Cruise news / Why cruising the Mediterranean is magical
From the lavender fields of Provence to the spice-scented souks of Tangier, a western Mediterranean cruise is an experience you’ll never forget.
Marrying rich history and fascinatingculture with dazzling natural beauty,the western Mediterranean is perfectfor first-time cruisers wanting to diptheir toe in the water.
Not only dothese sailings take in many ofEurope’s most famous landmarks,from the Roman Colosseum to theboulevards of Cannes, but they tick offa string of superlative cities, as well as the French andItalian Rivieras, making them great value for money.
While the Med is always the focus, these fabulousitineraries can range as far as Portugal or even NorthAfrica. And best of all, you can time-travel throughcenturies of history in a matter of days, discoveringMalta’s megalithic temples and drinking in therenaissance glories of Italy.
Lasting anywhere from five to 14 nights, voyagestend to be city-centric, often overnighting in port, andthe most popular week-long itineraries typically sailround-trip from Rome or Barcelona.
There’s a Medcruise for every budget, too, from the wallet-friendlymega-ships of MSC to the six-star luxury of RegentSeven Seas.
And while April to October is the mainsailing season, an increasing number of cruisecompanies are hosting year-round voyages.
The options are almost endless, so turn the page andtake your pick...
Morocco - great for culture and shopping
The only African country to border boththe Atlantic Ocean and theMediterranean, Morocco is anintoxicating blend of African, Araband European cultures. And you
can experience the best of its vibrantmedinas, scented souks and tastytagines on a port call.
Overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar,and visible from Spain on a clear day,lies Tangier. Founded in ancient timesby Phoenician traders, and dubbed‘The White City’ after its whitewashedhillside medina, Tangier was a meccafor artists and intellectuals in the 1950sand 60s.
It’s still a magnet for visitorstoday, and in just one afternoon youcan tick off the city’s 15th-centuryfortified ramparts, the gloriouslyscented Mendoubia Gardens and theUNESCO-listed Hercules Caves – aunique archaeological site reachablevia a 15-minute taxi ride.
Despite its position on Morocco’sAtlantic Coast, Casablanca is includedin many a western Med cruise itinerary.Made famous by the classic filmstarring Humphrey Bogart, Morocco’smost populous city offers urbanbeaches, palm-lined 20th-centuryboulevards and an atmospheric ArtDeco district that transports you
back to its French colonial past.
But if time is pressing, the onemust-see monument in Casablanca –if not in all of Morocco – is the HassanII Mosque. Gleaming white in thesunshine, and filled with stunningmosaic decoration, this immensebuilding – completed in 1993 – canaccommodate 25,000 worshippersbeneath its retractable roof.
France - great for cuisine and glamour
From its picturesque squares andpastoral landscapes to its mouth-watering markets and world-famouswines, France’s Mediterraneancoastline is many holidaymakers’idea of heaven.
Most itineraries include Nice, longknown as the gateway to the glamorousRiviera. Larger cruise ships dock atnearby Villefranche, but that’s no more than a 10-minute cab ride fromthe centre of town, so hop ashore andpeople-watch in the pretty PlaceMassena, go on a baroque church-crawlin the Old Town, or marvel at artisticmasterpieces in the museums dedicatedto Matisse and Marc Chagall.
A little way along the coast you’llfind cosmopolitan Cannes. Turnedinto a holiday resort by British visitorsin Victorian times, it’s a town of twohalves. If you’re feeling flush, you canstroll along its seafront promenade,known as La Croisette, past high-endboutiques (think Gucci, Prada andChanel). Alternatively, you can get
lost among ancient frescoes in themedieval quarter of Le Suquet.
Another classic port of call isMarseille, where African and Frenchcultures colourfully intertwine. As wellas claiming 300 sunshine days a year,its very own Notre-Dame cathedral anda 2,400-year-old harbour, this greatmaritime city serves up a famous fishstew (bouillabaisse), and a fiery localaniseed liqueur (pastis de Marseille).
Marseille is also the gateway tolavender-scented Provence, thatstoried corner of southeastern Francewhere charming hilltop villagesmeander among Roman ruins. Andsome voyages venture even furthersouth to the craggy isle of Corsica,birthplace of Napoleon and nowa magnet for outdoor adventurers.
Portugal - great for culture and history
Yes, we do know our geography, and no,Portugal is not on the Med. ButEurope’s westernmost country is oftenincluded in sailings to the region, andit’s easy to see why. At one time thegreatest maritime nation on earth, itblends enthralling history and fine foodwith beaches to rival any in the world.
Lisbon, built where the Tagus Rivermeets the Atlantic, feels like an open-air museum, and Portugal’s hilly capitalis best appreciated from one of its manymiradouros (viewpoints).
Look down andyou’ll see vintage yellow trams trundlingfrom one historic neighbourhood to thenext, whilst the city’s UNESCO-listedwaterfront is crowded with monumentsto the 15th-century Golden Age ofPortuguese navigators.
Elsewhere you’ll find clusters of warehouses-turned-microbreweries, not to mentiona flourishing street-art scene.
A couple of hundred miles further upthe coast lies Porto, the city that lent itsname to the country itself, and to itsfamous fortified wine. Perched on thesteep banks of the River Douro, this2,000-year-old northern strongholdcharms with its Romanesque andGothic architecture, intricately tiledchurches, renowned wineries andgorgeous terrace bars. And right on the doorstep is a smattering of smallfishing towns that you can cycle to or visit as part of an organised tour.
Monaco - great for style and glamour
Situated a dozen miles from the city of Nice and barely nine miles from theItalian border, this fairytale principalityis the world’s second-smallestindependent state after the Vatican.
Famous for its F1 Grand Prix, thescores of superyachts that line itsharbour, and for being a tax haven,this moneyed microstate has a wealthof cultural riches, too. You’ll discoverthese among the medieval streets ofMonaco’s charming Old Town, set ona 200ft promontory overlooking the sea.
Also known as The Rock, this isthe site of the Prince’s Palace– oncehome to Hollywood star Grace Kelly,aka Princess Grace of Monaco. Youcan tour the State Apartments andthe nearby Cathedral, then dress toimpress at the famous Casino deMonte-Carlo (don’t even try to enterwearing shorts or trainers).
Other highlights include a spectaculartrio of seafront gardens and theOceanographic Museum, also knownas the Jacques Cousteau Museum.Clinging to the cliffs, this neo-baroquebeauty was founded in 1910 by PrinceAlbert I, dubbed ‘the Navigator Prince’.
Spain - great for beaches and late nights
Stretching more than a thousand milesfrom Catalonia to Cadiz, Spain’ssun-kissed Mediterranean coastline isone of the longest in Europe. As for thecountry’s port cities, they’re a headycocktail of world-class art, gloriouslygolden beaches and high-end cuisine.
A fixture on most itineraries, thestunning seaside city of Barcelona is alive with activity 24/7.
Here you can ride a cablecar to a 17th-centurycastle, shop till you drop on La Rambla,make a pilgrimage to Gaudi’s SagradaFamilia – the great architect’sunfinished ecclesiastical masterpiece – then time-travel back to the MiddleAges in the atmospheric GothicQuarter. And if you’re lucky enough tobe overnighting in port, Barcelona’sbars and clubs are legendary.
A little more than 200 miles furthersouth, smack in the centre of Spain’s Mediterranean coastline, lies Valencia. Known as the birthplace of paella,this city of superlatives also featuresEurope’s biggest aquarium and largestinner-city park, as well as the Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts – a futuristicperformance venue by locally borncelebrity architect Santiago Calatrava.
From Valencia, a few hours’ cruisingbrings you to the island of Mallorca –a Balearic paradise of golden beachesthat also offers great hiking in itsmountainous interior, not to mentionMichelin-starred restaurants andhistoric coastal castles.
Malta - great for architecture and history
Rising from the shimmering seabetween Sicily and Tunisia, thisEnglish-speaking three-islandarchipelago offers 130 miles of gorgeouscoastline to explore, along with a historythat predates the pyramids.
Despite suffering intense bombingduring the Second World War, Maltaboasts a wealth of pristine UNESCO-listed treasures, and from world-classwreck-diving and dreamy lagoons toancient walled cities and mysteriousmegalithic temples, there’s somethingto thrill every visitor.
Cruise ships enter one of the world’smost spectacular natural harbours inthe Maltese capital Valletta, a jewel-like city where ornate palaces and gildedcathedrals vie for your attention.Must-sees include the baroque TeatruManoel – one of the world’s oldesttheatres – and Caravaggio’s Beheadingof St John the Baptist, a celebratedmasterpiece that hangs on publicview in St John’s Cathedral.
Separated from the main island by a three-mile channel, Gozo is Malta’srockier and more rural sister, with acoastline of sleepy bays and family-runharbourside restaurants. Thought tobe the inspiration for Calypso’s isle in Homer’s Odyssey, it’s also home tothe amazing 5,000-year-old Ggantijaneolithic temples, among the oldestmanmade structures on earth.
Meanwhile, on car-free Comino – atiny islet sandwiched between Gozo and Malta – the famous Blue Lagoonoffers crystal-clear waters, perfect forswimming, snorkelling and exploringthe nearby sea caves.
Italy - great for cuisine and culture
With its ‘boot’ extending far into the Mediterranean Sea, Italyoffers sun-blessed coastlines and atraveller’s dream of panoramic vistas,postcard-perfect villages and medievalcities. And La dolce vita comes in many forms– from peering into the crater of MountVesuvius to savouring artisan gelato inthe gracious squares of Pisa.
Scores of Mediterranean cruisescall at Civitavecchia, the cruise port for Rome, and from here it’s just anhour by bus or train to the Eternal City itself, where 3,000 years of historyhave left their mark in form of theColosseum, the Roman Forum, thebohemian neighbourhood of Trastevereand Michelangelo’s stunning frescoesin the Sistine Chapel.
No more than 140 miles to the south,but somehow part of a different world,lies the colourful port city of Naples.This is your gateway to lemon-scentedSorrento, the ghostly ruins of Pompeiiand the achingly beautiful Amalfi Coast.It’s also the ferry terminal for Capri,the delightful island where Romanemperors once holidayed, and wherethe super-rich keep villas to this day.
Sailing north again brings you toLivorno, within striking distance ofglorious Pisa. A major maritime powerin its day, Pisa is now an architecturalshowpiece, with its medieval towerhomes, gleaming white Romanesquecathedral and – of course – thatfamously canted campanile.
Italy’s fourth major Mediterraneanport is Genoa, nearer the Frenchborder, where a trip ashore can takein the gorgeous Italian Riviera andthe famous pastel-coloured hilltophomes of Portofino.
Most recent articles
Is the Mediterranean sea calm for cruising? ›
Due to land surrounding, the sea is very calm and you can enjoy the cruise. The Mediterranean weather is very hot and dry. It is not advisable to visit the place in hot summers but other seasons are very good. If you want to get rid of winters, visit this area in winters and enjoy the soothing winters while cruising.What is the importance of cruising? ›
According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the cruise sector supports 1.2 million jobs and contributes US$150 billion to the global economy every year.Why do people love cruising so much? ›
To many people, cruising is fun. It's an opportunity for you to forget about work or a packed schedule and get back in touch with your playful side. In general, cruises are designed for the enjoyment of its passengers and often include nightly entertainment and an assortment of onboard activities.Is Mediterranean sea rough for cruising? ›
The Mediterranean can be surprisingly rough for such a seemingly sheltered sea. It tends to be roughest in autumn and winter when the winds are strongest and there is a higher chance of storms. Rough seas can happen at any time though and spring and summer cruise passengers might experience some rough seas.What is the calmest section of a cruise ship? ›
You want to be as close to the pivot point as possible to feel the least movement. Avoid cabins near the front (bow) or back (stern) and on decks higher than the middle deck of the ship. So, on a ship with fourteen passenger decks, your best options are below deck seven.What makes cruises better than any other vacation? ›
Instead of long drives or plane rides to reach your destination, cruises enable you to relax and enjoy while getting where you want to go. When you're vacationing on a cruise ship, you have the freedom to eat, drink and enjoy the trip to your port of call!Why cruising is the best way to travel? ›
Ultimately, cruises are great for enjoying a varied, fulfilling experience. They give you a chance to explore the world in more depth but without committing to a sole location – perfect if you want to travel but without the worry of organising your trip or the stress of train and bus travel between locations.What are the three other reasons for taking a cruise? ›
- Stress-Free Planning Means I Want to Take a Cruise. ...
- Enjoy Multiple Destinations While Only Unpacking Once. ...
- Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation. ...
- Great Value Cruises. ...
- Cruise Fun for Everyone with Plenty of Onboard Options. ...
- So Many Choices Leads to Choosing Cruising.
- GLOBAL EXPLORERS.
- RELAXATION SEEKERS.
- HOPELESS ROMANTICS.
- SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES.
- THE OPEN-MINDED.
- Hassle-Free Relaxation. Check in and instantly check out from scheduled responsibilities other than planning your next day in port. ...
- Unpack Just Once. ...
- A Gangway to the World. ...
- The Value Equation. ...
- Wining and Dining. ...
- Wellness on the Water. ...
- Take the Kids. ...
- Invitation-Only Events.
What are the major motivation that trigger visitors to take a cruise? ›
Cruise passengers take part in cruise ship holiday for various reasons including relaxation, socialization, convenience, luxury, escape from usual hustle and bustle of life, and amenities/services are the top motivating factors of cruise travelers respectively   . ...Is Mediterranean cruise smooth? ›
Rough Waters: Cruise travelers might experience rough seas in several places in Europe. The biggest offender is the Mediterranean, which tends to be roughest in the fall and winter, due to winds and storms. However, avid cruisers have experienced rough seas in the spring and summer, so be prepared for anything.Is it safe to take a cruise in the Mediterranean? ›
We would like to put the safety issue to rest once and for all – there are no personal safety issues that would prevent anyone from booking a private yacht charter in any of the popular cruising destinations in the Mediterranean at this time.What is the smoothest area on a cruise ship? ›
The lower and more central you are in a ship, the less roll and sway you will feel. Even if you choose a balcony room, choose a low level and a room closest to the ship's center. The higher decks and cabins at the front (forward) or back (aft) of the ship will rock and roll the most.Where should you not stay on a cruise? ›
- Cabins with obstructed views. ...
- Cabins with a connecting door. ...
- Those that are close to the lifts or stairs. ...
- Staterooms that are too far from the lifts or stairs. ...
- Cabins near the laundry room. ...
- Beware of cabins with little privacy. ...
- Staterooms directly below public and entertainment areas.
For optimal weather and adventures aplenty, the best time to cruise the Mediterranean is in the spring, summer or fall season, from early April through late November. During the winter, many locals close up shop, making it difficult for travelers to enjoy the full Mediterranean experience.Is the front or back of a cruise ship worse? ›
The forward is subject to the most movement out of anywhere on a ship. And the higher the deck, the more pronounced that rolling and swaying motion tends to feel. Movement at the aft is a bit less drastic than the forward, but still isn't the most stable place for those who are prone to seasickness.Which side of cruise ship is best for Mediterranean? ›
Which side of the ship is best for Mediterranean cruises? Most Mediterranean cruises sail at night and there isn't much land to see, so the consensus for most cruise passengers is that the side of the ship doesn't really matter.What is the number 1 cruise line? ›
- Norwegian Cruise Line. Score 78.98. MSC Cruises. ...
- Royal Caribbean International. Score 72.49. Carnival Cruise Line. ...
- P&O Cruises. Score 76.61. Azamara. ...
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Score 76.63. Star Clippers. ...
- Grand Circle Cruise Line. Score 89.47. ...
- Atlas Ocean Voyages. Score 88.78.
The best cruise ship deck for many people is a lower deck because less movement will be felt there. However, for the best views, you should choose a higher deck. If you want to avoid taking the elevator, a mid-level deck would be best.
Is the Mediterranean sea ever rough? ›
The Mediterranean Sea does occasionally get rough. The rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea are mostly due to high winds and large storms. The rough waters in this sea are not usually due to tides. The Mediterranean Sea has very limited tides because it is mostly landlocked.What are the disadvantages of the Mediterranean sea? ›
- Too shallow to travel by.
- Swamps and marshes attracts mosquitos and insects carrying diseases.
The best time to take a Mediterranean cruise, however, is in the spring (May-June) or fall (September-October). Temperatures are comfortably warm, the sun is bright, and the crowds are far, far fewer than in July and August.Why are there no waves in the Mediterranean? ›
As you probably know, the Mediterranean Sea is similar to a salty lake, so basically the huge difference between the ocean and the Med is the consistency of swell and height of the waves. There is not enough fetch, so low pressure can pass through without making any effect on the coast.Which is rougher Atlantic or Pacific? ›
The Pacific coast has higher waves and stronger winds than the Atlantic. Ocean temperatures here are far colder, too: cold currents stream down from the North Pacific Drift.Which is the roughest ocean in the world? ›
From the tip of the South American continent to the northernmost shores of Antarctica: here's where you'll find the reputed roughest sea-passage in the world.Why do Mediterraneans live longer? ›
This is because olive oil intake and plant-rich eating continue to be credited with improving health and reducing risk for many chronic diseases down the road. A 2022 study published in PLOS Medicine suggested that adopting a Mediterranean diet can even add years—up to a decade—to your life!Why are Mediterranean waters so clear? ›
Water is exchanged at the slowest of rates making the med as clear as a swarovski crystal. Limited water exchange = limited food for tiny organisms called phytoplankton aka algae, and it's these little dudes who play the lead role in water clarity. The Mediterranean is classified as “oligotrophic”.What are 3 facts about the Mediterranean sea? ›
The Water volume of the Mediterranean Sea is 3,750,000 km3 (900,000 cu mi). The width of the Mediterranean Sea is 1600 km with an average depth of 1500m (4900 ft) and its maximum depth is 5267 m (7280 ft). The coastline of the Mediterranean sea extends for 27,600 miles (46,000 kilometers).What is the cheapest month to go on a Mediterranean cruise? ›
Cheap Mediterranean Cruises
The months of October through April offer the best prices, with early fall being the cheapest time of year to cruise. What is this? In the autumn, the weather is much more pleasant, and the ports are less crowded. Being the off-season, you can also experience rain.
How big of a boat do you need to sail the Mediterranean? ›
You don't need a big ocean going yacht to do it either - 38-42 feet of standard production boat is all you need, and there is a huge number of such boats for well under NZ$100K for sale all around the Med.Is it cold at night on a Mediterranean cruise? ›
Average temperatures lurk around the upper 50s and low 60s during the day, but they often plunge at night to as low as the 40s. Note, also, that a Med cruise encompasses Eastern and Western Med, and the weather will generally be better in the east. The sea can be rough.Is it better to be on higher or lower deck on cruise ship? ›
The higher you are on a cruise ship, the more motion you'll feel. If you're trying to avoid elevator rides or too many stairs, keep in mind how many decks there might be between your cabin and the main areas of activity (dining rooms, theater, atrium, etc.).Where is the quietest place on a cruise ship? ›
Rear-facing balcony cabins are among the best balcony cabins on any ship. Often, their balconies are bigger than balconies on side-facing cabins and they also feel quiet. There are far fewer balcony cabins at the back of a ship than on the sides of a ship, so you don't hear a lot of noise from your neighbors.