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Cruising Article – 2011-02-17

Normandy, France, offers WWII history

European Cruise Destinations

Travelers lucky enough to be setting sail on a European cruise will have a multitude of options for excursions when the ship stops off the coast of France, but history buffs will really only have one: the beaches of Normandy.

This awe-inspiring site has been featured in films such as "Saving Private Ryan," but nothing really compares to seeing the real thing in person. The day begins at the Museum of the Landing Day, which features a wealth of information to bring travelers up to speed on what exactly happened at D-Day.

Then it's off to see the beaches. Omaha Beach is perhaps the most famous of all the landing points, and this area is also home to the American Cemetery. Row after row of white headstones will show visitors the sacrifice made by American soldiers in World War II. It's truly a stunning sight and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Other points of interest include Pointe du Hoc and Arromanches Beach. Pointe du Hoc features 100-foot cliffs that soldiers in the second Ranger battalion scaled on D-Day. Meanwhile, Arromanches Beach contains the remains of Mulberry Harbor, which was quickly constructed in order to facilitate the landing.

The tour also gives travelers a chance to sample some of the region's finest cuisine, as a complimentary lunch with wine at a local restaurant will be included in the package at no additional charge.