Your biggest difficulty planning a European cruise is narrowing down where you want to go. A Western Mediterranean itinerary usually includes stops in Barcelona and Monaco, as well as ports in Italy. Eastern Mediterranean cruises encompass eastern Italy, Croatia and Greece, and sometimes even Turkey and Israel. A Baltic Sea voyage brings you to Scandinavia and Russia; the Norwegian Fjords carry their own beauty. Don't forget about British Isles cruises, which allow you to visit castles in England, Scotland and London. For sun lovers, it's hard to beat the Canary Islands.
The Arctic is an otherworldly land of boundless vistas, perpetual daylight in summer, glistening ice floes and abundant wildlife. No wonder that taking a North Pole cruise is becoming a growth industry in once rarely visited realms. One caveat: Unlike Antarctica, which is on a solid land mass, the North Pole has no true fixed location. It lies on a mass of always-shifting ice chunks in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, few ships actually sail to the pole. But many do get close, venturing within the Arctic Circle, above 66 degrees latitude. These are truly remote areas, so it's not surprising that Arctic trips to the North Pole tend to attract seasoned travelers looking to tick off one more spot on their bucket list. The expansive region takes in northern parts of Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Norway and Russia. Here's a breakdown of popular areas, and some lines and outfitters that'll take you there. But first, some general guidance.