“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Destination — Off-the-beaten-path European cruises

Western Mediterranean cruises along the Spanish, French, and Italian coasts are great, as are Eastern Mediterranean trips that focus on ports in Greece and Turkey and those that concentrate on the Greek Isles sounds. They are charming and romantic and sun-soaked. They even pack in a lot of history and shopping. But if you’ve been there, done that, you might want to consider some alternatives.

A Mediterranean cruise doesn’t have to mean the Riviera coasts. There are fascinating places to visit along the African shore to the south. Smaller ports often have less tourist traffic and serve up new and exotic experiences. Ships may visit Tunisia and Morocco, as well as Corsica, Sardinia, and Malta. Western Mediterranean voyages can include Turkey, Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, and Egypt

Northern Europe has its own attractions. Cruising the Baltic Sea on a Baltic capitals cruise lets you visit such ports-of-call as Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Gdansk, Copenhagen, and Oslo. A Norwegian fjords cruise is a perfect way to see those spectacular fjords. It can be a thrifty alternative for food and lodging in often pricey Scandinavia.

When you think about voyaging in Europe, don’t forget the United Kingdom and Ireland. These islands aren’t of the sun and surf variety, but the cultural experience and shore excursions are fascinating.

Usually, mainstream lines stick to the most popular destinations. More exotic sailings may be offered by the premium and luxury lines. Smaller ships can often visit less common ports than mega-liners, being able to navigate shallower waters and dock at smaller piers.

So get started! Bring your sense of exploration and adventure to your travel agent and find a cruise that everyone hasn’t already done. One that scratches your particular itch.