During the warm summer months, cruise ships travel through Europe’s northern waters to visit a variety of seaside countries. You can see jutting fjords in Scandinavia, stony cliffs and castles in the British Isles and historic cities throughout the region with world-class museums and diverse, cosmopolitan offerings.
In Dublin, you can roam bustling Georgian streets and end the day with a pint in a pub. London is a frequent departure point for cruises of Northern Europe -- arrive a day early to take in Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. While Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland, has many iconic sights -- Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House and St. Giles Cathedral -- there also are museums, restaurants and stunning pieces of Victorian architecture to be seen.
Get a glimpse of Russian history -- from the czarist era to the Communist years to the disintegration of the USSR -- during a port call in St. Petersburg. Often, ships overnight here. The Hermitage, one of the world’s foremost art museums, is a must-see attraction. Shop for local delicacies and handmade gifts in the shops along busy Nevsky Prospekt; vendors sell everything from hot Russian tea and pelmeni dumplings to the popular matryoshka nesting dolls and porcelain figurines.
Across the Baltic Sea, Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is a cosmopolitan city spread over 14 islands that are connected by bridges. Main attractions include the great warship Vasa, Stortorget Square with its historic stock exchange and the hall where Nobel laureates are honored. The Baltic nations -- Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- once members of the Soviet Union, are now independent states with growing cultural scenes. The Latvian National Opera in Riga hosts opera and ballet festivals, and Tallinn, the Estonian capital, was named a European Capital of Culture by the European Union.