The Mediterranean

The Mediterranean is generally divided into two — Mediterranean East and Mediterranean West. A cruise in the east of this region offers a rich mix of history, culture, beaches and cuisines and is an ideal way of seeing more than one iconic city while only having to unpack once.

Eastern Mediterranean


The Eastern Mediterranean, without doubt, provides a wider variety of interests for cruise visitors than any other region in the world. From the sandy beaches of the Greek Islands to the dazzling mosques and palaces of Istanbul, there is something for everyone. Istanbul is also the gateway to the marvellous Black Sea ports, a less-travelled but equally fascinating itinerary. Many itineraries visit the region on a voyage from Southampton whilst the majority operate as fly-cruises, whereby passengers join the ship in Istanbul, Venice, Corfu or another Eastern Mediterranean port.

There are cruise styles and itineraries to meet and exceed every expectation. There are ships which offer a truly European flavour on some of the world's most modern vessels, while British ships of the same size are also very active in the area, alongside smaller lines catering for those seeking a more traditional style ship more suited to British tastes. There are companies which specialise in the more educational aspect of the destination and which explore and utilise the rich historical culture of these regions. It is important to remember that most cruise companies of all sizes have itineraries in the area, so looking at destination can often be the key.

Most itineraries are port intensive and in the islands, especially around Croatia and Greece, it is sometimes possible to make more than one port call in a day. Beach lovers are rarely disappointed but water sports and diving activities are not as plentiful in these waters as they are in the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean.

The area attracts young and more mature passengers alike and although the main season operates between April and October, the region attracts cruise visitors all year round. This is especially the case in the larger ports of call such as Venice, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Athens and Istanbul. Winters can be chilly, with snow in Turkey, Cyprus and the Black Sea, but those who wish to explore the host of museums and palaces will be happy to travel outside the busier summer season.

Western Mediterranean


The Western Mediterranean provides something for everyone in the same way that the cruise operators provide a variety of cruise styles to suit all tastes. During the summer months, and occasionally in the winter, ships depart from British ports for itineraries of 12 days or longer to the shores of France, Tunisia, Italy and Spain.

Barcelona, Rome and Nice never fail to impress and it is worth remembering that ports like Tunis and Tangier are also common in these itineraries. These fantastic cities offer an experience that is a world away from other ports in the region, yet can be reached overnight.  As a popular destination there's a very wide choice of cruise ships ranging from the ultra luxury lines, family orientated ships through to smaller local specialists.

The many Spanish ports each have their own festivals, although the most impressive is undoubtedly Valencia's Las Fallas, during the third week of March each year. Barcelona is home to the traditional Catalan Sardanas, and during the summer months many an afternoon or evening can be spent watching the intricate footwork of the Catalan folk, spontaneously dancing to the music of a local band. The art of Matisse, Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh, Chagall and Renoir is on show in galleries along the French and Spanish coasts. In Italy, of course, the emphasis is on Michelangelo, Canaletto and Leonardo da Vinci.

Relaxation is possible on many town or city beaches, most of which are within a few minutes' walk or a short taxi ride of the port. With all the sightseeing possibilities, passengers prefer to relax by the pool or on a private balcony back on board the ship. However you choose, the hot weather, brilliant sunshine and beautiful destinations will make you want to come back again and again.

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