This is a list of amazing ports to visit on a European cruise, destinations with spectacular scenery that you’d likely miss on a regular land-based adventure – packing your camera and binoculars is essential!
The Stockholm Archipelago is a cluster of some 30,000 islands, and navigating in and out of the Swedish capital will take you closely past hundreds of these islands dotted with pretty wooden cottages. The scenery paints an idyllic picture of a slow-paced life on the sea, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city – but close enough to take your boat or a ferry to.
Sometimes tipped as ‘Europe’s most southern Fjord‘, Kotor Bay is actually a ria (submerged river valley) extending around 17 miles inland. A European Cruise to Kotor usually departs from Venice or Rome for the Eastern Mediterranean. As you cruise through Kotor Bay the steep, rugged hills appear to soar out from beneath the 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.
Sailing under the 25th of April Bridge is always a highlight on a European cruise to Lisbon with just metres of clearance between the ship and the buzz of road and rail traffic across the Tagus river. Beyond the bridge emerges the hilly Portuguese capital with its classic orange tiled roofs. When you cruise to 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 mega mansions. If you want to explore ashore (which you should), you’ll 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 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
Let’s face it, if I didn’t group these ports of call 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 valleys. 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 as the destinations.