The Mediterranean is usually thought of in two different geographical areas with Italy as the dividing line.
The islands and ports along the southern coast of Spain and France, plus Italy, are considered the Western Mediterranean and most cruises will depart from and return to Barcelona or Rome.
Italy is the focal point of every Mediterranean itinerary and no visit to Venice would be complete without a romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal and a walk through St. Mark’s Square. Nearby you’ll find the town of Murano, famous for its handblown Venetian glass.
In Naples, drive the fabulous Amalfi Coast on your way to visit the ruins of Pompeii, and when in Florence, you’ll find the artistic wonders of the Renaissance. A city tour of Rome will cover many famous landmarks such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, plus most people are also interested in a visit to Vatican and the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo’s incredible fresco ceiling.
In France you’ll find Monte Carlo, one of the wealthiest towns in the world with its beautiful seaside landscapes and the Grand Casino is a must-see attraction. Barcelona’s Las Ramblas is one of the most famous walking areas in Europe, and be sure to pay a visit to the Picasso Museum.
The Eastern Mediterranean cruises focus on Italy, Greece, Turkey and cities along the Adriatic. These itineraries typically depart from or return to Rome, Venice and Athens.
Kusadasi, Turkey is the point of departure for tours to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, and every trip to Istanbul should include a visit to the Blue Mosque and extra time for shopping, and haggling, in one of the many bazaars.
In addition to Athens and Istanbul, cruise itineraries that concentrate on the Greek Islands will offer the colorful, charming white-washed villages on the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Plus, there are plenty of quaint villages with medieval streets, fascinating ancient ruins and gorgeous beaches in Rhodes, Katakolon and Corfu
When to Travel:
Peak season (June to August)
Advantages: Least rain. Most itineraries. Period dovetails with school holidays.
Disadvantages: Ports and popular attractions are packed with tourists. Temperatures can be uncomfortably hot. Cruise and air rates are their highest. Ship, itinerary and cabin availability are usually scarce or non-existent (unless you book early).
Off Season (Mid-April to May / September to mid-October)
Advantages: Uncrowded ports and attractions. Lower cruise and air rates. Less competition for bookings. Comfortable temperatures. more Tranquil cruising with few children
Disadvantages: Conflict for families with school-age children.
Winter season (Mid-October to mid-April)
Advantages:Temperatures are comfortable for visiting Madeira, Canary Islands, Morocco, and Egypt.
Disadvantages: Chilly or frigid in northern Mediterranean ports.
Most cruises to the Mediterranean range between 7 and 14 nights, with local departure cruises from Southampton or Dover in the UK. Mediterranean cruises can depart from and return to just about any port, with the largest cities being the most popular. Look for both round-trip and one-way itineraries from Barcelona, Rome (Civitavecchia), Venice, Athens and Istanbul which are also ideal for cruise and stay holidays. Almost all major cruise lines offer cruises to Mediterranean ports