Visiting the Mediterranean is really like stepping back in time. Ancient civilisations flourished because of it, and the Roman Empire even nicknamed it Mare Nostrum, meaning Our Sea. Because of its rich past there is plenty to explore and its wide range of cultures also offers so much variety. Whether you want to relax on a Greek Island, or explore the ruins of Rome, shop 'til you drop in Cannes, or live in luxury in Monaco - this part of the world really does have everything. There are some fantastic new itineraries out there, and why not sample a river cruise? Sail into the heart of a city on a smaller ship and have your breakfast overlooking the rooftops of Venice. These cruises are great if you’re not a fan of flying as so many ships sail from UK ports.
The itineraries are jam packed, there's so much to choose from it's hard to know where to begin. Most cruise ships split into two main areas, the east (usually visiting Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Israel and Turkey) and the west (Spain, France, Italy and Balearic Islands).
MSC Cruises, MSC Meraviglia, 1st Dec '17, 7 nights, sailing from Barcelona
Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Epic, 1st Oct '17, 7 nights, sailing from Barcelona
P&O Cruises, Ventura, 1st Oct '17, 14 nights, sailing from Southampton
Holland America Line, ms Prinsendam, 2nd Nov '17, 16 nights, sailing from Rome (Civitavecchia)
Known as ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic’ it’s easy to see why Dubrovnik is compared to Italy’s Venice. The Old Town boasts fountains (including Onofrio’s Large Fountain built in 1444), sculpted domes, a sea of terracotta roofs, and instead of canals, white marble streets lined with Baroque buildings. A great place to start exploring this medieval city, and get your bearings, is by walking the walls surrounding the area. Stretching 25m high the walls still feature all five towers (built between the 12th and 17thcenturies) and offer spectacular views of the Old Town.
Katakolon acts as a gateway to Olympia, the stage of the very first Olympic Games. The inaugural Greek Olympics were held in 776 BC in honour of Zeus, King of the Gods, making the site one of the most important sanctuaries in ancient Greece. Why not take a walk, or run, round the original 177 metre track? You can still see the judges thrones in the centre, as well as the seating which once housed 30,000 spectators.
This fashionable Greek Island has seen a number of famous faces over the years (including Gladiator star Russell Crowe), who are attracted to the number of bars and restaurants dotted across this island. There's so much more to Mykonos than partying however. The first landmarks you will spot when cruising this island are the seven striking windmills standing tall on the coast. A total of 16 fill the island, the oldest built in the 16th century. With their white walls, pointed roofs and tiny windows, they are worth a visit to explore this unique architecture. In fact, white is definitely the theme of Mykonos - white washed walls dominate the landscape, making it a bright, warm place to visit.
If you're after a vibrant nightlife, contemporary culture, plus a history dating back around 7,000 years, then Med cruises to Athens are not to be missed. Of course you can't visit this ancient city without taking a trip to the Acropolis and famous Parthenon. Walk up the stony hill to these architectural wonders, which were way ahead of their time, and soak up the ancient world. Of course as Greece's capital city, Athens has so much more to offer than history; wander the narrow streets of Plaka and see the many market stalls; or venture up Mount Lycabettus to watch the sunset over this wonderful city and view the rest of the Aegean.
This island in the Aegean sea is a relaxing haven with sun-drenched beaches and whitewashed stone paths. Why not take a walk down to Amoudi Bay (below the town of Oia) and discover some of the best swimming spots on the island. Finish your day at one of the clifftop restaurants, with a drink in hand, watching the sunset.
Did you know...Istanbul is the only city in the world to have played capital to consecutive Christian and Islamic empires? This Turkish city has many more hidden beauties, including Galata Bridge, where you can visit cafes, restaurants and bars. You can't visit Turkey and not try your hand at haggling at the city's largest carpet market, the Grand Bazaar, which features over 5,500 vendors! Experience the grand history of this ancient city by walking the city walls (constructed during the reign of Theodosius II between 408-450 AD); get a bird's eye view from Galata Tower (built in the 14th century); as well as the various Byzantium influences (the Church of St Saviour in Chora has a colourful array of mosaics and frescoes).
Fancy a change from the Mediterranean cruise scene? Then why not explore the much smaller Black Sea? Positioned in the far east of Eastern Europe, the Black Sea is bordered by a total of 6 countries: Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Ukraine and Russia. As it's a much smaller sea than the Mediterranean, only smaller ships offer cruise deals, and these include Thomson Cruises, Cruise & Maritime Voyages and Seabourn. Booking a cruise to the Black Sea really does allow you to explore all Eastern Europe has to offer.
When visiting this northern part of Egypt there's one excursion you won't be able to resist a day out to the Pyramids of Giza. It's easy to see why these monumental pieces of architecture feature among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Once you've taken in the size, and how these structures were even put together, take a wander inside one. The dark tunnel leads you into the an open space at the base of the pyramid, imagine the walls covered in gold and colourful paintings? Why not continue your tour in Egyptian style? Take a camel to the top of the hillside and get panoramic views of the pyramids below, Cairo and beyond. Finish your excursion at The Sphinx, which dates back to around 2500 BC, the earliest known monumental structure.
Stop over at Ashdod and you could be visiting the historic city of Jerusalem, home to the cornerstones of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Visit the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall, which acts as an open air synagogue; the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site of Islam, which was also one of the first Islamic architectural achievements built in 688-91 AD; and finally the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which was built around the site of Christ's Crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Beyond these significant religious buildings are medieval walls, colourful bazaars and Mount of Olives which offers spectacular views of the city below.
Explore this Turkish region and make the trip to Sapadere Mountain, around 48km north east of Alanya. Hike the walking trails and experience the wonderful waterfalls along the way. Take a dive off the coast of Alanya and discover colourful fish and spectacular plants. Continue your journey of discovery on dry land with a trip to Dim Cave, 14km away from Alanya. Measuring 357 meters, this cave was used as a shelter in prehistoric times, and it also has a picturesque lake at the end. If you're on a family cruise then there's plenty to keep the children occupied including waterparks, beaches, go-karting and mountain biking.
The main draw to this Turkish town is it's stunning sandy beaches and clear blue waters. It also offers a great nightlife with a variety of restaurants and bars. The Aegean coast of Turkey is also rich in history through its Roman and Greek influences. Take a trip to Ephesus, an ancient town located on the south of Izmir's Selcuk County; or visit Seven Sleepers, a cave used in around 250 AD by Christians fleeing Ephesus and as a result is today seen as one of the places most sacred to the world of Christianity.
History and culture decorate this popular seaside resort in Cyprus. Visit one of Cyprus' most important Byzantine Monuments, Agio Lazaros (Saint Lazarus Church), or the stunning Lanarka Medieval Castle, and not forgetting Stavrovouni Monastery, founded in 330 AD. Take a stroll around the town and you will discover Palm Trees Promenade which offers a variety of entertainment. End your cruise stopover with a trip to Larnaka Salt Lake - this will take you back to nature and you'll also experience one amazing sunset.
Set against a backdrop of pine clad hills, Marmaris is a resort that combines natural beauty with an exciting ambience. Famed for its numerous bars and clubs, it is the most extravagant resort on the entire south coast of Turkey. On the other hand, the surrounding countryside offers scenic roads and villages, which lead to ancient ruins and unspoilt beaches.
Cool and confident are two words that describe Catalonia's most famous city, Barcelona. Whether you want to spend the day on the beach, or take in some of the quirkiest parts of the city, you won't be bored after cruising to this vibrant port. Take a wander down one of the most famous avenues in Europe, Las Ramblas, which is bustling with tourists, cafes and restaurants. Sit outside and soak up the sun and sangria before visiting Barcelona Cathedral, a Gothic style building just off Las Ramblas. A cruise to Catalonia is not complete without trying the delicious seafood on offer, take in the flavours and smells as you end your trip in a seaside restaurant overlooking the tranquil Mediterranean Sea.
There's so much to explore in this ancient city, and when you start you'll never want to stop. The city skyline is adorned with basilica domes, and the best place to see this is on top of the most famous of them all, St Peter's Basilica. Climb the 500+ stairs, or 300+ if you take the elevator, and you won't be disappointed. Take in the breath-taking views of the city below and head back down into the basilica itself to discover Michelangelo's beautifully decorated Sistine Chapel. Of course, a trip to Rome wouldn't be complete without a visit to what once was the grandest stage on earth. The Colesseum was first built in AD 72 and had a capacity of 50,000 people; take the same walk the gladiators did and experience this age-old amphitheatre. As the sun sets why not take a wander around the many beautiful piazzas that you can find on almost every corner? And don't forget to say goodbye to Rome with a throw of a coin into the striking Trevi Fountain. You can also cruise to Rome on many Eastern Mediterranean itineraries.
This French port was completely destroyed during WWII, and so the city itself is fairly modern. If you are looking for a piece of history then Le Havre is perfectly positioned in the centre of the Normandy region. Visit the D-Day beaches where British, American, Australian and Canadian troops landed on 6 June 1944. A trip to France isn't complete without a walk around its fashionable capital city. Book an excursion to Paris and enjoy shopping, museums (including the world famous Louvre Museum), galleries and of course the majestic Eiffel Tower.
This unique city in north-east Italy is full of character. Made up of 118 small islands which are all connected by canals and bridges, this is one of the most distinctive cities in the world. Of course, the famous gondolas are not to be missed, and when you wind through the 'streets' of this 1,500-year-old city, you'll feel like you're visiting a giant museum. If you can tear yourself away from the unique local transport, make sure you visit one of the many basilicas and palaces that are steeped in hundreds of years of history. After a day spent exploring Venice's history and architecture enjoy some food and wine, and if you have the chance, take in a world famous Venetian opera. You can also visit Venice on many Eastern Mediterranean itineraries.
Explore this Italian port by boat and capture views of the city you won't experience on land. While you're by the coast it's worth spending some time on the Terrazza Mascagni - a sweeping terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. If you fancy venturing further afield then Florence is a must see. A train ride can take you to the home of Renaissance where you can explore galleries, museums, religious buildings and piazzas. It is also worth making a trip to Ponte Vecchio - Florence's oldest bridge. The medieval design was constructed in the 14th century and is lined with jewellery and souvenir shops to suit all tastes. If you fancy having your picture taken at one of the world's most famous structures then you have to visit Pisa. Did you know the Tower is 56.67m tall at its highest side, and 55.86m at its lowest?
The setting for one of the most famous film festivals, Cannes is a pretty town located along the picturesque French Riviera. Don't be deceived though, this glamorous port also has a thriving nightlife. For a more relaxed day out why not stroll along Cannes' sandy, white beaches? A number of water sports are on offer, as well as day trips out to various islands located off the coast of Cannes. And for you girls, don't visit this glamorous port without heading to the shops - Cannes has some great designer shops and smaller boutiques.
Well known for its energetic nightlife, Ibiza also has perfect, crystal seas for diving, and with water temperature at a warm 26 degrees in the summer, there's nowhere better to be. If you fancy exploring then why not hop on a short boat ride to the tiny island of Formentera - rent a bike and explore this island in style. Some of the top beaches to relax on include Cala Jondal, San José, Cala D’Hort, near Cala Vadella and Las Salinas, Playa d'en Bossa. Why not time your cruise to Ibiza with some of their biggest events: Ibiza Rocks (in June, July and August) is the island's version of Glastonbury Festival and Sant Ciriac Festival (early August) celebrates the return of the island to Spanish rule with music and fireworks.
Live in luxury for a day when you visit the glamorous port of Monte Carlo. Famous for the Monaco Grand Prix, Monaco is a great place to hire a Ferrari for the day and travel in style. Relax in the many bars and restaurants that line the marina, or take a wonder to the Digue de l'Avant Port, a floating dike that doubled Monaco's port size overnight when first unveiled in 2004. As well as motor racing, Monaco is also famous for its royal family. Visit the Palais du Prince which was built in the 13th century, take a wander into the Throne Room or time it perfectly for the changing of the guard.
If swimming, shopping and sunbathing is your ideal holiday then you'll love the port of Palma. Take a wander into Palma city and explore the quaint shops, haggle for a bargain and enjoy the sights (including the Gothic Cathedral). Once you've explored Palma there's plenty more to see in nearby resorts of Palma Nova and the party district of Magaluf. The beautiful Mallorcan beaches allow you to relax and soak in the Mediterranean sun.
Known as Spain's 'gateway to the Mediterranean', this hotspot has three golden beaches for you to sit and watch the day go by. The Central Market (Mercado Central) is a sight not to be missed. One of the oldest food markets in Europe, it is covered in Valencian-style mosaics. This is Valencia's local supermarket, selling local food and drink. Experience some of Valencia's history inside Seu Cathedral, built in 1262 and most famous for its claim of owning the Holy Grail.
Stop off at the Western Algarve's biggest town and you'll find beautiful beachside restaurants and a range of shops to enjoy while in port. Portimao is located on the banks of the Arade river. For a relaxing walk head along the river bank where you'll find relaxing gardens and cafes to grab a coffee and cake. Head along the waterfront to Portiamo's famous fish restaurants serving fresh seafood and fish, you'll smell them before you see them! Shopping in Portimao has improved massively in recent years and is one of the most popular spots in the Algarve, featuring a range of shopping malls and retail parks you will come back to the ship with bags full of goodies.
Culture, history, diverse choice of fine wine and food, what else do you need on your next cruise holiday? Whether you're after a romantic break, or some family fun in the sun, the land of olive groves offers a wide range of choice.
Though you can sail to these sunny destinations 12 months of the year, depending what you're after you should choose wisely. Peak summer months are between June and August, so if busy ports and families aren't your thing then maybe choose a quieter month (April to May & September to October, though do check half term dates). Outside of these months the regions are very quiet, at a much cooler temperature and beware many bars and restaurants could be closed. Check out the weather in your ports with the Met Office.
Many ships sail from the UK from popular ports including Southampton and Dover, these include Royal Caribbean, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises and Thomson Cruises. If you do want to start your cruise in a hot, sunny climate then you can sail away from ports include Barcelona, Venice, Palma, Istanbul and Rome, amongst many others. What this does mean is you need to consider booking a flight with your cruise. Call CruiseDeals now to find out more and book your fly/cruise trip.
A number of our key partners sail to there including Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Thomson Cruises.
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