How Do We Get To Port Do I Need To Take Some Kind Of Transportation To The Popular Sights
Barcelona’s city center is an hour walk from the port. – Photo by Shutterstock
At major embarkation ports like Barcelona, Venice, and Civitavecchia , your ship will dock right at the pier. But at many other ports, your ship might anchor in the harbor and you’ll board a tender that takes you to the cruise terminal. That’s especially true if you’ve booked passage on a very large ship that isn’t able to dock at smaller ports.
From the cruise terminal, you may be able to walk to the center of town or take local transportation. Luxury lines usually offer complimentary transportation from the tender drop-off to the center of town, which is usually not far.
A few caveats exist, though. Some Mediterranean itineraries have Florence as a port of call, but the nearest cruise terminal to Florence is Livorno, so you’ll need to travel 70 minutes from there to the sights in Florence. Likewise, Civitavecchia is the cruise terminal for Rome, which is an 80 minute drive away. In most other cases, however, your cruise ship will get you very close to the action.
What To Expect On Your First Mediterranean Cruise
If you know what to expect and how to plan, youll enjoy smooth sailing from beginning to end. Heres what you can expect on your first cruise before and after you step aboard:
Lastly, expect to be awe-struck. A Mediterranean cruise will take you to sun-drenched cities set on ancient seaside cliffs, all surrounded by an iridescent sea. You wont believe your eyes until you step off the ship and realize no, youre not dreaming.
Mediterranean Cruises: Sail To Italy Spain & Greece
Do you dream about walking through the picturesque, winding streets of Santorini, Greece? Perhaps, you want to make a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy or walk the red carpet in Cannes, France. Maybe the thought of seeing La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain sparks your excitement. What if you didn’t have to choose just one? Thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line, you can sample the sights, sounds, and flavors of several countries and cultures in one amazing 2022 Mediterranean cruise vacation. Planning your trip of a lifetime is so much easier when you let Norwegian do the work for you.
Simply choose the Mediterranean cruise itinerary of your dreams and you’re set! Norwegian even offers a wide selection of shore excursions in each port. On top of that, Norwegian’s Healthy Sail Panel of global experts makes sure each ship meets all the required health and safety protocols so you can kick back and relax without a care in the world. Not sure when about when to book? Norwegian’s Peace of Mind program gives you the flexibility to change your plans if needed. So, what are you waiting for? Check out these amazing ports and activities on Norwegian’s 2022 Mediterranean cruises.
Ready to start planning? Explore all 2022 Mediterranean cruises.
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Where To Visit In The Mediterranean & How Long
How long is a Mediterranean cruise? Most small ship cruises in the Mediterranean last for 8 days, with longer itineraries either traveling farther than most or making more stops.
Since most itineraries last 8 days, the first step when choosing a Mediterranean small ship cruise is deciding where to visit in the Mediterranean.
Following is an overview of travel regions, with regional notes on the best places to visit in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean can be separated into four broad categories based on where trips operate.
Mediterranean Cruises Travel Tips
- It is recommended to book hotel and other hot spot visits at home online, so you’re ready with your tickets when you arrive.
- Eat like the locals eat and try some of the delicious local foods while you are there.
- The beaches are going to be backed with tourists and residents alike during the summer months, so plan on this.
- Visit during the wine touring months to enjoy some of the local wines made right from the area.
- Do not over schedule yourself because this can be exhausting, and you want to enjoy your time at each port.
- Considering checking to see which currencies each place is using and exchanging yours for some of theirs. This way, you’re prepared to purchase items at markets.
- Choose the cruise line that stops in the places you want to visit.
- Familiarize yourself with what there is to do off the ship prior to going. You can plan ahead and know what to do and where to go.
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Iberian Peninsula Cruises: Spain & Portugal
Cruises along Spain and Portugals southern coasts reveal colorful seaside ports, cobblestone streets, Moorish castles, flavorful food and wine, and brilliant artwork. With its mix of art, food and history, the Iberian Peninsula is top pick for cultural cruises in the Mediterranean.
On the Glories of Spain & Portugal itinerary, take advantage of optional visits to historically rich sites like the Alhambra in Granada and the birthplace of bullfighting. A bonus is adding a UK stamp to your passport while passing through the tiny British territory of Gibraltar.
Featured Mediterranean Land Programs
Sacred Treasures of Greece
From the ancient ruins of Delphi and the Acropolis to the magnificent Meteora Monasteries, you will experience some of Greeceâs most sacred treasures during this extensive 4-day program, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Nestled in the towering rocks of Mt. Parnassus, Delphi transports you to the 6th century BC, while 14th-century monasteries constructed on seemingly inaccessible clifftops have you climbing toward the heavens. Youâll also explore the Acropolis in Athens, arguably the greatest architectural contribution of ancient Greece. In between your tours of these top Greek attractions and monasteries, youâll have time to enjoy the colorful old quarter of Athens, savor delicious Greek cuisine and discover the traditional town of Kalambaka.
- Transfer from the airport to the hotel in Athens
- Deluxe coach for touring
- Accommodation in Athens at the Divani Caravel Hotel or similar
- Accommodation in Kalambaka at the Divani Meteora Hotel or similar
- 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners
- Entrance fees to all sites visited
- Applicable taxes
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Wellness Discovery Tours By Aquamar
Mind, Body & Soul
Our exclusive collection of Wellness Discovery Tours by Aquamar invite you to nourish your mind, body and spirit in hand-picked locales across Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and beyond. Unique and innovative excursions unify culture, alluring destinations and healthy living into memorable and rejuvenating travel experiences. These immersive well-being explorations ashore bring you everything from tai chi in tranquil French gardens to an afternoon at a traditional Vietnamese tea-house.
Where Do Mediterranean Cruises Go
Where Do Mediterranean Cruises Go
The Mediterranean is one of Europes most popular vacation destinations. Filled with rich history, culture, and beauty, it is easy to see why so many travel there. One of the best ways in which to explore this magical area is on a cruise ship. Guests can travel from one region to another easily and seamlessly aboard a luxurious cruise ship. There are a variety of cruise lines that offer trips to the Mediterranean typically divided into east, west and southern regions and each go to different fabulous ports of call.
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Mediterranean Cruises From Venice
If cruising from Venice, you are in for a treat. Venice is a breathtakingly gorgeous city and the perfect place for a romantic rendezvous. It is a very walkable city full of restaurants and shops, and home to the very colourful Murano glass. While in Venice, you won’t want to miss the Piazza San Marco, where this large cathedral is located. You will also want to take a gondola ride through its famous canals. It’s also very impressive to see these large cruise ships navigate through all these little islands through the Grand Canal as you set sail on your adventure.
Best Short Cruise: Celesytal Cruises
Courtesy of Celesytal Cruises
- Ship Name: Celestyal Olympia
- Itinerary: Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Santorini, Piraeus Greece Kusadisi, Turkey
If you dont have time for a longer voyage but want a little taste of Greece, consider Celestyal Cruises which packs a punch with six ports of call on a four-night cruise. The Greek-based cruise line operates the 1,664-passenger Celestyal Olympia, and is all about immersing passengers in Greek culture. Onboard, the entire ship is Greek-themed from décor and food to music. Activities include yoga, dance competitions, Greek language classes, cooking lessons and more but dont expect the over-the-top amenities found on mainstream ships.
Gratuities, unlimited drinks and two excursions are also included in the pricing. For this itinerary, its an acropolis tour of Lindos, the Citadel of the Knights and an ancient Ephesus bus tour.
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What Are The Ships Like And Why Choose One Over The Other
Seabourn Odyssey is one of the smaller ships sailing the Mediterranean – Photo by Seabourn
Since the region is so popular, every cruise line has a ship or several that offers unique itineraries in the Mediterranean.
Traditional, large cruise ships also bring thousands of passengers to some of the world’s most famous ports of call. Look for itineraries from Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa, or MSC Cruises. Smaller ships like those sailed by luxury lines Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Silversea and Seabourn can anchor in tiny bays and harbors that the big ships can’t get close to.
If you’ve already seen the major cities of Europe, a smaller ship can take you to the more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Luxury cruise ships tend to overnight in major ports like Barcelona and Venice so you can enjoy a more in-depth exploration of the area and even have dinner in port. The newest and largest ships can be a good bet for multigenerational families that want every amenity from kids clubs, to a waterslide on the sundeck, to multiple dining venues.
You can also choose an itinerary on a masted sailing ship, such as one from Star Clippers, or a yacht . SeaDream I and II, as well as Crystal Esprit, are low-passenger count yachts, or you can try a mega-yacht, such as those from Windstar Cruises or Ponant.
Best Historical Cruise: Voyages To Antiquity
Courtesy of Voyages to Antiquity
- Ship Name: Aegean Odyssey
- Itinerary: Piraeus, Delos, Mykonos, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Karpathos, Nisyros, Rhodes, Santorini, Athens
History buffs who want to learn more about ancient cultures of the Mediterranean ports should consider a cruise with Voyages to Antiquity. The company operates a single ship, the Aegean Odyssey, on longer voyages throughout the Mediterranean region, including the Classical Greece voyage that explores the Greek Islands and comes with a two-night hotel stay in Athens before the cruise. The journey features educational excursions such as the UNESCO World Heritage site of Epidaurus, the deserted isle of Delos, the religious center of the Cyclades and the villages of Karpathos all bundled in the fare. Additionally, the 378-passenger ship has two dining venues, a small spa, library and several lounges.
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What Should I Pack For A Mediterranean Cruise
- Euros a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
- Translation apps on your smartphone so you can communicate with the locals, a credit card with chip technology
- Plug adapter if you have a pre- or post-cruise stay planned at a European hotel
- For Women: a scarf, shawl, or light sweater to cover your shoulders for church mosque visits
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Two bathing suits , a beach cover-up, and a water bottle
Best Budget: Msc Cruises
- Ship Name: MSC Bellissima
- Itinerary: Genoa, Italy Barcelona, Spain
MSC is a mainstream cruise line that specializes in affordable cruises in the Mediterranean region with more than 14 of its vessels cruising there thats nearly the entire fleet. Its newest ship, the MSC Bellissima, sails a series of round-trip cruises from Naples that visits four countries in seven days: Malta, Italy, Spain and France. The Bellissima is also fully-loaded with new innovations, like the worlds first robot cruise assistant, a massive LED dome on the central promenade and digital technology that allows guests to connect with each other onboard. Entertainment ranges from dazzling Cirque du Soleil shows to a desert-themed water park plus, theres 12 different dining options and 20 bars.
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Whens The Best Time To Visit Mediterranean Beaches
If you are all about discovering the best beaches in the Mediterranean, youll want to book your cruise when the weathers hot and the sunshine endless.
The best time to book a cruise for perfectly warm, sunny days include the months of July and August. However, keep in mind that this is one of the more crowded times of year to visit. That being said, if youre spending your days in port lounging on a beach chair next to gorgeous turquoise water, were guessing you wont really care.
Whens The Best Time To Visit The Mediterranean For Wine Tastings
If you want to enjoy wine tastings while in port during your Mediterranean cruise, tasting rooms are usually open for visitors during the entire cruise season. However, wine aficionados looking for a truly special time to visit the Mediterranean should book their cruise during wine harvest season in September and October, when the grapes become ripe and ready for fermentation.
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During harvest time, Celebrity Cruises can arrange a wine-focused group shore excursion or private journey, where youll be able to tour wineries and get an in-depth look at the harvesting process, which may include an afternoon of grape picking and wine tasting.
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Mediterranean Cruises: Experiences Of Our Visitors
Weather Rating: 5 stars Excellent
We made a 10 day Mediterranean cruise with my ship 3 in Sept. 2016. Only in La Spezia it rained continuously and briefly in Rome. Otherwise only sun up to 30 degrees.
Weather Rating: 5 stars Excellent
The first night there was a massive storm and blue bags everywhere, but afterwards only sun, great weather. Beautiful sunsets and sunrises, just beautiful.
Weather Rating: 5 stars Excellent
We were in Greece, Italy and Marseille. Anywhere from 20 to 25 degrees. Just once rain in Greece.
Weather Rating: 4 stars Good
On our first cruise a dream cruise on the AIDAperla from Barcelona via Palma, Corsica, Rome, Livorno and back with the beautiful AIDAperla. During the trip from Corsica to Rome, the weather was quite rough. The crew had everything under control and we always felt very well taken care of.
Weather Rating: 5 stars Excellent
The weather was simply super in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as the destinations would be more than worth seeing.
Weather Rating: 5 stars Excellent
Partially rainy, cool and very windy, with a really autumnal touch.
Weather Rating: 2 stars Tricky
Whens The Best Time Of Year To Visit The Mediterranean For Families With Kids
This region of Europe is one of the most fun places to go in the summer for families, and the best time of year to visit the Mediterranean is during the school summer break.
For most schools in the United States, summer break runs from the middle of June until the end of August or the beginning of September. Many families often prefer to travel to the Mediterranean in July or during the first half of August in order to enjoy a relaxing vacation while still leaving plenty of time to make it back home and buy school supplies for the new year.
However, if you want to take a family cruise to the Mediterranean while your kids are on summer break but want to avoid going during high season, try to travel during late June or right before the school year begins again in September.
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What Can We Expect To See From The Ship And In Port
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence. – Photo by Shutterstock
From the Ship:
Sailaways from certain Mediterranean ports like Venice and Istanbul are some of the most beautiful in the world. You’ll be treated to magnificent views of some of the most compelling architecture in the world as the sun sets in the background.
Once in Port:
- Culture and/or History: You might find major museums housing collections by European Baroque artists like Rubens and Rembrandt, and Renaissance masters such as da Vinci, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo.
- Art and Architecture: Architectural Wonders, usually in the form of cathedrals and mosques, are also popular tour options in the Mediterranean.
- Beaches and Boutiques: Beautiful beaches are yet another attraction, as are the boutiques and shops selling just about everything, like Murano glass in Venice, marbled paper in Florence, kumquat liqueur in Corfu, and leather handbags in Rome.
Msc Adds Second Ship After Successful Relaunch
After the successful relaunch of the MSC Grandiosa completing 5 cruises without a single reported case of COVID-19, MSC Cruises will add the MSC Magnifica beginning on October 19th in the Mediterranean.
At this time the MSC cruises in the Med are only open to guests who are residents in Schengen countries only.
How MSC Cruises Has Kept Its Ships COVID-19 Free
MSC has very strict health and safety protocols that has allowed the cruise line to successfully resume its operations including COVID-19 testing, protected shore excursions, onboard sanitation and health screenings.
Cruise Ship COVID-19 Requirements For MSC Cruises Passengers:
- Guests coming from high risk countries will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR swab test performed no more than 72 hours before arriving at the ship.
- Allguests will be tested for COVID-19 using a PCR swab test at the terminal before boarding the ship.
- Guests will have temperature checked before entering the terminal.
- Guest will fill out a health questionnaire.
- All shore excursions are protected and controlled with passengers not allowed to go on their own.
- Daily temperature checks
- Guests are encouraged to use face masks in all social areas of the ship.
- Social distancing protocols.
- All guests that go ashore in Malta or Greece will have another PCR swab test performed before disembarking back in Italy.
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