How To Fully Relax And Unwind On Your Seven-day Cruise To Europe

Cruises out of Europe for a Relaxing Vacation

By Robert Schrader | Published on June 5, 2023

With a seven-day cruise to Europe, the possibilities for adventure are endless. Decisions and preparations can seem endless, too, though they don't have to be. By tackling a short to-do list before you depart and being mindful of a few important things as you travel, you can ensure your next week-long European cruise is smooth sailing, no matter where it takes you. Speaking of which — that's a great place to start!

Where To Sail From — And To

If you want to cruise around Europe for a week, you'll need to "position" yourself somewhere on the continent in time for your departure date. Popular cruise ports for Europe-originating cruises include vibrant Barcelona, storied Venice and timeless Athens or vivacious Civitavecchia, the port closest to Italy's "Eternal City" of Rome. Once you've selected a starting point, you'll need to book travel from where you live to where you need to be.

As you'll know if you're well-versed on how to plan a European vacation, you'll also need to account for a few variables. Will you or anyone in your party need a day (or a few) to overcome jet lag upon arrival? Do you want to do sightseeing in your place of origin before or after your cruise? How well do you know the city, and if you don't, how much research do you need to do to make sure your departure (and the time leading up to it) is smooth?

Once you decide where you'll be sailing from and when you'd like to travel, you'll need to compare routes and see which is best for you. If, for example, the coasts of Spain and France are your priority, you might choose a western Mediterranean cruise. In addition to stopping in cities like Cannes in France and Barcelona in Spain, other destinations on these cruises include Rome, Venice and Florence in Italy.

Another possibility for a seven-day cruise to Europe it to sail east. Some eastern Mediterranean cruises focus on one country or region — for example, the Greek Isles, including Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. Others head to even more far-flung destinations, such as the Turkish port city of Kuşadası or Dubrovnik, the Croatian city where many pivotal scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed..

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Treat yourself to a  seven-night cruise to Europe.

Europe's Ultimate Port Excursions

The key to choosing amazing port excursions is to look at your trip as a whole and make sure there's variety. Some people cruise through Europe precisely because they want to sun themselves on as many amazing beaches as possible. In this case, you should absolutely hit the sand as often as possible!

However, for most travelers, the most satisfying European vacation is the most diverse one. Families, for example, might make sure that each of their children has at least a day to do what they want. One child might want to explore the temples of Ephesus in Turkey, while the other may prefer to take a vaporetto (water taxi) to the glassmaking island of Murano near Venice, Italy.

Couples taking a seven-day cruise to Europe should plan to balance exploration and relaxation. If your cruise travels between attraction-heavy cities like Athens, Venice or Barcelona, for example, you might focus the time between on lesser-known beaches — such as Cefalù in Sicily — or smaller towns and villages like France's Èze, which is not far from Cannes.

The Secret To Amazing Sea Days

The good news? When booking cruises out of Europe that lasts a week or less, you won't have too many idle days at sea. The better news? If you're clear about what will serve you best during the days and/or nights you'll need to spend away from dry land, you can ensure you make the most of them, ideally before you even set sail.

If you're on a couple's cruise, for example, you could use a sailing day for dining or drinking, particularly if your onshore excursions have been of the more active sort. Although everyone needs to fuel themselves, it can be difficult to enjoy a meal at a leisurely pace if you know you've got a long hike or an extensive day of exploring museums to tick off your European cruise itinerary. Likewise, if you rent a car and need to drive, local spirits are obviously a no-go!

Usually, the idle periods of a seven-day cruise to Europe serve a slightly different purpose for families, no matter what age the kids are. Teens and tweens may retreat to their devices while parents head to dinner or to enjoy entertainment. Or, if you have younger kids, you might procure onboard childcare so that you and your partner can have some time to yourselves before the next port of call.

With a seven-day cruise to Europe, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

The Power Of (Good) Packing

The key to packing well for a cruise is to hit the sweet spot. For example, when it comes to clothing, keep in mind that outfits are about combinations. Just because you're traveling for a week doesn't mean you need seven tops, seven bottoms and seven pairs of shoes! One thing I like to do before traveling is to have a little fashion show in my closet and see how many different looks I can create with the fewest possible pieces. The same is true for toiletries or beauty appliances. Do you really need a flat iron when your hair is just going to curl anyway, or five different colognes when everything will just smell like the sea?

On the other hand, you'll want to make sure (and double-check) that you have packed everything essential. Think: medications you can't easily obtain abroad, important toys for your kids and books or magazines that aren't available on an e-reader. When packing something, try and rate on a scale of one to 10 how difficult it would be to find abroad. If it's a one, maybe leave it behind and save room for something else. If it's a 10, then by all means pack it!

Then, there's what you'll bring back (or won't, if you aren't much of a shopper). Travelers very into retail therapy might take along an extra empty bag to fill. For those more intent on coming home with memories, the essential thing is to pack a huge memory card and maybe even a USB stick or external hard drive just in case your phone gets too full of photos. The key, no matter your situation, is to be mindful of the type of traveler you are and to anticipate what you will (and won't) need.

Day-By-Day Cruise Itinerary Example

Want to know what a well-planned European cruise vacation looks like? Here's an example of one of the best cruise trips to Europe you can take!

Day 1: Having arrived in Athens two full days earlier (one for sleeping, one for sightseeing), you and your travel crew are ready to set sail!

Day 2: Arrive in Mykonos, an island that's as famous for postcard-perfect beaches as it is for its charming old town and windmills. Have a low-key day with a nice meal in town or a swim and sunbathe, but maybe not both. Pace yourself and don't push too hard!

Day 3: Head to Santorini, an island that's as beautiful as Mykonos, but the scenery and civilization are more intertwined. Hang out in coastal Oia, where you can enjoy jaw-dropping views as you sip (or take shots of!) ouzo and eat fresh-grilled octopus.

Day 4: Your next stop is Crete, a larger Greek Island where towering inland mountains (and, in particular, Samaria Gorge) make perfect hiking destinations. Have smaller kids or an older person traveling with you? Not to worry! Chania Beach is one of Europe's most relaxing beaches.

Day 5: Spend your sailing day doing whatever soothes you. For more forward-looking travelers, this may involve planning out the last few days of the cruise or even onward European travel if you plan to stay on the continent. Contemplative travelers may choose to edit photos or journal while your kids (or you — no judgment!) use onboard WiFi to catch up on their favorite series. Or, you might simply enjoy onboard food and drink.

Day 6: Arrive in Palma, the largest city on the Spanish island of Mallorca. If you prioritized the beach in Greece, you might spend time dining and sipping fabulous drinks in Palma's Old Town. Conversely, Mallorca beaches such as Cala Mesquida and Cala Formentor are perfect if you want to veg out before arriving in Barcelona.

Day 7: Although you can experience Barcelona sights such as Parc Güell, the Sagrada Familia church and Barceloneta Beach in just one day, it's best to spread things out more. Use your last cruise day to relax with paella or tapas upon arriving in the Catalonian capital, then endeavor to spend another day or two sightseeing.

There's never a bad time for a seven-day cruise to Europe. No matter which route you take through the Mediterranean or how you occupy yourself during sailing days and onshore excursions, you can make your next European adventure your best one yet. Plan proactively and travel mindfully so that the only thing left to do once you set sail is enjoy every moment.

Written By

Robert Schrader is a writer, photographer and one of the web's original travel bloggers. In 2009 he launched his blog Leave Your Daily Hell, which has taken him to nearly 100 countries, and has since spun off niche sites focused on Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Italy. Robert seeks to inform, inspire, entertain and empower travelers through his work, which has been featured in in-flight magazines and digital media outlets around the world. He's excited about travel's post-pandemic rebirth, and in particular the cruise industry's comeback!

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