With more people than ever before choosing to join their cruise ship in a UK port, it's not surprising that Northern Europe, the Baltic and the Norwegian Fjords are becoming ever more popular. There's spectacular scenery together with historic landmarks, vibrant cities and inspired architecture.
Cruises to Northern Europe sail at various times throughout the year, offering the chance to enjoy a spring or summer break or a visit to the Christmas Markets. Many companies offer cruise departures from UK ports including Dover, Harwich, Liverpool, Rosyth, Southampton and Tilbury. The cruise lines vary from the ultra luxury to family friendly, resort style ships with itineraries that can take in the delights of the Norwegian Coast, the Baltic and The English Channel.
Virtually every capital city in Northern Europe is situated on the coast allowing the grandest palaces and museums to be no more than a stone's throw from the ship. The ports themselves are designed to receive the largest of vessels and so it is rare that passengers transfer by tender (smaller boats). Additionally, the North Sea ports of Amsterdam, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge are within easy reach of some of the Low Countries' finest treasures and this helps create a balanced and enjoyable itinerary regardless of the length of holiday.
Cruising in the Baltic suits many people who are seeking to broaden the mind and visit cultural sights rather than spend time at beach resorts. Most of the ports are, however, close to splendid unspoilt beaches such as those near Helsinki, Warnemunde and Stockholm.
Many of the Baltic capitals are easily discovered independently. Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki are relatively compact and easy to navigate. English is widely spoken and the local people are eager to share their culture and lifestyle. The close proximity of each port to another avoids many days at sea and the waters of the Baltic are generally calm, especially in the summer months, between May and September when numerous ships visit the area.
Holidays admiring the fjords of Norway are a favourite amongst thousands of cruise enthusiasts, thanks to the long light evenings, unique scenery and charm filled ports of call. Many seasoned travellers prefer to visit the area on a small or midsize ship. The majority of the ports are little more than a tiny fishing town or village perched on the edge of a scenic inlet, backed by majestic tree covered mountains.
In the winter months, between November and March, there are voyages to view the magnificent and unique Northern Lights. Beyond the fjords, in midsummer, many operators provide an itinerary to the Land of the Midnight Sun, crossing the Arctic Circle. It is possible to skirt the North Cape and Finnmark before arriving in Russia's Murmansk.
Enjoying this beautiful region by ship does not only ensure excellent value for money but offers a host of natural wonders which are only visible from the sea.
Iceland has also become a favourite destination in recent years and many itineraries include a call at the remote port of Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. Occasionally, an operator offers a detour to rarely visited Spitzbergen, which is part of the little known Svalbard Glacier region.