With its sun-drenched coves, dawdling pace of life and endless natural wonders, the Mediterranean is a long-time favourite for cruise-goers across the world. Stretching from Turkey in the east to Spain in the west, this vast sea holds many a beauty spot –and skirts the coast of twenty-one unique countries.
To help you plan your dream trip to the Mediterranean, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to cruising in the region – including information on popular ports, general travel advice and a list of upcoming cruise getaways.
With a vast array of countries located on the shores of the Mediterranean, standard port calls become a true spectacle. Here, we’ve listed three of the Sea’s port highlights to give you a taste of what awaits on a Mediterranean cruise holiday.
Capital of Spain’s sun-baked Catalonia region, Barcelona is one of Europe’s most beautiful and striking cities – thanks in part to the city’s famous son and architect, Antoni Gaudi. Blending gothic with modern, Barcelona comprises a labyrinth of ancient streets that lead to various cafes, restaurants and museums. During your visit, a trip to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church is a must – as is a walk to Las Ramblas; a quaint, tree-lined street in the centre of the city. Follow any sightseeing up with a bowl of paella and a flagon of ice-cold sangria. Perfecto.
Should a visit to Rome be on your cruise Mediterranean cruise itinerary, don the sandals – as you’re in for some serious walking. With more famous historic sites than any other European city – the coliseum, St Peter’s Basilica, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Circus Maximus, Piazza Navona – to name but a few, Rome is a city for those who like to whap out their map and absorb as much history, culture and heritage as they can. During your visit, don’t miss Vatican City, Forum Romanum and the Piazza di Spagna.
Head east from Rome and you’ll reach another European city steeped in history – Athens. A hub for arts, philosophy and culture in the 4th and 5th century, Athens is thought to be one of the world’s oldest cities, and its title as such is still evident in the ancient city today. As you walk the streets of this illustrious city, you’ll meander past buildings that have stood for thousands upon thousands of years – with highlights including Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Whilst cruising the Mediterranean is an exceedingly relaxing experience, choosing an itinerary may not be. With so many destinations to choose from – each offering new things to see and do – the Mediterranean is a poor choice for the indecisive. Here, we’ve listed five destinations not to be missed on your Mediterranean cruise holiday.
Founded by the Romans, Florence flourished during the Italian Renaissance and was home to a glut of famous artists, including Cimabue, Giotto, Andrea Pisano, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – whose work can still be seen in churches, civic buildings and museums throughout the city. Whilst it’s tempting to try cram every art gallery and museum into a single day, leave time to explore the city’s charming Oltrarno Quarter and enjoy a glass of the good stuff in one of Florence’s numerous wine bars.
Don’t Miss: A visit to city’s charming Piazza del Duomo.
Home to many an A-lister, Monaco is at the heart of the French Riviera, and the perfect place to relax, unwind and soak up the smell of wealth. The city – or microstate as it has become known – is made up of five distinct areas including Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo, Fontvielle, Moneghetti and The Condamine, with Monte Carlo being the most famous of the municipalities. Those with money to burn will love Monte Carlo’s famous casino, which is thought to be one of the oldest and most prestigious casino and entertainment venues in the world.
Don’t Miss: Changing of the card at Prince’s Palace
Known for its aquamarine swells and glittering nightlife, the Greek island of Corfu is an ancient place whose citizens are fiercely proud of their cultures and traditions. Known to tourists as the “Sunny Isle”, Corfu is certainly hot, with average summer temperatures raising the mercury above thirty degrees celsius. During your visit, be sure to stop off the Palace of St Michael and the Church of Agios Spyridon. If history’s not your bag, lay your beach towel on the sands of Gylfada Beach.
Don’t Miss: The picture post-card views from the Kanoni coastal walk.
Though one of Europe’s lesser known countries, Montenegro is no less beautiful or cultural than its neighbours. From its tantalising Black Sea beaches to its rugged, uninhabited countryside – Montenegro is one of Europe’s last hidden gems. Should your cruise ship dock in Montenegro, be sure to book an excursion to one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country – including Durmitor, Tara River Canyon and the old city of Kotor.
Don’t Miss: Wild Swimming in the Durmitor National Park.
For those looking for a classic holiday destination that caters for tourists from all walks of life, the sun-kissed island of Mallorca is a must-visit destination. As the largest of the Balearic Islands off the Spanish Coast, Mallorca has become a mecca for tourists – with millions holidaying on the island each year. Go off the beaten track however, and the island still holds some classic Mediterranean charm. The west coast of Mallorca is particularly beautiful, with miles of untouched landscapes interrupted only by the odd sandstone town or village.
Don’t Miss: A relaxing, peaceful journey to the Monasterio de Lluc.
Plan Onshore Excursions: Mediterranean ports can get obscenely busy at peak times, so its vital you plan and book onshore excursions well in advance. Also, be aware that some destinations – such as Rome, Florence and Athens – are difficult to get to from the port, with some ship to city connections taking up to two hours.
Carry Water: As briefly mentioned above, the Mediterranean can be outright blistering during the summer months – so make sure to pack plenty of water, and have some currency to hand during port visits so you can stop to refuel.
Book Trips and Excursions Yourself: One of the best things about cruising the Mediterranean is just how accommodating each destination is for tourists. If you’d like to book a trip or excursion at a particular location, it may be easier and cheaper to do it yourself.
Watch Your Valuables: Unfortunately, the amount of tourists travelling to the Mediterranean attracts plenty of pickpockets and thieves – with Barcelona, Rome and Florence boasting particularly high crime rates. Stay alert and watch your valuables however, and you can enjoy a safe, smooth journey.
Cruise1st Australia Holidays
If you’re looking for sun, sea and sand on your next cruise break, the Mediterranean is a perfect choice. At Cruise1st Australia, we offer a number of cruise breaks to the Mediterranean – here are three of our favourites that are setting sail in the coming months:
Visit Rome, Livorno, Cannes, Palma, Barcelona and Naples on this 9-night cruise getaway.
Departing: 9th November 2015, Rome
Price: From AUS$2239pp
Departing from Rome; discover the natural beauty and ancient traditions of Greece with this 11 night, island hopping adventure.
Departing: 28th October 2015, Rome
Price: From AUS$2378pp
Italy and the Adriatic
Experience the charm of the Italian Riviera, as well as the natural wonders of the Adriatic, with this unforgettable 13 night cruise holiday.
Departing: 29th June 2015, Rome
Price: From AUS$3849pp
To view our complete range of Mediterranean cruise holidays, visit the Cruise1st Australia website or contact our team on 1300 857 345.
Images Sourced Via Flickr Creative Commons and Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Cliub Med UK, Moyan Brenn, Kristoffer Trolle, Chi King, Trish Hartmann, sonderzeichan, Aleksandr Zykov, Michael Button.