One of the most enthralling and seductive regions of the world, the Mediterranean is a haven for nature's glory and a treasure trove of history and culture. It truly offers memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. Such is the magic of this place that even when you have seen it a thousand times, you will yearn for more. The best way to explore the Mediterranean is by sea.
Mediterranean cruises typically come in two flavours: Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean. Western Mediterranean itineraries generally cover Spain, France, the west coast of Italy (including Sicily) and occasionally Tunisia. Eastern Mediterranean itineraries will take you to the Adriatic Coast, Greek Isles, Turkey, Egypt, the Holy Lands and Cyprus.
Western Mediterranean itineraries are ideal for first time travellers to Europe. The credit for this goes partly to the rich heritage of the collection of major cities in this region, namely Naples, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Nice, Lisbon, Barcelona and Seville. Equally enchanting are the small towns of Western Mediterranean and the islands that are in a world of their own, yet reminiscent of their country's culture.
Most itineraries for the Western Mediterranean region offer a nice balance of marquee cities and off-beat ports in which your ship will be the only one in town. While you have the advantage of choosing the best in terms of arts, culture, surf, sand, cafes and shopping, narrowing down to a perfect itinerary can be a daunting task.
Eastern Mediterranean cruising is increasingly becoming popular with its idyllic blend of ancient history, picture-perfect beaches and quaint villages. It has something to suit everyone's holiday tastes.
The main ports in Eastern Mediterranean itineraries are Athens, Venice and Istanbul . Sometimes cruise liners mix Western Mediterranean itineraries so you may start or finish a tour in Rome, Barcelona or Genoa. Itineraries in this region are designed to show you the history, culture and beaches. They can vary from short seven-day sailings to leisurely 20-days or more cruises with focus of some itineraries being beaches, water sports and classic Mediterranean fun in the sun scenario while others have a more culture-centric.
While sailing in the Mediterranean, travellers are spoilt for choice in choosing their cruise of choice. Almost every major cruise liner has a presence in the region.
All big liners offer the "greatest hits" itineraries that cover major and most popular ports. To get a more European feel to your Mediterranean holiday, consider sailing with a company based on the continent such as Costa or MSC Cruises, both headquartered in Italy – they offer shorter and cheaper itineraries as well. That said you will struggle to find a fault with the itineraries, service and onboard facilities of Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Disney, Royal Caribbean and other major liners operating here.
Luxury cruising has no bounds on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Crystal Cruises, Azamara, Silversea, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn are among the cruising company setting high standards in this category of cruising. Often luxury cruises have a longer duration and will offer a mix of both Eastern and Western Mediterranean itineraries.
Other cruise types operating in the Mediterranean include expedition ships that visit well-trafficked regions that are heavy on culture; yacht-style cruises as well as all-masted ships.
The Mediterranean cruise season is from April to October, although many liners are now offering itineraries year-round as winter cruising in the region becomes more popular.
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