Cruise Guide: Cruise lines unveil busy European season

By Michael Coleman 

More cruise ships than ever before will be exploring some of Europes greatest cities in 2008.

“As the cruise industry continues its global expansion, nowhere are seagoing vacations growing at a faster rate than in Europe,” said Cruise Lines International Association president and CEO, Terry L. Dale.

Azamara Cruises, a new line founded just last year, will offer high-end, destination-driven voyages aboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest through summer. Ships will roam from the western Mediterranean to the Adriatic, throughout western Europe, pay
visits to Morocco and offer a handful of 12-night Scandinavia and Russia trips. Two voyages encompass Egypt and Israel.
 
Carnival Cruise Lines inaugurates its first-ever northern Europe cruise season with
the debut of Carnival Splendor. Featuring a 21,000 square-foot spa dubbed Cloud 9,  the 3,006-passenger ship will sail roundtrip from London to Copenhagen, Warnemunde (Germany), Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin and Amsterdam between mid-July and the end of August. 

Celebrity Cruises will position four ships in Europe again this year, offering Scandinavia and Russia, Norwegian fjords, western Mediterranean, north Africa, and eastern Mediterranean itineraries. Returning to shipboard life will be “Passaporto di Europa,” an onboard activities/entertainment program featuring the cultures of Europe. Examples include a French wine and cheese fair, a “taste of Spain,” “Dining under the Santorini Stars,” and “Carnevale di Venezia.” Itineraries also feature five new ports for Celebrity: Harwich, Cherbourg, Gijon (Spain), Brest and Split.
 
Luxurious Crystal Cruises will be offering a choice of 15 Mediterranean itineraries, including voyages through the Black Sea, Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. The line also features a series of port-intensive Mediterranean and summer British Isles cruises featuring overnights in Dublin and Edinburgh.

Offering its most expansive European season ever, Holland America will position six ships, including the brand new Eurodam in the region. Look for 57 itineraries through November in northern Europe, the Norwegian fjords, the Mediterranean, Greek Isles and western Europe. Maiden port calls will be featured including three in Sweden (Lulea, Hudiksvall and Karlskrona); Aalborg, Denmark; Santander, Spain; Portimao, Portugal; and Split, Croatia.

Norwegian Cruise Line, meanwhile, will be offering its largest European deployment in company history. Three of it newest vessels, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Jewel, will be offering a wide range of itineraries through November, including several voyages aboard Norwegian Jade roundtrip from Southampton.
 
“More than ever before” is the theme for Princess Cruises’ European season. Six ships will call on 115 ports on 32 itineraries. Two ships – Crown Princess and Pacific Princess – make their European debuts, and Princess will offer five new itineraries, including a “Classical Europe” option that combines the best of Scandinavia and Russia with the Mediterranean in a single voyage aboard the 710-passenger Royal Princess. New ports include Sarande, Albania; Dartmouth, England; and Scrabster, Scotland.

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