Best European Cruises

by Danielle Contray


Regardless of what type of ship you choose, it can be hard to soak in the cultural experience of being abroad as you bop from place to place. Educational cruises make sure you take something away by complementing shore excursions with onboard enrichment. Travel Dynamics International runs history-themed cruises that let you, say, re-create the travels of Homer or explore the lives of women in ancient Greece. National Geographic caters to a wider range of interests—architecture, nature, political history, and more—for its cruises through the Baltic and Mediterranean, a joint venture with Lindblad Expeditions. Instead of just zipping past the highlights, shore excursions include in-depth lectures on Hanseatic architecture in Lübeck, Germany, and Art Nouveau buildings in Riga, Latvia; a former president of Poland discusses the country's Solidarity movement in Gdánsk, and the ship's resident biologists take you through the botanical gardens of Visby, Sweden. Sailings take you past archaeological ruins like those pictured here off the coast of St. Kilda in northwest Scotland. The library and chart rooms on board the 148-passenger National Geographic Explorer are stocked with reference books and maps to prepare you for talks by anthropologists about the history of the Baltic. It's not all serious, though—the resident "Wellness Specialist" also doles out postlecture massages. The 16-day itinerary costs about $11,000 per person—worth it if you want to go home with an honorary degree in the local culture.

Travel Dynamics International
Tel: 800 257 5767

Lindblad Expeditions
Tel: 800 397 3348

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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