This region is home to much of Europe’s most highly acclaimed architecture in cities that have been known for centuries for their high cultural value. A Western European cruise gives you the opportunity to take in a wide variety of sights, from the ancient city states of Italy like Florence, Rome and the Vatican, known for producing some of Europe’s finest poets and artists, to the grand cathedrals and mosques of Spain and Portugal. Meanwhile, the region is also famous for its high-end boutique shopping and highly exclusive resort experiences in places like Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Most itineraries in this region will last either one or two weeks but rarely less – you’d hardly get the chance to take anything in! In the UK, at least three ports depart on Western European cruises and these include the obvious Dover, Southampton and Harwich (London). Those who suffer from seasickness however are often advised not to sail to the Med from the UK as sailing through the Bay of Biscay (between Spain and France) can be quite choppy. Alternative ports of departure include Rome, Barcelona and Venice.
There is so much variety in the region that you are likely to want to choose a cruise that makes sure to visit the things you want to see – cruises that focus on Western Mediterranean beaches will have very different priorities than those that aim to provide an edifying cultural experience. Cruises are offered all year round although the cheaper (and cooler) months are in late Autumn and early Spring.
Top 5 Western European Cruise Excursions
Rome – All of it
The Eternal City, the Capital of Italy and of Roman Catholicism, has so much to offer architecturally, artistically and culturally. For starters there’s St Peter’s Square where the Pope will appear every Wednesday that he is in Rome to give audience and a papal blessing to all that are present. Within the square is St Peter’s Basilica, one of the oldest and greatest Christian churches in the world and allegedly the burial place of St Peter himself. Then there’s the Closseum, the Trevi Fountain and all the different piazzas that make Rome what it is.
Montserrat Monastery and the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Two different but equally grand examples of church architecture, Santa Maria de Montserrat is a beautiful ancient complex set in the hills surrounding Barcelona and from which the views of the surrounding country are incredible. Meanwhile, in Barcelona itself is one of the most famous church buildings in the world, Gaudi’s nouveau Gothic Sagrada Familia. Nothing could be more of a contrast and yet both buildings are incredibly important in their own way.
Play a Hand at Monte Carlo Casino
Monte Carlo is a town within the principality of Monaco and it is home to one of the most famous and luxurious gambling dens in the world – the Monte Carlo Casino. Founded to help save the ruling family of Monte Carlo from bankruptcy it is one of the most elegant casino buildings in the world. Vegas it most certainly is not. James Bond fans may recognise the casino for having served as a backdrop to many famous scenes.
Visit Pompeii (near Naples) a City Frozen in Time
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 the inhabitants of Pompeii were quickly drowned in volcanic ash and preserved, in their houses, in exactly
the positions they were standing in as they perished. This means that Pompeii has provided us with a unique glimpse into the lives of citizens of the Roman Empire with many of their everyday artefacts being well preserved within the deluge of ash. This is also one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions bringing in over 2.5 million people a year.