If you've ever dreamt of visiting the northernmost city in the world, or the remote Channel Islands, now's your chance to do so—from the comfort of your luxury oceanliner cabin. This summer, Crystal Cruises will make first-time calls on nine different European ports. These new destinations are a mix of up-and-coming hotspots as well as places that are harder to reach on an independent, land-based vacation. Here's what Europhile cruisers can look forward to:
Alta, Norway—Alta is the northernmost city on earth and with just 10,000 residents it definitely feels off-the-beaten path. The sights here include 5,000-year-old rock carvings (now an UNESCO World Heritage Site) and beautiful fjords. This is a fantastic place in Norway to do some bird watching.
Skagen, Denmark—First settled in the Middle Ages, Skagan is Denmark’s northernmost town and it’s where the Baltic and North Seas meet. It’s been known as an artistic community ever since a group of Impressionist painters called it home in the 19th century. Stroll the quaint streets to visit glass and pottery shops, or enjoy a meal at a seafood restaurant.
Santander, Spain—This port has been around since the days of the Roman Empire. Nowadays visitors enjoy Santander's museums, art and music festivals, public squares, and gardens.
Ferrol, Spain—Stunning area beaches, without the crowds, are the draw to this new Crystal Cruises port of call.
Ibiza, Spain—The island of Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea is off the coast of Valencia, and it’s known for its beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a party atmosphere. If you love music and dancing, you’ll love this port.
Galway, Ireland—The port of Galway is all about musicians, artisans, and local pubs where you’ll hear the locals speaking Gaelic.
Londonderry, Northern Ireland—There is a lot of history here in Londonderry. Old town is still encompassed by a winding 400-year-old wall. In the newer parts of the city, you’ll find a variety of buildings in architectural styles ranging from Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian.
Oban, Scotland—Oban is the place to experience all the physical manifestations of Scottish tradition. Buy some locally made Celtic jewelry and single-malt Scotch whisky, along with a tartan kilt or two.
St. Helier/Jersey, Channel Islands—This lovely port offers some terrific shopping at the indoor Central Market that’s been in business since 1882. It’s filled with vendors hawking fruit and vegetables and flowers. There are some nice restaurants on site as well.
To hop aboard for these European adventures, visit Crystal Cruises.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Cruise Critic, and other websites and magazines. Her latest book is Tom Petty: Rock ‘n’ Roll Guardian. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.