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Best companies for European cruises

Cool or sunny, snow or rain — cruises to the Mediterranean and Baltic Sea are spectacular all year-round.

Updated

Old Fortress in Dubrovnik Harbor, Croatia

Europe’s extensive network of waterways and accessibility to the Mediterranean and Baltic seas allow you to explore a huge part of this diverse continent by ship.

Catering to nearly all durations and budgets, look to cruise lines that offer the experience of European culture, cuisine and colorful landscapes at their finest.

Best cruises to Europe

Best for culture seekers: Princess

Operating for more than 50 years, Princess Cruises has gained a fantastic reputation for both its onboard Broadway-quality theater performances and offboard cultural shore excursions. Oh, and did we mention the high-profile celebrity chefs that regularly cook onboard?
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Price ($-$$$):

Best for luxury travelers: Celebrity

Celebrity proves that traveling in luxury doesn’t have to break the bank. You’ll find deals on top suites, which include beverage packages, unlimited Wi-Fi and a bit of pocket money to spend while on board.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for solo travelers: Norwegian

Norweigan Cruise Line offers studios designed for solo travelers, so you don’t have to pay premium prices for taking a little alone time. Prices are about half the price of a usual stateroom cabin and, though a little smaller, NCL studios are equipped with a comfortable double bed, private bathroom and plenty of clothes storage. What’s more, solo cruisers get access to an exclusive lounge doubles as an ideal place to socialize with other travelers.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for families: MSC

Under-18s travel for free when sharing a cabin with a parents, making your family holiday more affordable. With a healthy schedule of onboard entertainment, a teen-friendly games room and aqua parks on select cruises, you won’t need to worry about keeping the gang entertained.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for river cruises: Viking River Cruises

Voted No. 1 river cruise line in the world by luxury magazine Condé Nast Traveler, there is no better way to cruise your way to the heart of Europe than with Viking. Sail along the Danube, Seine or Main, stopping at quaint villages, traditional markets and picturesque sites along the way.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card, Cheque
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for all-inclusive cruises: Crystal Ocean Cruises

Indulge in a hassle-free holiday cruise by booking an all-inclusive package with Crystal. With gourmet three-course meals, a premium bar and world-class performances in its packages, you need only sit back and relax.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for intimate cruises: Windstar

Travelers aboard one of Windstar’s vessels can expect top-class, personalized service in exclusive destinations. Cruises top out at 350 people. Couple that with fantastic onboard chefs and knowledgeable tour staff offboard, and you might have found the cruise for you.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for value for money: Costa

Founded in Italy in 1854, this well-established cruise line knows a lot about delivering value for your money. Costa’s rates are consistently lower than its competitors, with cruises as little as $375 per person for a seven-night stay in the Meditteranean. Included in the price are buffet-style meals, complimentary cooking shows, theater performances and a weekly disco designed for the whole family.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for first-timers: Cunard

Cunard provides everything you need for a memorable first cruise. From first-class service to organized entertainment on- and offboard, your itinerary is arranged with precision — and with you in mind.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for seniors: Regent

Plan your dream holiday with the help of a personal consultant who can make sure it's tip-top perfect. Regent assigns one staff member for every two passengers, so you’re looked after with your first step onboard. Enjoying a fleet of all-accessible cruise liners, wheelchair-friendly shore excursions and helpful staff, each passenger is promised the same incredible experience.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for couples: Seabourn

Seabourn’s luxury cruise liners, complete with onboard spas and honeymoon suites, are made for a romantic getaway. Consider opting for an ultra-boutique suite to enjoy added perks like a welcome glass of champagne on your own balcony.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for off-the-beaten-track adventurers: Azamara

Azamara is best known for its luxury cruise liners that offer travelers a five-star hotel experience on the water. Even better, Azamara focuses on less-traveled ports in Europe, so customers can discover a country’s true culture at immersive locations.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for adults-only cruising: Ponant

Sail away on one of Ponant’s adult-centric cruises to breathe free of life’s stresses. Originating in France, this luxury cruise screams European elegance. Onboard, you receive only the best of French patisserie, wine and five-star service.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for eco-friendly cruises: AIDA

Adopting a green cruising strategy, AIDA is among the first brands to take steps toward carbon-neutral and energy-efficient cruise liners. This global outlook doesn’t affect your services onboard, however, making it a fit for environmentally conscious cruises aching for a luxury cruise experience.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard

How we picked the best cruises

Narrowing down cruising’s crème de la crème can be tricky. To find the best, our experienced team meticulously searches through hundreds of cruises, taking note of well-curated itineraries that include stop-offs at Europe’s key ports.

We weigh onboard facilities, from the range of dining options to the quality of service and accounting for both cabin amenities and outdoor spaces. We cross-reference any firsthand experiences with online reviews, blogs and travel websites to bring you accurate, transparent information.

When is the best time to cruise to Europe?

Cruises run throughout the year in Europe, and each season offers a unique experience.

The most popular time to cruise is from June to September. This is peak season for cruising, when most European countries bask in warmth and itineraries include plenty of sunbathing hours and cultural excursions. Expect busier streets and higher prices than off-season months.

For a quieter vacation, consider shoulder seasons in spring and fall.

If you’re willing to brave the cold, a winter cruise in Europe can be a magical experience. Along with lower prices and fewer crowds, you can witness Central Europe’s Christmas markets and festive celebrations.

What are the must-do cruise excursions in Europe?

Around every meander of Europe’s rivers, you’ll find something new and exciting to do. From culinary must-try dishes to dazzling must-see architecture, we suggest a handful of unmissable excursions during your European getaway:

  • Venice, Italy. Swap your cruise ship for a man-powered gondola to explore the city’s maze of canals and quaint bridges.
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia. Watch the sunset over the Pearl of the Adriatic’s 16th-century city walls and majestic sea.
  • Athens, Greece. Visit the Acropolis, the ancient citadel that looms over the city with huge architectural and historical importance.
  • Bergen, Norway. Take a ride to the top of scenic Mount Fløyen for unrivaled views of Norway’s second-largest city and eclectic harbor.

Bottom line

Discover ancient architecture in Rome, fantastic wine in southern France and shopping in Barcelona along Europe’s extensive network of seas and oceans. Cruise lines suit just about any type of traveler and budget for families, solo cruisers, luxury travelers and those who prefer to go off the beaten track.

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