So you have decided to answer the call to cruise the most picture-perfect and calm seas in the world, the glorious Mediterranean. And who can blame you? A Mediterranean cruise is perfect for seasoned and first-time cruisers who want to sample the culture, beauty and history of Mediterranean destinations in one convenient trip. So, if sunbathing in Greece, exploring Pompeii and dining in Spain all have spots on your bucket list, you can find a cruise to cover them all.
At first, a Mediterranean cruise can feel a little intimidating, especially since there’s so much to see and do. But at Flight Centre, we are excited to help you choose the right cruise for you and advise you on what to expect.
Why cruise the Mediterranean?
A cruise is an ideal way to see many different Mediterranean countries in one voyage without worrying about how you’ll travel to each city or country or where you’ll be staying. Just step on board, unpack once and see the Med. Imagine this; a cruise itinerary might include stops in Greece, Portugal, and Spain or take you from Rome to Athens and stop at Sicily along the way. And the beauty of the Med is this; as many ports are close to one another, you may visit as many as five different countries in a week.
Where to cruise in the Mediterranean?
The Mediterranean region is made up of over 20 countries, and ports include everything from rocky outcrops to glittering cities. It’s a destination of contrasts, where travellers go to indulge in the freshest seafood or shop the latest fashions steps away from ancient ruins and medieval churches.
With so much choice available, how do you decide where to go?
To ensure you have the most gratifying cruise holiday possible, consider the areas you want to visit most. For example, are you a history buff that is intrigued to see the ruins in Greece? Consider a cruise that takes you to all of the Greek wonders. Or maybe you dream of celebrating la dolce vitae. If so, a cruise that stops in Italy may be perfect for you.
To help you narrow your options, here are a few Mediterranean destinations that are sure to satisfy your travel yearnings:
Athens: From its ancient heart around the Acropolis to swanky inner-city districts such as Kolonaki, a visit to Athens lays bare the span of Western civilisation. The city’s streets are open museums of the art and architecture of countless eras: classical Greece and Rome, the Byzantine age and the Ottoman conquest. The tumultuous history of the birthplace of democracy and modern philosophy serves as a stark reminder of Europe’s unending quest for peace and stability. But never fear, you can quickly restore your holiday spirit just as the ancients did, and head for the Greek islands.
Rome: Italy’s ancient capital, Rome, is full of history, culture and, of course, food. Travel back in time with a visit to the Colosseum, one of the largest amphitheatres ever built, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. Within Rome, you’ll also find the world’s smallest city, the Vatican, blessed with the Sistine Chapel and its harmonious Renaissance architecture.
Venice: Venice is the epitome of romantic cities, and where you’ll find gothic architecture built on misty emerald waters. Glide through the fairy-tale-like city aboard a gondola, and be captivated by the history of Venice! If you love history, food and photographic backdrops, Venice has it all.
Lisbon and Madrid: In this land of party lovers, you’d have to be hiding under a giant ladrillo not to be caught up in the revelry of a Spanish festival. From the La Merce Festival in Barcelona to honour the city’s patron saint, to Madrid’s summertime San Cayetano festivities, plus throwing tomatoes at La Tomatina, or a wine fight at the Haro Wine Festival, Spain is a sea of celebration. And if sandy beaches, exciting cuisine and world-class museums make up a dream vacation for you, you’ll be thrilled when your ship anchors in Lisbon — Portugal’s vibrant capital city.
Dubrovnik: You’ll find everything you could want in a medieval city along the coastline of Croatia’s Dubrovnik. Popular for its spectacular seafront location on the Dalmatian Coast, coupled with its evocative and historic Old Town district, Dubrovnik is home to Croatia's artistic and intellectual elite and offers numerous cultural activities and festivals. From kayaking sapphire waters to discovering its history and cuisine, Dubrovnik is perfect for an experience that combines Croatian culture and Mediterranean bliss.
Barcelona: Consider a cruise that includes Barcelona for its jaw-dropping architecture, mouth-watering tapas or that cool, Mediterranean atmosphere. Barcelona is brimming with contagious energy you may not want to skip.
When to cruise the Mediterranean?
After you know where you want to go, you need to figure out when. First, think about what’s most important to you. Do you need to spend days sunbathing on the beach or swimming in those crystal clear waters? If warm, sunny weather is important to you, you may want to cruise during peak season, which typically runs from May through August. Although you can expect crowds, especially during July and August, you’ll have beautiful beach weather to enjoy.
If you prefer travelling during the low season when ports and attractions are less crowded, consider exploring the Mediterranean in March, April, September or October. The early spring months are pleasantly warm, with fewer crowds and ideal weather for hiking or strolling through ancient cities. The fall months offer cooler weather and shorter days, but it’ll be comfortable enough for tourist attractions. You can also enjoy food and wine festivals throughout the region during the fall.
It may be difficult to find Mediterranean cruises in the winter when the water can be rough, temperatures drop and rainy weather prevents sightseeing. However, a wintertime cruise means the fewest crowds. If peace and solitude are most important to you, you might prefer a cruise in the late fall or winter.
Choosing your Mediterranean cruise
Other than figuring out where and when you want to travel, you’ll want to consider a few more factors, such as:
Weather: You want to feel comfortable as you explore different sites, so consider what the weather will be like when and where you choose to go. If you want to avoid intense heat but have your heart set on Greece, for example, consider going there in the spring or autumn when the heat is not as stifling.
Leave: How much time do you have off to cruise? The average Mediterranean cruise is seven days, while some can last two months or longer. You can narrow your options quickly if you only have a set amount of time available.
Shore excursions and sightseeing: Once you have a list of potential cruises, write down the different ports and excursions offered on each cruise. Consider the places you feel you must visit and the ones you can live without. For example, if you decided you want to sail to Rome, decide whether it’s more important to visit Sicily or Barcelona along the way. Investigate each itinerary and weigh the pros and cons.
Cultural experiences: One of the best parts of travelling is having new cultural experiences. Consider the type of cultural experiences you long for and how to fit them into your cruise. If you want to explore a country’s culture through their art, you might choose a cruise that takes you to a vibrant city like Barcelona, where you can visit museums. If you prefer a more immersive experience, consider a cruise that’ll sail you to uncrowded seaside villages where you can take it at your own pace and experience life like a local. Also, think about cultural events you may wish to attend, like festivals or other celebrations.
Research your cruises and narrow down your top choices. You may not be able to see it all in one journey, but remember — you can always cruise again.
Here’s what you can expect on your cruise before and after you step aboard
Planning: Expect to make a packing list to ensure you don’t forget any necessities and know that you’ll need to arrange transportation to and from the departure port. It may be a good idea to spend a day or two in the city where you’ll embark. That way, if your flight runs late, you can still make it to your cruise on time. Also, plan your excursions ahead of time, including booking any tours in advance, and know what you wish to do at each port.
Cashless system: You won’t need to use cash to pay for anything on board, as most cruises run on a cashless system. Instead, any extra charges will go to your account. Your cruise line can explain everything that’s included with your cruise ticket and items or services that cost extra.
Exquisite cuisine: To some travellers, cruising is all about the food. You can look forward to seemingly endless food options and 24-hour room service when you cruise.
Exceptional service: Cruises are designed to make guests feel pampered, comfortable and satisfied. No matter what cruise operator, cruise staff will go the extra mile to make passengers happy.
Relaxation: A cruise is ultimately about relaxing, slowing down and savouring the finer things in life. So, prepare to leave your worries at home and set your soul on fire.
Lastly, expect to be wowed! A Mediterranean cruise will take you to sun-drenched cities set on ancient seaside cliffs, all surrounded by an iridescent sparkle.
Browse Flight Centre’s Mediterranean cruises
Whether you’ve never cruised before or have sailed the Mediterranean dozens of times, you could spend a lifetime exploring this part of the world. At Flight Centre, we know the Mediterranean region is unlike anywhere else. We take our travellers to a variety of destinations to provide a unique, enriching travel experience like no other.
If you’re ready to experience the beauty of the Mediterranean in person, get chatting to one of our travel experts today!