Here’s a selection of some of the most exciting cruise holidays to Europe leaving from UK ports

Reykjavik, Iceland

Of the 1.7 million of us who took a cruise last year, 962,000 chose to cruise from British ports – and that figure will hit the million mark this year. Not only is a no-fly cruise hassle-free, but with so many departure ports to choose from, transfers are relatively straightforward. 

From the quaint waterways of Bruges to the volcanic landscapes of Iceland, cities and winding countryside alike enchant and inspire. For those with a passion for fine wine, Fred. Olsen has this covered in their Wine Regions of Bordeaux and Rioja cruise, sailing aboard Braemar (from Dover, 4 October 2013, from £1,375pp), with tastings and lectures hosted by TV wine expert Jilly Goolden.

Meanwhile Celebrity Cruises offer a 12-night Immersive Wine Cruise visiting Paris, Bordeaux, Bilbao, Vigo and Porto, (from Harwich, 12 October 2013, from £782pp).

When a short getaway is in order then look no further than a dash across The English Channel. Mini-cruises are a breath of fresh air and the south coast of England is the gateway to gems such as Bruges, Paris and Hamburg. Cunard have two Winter Getaway four-night cruises this year (from Southampton, 26 November and 11 December 2013, from £459pp).

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean has four-night mini-cruises this Autumn; from the port of Zeebrugge you can explore the sights of Brussels, and Paris can be explored from Le Havre (from Southampton, 26 October 2013, from £339pp,

The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Later in the year, Fred. Olsen’s four-night mini-cruise goes to Rouen and Zeebrugge (from Dover, 6 December 2013, from £399pp). Or get away for New Year with P&O Cruises’ four-night Cruise Break, for chocolate heaven in Bruges and the leafy canals of Amsterdam (from Southampton, 29 December 2013, from £839pp,

If you want to see more of northern Europe, MSC Cruises’ Northern Europe 10-night cruise includes Amsterdam and St Peter Port, but takes you as far as Lisbon (from Southampton, 14 September 2013, from £659pp,

For something a bit different, Fred. Olsen have a seven-night D-Day Anniversary cruise with tours round war memorials, D-Day Museums and allied landing areas (from Harwich, 1 June 2014, from £649pp).

Swap culture for nature with a voyage to the crystal clear waters of Iceland, one of the richest marine habitats in the world, with rejuvinating geothermal pools and breathtaking waterfalls.

Cruise & Maritime’s 10-night Iceland and Northern Lights voyage includes the Faroe Islands, Eskifjördur, Isafjördur and Reykjavik (from Bristol Avon, 3 June 2014, from £3969pp). 

Why not travel further afield, via the Mediterranean, with Fred. Olsen’s 28-night Undiscovered Adriatic cruise, including Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik and Hvar (Croatia), Koper (Slovenia), (from Bristol Avon, 17 May 2014, from £2,299pp). Or absorb yourself in the land of the pyramids in their 30-night Red Sea cruise, with four Egyptian ports of call (from Southampton, 18 November 2013, from £2,499pp).

The Canary Islands are easily reached from the UK, take Fred. Olsen’s 12-night cruise to Madeira & Canaries calling at Leixoes, Funchal (Madiera), Santa Cruz, Arrecife (Lanzarote) and Lisbon (from Belfast, 3 October 2013, from £949pp) or Princess Cruises’ 12-night Canary Islands cruise (from Southampton, 14 October 2013, from £799pp,

For some winter sun look to Shearings’ 14-night Christmas & New Year cruise round the Canaries with Christmas Day at sea and New Year’s Eve in Madeira and Portugal (from London Tilbury, 22 December 2013, from £1,189pp,, or Cunard’s 10-night Iberian & Moroccan Highlights, (from Southampton, 11 December 2013, from £819pp).

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