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ABOVE: Cheryl Imboden places a flower on a grave in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a Seine cruise from Paris on Uniworld's River Baroness.

Port-intensive cruising

imageTo tour Europe by ship, you'll want to book a "port-intensive" cruise that offers frequent opportunities for shore excursions. This is easy if you're booking a river cruise (where shore excursions normally are included in the fare), and most ocean cruises these days feature port-intensive itineraries.

image - NaplesFor a good example of a port-intensive sea voyage, see our illustrated review of a Costa Magica Western Mediterranean Cruise from Rome's port of Civitavecchia. The seven-night itinerary had only one "sea day"; the other days were spent visiting ports in Spain, France, and Italy.

image - VeniceTypically, a port-intensive cruise is designed so that ports are visited during the day and the ship sails for its next destination in the late afternoon or evening. Sometimes, however, the ship may stay overnight in a port: On many cruises to or from Venice, Italy, ships spend the first or last night in Venice. This gives passengers and crew more time for sightseeing and shopping.

imageOf course, if you're like us, you may prefer cruises with more sea days. Should that be the case, we recommend transatlantic "repositioning" cruises (which typically include many sea days) or longer European itineraries. For example, roundtrip Mediterranean cruises from Southampton normally require a day or two of cruising between England and the Mediterranean in each direction, and cruises from Continental Europe to Spitsbergen, the Norwegian fjords, or Iceland nearly always include several sea days.

Next page: A typical cruise day

In this article:
Introduction A typical cruise day
Cruise types Shopping for a cruise
Port-intensive cruises Before you book

Also see:
European Cruises - Articles and Reviews Index
European Cruise Guide

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Click or tap photos for cruise reviews:

  • Norwegian Jade
  • River Countess
  • La Bella Vita
  • River Baroness
  • L'Austral
  • Silver Spirit
  • Costa Magica
  • Renaissance
  • MSC Poesia
  • Rotterdam