10 Major Cruise Ports in Europe

The vast European coastline is one of the world’s most stable and attractive cruise markets, offering exciting cruise itineraries and memorable experiences. Some prominent European cruise lines include Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises.

While choosing a perfect holiday spot may be difficult, a luxury cruise ship allows one to visit several places on a single trip. You might not be able to explore an area thoroughly, but you can be acquainted with authentic culture, food, and welcoming locals.

Europe is vibrant and comprises more than fifty countries and their dependencies. In this article, check out ten fantastic Cruise Ports in Europe.

1. Port of Southampton, England

The Southampton Cruise port is around 80 miles from central London. It has five terminals located a short distance from each other and close to the city center. All the terminals are managed by Southampton Port Authority and welcome 2 million people annually.

The Ocean terminal is the most modern facility on the eastern docks. Travelers can enter through gate 4 and wait in the resting room. It has a single cruise berth that can handle only one cruise ship at once. The Queen Elizabeth Cruise terminal is farthest from the tourist hotels and railway stations. 

Port of Southampton
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The City Cruise terminal is located on the western docks. Famous hotels like the Novotel, Leonardo, and Holiday Inn are close to this facility. The Mayflower Cruise terminal accommodates smaller cruise ships and contains a one-story terminal building. The New Horizon terminal is a recent construction built per green technology. It has roof-mounted solar power and shore power facilities.

2. Port of Bergen, Norway

Bergen dated back to the 11th century and became the capital of Norway in 1240. It was founded by Olav Kyrre and prospered under Hanseatic League. The German merchants controlled Norwegian trade, and much of the City’s architecture is reminiscent of their influence and lifestyle. 

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bergen is known for its medieval houses, merchant quarters, King Haakon’s halls, Rosenkranz tower, Mariakirken, and Theta museum. Its old waterfront area is dotted with colorful buildings, warehouses, art museums, and salons. Hence, more than 1.5 million tourists visit Bergen every year.

Port of Bergen
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Bergen is the biggest Norwegian cruise port and the principal gateway to the Fjords. Lying along Byfjord, it is a charming town enclosed by forested peaks and centered around an expansive harbor with prosperous fishing and cruising industries.

Most cruises dock in Haven dock at the Vagen harbor. It is a five-minute walk along the waterfront to the Bryggen exit gate. Large cruise ships dock at the Dokken terminal west of the fish market. One can find complimentary shuttle buses from the terminal to the city center.

In October 2017, the port authority decided to welcome only four ships and 9000 passengers daily to prevent congestion during peak months.

3. Port of Cork, Ireland

Cork is the only Irish port with a cruise berth in Cobh. It can handle cruise ships in the  Ringaskiddy Deepwater Quay and the City Quays. The natural deepwater harbor is the entry point to several Irish attractions, landmarks, and historical places.

The people disembark on the quay alongside the Cobh Heritage Centre at Cobh. It showcases the Irish way of life and the evolution of the ships in Ireland. The Cobh town is situated within 150 meters of the cruise port. It is famous for its maritime past and its rustic charm. It was the last call for the unfortunate cruise liner, Titanic. 

Port of Cork
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A cruise call at Cork offers the passengers numerous pursuits ranging from history to adventure and explorations. One can appreciate flora and fauna in the botanical gardens or visit the Fota Wildlife Park. Golf lovers can explore the championship golf courses or sail from the world’s oldest yacht club.

4. Port of Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen port serves the capital of Denmark and is conveniently located on the Baltic Sea coast. It has an advanced and functional infrastructure. The cruise port is well-linked with public transport lines, including railways and the international airport.

Copenhagen cruise port has three cruise terminals: the Langeline Pier, the Ocean Quay, and the Ndr.Toldbod. It is the preferred turnaround port in Northern Europe. The port is close to hotels, renowned restaurants, historic buildings, and tourist attractions. One can also book exciting shore excursions like scuba diving, fishing, or sailing. 

Port of Copenhagen
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Copenhagen is also one of the biggest ports in North Europe. It can accommodate the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. It was bestowed with the leading European cruise ship port award for five consecutive years.

The port also has a garbage collection and incineration unit. Different types of hazardous waste such as electronic waste, chemicals, and oil are disposed of after taking appropriate measures. 

5. Port of St Petersberg, Russia

St Petersberg is Russia’s largest cruise port and the second-biggest City after Moscow. It is situated on the river Neva while the cargo facility is located on the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic sea.

The capital of Russia, St Petersberg, was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and remained the capital of Russia for 200 years until the 1917 Russian Revolution when the capital was shifted to Moscow. It is a beautiful city rooted in its glorious past and full of museums, town halls, former palaces, gardens, art galleries, and much more. 

Port of St Petersberg
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The cruise terminal receives over a million passengers annually. Most cruise ships dock at the Marine Facade Complex, five kilometers northwest of the city center. The different cruise lines offer many exciting shore excursions. Most include a sightseeing tour to the Hermitage, the Church of the Saviour, the famous Catherine Palace, and the Peter Estate.

6. Port of Santorini, Greece

Santorini island is one of the most popular ports of call in Europe. It lies in the Aegean sea and is also called Thera. Interestingly, the port was created by a volcanic eruption dating back to 1650 B.C. The present-day port lies at the foot of Caldera cliffs in Fira, the capital of Santorini. During peak season, the island welcomes almost 85,000 guests. Also, around five cruise ships are received each morning in the summer months, which makes Santorini one of the most crowded cruise ports in the world.

The Santorini cruise port is officially called Skala. It is an old port facility, and the pier has transformed into a tourist hub with a small town of waterfront cafes, boat rental firms, and trinket stalls.

Port of Santorini
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Most cruise ships at the Santorini island dock at Thira, on the island’s western coastline. Since it is a tender port and lacks a passenger terminal, cruise ships anchor Caldera, and tourists are transported ashore to the Old Port in Fira using skunas or tender boats. Generally, Cruise liners arrive at 8 am and leave the island by 6 pm.

Cruise passengers can reach Fira by walking or taking a cable car which is affordable and available every 15 minutes. 

7. Port of La Spezia, Italy

La Spezia lies in the Liguria region overlooking the northern Tyrrenian sea. The Italian City is just an hour from Genoa and is the ideal gateway to the most beautiful destinations in Italy. You can visit the National Park of Cinque Terre and Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

It is also a point of departure for many day excursions to explore neighboring regions like Tuscany. The popular cruise port, capable of accommodating colossal passenger ships, is one of the biggest cruise terminals in the country, hosting thousands of passengers annually. Most cruise ships visit the port not only during the peak season but also during winters.

Port of La Spezia
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The cruise terminal lies three kilometers from the historic city center, and the ships dock at Molo Garibaldi. Passengers can take a taxi or a shuttle bus to the city center. Golfo dei Poeti is the new cruise terminal inaugurated in 2015. It is close to the old town and the railway station.

8. Port of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam has become a principal North European cruise hub, welcoming large ocean liners and long river cruise boats. The cruise terminal is 25 kilometers or 13.5 nautical miles from the North Sea.

The cruise ships are handled at the Passenger terminal Amsterdam or PTA, close to the central railway station and the main city.

Port of Amsterdam
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Designed by architect Larry Malcic, PTA was opened in 2000. It has a wave-like glass structural design, an ideal example of modern architecture on the Amsterdam IJ seaside. It receives more than a million visitors annually, and the terminal building also hosts events and functions for up to 3500 people.

The terminal has a 600 m long and 10 m deep dock on the northern side. It can accommodate 340 m long cruise ships. The premises have a vast reception hall covering 3000 m2, a promenade, and panorama decks. The facility also contains souvenir shops, a coffee bar, and a subway sandwich outlet. Tourists can get all information at the helpdesk.

9. Port of Lisbon, Portugal

The cruise terminal is located on the north banks of River Tagus, enclosed by Lisbon’s historical and cultural center. The new building and the Santa Apolonia cruise terminal offer the ideal conditions for accommodating cruise vessels and passengers while providing excellent hospitality. 

The modern terminal was designed by a famous Portuguese architect, João Luís Carrilho da Graça. The main feature of the terminal design is sustainability. The authorities also wanted to prevent congestion in the vicinity; hence the terminal has numerous exit gates. 

Port of Lisbon
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It was inaugurated on 10th November 2017 and was honored with the Valmor and Municipal Architecture Award in the same year. Besides sustainability, flexibility and accessibility are other vital factors in the facility’s design. It covers 13,800 m2 and is served by a 1500 m long pier to receive ships with a maximum draft of 13 m.

10. Port of Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki cruise port has four docks serving cruise ships and yachts: the West harbor, Hernessari, Katajanokka Quay, and South Harbour. It is 24 kilometers from the international airport while the railway station is close to the port.

Larger cruise ships are received at Munkkisaari Quay. Hernessari quay is for large liners with an LOA of 360 m. A new maritime complex is also being constructed in the West Harbour. M st ships are handled at the west harbor, and the Hernesaari and Lansisatama terminals handle 90% of international tourists.

Port of Helsinki
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The west harbor has two cruise docks- Valtameri Quay and Melkki Quay, about 3 kilometers from downtown. Sm ll size cruise ships are welcomed at the Katajanokanlaituri 2 Terminal. It also has ferry connections to Tallinn, Estonia.

South Harbor is the largest and consists of two docks – Pakkahuone Quay and Olympia Quay, close to the main attractions and landmarks.


These were some of the famous Cruise Ports In Europe. Venice is a known destination that requires no introduction. Famous for its canals and architecture, it is a must-visit. The port of Split is located on the western shores of Croatia. The beautiful City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known as the setting for the Game of Thrones T.V. Series. Other cruise destinations include Dubrovnik, the beautiful port of Barcelona, the port towns in Spain, Turkey, Greek islands, Holland, and the breathtaking Reykjavik, Iceland.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cruise Ports In Europe

1. Where do cruises leave from in Europe?

Cruise ships depart from Barcelona in Spain, Lisbon in Portugal, Rome in Italy, and Southampton, in England.

2. What is the busiest cruise port in the world?

Miami port in Florida, US, is the busiest port in the world, handling over 5.6 million passengers annually.

3. How many major ports does Europe have?

Europe has more than 1200 ports, out of which the ports of Antwerp, Hamburg, and Rotterdam handle the world’s 12 percent of cargo items.

4. What are some of the largest cruise lines in the world?

Some examples include Royal Caribbean Group, MSC Cruises, Carnival Corporation, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

5. Most Cruise ships are flagged by which country?

Most ships fly Bahamian flags. Other famous registries include Panama, Italy, Bermuda, Malta, and the Netherlands.

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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

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