These incredible sail aways in Europe give cruise ship passengers a front row seat to some of the most spectacular scenery and cityscapes in the world, packing your camera and binoculars is essential.
An updated post from September 2019
The Stockholm Archipelago is a cluster of some 30,000 islands, and navigating in and out of the Swedish capital takes you past hundreds of them, many of which are dotted with pretty wooden houses. The scenery paints an idyllic picture of a slow-paced life on the water, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city but close enough to take your boat or a ferry for the essentials.
Sometimes referred to as Europe’s most southern Fjord, Kotor Bay is actually a ria (submerged river valley) extending around 17 miles inland. A cruise to Kotor usually departs from Venice or Rome, sailing around the Eastern Mediterranean.
As you cruise through Kotor Bay the steep, rugged hills appear to soar out from beneath the cruise ship into the sky. From sea level you’ll enjoy spotting pretty villages and winding roads that hug the shoreline towards the UNESCO town of Kotor.
One of the most memorable sail aways in Europe is in Lisbon as the cruise ship sails under the 25th of April Bridge. There is often just metres of clearance between the cruise ship and the buzz of road and rail traffic crossing the River Tagus above. Beyond the bridge is the hilly Portuguese capital with its iconic orange tiled roofs.
When you cruise to and from Lisbon you also get a wonderful uninterrupted views of iconic sights like the Commerce square and Belém Tower.
Villefranche-sur-Mer (Nice), France
The characterful townhouses that line the harbour of Villefranche-sur-Mer is the stuff of Hollywood movies. This European port of call has you rubbing shoulder with billionaires as you drop anchor metres away from their mega yachts and mansions. For passengers who venture ashore, you’ll likely take a tender boat into Villefranche, giving you another chance to soak up the views of this ultra-glamorous port of call.
Santorini (The Greek Islands), Greece
Destination like Corfu and Santorini are what make Greek Island cruises such a desirable itinerary. Built on the edge of a vast caldera, a lot of which is below the sea, is Santorini. From a distance the peaks look dusted with snow, but they are in-fact the white washed buildings you’ve seen splashed across holiday brochures and Instagram accounts.
Funchal (Madeira), Portugal
The hillside capital of Madeira, Funchal, is a port of call you’ll likely visit on a Canary Islands or Transatlantic cruise. The view is striking, rising to 1200m and sprinkled with houses, the very top can disappear into the heavens on a cloudy day.
Mount Vesuvius towers above the city of Naples and as you approach and depart the port of Naples on a cruise you can really see the true scale of this sleeping giant that destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Further south you may catch a glimpse of the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and the island of Capri.
The Norwegian Fjords, Norway
If the ports within the Norwegian Fjords weren’t grouped together this list would be Norway, Norway, Norway. Cruises to the Norwegian Fjords are breathtaking, even the biggest cruise ships are dwarfed by the steep snow-capped mountains.
When you cruise to ports like Flam and Olden you feel within touching distance of the cliffs and pass by many waterfalls. If you’re trying to persuade a family member, friend or partner into cruising, set their eyes on the Norwegian Fjords as unlike a lot of cruises, the journey is just as memorable and exciting as the destinations.
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