Home to 50 countries and some 739 million residents, Europe has the third highest population of any continent in the world, despite actually being one of the smallest, at 10.2 million square kilometers. The region is bordered in the north by the Arctic Ocean, in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, in the south by the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea, and in the east by Russia and Asia. Both its climate and geography vary wildly from region to region, while its vast history is often proudly displayed in its landmarks and monuments, something that draws cruise-goers from the world over.

If you’re considering a European cruise, you’ll need to decide where you want to go first. Europe is generally broken down into three cruise routes. Firstly, Mediterranean cruises take in much of the south, including Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, and sometimes as far as Israel. Some cruises also call at Morocco and Tunisia in northern Africa. Western Europe cruises take in Portugal, Spain, northern France, Belgium, Holland and the U.K. Finally, northern Europe cruises visit the Nordic countries (including Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway), Russia, and Germany. A large number of cruises generally operate across the three routes, with passengers boarding at any number of the ports scattered throughout the continent.

Read more about the special destinations in Europe: