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Crave Art & Culture? Six Must-Do Museums on a Europe Cruise

Holland America Line’s cruises to Europe feature some of the most interesting and exciting cities in the world. Europe and its many regions are famous for many reasons, particularly the vast amount of art and culture found in nearly every port.

Almost anywhere you call at during a Europe cruise will feature a museum and an opportunity for you to quench your thirst for knowledge about the area. Culture vultures know that museums are much more than art. They teach history, about the great talents of the locals and we get to step back in time and imagine how those that came before us lived. Here are some of Europe’s highest-regarded museums, all reachable during a Holland America Line cruise to the city that holds them.

The Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Italy

The Vatican Museums are seemingly endless with each room bringing more and more impressive pieces.

The Vatican Museums are seemingly endless with each room bringing more and more impressive pieces.

No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the sovereign state of Vatican City. Within its boundaries you will find the Vatican Museums, displaying an incredible, seemingly endless collection of paintings, tapestries, maps and more assembled by popes throughout the centuries. During the Vatican Museums & St. Peter’s Basilica tour you’ll enjoy a visit to the Sistine Chapel, perhaps the most famous church in the world, with its priceless collection of masterpieces by Botticeli, Signorelli, Perugino and of course Michelangelo’s famous The Last Judgment. Afterwards, you’ll head to St Peter’s Square, which can hold more than 300,000 people during papal appearances. There will still be plenty more to see with a visit to Christianity’s largest church, St. Peter’s Basilica.

Many of our cruises visit Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. If you’re looking for a last-minute getaway, check out Nieuw Amsterdam’s 12-Day Mediterranean Romance departing July 27. In 2016, Eurodam will be sailing a 12-Day Mediterranean Romance cruise departing June 23.

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao's Guggenheim is as beautiful inside as it is out.

Bilbao’s Guggenheim is as beautiful inside as it is out.

The famous Guggenheim Museum is located in Bilbao’s Abandoibarra area. When it opened in 1997, it was widely regarded as the most important structure of its time, and when you spot it you’ll quickly know it was designed by Frank Gehry. The exterior of the museum is art in itself, made with titanium, glass and limestone. Inside, there is a vast amount of art to be seen by Spanish and international artists. You can explore this architectural masterpiece during the Bilbao Highlights & the Guggenheim Museum tour. The exhibitions here change often, so even if you have been before, it’s worth a second visit.

Holland America Line’s elegant explorer Prinsendam is the ship you have to be on to visit Bilbao. Come aboard in 2016 on a 14-Day Bourgundian Explorer cruise departing Sept. 6.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Van Gogh is known for his colorful style. Photo courtesy nl.wikipedia.org.

Van Gogh is known for his colorful style. Photo courtesy nl.wikipedia.org.

Located in Amsterdam’s Museum Square, the famous Van Gogh Museum features a unique collection by the 19th-century master of the same name. Opened in 1973 this museum attracts visitors who enjoy seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s amazing, colorful, post-impressionist renditions of sunflowers and potato-eaters and of course his tortured self-portraits. You’ll experience his life as you browse among his paintings and drawings, the largest collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world. The Amsterdam Highlights & Van Gogh Museum tour also includes a drive by the Dam Square, Amsterdam’s cultural center, and the Mint Tower.

One of our three Dutch homeports, Amsterdam hosts several Holland America Line ships. But if you want to be among the first to sail on Koningsdam and visit Amsterdam, join the 13-Day Christening Cruise departing May 9, 2016.

The Louvre, Le Havre (Paris), France

The Louvre with its unique pyramid is one of the most recognizable museums.

The Louvre with its unique pyramid is one of the most recognizable museums.

The Louvre, is one of the world’s largest museums and its most visited. This historic monument, originally built as a fortress by King Phillip II and having served as a royal palace, today is one of Paris’ most famous landmarks. On exhibit guests will find more than 35,000 pieces but the Louvre holds over a million pieces in its collection, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo. You can visit the Louvre during a call at Le Havre, France. With a transfer to Paris you’ll have enough time to explore the city on your own and this incredible museum should be at the top of your list of things to do.

Bon Jour! Koningsdam’s 13-Day Christening Cruise departing May 9, 2016, also calls at the French port of La Harve, the gateway to Paris.

The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

A Medallion Collection tour is the best way to enjoy the Hermitage.

A Medallion Collection tour is the best way to enjoy the Hermitage.

St. Peterburg’s Hermitage Museum, created by Czarina Catherine the Great in 1764, is one of northern Europe’s best attractions and one of the world’s finest museums. Catherine’s original purchase of 225 canvasses by Dutch and Flemish masters are still the nucleus of today’s collection, which consists of almost three million pieces. The museum’s 353 rooms are filled with masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many others. The buildings’ spectacular staircases, marble structures, malachite columns and highly-decorated floors and ceilings will also impress you. Have the Hermitage all to yourself with the Exclusive Evening at the Hermitage tour. This Medallion Collection tour features an evening viewing exclusively for Holland America Line guests.

St. Petersburg is a popular port, and five Holland America Line ships call at the Russian favorite. Eurodam’s 12-Day Baltic Adventure is a good option for a last-minute getaway this summer, while next summer Zuiderdam takes on the route.

Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

The Vasa was salvaged and restored and is today the centerpiece of Stockholm's Vasa Museum.

The Vasa was salvaged and restored, and is today the centerpiece of Stockholm’s Vasa Museum.

Stockholm’s Vasa Museum is an authentic piece of living history. In the early 17th century, the Swedish battleship Vasa was the pride of Sweden’s mighty navy. The ship capsized while preparing to set out on its maiden voyage in 1628, sinking into Stockholm’s inner harbor. 333 years later, in 1961, a Swedish team salvaged the ship which was very well preserved. It was then restored and today is the centerpiece of the museum. You can visit the museum and its incredible ship during the Historic Stockholm, Sigtuna & the Vasa Museum tour. You’ll also enjoy the island of Gamla Sta, an enchanting medieval old town, and you’ll visit Sigtuna with the smallest Town Hall in Scandinavia.

Prinsendam and Zuiderdam visit the port of Stockholm. For an epic adventure embark Zuiderdam’s 29-Day Azores, Normandy and Baltic Adventure cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen that calls at Stockholm and St. Petersburg.

If you’re interested in visiting these museums, the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you’re sure to get the tour of your choice.

Which of these museums do you want to visit the most? Have you been to any of these already?

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