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A Guide to Planning a European Cruise

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Recently, I sat down to plan a cruise to Europe this summer. After staring at the computer for a few minutes, the first thing that came to mind was to check out kayak.com and see what airfare looked like. Well, small problem – there are a lot of airports in Europe and lots of possible destinations.

I was clueless and enlisted some help. Sarah Phillips, an avid traveler and cruiser, is joining us to share her planning knowledge. As her family’s personal vacation planner, one of her many trips planned was to Europe in May 2011 on the Carnival Magic inaugural sailing. She was thrilled with the thought of helping anyone plan a trip – in her eyes, planning’s part of the adventure.

Her first piece of advice to me – know what you want to accomplish.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

  1. Where do I want to go?
  2. How much do I want to spend – what’s my budget?
  3. What do I want to see?
  4. When is the best time to go?
  5. How long do I want to go for?
  6. Who do I want to travel with (think about the demographic of people and the cruise ship)?
  7. What kind of ship do I want? Newer? Upgrades?
  8. Is trip location or ship more important to me?
  9. What kind of accommodations do I want to have?
  10. What documents will I need? Will I need a Visa in addition to my passport?
  11. What’s the most important part of this trip?
  12. What am I most looking forward to with this trip?

Or download the Cruise Radio Cruise Europe Checklist here (Right click and Save As to download pdf).

Colosseum in Rome

Colosseum in Rome

Once you’ve answered the questions, you should be prepared to make a decision on where and when you’re going on vacation.

You’re now ready to start reading through each post to make your cruise planning is flawless.

The European Cruise Series:

  1. Get There – Airfare and Transportation
  2. Stay There – Hotels
  3. Play There – Excursions Guide
  4. Eat There – Restaurants and other tips on food
  5. Get Ready – How to pack, tips and other common sense advice
  6. Protect Yourself – 5 Important Cruise Documents

Featured photo: Flickr

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#europe #travel #wanderlust #cruise #cruiseship #traveltips

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EUROPE

Photos: Nighttime in Venice, Italy

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Recently, I took a cruise aboard Norwegian Star from Venice, Italy. If you’re not caught up, read my five first impressions of the ship here. We were able to spend a few days in Venice after disembarking, and I had the idea to take some long exposure nighttime shots on our very last evening. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, and things like long exposure are always trial and error for me. I just love how much more light it lets in, making things look so sparkly and romantic.

So, as to not keep all my photos to myself, I decided to share a few pictures from that evening. I hope you enjoy them.

had to get a cannoli in Italy, and surprisingly they were not around every corner like I thought they would be. I had almost given up hope on that last night, but we ended up coming across a delicious one with orange zest and chocolate chips in it – I loved the extra kick of flavor that the citrus provided!

Continue to check back for more posts about the Norwegian Star cruise from Venice. We’ve got more on the ship, the food, and the excursions. I hope you’re enjoying seeing a peek into this trip – maybe it’ll inspire you to visit some of the same places someday!

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EUROPE

Cruise Excursion Review: Dubrovnik, Croatia

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I recently took a 7-night cruise aboard Norwegian Star around the Adriatic/Eastern Mediterranean, and it was a trip of a lifetime for me.  It was my first time in Europe and had an absolute blast.  Our first stop was Dubrovnik, Croatia, and we took one of CruisingExcursions.com’s tours, called Essential Collection – Panoramic Dubrovnik & City Tour.  

My Review

The first thing we did after hopping onto the bus was taking a short drive up, up, up the steep coast to a beautiful overlook of the city and sea below, called Park Orsula.  Since this was literally my first taste of Europe besides our embarkation port of Venice, I was especially blown away by how beautiful it all was. We had probably 10 minutes to just walk around and get some pictures, which I got a lot of (as usual).  If this is what southern Europe was like, I was in for a real treat during this voyage.

 

After that, we headed down into the Old Town of the city for a tour with our guide and group.  Being from a pretty average town in America, and having not traveled a ton out of the country before this, the Old Town was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in real life before.  The streets (for walking only!) are made of limestone and there is a lot of marble, too. The buildings are all sort of connected and almost like just a few huge buildings divided into sections, with shops, restaurants, and apartments above. A bell tower with a beautiful clock on it was our landmark that showed us where we were if we ever got lost.

Side note: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you will absolutely love Dubrovnik, Croatia. The city has seen a huge spike in tourism numbers since filming started.

We were also given a little tour of Sponza’s Palace, with a beautiful courtyard and small museum located right in the heart of the Old Town. It was a neat introduction to Dubrovnik. One neat thing to note there, is that there are public fountains (in a lot of the ports we visited, actually!) that are very ornate and beautiful, but they are for drinking. You literally lean over the side and can fill your water bottle right with the water that’s shooting out of the side.

Once the guided part of our tour was over, we were given about an hour and a half of free time before it was time to head back to the ship. We ended up wandering around, browsing in some stores, trying a delicious mojito at a local bar, and checking out the harbor and end of the fort where a lot of locals were gathered. Some guys were playing a pickup game of soccer (or football in Europe), and a lot of families were hanging out by the water just enjoying the day. Quite a few little kids were even swimming. We sat there for a while, and I was just reveling in the fact that I was in a completely new place watching the locals go about their leisurely day. It’s so neat to see a tiny glimpse of what other’s lives are like!

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EUROPE

The Time is Now to Take a Cruise in Europe

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According to the readers of Cruise Critic, eight out of ten people dream of taking a European cruise, but half don’t think they can afford it.  The Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) travel agency Cruise One/Dream Vacations says that this isn’t so.  They’ve compiled a list of why now is the time to experience Europe from an ocean cruise, or river cruise.

1. Affordable Airfare

Travelers looking for the best value will typically find it during the fall season, where airfare is discounted both domestically and internationally.  Additionally, many airlines have specifically cut prices on flights to Europe this year, in an effort to stimulate the European economy.

2. Cruise Line Promotions

Following the summer travel boom, the travel season dies down and this means that cruise lines will be offering better pricing for fall and winter cruises.  For river cruises, CLIA travel agents are also finding that guests can plan a fall escape with great rates, with promotions that include free airfare, making first-time European cruisers look more closely at taking that dream vacation.

3. Avoiding the Crowds

There are two great reasons to visit Europe during autumn: it’s a beautiful time of year there, and most European destinations will be far less crowded with tourists.  Those taking advantage of off-peak season will enjoy a more relaxed vacation, and the great weather and reduced crowds will lend itself to a better sightseeing experience.

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4. Far-Reaching Dollar

The US dollar is exchanging for higher rates right now in many European countries than in the past.  This means converting currency is more favorable for American travelers, giving them more bang for their buck.

5. Upcoming Events

Europe is alive with lots of spirited celebrations and events during the fall and winter months.  For example, the world’s largest Volksfest in Munich, Oktoberfest, happens from September to November.  If Christmas is more your thing, travelers can take a river cruise stopping at the famous Christmas Markets in Nuremberg as early as late November, and these cruises are proving pretty popular already this year.  Other events including the illuminated Brussels Light Festival offer guests a chance to partake in special cultural events around Europe.

Would you consider taking a European river or ocean cruise in the near future? Why or why not? Let us know!

Information courtesy of CLIA

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Hi, this may be of interest to you: A Guide to Planning a European Cruise. This is the link: https://cruiseradio.net/ready-set-cruise-your-guide-to-cruising-europe/