Sea

Marlborough Express - - TRAVEL -

Europe has its fair share of land­locked coun­tries, but many of its most sig­nif­i­cant cul­tures and pow­ers arose among sea­far­ing na­tions. Its highly in­dented coast­line now pro­vides a life­time’s ex­plo­ration of an­cient ru­ins, clif­f­cling­ing towns, bat­tle­mented is­lands, ma­jor cities and chic hol­i­day re­treats.

Europe’s coastal land­scapes are mag­nif­i­cent too, with the Nor­we­gian fiords, Italy’s Amalfi Coast, and Greek is­lands of the Aegean Sea among the most sought-after cruise des­ti­na­tions.

Ar­riv­ing in his­toric ports such as Venice, Val­letta and Is­tan­bul would melt hearts of stone as cen­turies of fab­u­lous ar­chi­tec­ture un­fold. On the ap­proach to Stock­holm, ships tip­toe through myr­iad is­lands crowned with pine trees and cheer­ful yel­low sum­mer houses, be­fore the city’s church spires and gabled old town emerge in the pale Nordic light. In con­trast, the French port of Nice is all pea­cock-blue waters. A loom­ing rocky crag is topped by gar­dens and a ru­ined cas­tle, and rows of grand ho­tels and man­sions nes­tle among palm trees against a back­drop of rugged hills.

Pros

A cruise is a fine way to avoid the te­dium of travel prac­ti­cal­i­ties, as you don’t have to book ho­tels, or­gan­ise ground trans­port, heft and repack suit­cases, or try to find de­cent restau­rants.

On the whole, cruis­ing is good value, de­pend­ing on what your fare in­cludes. It would be dif­fi­cult to im­i­tate the itin­er­ary your­self on land within a bud­get that might be as low as $200 a per­son a day.

There’s al­ways the plea­sure and time sav­ing of let­ting some­one or­gan­ise on your be­half, and, of course, some Euro­pean

Value for money and ease of travel are what at­tract many to river cruis­ing which, much more so than ocean cruis­ing, pro­vides al­most ev­ery­thing as part of the pack­age deal. River cruis­ing has also be­come in­cred­i­bly var­ied, of­fer­ing ul­tra-luxe and bud­get ships, long and short itin­er­ar­ies, pack­ages for fam­i­lies and solo trav­ellers, and cruises themed on spe­cial in­ter­ests such as mu­sic, wine, cui­sine and cul­ture.

BROOK SABIN

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