10 Best European Cruises for Seniors To Have An Epic Experience

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Looking for the best European cruises for a memorable and enjoyable vacation? Perhaps a friend has just come back and raved about a Viking river cruise. Now you’re thinking of planning a European cruise trip yourself.

Ahhh! Imagine that sublime breeze!

If you’ve always dreamed about cruising around European waterways, we have some great options for you!  All that sublime fresh air while cruising past historic vistas has to be good for the soul!

Cruising  Benefits

The best European cruises offer you both a luxurious and educational experience. And no need to keep packing and unpacking and planning your next destination.  Cruises do away with that hassle. Plus you get the convenience and comfort of traveling to multiple destinations without having to do all sorts of planning. Not to mention avoiding long lineups at airports or trains, or worry about language barriers.

You can also enjoy a variety of activities on board, from entertainment and dining to wellness and education. And best of all, you can make new friends and share your experiences with other like-minded travelers.

But with so many options available, how do you choose from the best European cruises out there? In this article, we will give you some tips on how to make the most of your cruise, and we will also recommend 10 European cruises that are ideal for seniors.

Whether you prefer the Mediterranean or the Baltic, the river or the ocean, there is a cruise for everyone. So read on and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Cruise

Before we dive into the specific cruises, here are some general tips that can help you have a better experience on any cruise.

Choose the right cruise line and ship.

Different cruise lines and ships have different styles, atmospheres, and amenities. The best European cruises are the ones that suit you!

Some are more formal and elegant, while others are more casual and relaxed. Others are geared mored towards families and younger travelers. If this is not what you want, make sure to choose one that caters to seniors and mature travelers.

Also consider the activities and entertainment options. Perhaps you prefer one with a focus on enrichment and education. Or maybe you want it all!

Do some research and find out what each cruise line and ship has to offer, and choose the one that best matches your preferences and expectations.

Book Early for Best Deals and More

Book early and look for discounts. The best European cruises can be expensive, but there are ways to save money if you plan ahead.

Booking early can help you secure the best cabins, fares, and perks. You can also look for discounts and deals that are offered by cruise lines or travel agencies for seniors, loyalty members, or last-minute bookings. You can also save money by choosing off-season or repositioning cruises, which tend to be cheaper than peak-season or round-trip cruises.

Packing Tips

Pack smart and dress appropriately. Packing for a cruise can be tricky, as you need to consider the weather, the destinations, and the dress codes. You don’t want to overpack or underpack, so make a list of what you need and stick to it.

You should pack comfortable clothes and shoes for walking and sightseeing, as well as some formal outfits for dining and special occasions. Also pack layers and accessories for different temperatures and climates. And don’t forget to bring your passport, travel documents, medications, and other essentials.

Planning Is Key

Plan your itinerary and excursions. One of the benefits of the best European cruises is that you get to visit multiple places in one trip. But this also means that you have limited time in each destination. So you need to plan ahead and prioritize what you want to see and do.

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You can either book shore excursions through your cruise line or arrange them on your own. Shore excursions can be a great way to explore the highlights of each port, learn about the history and culture of each place, and enjoy some guided tours and activities.

Note that some shore excursions can be expensive, crowded, or restrictive. Often the cruise line will arrange for excursion guides to fill you in on historic highlights. If you prefer more flexibility and independence, you can also explore on your own by using public transportation or taxis, or by joining local tours or groups.

Take Advantage of Onboard Amenities

The best European cruises offer a wide variety of onboard activities and amenities. While the destinations are the main attraction of a cruise, don’t forget to enjoy what your ship has to offer.

Most cruise ships have a variety of facilities and services that can enhance your experience on board.  Relax in the spa or pool.  Work out in the gym or take a fitness classes. Watch a show or movie in the theater or lounge. Play games or trivia in the casino or library. Learn something new in a lecture or workshop. Shop in the boutiques or markets. And dine in one of the onboard restaurants or cafes.

You can also join some social activities or clubs that are designed for seniors or solo travelers, such as dance classes, book clubs, bridge tournaments, wine tastings, or singles mixers.

Take Advantage of Socializing Opportunities

The best European cruises make it easy to mingle and make new friends.  It can be an enriching experience to meet people from different backgrounds and walks of life who share your passion for travel.

Cruises make it easy to strike up new acquaintances. Chat with your tablemates at meals, join group activities and excursions or simply strike up a conversation with someone in a common area or bar. You never know who you might meet or what stories you might hear on a cruise!

So be open-minded, friendly, and sociable, and have fun!

10 European Cruises for Seniors

Now that you have some tips on how to make the most of your cruise, let’s take a look at our 10 best European cruises that are perfect for seniors. These offer a balance of scenic views, cultural attractions, and onboard amenities that will appeal to mature travelers.

1) Viking River Cruises: Grand European Tour

If you want to experience the charm and beauty of Europe’s rivers, then Viking River Cruises is an outstanding choice. Their Grand European Tour is a 15-day cruise that takes you from Amsterdam to Budapest, or vice versa, along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. Stops include 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include Cologne Cathedral, Würzburg Residenz, Bamberg Old Town, Melk Abbey, and Budapest Castle District.

View of Amersterdam at Night with pretty watery reflections
View of Amersterdam at Night with pretty watery reflections – by Moyan Brenn from Italy, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You will also enjoy scenic cruising through the Rhine Gorge, the Main-Danube Canal, and the Wachau Valley.

On board, you will stay in spacious staterooms with balconies. Enjoy the gourmet cuisine with regional specialties. And participate in cultural enrichment programs such as lectures, demonstrations, and performances. 

For more river cruises see this article.

2) Celebrity Cruises: Scandinavia & Germany

If you want to explore the history and culture of Northern Europe, then Celebrity Cruises is a good option.

Their Scandinavia & Russia cruise is a 12-night round-trip from Amsterdam that visits Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, and Berlin.

The Iconic Little Mermaid Statue-Copenhagen-Denmark
The Iconic Little Mermaid Statue-Copenhagen-Denmark – depicts a mermaid becoming human; statue by by Edvard Eriksen based on the fairy tale by Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen

Their British Isles cruise is a 12-day round-trip from London that visits Guernsey Cork Dublin Belfast Glasgow Invergordon Edinburgh Paris and Bruges.

You will see iconic landmarks such as Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid statue, the Vasa Museum, the Hermitage Museum, the Peterhof Palace, the Old Towns of Tallinn and Riga, and the Brandenburg Gate.

The Brandenburg Gate-Berlin-Germany-one of Berlin s most important monuments
The Brandenburg Gate-Berlin-Germany-one of Berlin s most important monuments

Along the way, you can indulge in some local traditions such as Danish pastries, Swedish meatballs, a Finnish sauna, Russian ballet, and German beer.

Accommodations include stylish staterooms with verandas and access to exclusive lounges and restaurants.

You will also have plenty of entertainment options. You might catch a Broadway-style show, casino games, live music, art auctions and trivia contests.

3) Princess Cruises: British Isles

If you want to discover the beauty and diversity of Britain and Ireland, then Princess Cruises is a great choice.

Hope this article has given you some ideas on how to make the most of your cruise, and some recommendations on 10 European cruises that are ideal for seniors. Bon voyage!

You will see stunning scenery such as cliffs castles lochs fjords and gardens.

Learn about the rich history and culture of each place. These include the Titanic, Belfast, Edinburgh Castle, the Eiffel Tower and Bruges’ chocolate shops.

Edinburgh Castle which stands on Castle Rock-where King James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots, was born in 1566
Edinburgh Castle which stands on Castle Rock-where King James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots, was born in 1566

On board you will stay in comfortable staterooms with balconies.

You can also enjoy delicious cuisine with British flair. Also offered are fun activities such as pub nights, afternoon tea, bingo and karaoke.

4) Oceania Cruises: Mediterranean Tapestry

If you want to experience the elegance and romance of Southern Europe then Oceania Cruises is a good option.

Cathedral Dome, Florence, Italy - the largest brick dome ever constructed
Cathedral Dome, Florence, Italy – the largest brick dome ever constructed

Their Mediterranean Tapestry cruise is a 10-day voyage from Barcelona to Venice or vice versa.  Stops are at the Marseille Monte Carlo, Florence/Pisa/Tuscany Rome/Civitavecchia Naples/Pompeii Sorrento/Capri Taormina/Sicily Corfu/Dubrovnik/Corfu and more.

5) Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Baltic Marvels

Elegance and the luxury of an all-inclusive cruise are offered by Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Their Baltic Marvels cruise is a 10-night voyage from Stockholm to Copenhagen that visits Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Visby, Berlin, and Skagen.

You will enjoy unlimited shore excursions that cover the highlights of each port. Thes include the Old Towns of Tallinn and Riga, the medieval city of Visby, the Berlin Wall, and the Skagen Museum.

Enjoy unlimited beverages, including fine wines and spirits, and gourmet cuisine in multiple restaurants.

You might even want to opt for a spacious suite with balconies and butler service.

Also on offer: entertainment and enrichment programs on board.

6) Seabourn: Canary Islands & Morocco

If you want to discover the beauty and diversity of the Canary Islands and Morocco, then Seabourn is a great choice. Their Canary Islands & Morocco cruise is a 12-day round-trip from Lisbon that visits Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Agadir, Casablanca, Tangier, and Cadiz.

See stunning scenery such as volcanic landscapes, lush gardens, sandy beaches, and exotic souks.

You can also learn about the rich history and culture of each place such as Madeira’s wine industry, Tenerife’s Carnival celebrations, Gran Canaria’s colonial architecture, Lanzarote’s art and nature parks, Agadir’s Berber heritage, Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque, Tangier’s literary legacy, and Cadiz’s flamenco traditions.

On board, you will enjoy intimate luxury in elegant staterooms with verandas and marble bathrooms, delicious cuisine with local flavors, and personalized service with a nearly one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio.

7) Silversea: Mediterranean Cruise

If you want to experience the romance and charm of Southern Europe, then Silversea is a great option. Their Mediterranean Cruise is a 12-night voyage from Lisbon to Venice that visits Malaga, Valencia, Barcelona, Marseille, Monte Carlo, Livorno, Rome/Civitavecchia, Sorrento, and Corfu.

See iconic landmarks such as the Alhambra Palace, the City of Arts and Sciences, the Sagrada Familia, the Notre Dame de la Garde, the Casino de Monte Carlo, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the Pompeii ruins, and the Achilleion Palace.

Experience some local traditions such as tapas, paella, cava, bouillabaisse, Monaco Grand Prix, Tuscan wine, gelato, pizza, and Greek dancing.

On board, you will enjoy ultra-luxury in spacious suites with balconies and butler service fine dining in multiple restaurants and entertainment and enrichment programs on board.

8) Royal Caribbean: Italy & Adriatic Cruise

If you want to explore the history and culture of Northern Italy and the Adriatic Sea then Royal Caribbean is another great choice.

Their Italy & Adriatic Cruise is a 7-night round-trip from Venice that visits Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Naples and Rome/Civitavecchia. Dubrovnik’s Old Town features many restaurants and shops. An interestiing fact is that scenes from Game of Thrones were shot here.

Dubrovnik, Croatia – a World Heritage site on the Adriatic Sea – by Miroslav.vajdic, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the cruise, see stunning scenery such as waterfalls islands fjords and volcanoes.

Learn about the rich history and culture of each place. Some of these include Diocletian’s Palace, Dubrovnik’s Old Town, Kotor’s fortified walls, Naples’ pizza heritage and Rome’s ancient monuments.

On board, you’ll have modern amenities in comfortable staterooms with balconies.

Enjoy diverse cuisine in multiple restaurants.

Join fun activities such as rock climbing mini golf ice skating and surfing.

9) Holland America: British Isles Explorer

If you want to discover the beauty and diversity of Britain and Ireland then you’ll do well to choose Holland America.

Their British Isles Explorer cruise is a 14-day round-trip from Rotterdam. Stops include visits to:

Newcastle upon Tyne
South Queensferry (Edinburgh)
Invergordon (Inverness)
Portree (Isle of Skye)
Belfast (Northern Ireland)
Dublin (Ireland)
Liverpool (England)
Holyhead (Wales)
Portland (England)
St Peter Port (Guernsey)
Cherbourg (France)
Zeebrugge (Bruges); and
Amsterdam (Netherlands).

You will see stunning scenery such as castles, lochs, cliffs, gardens, and canals. And opportunities abound to learn about the rich history and culture of each place such as:

Newcastle’s industrial past
Edinburgh’s royal heritage
Inverness’ Loch Ness legend
Skye’s Gaelic roots
Belfast’s Titanic story
Dublin’s literary scene
Liverpool’s Beatles legacy,
Holyhead’s Celtic identity
Portland’s Jurassic Coast fossils
Guernsey’s occupation history
Cherbourg’s D-Day landing sites
Bruges’ medieval charm; and
Amsterdam’s artistic treasures.

On board, you will enjoy classic elegance in spacious staterooms with verandas, enjoy delicious cuisine with regional specialties, and participate in cultural enrichment programs such as lectures , demonstrations , and performances.

10) Viking Ocean Cruises: Norwegian Fjords

If you want to experience the natural beauty and adventure of Norway , then Viking Ocean Cruises is a terrific option.

An Example of the Breathtaking Scenery of Norwegian Fjords
An Example of the Breathtaking Scenery of Norwegian Fjords

Their Norwegian Fjords cruise is a 8-day round-trip from Bergen.  Stops include visits at Fla, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Oslo, and Eidfjord .

You will see stunning scenery such as mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and fjords.

Learn about the rich history and culture of each place such as Bergen’s Hanseatic wharf, Flam’s railway museum, Stavanger’s oil industry, Kristiansand’s open-air museum, Oslo’s Vigeland sculpture park, and Eidfjord’s Viking burial mounds.

On board, enjoy Scandinavian design in elegant staterooms with balconies, and gourmet cuisine with Nordic flavors.

In addition, you can participate in cultural enrichment programs such as lectures, workshops, and concerts.

Why Not Plan Your European Cruise? It Could Be A Glorious Experience!

A European cruise can be a wonderful way to spend your retirement years. You can visit multiple destinations without hassle and enjoy a variety of activities on board and ashore. All the while, meet new friends along the way.

With the huge variety of cruises available, luxury or budget cruises, river cruises, cultural and/or scenic cruises, there is a cruise for you!

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Susan Cooper

I'm a "woman of a certain age" who loves to travel, preferably in style! There's something exciting about exploring new places, meeting fellow travelers, and experiencing local cuisine. But I also really enjoy relaxing at a cafe. And it's always fun to absorb a little culture and history along the way!


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