world. Plan to sip on Islay Island, Scotland, home to nine distilleries, and have an opportunity to purchase crystal in Waterford, Ireland. For those looking to reduce their footprint as they return to travel, its worth noting that the ship was recently reconfigured to run partially on biofuel and lower emissions.
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Small Ship Line #: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Sailing with only 490 guests, the Seven Seas Navigator takes its all-inclusive promise seriously, offering unlimited shore excursions, open bars with premium wines , unlimited Wi-Fi, and dining in specialty restaurants. The ship sails all over the world, spending time in Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe on week-long to three-month-long sailings.
Medium Ship Line #: Silversea Cruises
Silverseas fleet has five ships, of which just two are technically medium-sized, with passenger counts around 600 peoplebut thats considered quite a large number for the luxurious cruise line, which specializes in smaller vessels, including five ships in its expedition fleet. Silversea Muse is the newest and largest ship, making her maiden voyage in 2017. Despite her relatively small size, Muse has eight restaurants for her passengers, all of whom are accommodated in spacious suites. As a cruise line, Silversea sails to more than 900 destinations around the world.
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