Holland America Line cruises to destinations across the globe to bring cruisers the most authentic, enriching and memorable travel experiences possible. One of these destinations is Europe, and while most people’s minds instantly jump to the Mediterranean, there’s another region of this enticing continent that is not to be overlooked.
Northern Europe features diverse and enchanting landscapes filled with natural beauty, historic legends, astounding architecture, enriching culture and so much more. From the colorful Northern Lights that dance in the sky and its breathtaking system of fjords, to the world-famous Guinness beer factory and the mysterious Lake Loch Ness, these are our picks for the most memorable experiences to be had on a cruise to northern Europe.
1. Cruise Through a System of Awe-Inspiring Fjords
The Scandinavian countries of northern Europe feature bountiful fjords so vast and expansive they’ll take your breath away. Some of our favorites include Aurlandsfjord, Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord, and many itineraries will take you right into the heart of them. Cruisers can take a seat on their verandahs or out on deck for a dramatic show of cascading waterfalls, refreshing mountain air and lush green vegetation as they sail through the calm waters once dominated by the Vikings.
If you long to experience these fjords up close, one of our favorite itineraries is the 14-Day North Cape featuring scenic cruising through Sognefjord, Trondheimsfjord and Geirangerfjord.
2. Get a Front-Row Seat for the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a truly spectacular performance put on by Mother Nature that few people get the chance to see. There’s no better way to witness these vibrant colors dance across the sky than from the deck of a Holland America Line ship!
This awe-inspiring natural occurrence happens when charged particles from the sun penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield causing electrons in the atoms to move to a higher state of energy. When the electrons drop back down to a lower state of energy, they release what’s called a photon, which are the lights we witness in the sky.
If you dream of experiencing the Northern Lights, we offer many itineraries that head into the Arctic Circle of northern Europe like the 21-Day Viking Sagas & North Cape cruise.
3. Climb the Rooftops of Stockholm for Panoramic Views
The Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town is such a uniquely epic shore excursion, it’s classified as one of few in our Encore Collection.
Enter the Old Parliament Building and take the elevator up to the top floor and, via the attic, step out into the open. Buckle up with a safety harness and take your first steps along the narrow rooftop path offering fantastic views and fascinating stories that your guide will share en route.
This rooftop tour is conducted according to rigorous safety standards. Even though the height (up to 130 feet) may be a challenge to some, this is the perfect starting point to learn of the history of Stockholm and take in some breathtaking views.
4. Enjoy a Cold Brew at the Guinness Factory
World-renowned Guinness Beer has a factory in Dublin, Ireland. And if you’re traveling on a Holland America Line cruise, we offer a shore excursion that will give you the ultimate Guinness experience.
A Taste of Dublin: The Guinness Experience tells a dramatic story that begins more than 250 years ago. This adventure starts the moment you walk through the door. As you make your way through the Storehouse Museum, you’ll discover the secret recipe, the process and the passion that it takes to make Guinness beer. The tour ends at Gravity, the sky bar where you will be treated to a pint of Guinness.
5. Discover the Secrets of Lake Loch Ness
I’m sure you’ve heard legend of Lake Loch Ness and its mysterious resident, the Loch Ness Monster. Explore the area on the Loch Ness, Water Monsters & Highland Castles tour to see for yourself if the legend is fact or fiction!
Also on this tour, you’ll have the chance to visit the 14th-century Urquhart Castle on the edge of the loch that boasts of being one of the most picturesque areas in Scotland. Then head to Cawdor Castle; a truly beautiful medieval castle with exceptionally lovely gardens.
6. Witness The Cascading Seven Sisters Waterfall
Located along Geirangerfjord is an awe-inspiring natural beauty. The Seven Sisters Waterfall in Norway features seven different streams of clear, cascading water, free falling roughly 820 feet from a rocky cliff.
The Seven Sisters is a truly spectacular sight, perfect for a photo opportunity and some fresh air!
7. Appreciate the Arts at St. Petersburg, Russia
The Mariinsky Theater opened in 1860 and became the pre-eminent music theater of late 19th century Russia. It is renowned for its opera and ballet companies; home to the Mariinsky Ballet, Mariinsky Opera and Mariinsky Orchestra. Its nightly performances are simply spectacular.
We offer a special opportunity for our guests to enjoy the Hermitage Museum. When cruises call at St. Petersburg, the museum opens at night for an evening viewing exclusively Holland America Line guests. Ranking among the world’s finest museums, the Hermitage consists of almost three million exhibits featuring masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
8. The Little Mermaid Welcomes You to Copenhagen
Just off Copenhagen’s sparkling shores is a statue of a beloved storybook character — the Little Mermaid! This beautiful bronze sculpture rests on a rock by the waterside based on the fairytale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
You can catch this work of art and snap a picture with her on the Glimpse of Copenhagen & Tivoli Gardens shore excursion.
9. Discover Maritime Archeology at Stockholm’s Vasa Museum
Visit the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, on the Stockholm Sights & the Vasa Museum tour. Get a close look at this amazing 17-century warship and the pride of ancient Sweden’s mighty navy. The Vasa sank in Stockholm’s inner harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628 and was not discovered again until 1956. It was salvaged in 1961 and then painstakingly restored to much of its original magnificence.
10. Kiss The Blarney Stone at Cork, Ireland
The Kiss the Blarney Stone in County Cork tour offers a chance to travel to Blarney Castle to see its legendary limestone wall. According to the legend, those who kiss the stone are gifted with the skill of eloquence and flattery “sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.”
This tour also includes a visit to the 18th-century “rock close” garden that is believed to be the remains of a Druid site, a visit to the Blarney Woolen Mill to browse Irish clothing and crafts, and finish it off by enjoying a traditional Irish coffee.
11. Visit the Book Of Kells At Dublin
The Dublin Highlights shore excursion transports you to Trinity College where you’ll visit the library that holds the famous Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a hand-illuminated manuscript of the gospels. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a magnificent piece of history in real life. This shore excursion finishes with a tour of the city including the Dublin Castle and many beautifully detailed cathedrals.
Northern Europe is a unique destination laced with beautiful landscapes, historic sites, art, culture and so much more. It’s a one-of-a-kind region not to be missed! Browse our many different itineraries ranging from seven to 34 days.
If you’re interested in cruising to this fascinating destination, there’s never been a better time to book. Our Anniversary Sale is on from now until June 1, 2016, offering savings up to $1,000 and reduced deposits. In addition, guests who book with our Anniversary Sale will receive “3 Free” per stateroom: a free $100 beverage card, free gratuities, and free or reduced fares for third and fourth guests. Guests who book a suite will receive 200 internet minutes and up to $500 in onboard spending money in conjunction with base offers.
And remember, all of your tours can be pre-booked so you don’t miss out on your dream shore excursion. Click HERE to book now!
Have you ever visited northern Europe? What was your favorite highlight? Tell us in the comments below!