Mediterranean cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to do


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No 2 Mediterranean cruise ships coincide. Some bring tourists to the French and Italian rivieras for food, red wine and social quests. Others head eastern to the Greek islands, where travelers alternating days drinking ouzo at a beachfront taverna with journeys to old websites. Each schedule is a mix of metropolitan visitor resources — Barcelona! Rome! Istanbul! — and sleeper treasures, such as Portofino, Italy, and Kotor, Montenegro.

If you have actually never ever been to Europe, you could really feel overloaded by location selections. If you recognize which ports get on your must-see listing, you could be a lot more puzzled whereby cruise line to select or which details schedule will certainly be the very best for you.

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Know that you can not see whatever in one Mediterranean cruise — also on cruisings that run numerous weeks. Once you release your requirement to see and do all of it and approve that you get on a sampler excursion, you’ll be far better able to make your cruise choices and take pleasure in the ports your ship does go to.

Get began on your trip with this Mediterranean cruise overview. You’ll find out the essentials of itineraries, cruise lines, locations, when to go and when to publication your European experience mixed-up.

Why cruise to the Mediterranean?


Many of the European nations on your traveling pail listing exist along the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt. A cruise allows you struck most of the locations (the French Riviera, Barcelona and Venice, Italy) on one journey without having to browse numerous resorts, transport in between cities and supper bookings in international languages.

For some individuals, those experiences are a crucial component of traveling. However, for visitors that desire all the destinations without the headache, a cruise is an optimal means to discover the Mediterranean. This sort of European cruise can be specifically appealing to honeymooners, households and older pairs.

Mediterranean cruise ships bid tourists with a love of society and background. Visit the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, or the Colosseum in Rome; see Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy; or make a trip to the Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Take a scenic tour to a middle ages community, or admire the building and construction of a skyrocketing sanctuary. If you have actually constantly desired to see the damages in Ephesus, Turkey, and Pompeii, Italy, Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the well-known gambling enterprise in Monaco, you can do it quickly on a Mediterranean cruising.

You can likewise consume your means with the marketplaces, coffee shops, trattorias, gelato stores and crepe stands in the ports you go to. Sample neighborhood glass of wines at wineries in France and Italy, or sip ouzo or limoncello made on the facilities.

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When do cruise ships go to the Mediterranean?

You could be stunned to find out that cruise ships cruise the Mediterranean year-round.

The bulk of ships, nonetheless, get here in springtime and leave in autumn, selecting warmer climates like the Caribbean for wintertime vacation cruisings. Only a couple of durable stalwarts stay with the chillier months. Several of those are European-based lines, such as Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises, however Viking likewise endures cool weather condition for its destination-focused itineraries in Europe.

Related: The best time to cruise the Mediterranean

Best Mediterranean itineraries

You can discover a selection of weeklong Mediterranean cruise ships, however if you have the moment, 9- to 14-night cruisings are not unusual. Seven-evening cruise ships are best if you’re brief on schedule or desire to add a couple of days in Barcelona, Rome or Athens prior to or after your cruise. Longer itineraries are excellent for experiencing a better range of locations and passing through even more of the Med.

Here are several of the very best Mediterranean cruise itineraries you need to take into consideration for your European holiday.

Related: Best Mediterranean cruise ships in 2024 and 2025

Western Mediterranean

The traditional Western Mediterranean cruise cruises in between Barcelona and Rome and hires ports in Spain, France, Monaco and Italy. This is your opportunity to discover Tuscany and the French Riviera, in addition to begged Florence; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Naples, Italy; and islands such as Corsica in France, Mallorca in Spain and Sicily and Sardinia in Italy. Just beware: Marquee locations like Rome and Florence are both situated an hour or even more from the cruise port, so prepare yourself for lengthy bus adventures and lengthy times off the ship.

Greece and Turkey

The traditional Eastern Mediterranean cruise cruises out of Athens or Istanbul and sees a mix of historical locations (Delphi, Greece; Ephesus using Kusadasi, Turkey; the Greek island of Rhodes) and sun-drenched islands (Mykonos and Santorini, Greece).

Adriatic Sea

Some supposed Mediterranean cruise ships really invest a lot of their time on the Adriatic Sea, cruising from Venice and going to ports in Croatia and Greece, and often Montenegro and Albania. You could likewise discover an Adriatic cruising covered right into longer Western or Eastern Mediterranean cruise ships.

Holy Land

The most easterly of the Eastern Mediterranean itineraries, Holy Land cruise ships hang around in Israel and often Egypt, typically with over night quits or numerous days invested in each nation to make the most of exploring chances. These cruisings could likewise get in touch with Cyprus or ports in Greece and Turkey.

Due to the battle in Gaza, most of cruise lines are not getting in touch with ports in Israel in 2024. Some have actually likewise ditched phone calls to ports in Egypt and Jordan.

Best Mediterranean cruise lines

Norwegian Jade in Greece. NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

Most significant cruise lines send out a minimum of one ship to the Mediterranean yearly. Even Carnival Cruise Line, recognized for its inexpensive cruise ships out of U.S. home ports, uses some Mediterranean cruisings, as does Disney Cruise Line, which normally bases its ships near its amusement park.

If you’re trying to find a larger ship, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are the very best selections, as they base a handful of ships in the Mediterranean every year, showing up in springtime and leaving in autumn. These lines use a selection of schedule selections, so you can discover the Mediterranean ports you most desire to browse through. You’ll likewise discover great deals of dining establishment selections and night enjoyment choices to maintain you inhabited in the evening when the ship is cruising.

For a much more worldwide ambiance aboard, attempt MSC Cruises, a European cruise line that uses a fantastic range of ships and itineraries in the Mediterranean.

Couples or households with produced youngsters trying to find longer cruisings and a location emphasis need to take into consideration Viking. It uses 8- to 15-night cruise ships with the Mediterranean, consisting of 3- and four-week trips for senior citizens (or electronic wanderers) that have time for an extensive expedition of the area.

Which deluxe line is best for your Mediterranean cruise will certainly depend upon your choices for a European schedule and ship facilities and design. However, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises stick out for consisting of a wide array of coast expeditions in their cruise prices. If you’re a food lover, these 2 lines, plus Oceania Cruises, are significant for their cooking trips in port and destination-themed food preparation courses aboard.

Things to do in the Mediterranean

Sightseeing is a large part of Mediterranean cruise ships, whether that’s checking out a historical website like the Roman Forum or the walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia; going to sanctuaries in Florence and Barcelona; or exploring middle ages towns, fts and old communities. You could desire to miss the official trips and simply stray around the port community, surfing neighborhood stores or getting a coffee or treat in a neighborhood coffee shop.

Culinary trips are likewise prominent right here. You can select from roaming food trips, food preparation courses, vineyard brows through and samplings, and dishes made with neighborhood fruit and vegetables and cheeses in lovely suite or farmhouse setups.

Travelers looking to extend their legs could desire to register for biking trips in city and nation setups, trek around a volcano on Santorini or Sicily, or perhaps take a kayak for a spin in Croatia or Greece.

A coastline day is feasible in the Greek islands or along the French Riviera, and numerous ports will certainly have sightseeing and tour cruise ships.

Related: Best Mediterranean cruise coast expeditions

Best Mediterranean cruise ports


Everyone has their preferred listing of the very best Mediterranean cruise ports. Some tourists desire to struck all one of the most prominent cities, while others focus on the capability to stroll straight off the ship right into the heart of the community. Some ports are much better for historic destinations, others for coffee shop society or outside tasks.

The adhering to cruise ports are usually standouts, despite your traveling design.

Barcelona: Both a departure port and a port of telephone call, relying on your schedule, Barcelona has much to use first-timers and repeat site visitors. Cruise ships dock at the end of Las Ramblas, the primary road in the old component of the city, so it’s simple to leave the ship and just stray. Don’t miss out on Gaudí’s sensational structures or a dish of tapas.

Monte Carlo: Monte Carlo is both a remarkable port by itself and a portal to the French Riviera. In community, you can stroll to the gambling enterprise, royal residence and spectacular oceanographic gallery. From community, you can take the twisty-turny Corniche seaside roadways to locations like Nice, Eze, Cannes and Grasse, France.

Dubrovnik: Even if you’re not in it for the “Game of Thrones” excursion, you will certainly be astounded by Dubrovnik and its well-known walled city. Walk the wall surfaces or take to the water for panoramas of the Old Town.

Rome: It’s really a discomfort to obtain to Rome from the cruise port of Civitavecchia by bus or train, however it deserves it to experience the Eternal City firsthand. Tour the Vatican and Sistine Chapel at St. Peter’s Cathedral, go back in time at the Colosseum and Roman Forum, climb up the Spanish Steps, toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and twist with the Borghese Gardens. When your feet break down, relax with a gelato or plate of pasta.

Rhodes: The historical port of Rhodes no more has a Colossus, however that does not eliminate its allure. Ensconced within old rock wall surfaces, the island’s Old Town is quickly walkable, made up of rock roads lined with dining establishments and shops housed in frameworks going back to the 14th century. If purchasing isn’t your point, maintain strolling up until you get to the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, where you can take a scenic tour, or endeavor out to among the city’s coastlines.

Naples: Naples is just one of our preferred ports due to the fact that you have a lot of choices for things to do. It’s the jumping-off place for Italy trips to Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Or, if you desire to discover the city by yourself, probably taking a seat to a lunch of the area’s well-known pizza, it’s a fast stroll right into community from your cruise ship.

Istanbul: Istanbul is the lively city you could not recognize you require to browse through. Serving as both a separation port and port of telephone call on Mediterranean cruise ships, the city uses something for every person: the social symbols of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, extreme purchasing experiences at the Grand Bazaar, Byzantine royal residences, standard Turkish bathrooms (called hammams), tasty food, Bosporus day cruise ships in between Europe and Asia and lots of communities to discover.

Related: Best Mediterranean cruise tips to improve your European holiday

When to publication a Mediterranean cruise

It’s an excellent concept to publication your Mediterranean cruise early, also 9 to one year ahead of time. You can make the most of very early reservation discount rates and promos and have the largest option of readily available cabins and collections and eating times (if relevant). An very early reservation is excellent if you’re planning on utilizing miles to publication your trips or factors for a precruise resort. Look for autumn sales when the existing Mediterranean period is relaxing.

Another wise time to publication a Mediterranean cruise is throughout January or February when cruise lines run their wave period sales, typically with added free offers tossed right into the expense of the cruising. You could discover final bargains on springtime cruise ships to Europe or still be taken into consideration early for autumn itineraries.

Related: When is the very best time to publication a cruise?

What to induce a Mediterranean cruise

The Mediterranean area has a pleasant environment, however it still obtains cool in springtime and autumn and can be extremely warm in summer season. Check the weather condition prior to your sail day, and pack for the anticipated temperature levels — with layers, in situation the forecasters are incorrect and it’s unseasonably warm or chilly.

You’ll most likely do a bargain of strolling on a Mediterranean cruise, so an excellent set of strolling footwear is a must. Bonus if you can discover charming choices you can endure sea days or tennis shoes that can do dual responsibility in the ship’s fitness center.

If your trips take you to spiritual websites, you could require a moderate attire that covers shoulders, arms and knees. Ladies, a stole is a functional alternative you can throw over your shoulders (or hair, if requirement be), usage for heat with your strappy official evening outfit or put on as a covering on the aircraft.

Of training course, North Americans taking Mediterranean cruise getaways will certainly require a ticket to fly to and from their ship’s separation and arrival ports.

Related: Mediterranean cruise packaging listing: What to pack when travelling Europe

Bottom line

The Mediterranean is a fantastic area to cruise, and a cruising there is a terrific intro to Europe for tourists that have actually never ever been. The differed selections of itineraries, cruise lines and ships can be frightening, however felt confident, you can not truly fail with any one of them. Just recognize that as soon as you go, you could want to return — either to see a port you liked a lot more extensive on a land holiday or to sail to the Mediterranean nations you missed on your initial go-round.

Planning a cruise? Start with these tales:

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