Cruising is a great way to get out and enjoy the best spots in the Mediterranean without the hassle of packing up and moving from place to place.
From culture to history and education, exploring the Mediterranean is about so much more than just a good visual – the itineraries offer an eclectic mix of activities to help you experience each destination to the fullest even when you’re only visiting for a short time.
After the Caribbean, the Mediterranean is the second most popular region in the world for cruising and is roughly divided into two geographic areas: the Western Mediterranean, which typically includes stops in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy; and the Eastern Mediterranean, stopping in countries east of Italy like Croatia, Turkey and Greece.
Depending on the cruise line, itinerary and number of nights you’ll be cruising, departure points vary. Large resort trips with the standard 7-day itinerary along the Western Med depart from the popular parts of Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Rome or Venice. In contrast, smaller ships tend to take off from the quieter ports such as Nice or Monte Carlo.
Increasingly, cruises are also departing from the UK’s biggest ports and crossing the distance to the Mediterranean – offering the advantage of leaving from Southampton, Dover or Tilbury. The only disadvantage is because of a longer crossing, Mediterranean cruises departing from the UK will often visit fewer points.
Exploring on shore
One of the best advantages to cruising is exploring on shore when you arrive at port – almost every cruise line will offer organised group excursions where you can visit interesting attractions and learn more from a guide who is an expert on the area and its history.
You also have the option of exploring on your own – something many independent travellers favour because it allows you to see and do a few different things in an afternoon and set your own schedule about what time to get up and disembark in the morning. This can also be a cheaper option, however any excursions you book from an external company won’t be insured under the cruise line’s policy if anything goes wrong.
The best time to set sail
Mediterranean cruises run throughout the year so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a time that suits your needs. The standard cruising season in this region lasts from May to October, with some European cruise lines staring in early March and continuing until late November. A major consideration is the weather – during the summer the Mediterranean is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching above 30ºC for several weeks. Many over 50s opt instead to explore this area in early spring or late summer when the weather is warm but not uncomfortable.
Choosing a cruise line is one of the biggest considerations for travellers exploring the Mediterranean. Decide on your budget and take into account the itinerary of each cruise line as well as anything in particular that’s important to you – a large boat, casino or several on-board dining options, for example. Websites like Cruise Deals make it easy to explore what’s on offer from the top cruise lines. You can also find a similar service on Travel Supermarket, which lets you compare deals and options all in one place. Silversurfers also has special offers on Mediterranean on all pages of our website with the Cruises section, cruises.silversurfers.com. The best brands are available, Cunard, P&O and Princess to choose from.
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