1. Cruising is the easiest and cheapest way to see Europe.
If you have ever looked at planning a European vacation, it is really easy to get overwhelmed. Where to go, what to do, where to stay, how to get around: there are a myriad of things to consider. Even as someone who loves planning and handling those details, it made my head spin. Cruising presents this great opportunity to answer most of those questions for you, allowing you to focus and enjoy the experience.
Don't know where to go? Find a cruise itinerary that hits a lot of those places you have dreamed of. Don't worry if it goes a few places you haven't heard of yet, those are often hidden treasures. Once you have the itinerary selected, you can focus on what you want to do in each port. Europe is very walkable and public transportation is plentiful, so it is much easier to see the sites independently than in the Caribbean. If you are nervous about that prospect, the ship offers a plentiful selection of guided tours. The question of where to stay is obviously handled by the ship, but another plus is that you are often getting a much higher level of accommodations than you would normally find in Europe (with air conditioning!). And finally, the how to get around is answered by the ship as well. Compare the daily price of a cruise to what you would pay to stay in a comparable hotel, meals and transportation; the numbers really speak for themselves.
We are not beach people. I know most cruisers are, and I completely respect that, but I hate getting a tan and get bored if I have to spend more than one day on a beach. I love to be out there, in the local culture, meeting people and seeing history. While there is some history in the Caribbean (mostly Mexico), Europe is chock-full of it. Every single port has more history than almost any port in the Caribbean. If that is the sort of thing that you like to see on vacation anyway, then combining those sites with the relaxing atmosphere, amazing food and entertainment on a cruise ship is like a slam dunk. It is like two incredible vacations rolled into one!
As much as I love Europe and other cultures, after a few days I am often wishing for a normal sized towel or tap water with ice in it. I miss my air conditioning, my large bed and talking to someone other than my husband. Cruising in Europe is so cool because you can get out there and experience the culture, and then come back to some comforts. You can discuss your day with new friends and eat a hamburger with fries (and a chocolate melting cake).
Lately, in the summer when kids get out of school, most of the ships pack up and head to Europe. Unless you want to go to Alaska or sail with Carnival, your options are pretty limited. And guess what?! The cruises in Europe are usually NOT more expensive per day. My upcoming cruise was $899 for a 12 day on a premium ship, and I see deals all the time for a week-long cruise for $500. Now, of course you have to worry about air fare, which is not cheap, but many lines are giving air fare credits and if you add all the costs up, it might surprise you. Also, most new ships are built in Europe, so many do several cruises over there before heading to the United States.
One last word:
Cruising in Europe is not for everyone. If you love those beach days and can't imagine wanting to trek around the Forum or Colosseum instead of enjoying a nice margarita on the beach, I wouldn't suggest taking the leap. But, if you have always wanted to go to Europe, but have held back because of the overwhelming planning or cost, you should give a European cruise a good hard look. Chances are, it will be the best vacation of your life!