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8 of the best Europe cruise lines for families

Sail away on a European family adventure with one of these luxurious lines.

European cruises are old-worldly, charming and completely unique. They can range from a summer bask in the Mediterranean to a wintry exploration through the Arctic and often feature multiple countries throughout each journey.

Traversing the waters, you’ll be blessed with skylines of spires that break from historical town centres, crumbling castles and forts that stand mightily above cliff faces, epic monuments that hide behind medieval walls and colourful port towns that welcome you with open arms.

Yup, a European cruise is like no other, and if you’ve got your heart set on a coastal cruise through this entrancing continent with the family in tow, we know a few liners that can take you there.

Searching for river cruises? Check out the top European river cruise companies here.

MSCCruises.BestEuropeCruiseLines

1. MSC Cruises

Make it a grand trip with MSC Cruises and its signature range of MSC Grand Voyages which take you and your brood from one corner of the world to the other.

  • European departure points: Various departure points including Spain, France, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, England, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Morocco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Malta and Monaco.
  • On board experience: This Italian liner specialises in Mediterranean cruises and captures the essence of this destination with sleek European-style rooms and freshly prepared cuisine. Yes, this includes pizza, done to perfection.
  • For kids: MSC offers a range of entertainment for children of all ages including an Aqua Park, swimming pools, virtual world, 4D cinema and kids' clubs. Children aged 12 years and under travel free when sharing the cabin with fare-paying parents.

Check the price of MSC's European cruises via CruiseAway


Costa.BestEuropeCruiseLines

2. Costa

Whether you want to sail through the Eastern Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean or the Norwegian Fjords, Costa is Europe’s largest cruise line and sails through them all.

  • European departure points: Multiple ports in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and the Greek Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Montenegro, Morocco, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Scotland, Spitsbergen, France, England, Sweden and Belgium.
  • Onboard experience: Costa is a British/American-owned cruise line based in Italy, and this cultural heritage shows in its European-style furnishings and cuisine. Perfect for those who want a European experience both on and off board.
  • For kids: Costa offers a variety of activities for kids of all ages including activity spaces, kids' clubs and a special baby pool and meet-and-greet with Peppa Pig for little ones.

Check the price of Costa's European cruises via Flight Centre


CelebrityCruises.BestEuropeCruiseLines

3. Celebrity Cruises

One of the world’s premium cruise lines, Celebrity Cruises offers over 100 fun-filled cruises throughout Europe for families.

  • European departure points: Southampton, Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Athens and Stockholm.
  • Onboard experience: Celebrity Cruises is based in Greece and features a truly Grecian feel from its sleek blue and white detailing to bevy of Greek island port of calls.
  • For kids: Celebrity is one of the most kid-friendly cruise lines out there. Each ship offers kids' clubs, kid-friendly sports and entertainment. Discounts are available for 3rd and 4th passengers sharing the same room as two full-fare paying adults.

Check the price of Celebrity's European cruises


PrincessCruises.BestEuropeCruiseLines

4. Princess Cruises

Carrying you across the continent, Princess Cruises offers memorable journeys for families through the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and British Isles.

  • European departure points: Rome, Southampton, Athens, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dover, Berlin, St Petersburg and Venice. As Princess is an American liner, it also offers departures from Fort Lauderdale and New York.
  • Onboard experience: Princess features a modern fit-out with an international atmosphere. European trips often include destination-specific experiences and cuisine.
  • For kids: Princess offers activities the whole family can enjoy. This includes cultural festivals and activities, pools, ship tours, sports and video game rooms. Family suites are available on some ships.

Check the price of Princess' European cruises


FredOlsenCruiseLines.BestEuropeCruiseLines

5. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

British cruise company Fred. Olsen offers a traditional cruise experience to classic destinations around Europe including the Mediterranean, British Isles, and the Baltic and Adriatic seas.

  • European departure points: Belfast, Dover, Edinburgh, Falmouth, Glasgow, Harwich, Liverpool, London Tilbury and Southampton. The cruise line also offers fly-cruises for non-UK departures.
  • Onboard experience: A classic cruise atmosphere featuring a modern fit-out, and entertainment options such as shows, bingo, dance classes and shuffleboard.
  • For kids: On peak holiday cruises Fred. Olsen offers a kids' club with daytime and evening activities for kids under 12.

Check the price of Fred. Olsen's European cruises


NorwegianCruiseLine.BestEuropeCruiseLines

6. Norwegian Cruise Line

Offering over 190 sailings to 65 European ports of call, it’s little wonder this luxury liner has been voted Europe’s Leading Cruise Liner at the World Travel Awards eight years in a row.

  • European departure points: Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Rome, Southampton, Rotterdam, Marseilles and Venice.
  • Onboard experience: Norwegian offers freestyle cruising options which allow you to eat, play and sleep whenever it suits you. Its American-based fleet comprises modern ships with international cuisine and popular American-style entertainment.
  • For kids: Norwegian provides some of the best entertainment options for young and old. This includes musicals, circus and magician shows and rock climbing walls for kids, in addition to the onboard kids' clubs. Connecting and family staterooms are available.

Check the price of Norwegian's European cruises via Flight Centre


RoyalCaribbeanInternational.BestEuropeCruiseLines

7. Royal Caribbean International

Sailing much more than just the Caribbean, this Top Cruise Line for Families winner has eight dedicated cruise ships that sail through Europe following both classic and more adventurous routes.

  • European departure points: Dubai, Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Southampton, Stockholm, Barcelona and Malaga.
  • Onboard experience: This American-based liner prides itself in providing a fun and innovative onboard experience the whole family can enjoy. It offers an international atmosphere with a variety of cultural cuisine options.
  • For kids: Generous family cabins are available on most Royal Caribbean cruises as well as a variety of on-board activities including roller skating, bumper cars, mini-golf and DreamWorks shows and parades.

Check the price of Royal Caribbean's European cruises via Flight Centre


DisneyCruiseLine.BestEuropeCruiseLines

8. Disney Cruise Line

For an extra injection of magic that will put a smile on their faces, sail into the enchanting world of fjords and castles onboard a family-friendly Disney cruise ship.

  • European departure points: Barcelona, Copenhagen and Dover. As Disney Cruise Line is a US-based line, cruises also depart from various North American ports including Miami and New York.
  • Onboard experience: Signature Disney stylings run throughout the ships, making them feel like gigantic playgrounds for kids young and old. Some rooms are themed, and restaurants drip with Disney flair.
  • For kids: Each Disney cruise ship comes equipped with family staterooms, Walt Disney theatre, music and dance deck parties and family-friendly port activities and kids' pools.

Check the price of Disney's European cruises


Where to Europe cruises go?

With dozens of countries to see and endless cities, towns and villages to visit, you can explore Europe for years and barely see it all. European cruises are great for giving a taste of what the continent has to offer. Some of the most common itineraries for European cruises include:

  • Western Mediterranean: Spain, Portugal, France and Italy
  • Eastern Mediterranean: Italy, Greece, Malta
  • Adriatic: Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania
  • Aegean: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus
  • Baltics and Northern Europe: Norway's fjords, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark
  • British Isles: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

When should you cruise in Europe?

Mediterranean cruises run year-round, while cruises in cooler European areas, like the Baltic, only sail during the warmer months.

If you're looking for the best time to go, peak season for Mediterranean cruises would be during the middle of European summer in July and August. This is also generally the most expensive time to go. If you're looking for a mix of favourable weather and prices, look into a cruise in the shoulder seasons - May and June or September and October - you should still find warm days where temperatures hit the low to mid 20s, especially for cruises going to Italy and Greece.


Importance of cruise travel insurance

Family holidays don't come cheap - especially when you're flying your brood all the way over to Europe for the cruise of a lifetime. And if something doesn't go as you planned - be it a missed port due to bad weather, a bag getting lost on the way to your cabin or someone in your family gets sick and is confined to the cabin - you'll want to make sure you're covered for it.

All those scenarios can be covered by the right cruise travel insurance policy.


Best Europe cruise deals

TourRadar TourRadar

Up to 70% off tours worldwide

Huge savings on tours, river cruises and sailing trips in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand from brands like Intrepid Travel, Contiki, Busabout, Cosmos, Collette, Tucan, Topdeck and more.

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Groupon Groupon

Extra 15% off first Groupon purchase

Valid on all dates for restaurants, spas, getaways, things to do and more. T&Cs apply.

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Groupon Groupon

$999: 6-night China holiday with Yangtze cruise

Valid for travel between March - November 2019. Includes return international flights from Melbourne or Sydney, hotel accommodation, onboard cruise accommodation, tour and more. T&Cs apply.

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Cudo Cudo

50% off Australia Day cruise

Valid on 26 January 2019. Includes canapes on arrival, standing buffet, unlimited soft drinks and more. T&Cs apply.

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Groupon Groupon

Australia Day: Sydney Harbour cruises from $35

Saving up to 50% on the regular price, spend Australia Day on the harbour aboard a lunch cruise or an evening sail to see the fireworks.

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Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

Up to £100 cashback + free drinks

Valid for 2019 and 2020 cruises. Destinations include Bridgetown, Phuket, Southampton, Cairns, Dubai and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to $800 off cruises with Carnival

Valid for 2019 - 2020 cruises. Destinations include Melbourne, Noumea, Sydney, Singapore, Bali, Darwin and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Free drinks, OBC and Wi-Fi with Celebrity Cruises

Valid from March 2019 - April 2020. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Hobart, Tasmania and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Pay only $25 deposits

Valid for 2020 cruises. Includes flights, hotels, transfers and more. Destinations are Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Okinawa and Taipei. T&Cs apply.

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Groupon Groupon

50% off Sydney harbour yacht stay

Valid until 30 April 2019. T&Cs apply.

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Groupon Groupon

32% off 3-night cruise from Sydney

Valid until 10 November 2019. Includes 3-night cruise with cabin accommodation, meals, onboard activities and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 32% off cruises + up to $1,200 OBC with Royal Caribbean

Valid on select sailings departing between January and March - April 2019. Destinations include Australia and South Pacific. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Extra $50 OBC with P&O

Valid for travel on short break cruises departing between February - November 2019. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 46% off Cunard cruises

Valid on select cruises from 2019 - 2020. Includes complimentary gratuities and onboard credit. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 50% off cruises + pay only $99 deposits

Valid on select cruises from 2019 - 2020 with Holland America Line. Destinations include Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne, Tasmania, Perth, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Free OBC, wine and dine with Princess Cruises

Valid on select cruises from 2019 - 2020. Destinations include New Zealand, Asia, South Pacific, Europe, Alaska, Canada and more. T&Cs apply.

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Let's Ferry Let's Ferry

20% off early bookings

Valid for one way or round trip travel on the Adriatic line until 31 December 2019. T&Cs apply.

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Let's Ferry Let's Ferry

Blue Star Ferries from just 20€

Valid on select dates for travel until 31 October 2019. Destinations include Cyclades routes, Dodecanese routes and Northern Aegean Routes. T&C's apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

50% off second guest on Royal Caribbean Cruises

Valid on select sailings departing between January - March 2019. Includes up to $1,000 onboard credit. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

50% off second guest + free internet

Valid on select 2019 cruises with Azamara. Destinations include Western Europe, Mediterranean Sea, Central America, Caribbean, Transatlantic and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

$1 deposits + up to $300 onboard credit

Available on select P&O Cruises departing on select dates from 15 February 2019. Destinations include Melbourne, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach, Suva and more. T&Cs apply.

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P&O Cruises P&O Cruises

$1 deposits + up to $300 onboard credit

Valid for cruises departing on select dates from 15 February 2019. Destinations include Melbourne, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach, Suva and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Free unlimited drinks package + $150 OBC

Valid for travel from March 2019 - April 2010 on 7+ nights cruises with MSC. T&Cs apply.

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P&O Cruises P&O Cruises

Up to $200 on board credit on last-minute cruises

Valid from October - December 2018. Destinations include Moreton Island, Noumea, Hamilton Island, Vanuatu, Brisbane, Sydney and more. Cruises start from $315 per person for 3-night comedy cruises. T&Cs apply.

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Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

Fjords cruises from £679 + up to £100 tour credit

Valid for travel on select 2018-19 sailings. Choose from a complimentary all-inclusive drinks upgrade or up to £100 pp shore tour credit. T&C's apply.

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Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

No single supplement

Book select cruises as a solo traveller and pay no single supplement.

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Popular Cruises coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
15 Jan 2019 Extra 15% off first Groupon purchase BRA****
16 Jan 2019 Up to 70% off tours worldwide ********
14 Jan 2019 $999: 6-night China holiday with Yangtze cruise ********
10 Jan 2019 50% off Australia Day cruise ********
11 Jan 2019 Australia Day: Sydney Harbour cruises from $35 ********

Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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