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Northern Europe

A Northern Europe cruise will transport passengers into a world of enchantment, highlighting magnificent fjords, storied castles, and quaint towns. Explore the fascinating region thriving in cultural, historical, and natural heritage, with spectacular sights and sounds to make you wonderstruck at every turn. Sailings often include dockings in the ports across the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and the coasts of the Baltic Sea.

Sailing through the cobalt blue seas of the Arctic Ocean immerses you in one of the world’s richest diversities of marine life, letting you spot some rare sightings of polar bears, walruses, and Arctic foxes from a distance. Journey down the Arctic, and you’ll find the Baltic Sea. Cruising on its icy waters is an invitation to an abundance of striking scenery, including endlessly vast fjords and narrow coastal inlets with sheer cliffs and steep rock formations created by years of glacial erosion. 

Northern Europe’s magnificent natural phenomenon displays are also among its crowning jewels — witness the midnight sun in summer and the northern lights in winter grace the skies of Iceland and the northern regions of Sweden, Finland, and Norway. The majestic deep coastal fjords are Norway's monumental glory, drawing many tourists from all around the world. If you have a penchant for history and architecture, you’ll be in awe as you visit the United Kingdom, where you can easily spot grand castles almost anywhere you go. Experience all of these and more on a Northern Europe cruise!

Northern Europe Cruise Destinations

Northern Europe Cruise Highlights

Norway

Norway combines natural beauty, friendly locals, and magical experiences in one setting. The awe-inspiring fjords are arguably the Scandinavian country’s main claim of fame. These long, narrow inlets of the sea stretch between mighty sheer cliffs, with rugged rock faces — formed by glaciers retreating over thousands of years. Jagged outcrops occupy the dramatic coastline of Norway dotted with dense green Nordic forests, making the place all the more stunning. Bergen is known as the ‘Gateway to the Fjords’, rewarding passengers with the most panoramic views of this staggering geological formation, including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. Featuring colourful wooden buildings, the city looks like a work of art, painted picture-perfect onto the surrounding landscape.

Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, is steeped in Norse mythology and offers a quirky blend of old and new architecture with incredible colours and stark contrast of sculptures and murals. Marvel at the dazzling spectacle that lights up the dark sky during the long winter nights in Iceland – a natural phenomenon referred to as the aurora borealis or northern lights, with peak viewing seasons between September and April. Many different myths surround this marvellous light display, including the Native American legend saying that these were war omens and the Vikings that believe these were the armour of the Valkyries, the warrior maidens of Norse mythology. Meanwhile, the indigenous people from the Arctic Circle think that the northern lights are  simply the spirits of the dead who happen to be playing a game of ball with a walrus skull.

United Kingdom

If there’s one thing that the United Kingdom takes great pride in — it’s the jaw-dropping and time-honoured castles peppered on the idyllic countryside of England to the delightful towns of Wales, all the way to the rolling Scottish highlands. There are over 4,000 castles in England alone, serving as a proud reminder of the region’s glorious past and royal traditions. Dramatic drawbridges, towering turrets, winding dungeons, and strong stone walls characterise Britain’s mediaeval fortresses, making them a true sight to behold! Some of the most iconic castles in the UK that are worth visiting are Windsor Castle, Warwick Castle, and Conwy Castle. Potterheads will also be delighted to visit the Alnwick Castle, which was used as the Hogwarts set for the first-ever Harry Potter film.

History and Culture

Northern Europe cruises present passengers with a plethora of cultural landmarks and historical attractions in every port and destination. Dive into the region’s history as you relive the notorious wars and unearth the sumptuous royal traditions while exploring the stone fortifications that played defence against raiders and gorgeous palaces that the Kings once called home. Walk in the same grounds that the crowned heads walked on from long ago in Dublin Castle in Ireland,  Stirling Castle in Scotland, and the ruins of Corfe Castle in England.

Much of Scnadanavian’s modern cultures are owed to the Vikings, a group of infamous Scandinavian seafaring warriors that colonised wide areas of Europe and established civilisations, galvanised by their pursuit of discovery, conquest, and trade. The Viking heritage is heavily imprinted in today’s maritime industry, evidenced by the state-of-the-art vessels and engineering feats emerging from the region. From language and art to social norms and values, the Viking legacy serves as the cornerstone of the modern Scandinavian identity. Learn more about the Viking age in the UNESCO-designated neighbouring islands in Stockholm, Birka and Hovgarden, where you can find relics and remains of the historic era. 

Things To Do in Northern Europe

Step back in time in Stockholm’s Old Town

Gamla Stan transports travellers into a labyrinth of winding cobbled streets, dotted with old-style houses, delightful cafes, vintage bookstores, and striking royal palaces – all mirroring Sweden’s glorious past. Perfect as a pre-cruise destination, this mediaeval centre is a veritable living museum, allowing you to get lost in its charm and escape the bustle in Stockholm. Stortorget is the city’s oldest square, home to the city’s oldest church, Storkyrkan, and a baroque-style royal palace. While here, don’t miss the quintessential experience of watching the parade of soldiers and the daily changing of the guard! Step inside the Nobel Prize Museum, showcasing memorabilia about Nobel laureates and their works, to make your visit even more worthwhile.

Be merry in the world’s second-oldest amusement park in Copenhagen

Denmark has been hailed one of the happiest countries in the world, and Tivoli Gardens is a proud testament of entertainment, offering fun rides and exciting experiences. Credited as the world’s second-oldest amusement park after Bakken, Tivoli Gardens is one of the main points of interest in Copenhagen. This expansive park is not your typical theme park, as it also hosts landscaped gardens with light illuminations and over 400,000 flowers. Best not to forget the live music performances, dining venues, firework displays, pantomime performances, and ice-skating opportunities on the lake at the right time of year. The amusement park operates from April to late September, with select halloween and Christmas season openings, so be sure to time your visit right!

Take a healing nature trip to Nuuk

Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, is a small city where you can find healing and respite in the presence of nature with less population and minimal air pollution. The city is set against the backdrop of panoramic mountains, with vast fjord systems, picturesque museums, and scenic archeological ruins, making it a slice of paradise in Northern Europe. The Greenland National Museum reveals an insight into the extraordinary history of the country’s human habitation and how the people lived through harsh conditions and extreme isolation in the Arctic. Get a glimpse of the city’s art and culture in Nuuk Art Museum, displaying a range of local art pieces, and Katuaq Cultural Centre, featuring a cinema, coffee shops, and a theatre.

Natural Wonders

Northern Europe boasts heaps of natural spectacles, from soaring mountains and lush countrysides to majestic fjords and awe-inspiring arctic scenery. A Baltic cruise will let you breathe cool air as you marvel at majestic peaks and craggy mountains. Teeming with wildlife, these seas are home to hundreds of intriguing species that you can observe roaming the icy waters. Meanwhile, pristine snowy scenery, thriving wildlife, and captivating natural displays make Arctic cruises a unique and extraordinary experience, ideal for those who want to follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers. If you want to feast your eyes on otherworldly sightings, these are some of the must-see natural wonders in Northern Europe:

  • In the warm summer months, you can witness the humpback whales leaping out of the waters near the stunning fjord systems of Greenland. 
  • Get awestruck with the natural light displays that stripe the skies when the never-setting ‘midnight’ sun puts on its display during the summer months and admire the magical flickering auroras during the winter.
  • Iceland’s Gullfoss Waterfall cascades from hundreds of feet, churning cool crystal-clear waters below, offering an unforgettable sight from fantastic viewpoints.

Northern Europe FAQs

How long do Northern Europe cruises last?

Typically, the cruise duration for Northern Europe can take from a week to two weeks or longer, with a day or two to spend at every port. There are also shorter sailings and cruise-only options available for those with limited time and prefer staying aboard throughout the trip.

When is the best time to cruise Northern Europe?

The best time for a Northern European cruise depends on your desired experiences. The sailing season for pleasant weather conditions are from May to August, with shoulder seasons for the lowest fares possible. To enjoy the fall foliage and avoid the large crowds, the most ideal months to visit are between September and November. Moreover, the arctic viewing season for northern lights cruises typically runs from September to early April, but the best time for viewing is from December to through March, when there are longer nights for complete darkness to fill the skies and let the natural light display show vividly.

Where does a Northern Europe cruise go?

The Northern European cruise region stretches from the British Isles right through Scandinavia, all the way to the coast of the Baltic Sea, and select sailings also include St. Petersburg, Russia. Some of the most famous ports of call are Copenhagen in Denmark, London (Southampton) in the United Kingdom, Helsinki in Finland, and Stockholm in Sweden.

Where is the best spot to see the northern lights on a Northern Europe cruise?

Glimpsing the northern lights in its sky-transforming glory is more than possible in the Arctic Circle at the right time and moment. Northern Lights cruises sail mostly the northern coast of Norway, with some venturing to Iceland and Greenland. The northernmost counties of Norway — Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark — are some of the best spots to view the northern lights, both onboard the ship and during shore excursions at night.

Which cruise lines visit Northern Europe?

Many cruise lines operate on Northern Europe, offering various itineraries covering Scandinavia, the British Isles, or the countries enclosing the Baltic Sea. These operators include Explora Journeys, Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Silversea, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean Cruise. You can pick the cruise line that’s most aligned with your preference, travel style, and budget.

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