When you cruise Italy, you give yourself more than hot sun, good food and fantastic coffee. The skies are blue and some of the richest history in the world is at your fingertips here. And for those with an eye for a bargain, Italy’s fashion scene is one where superstores teem with designer labels fresh off the rack.

Experiences like these are what make Italy such a popular place to visit, time and time again. The cuisine alone is worth stepping onshore for, with pizza and pasta giving way also to more refined Tuscan stews or the ever-popular gelato. Art and culture seep out of every stone, and effortless style awaits anyone exploring the tan-bricked backstreets of the cities of Italy.

Popular ports in Italy

Rome Coliseum

Rome

Any cruiser who so much glimpses at a map will tell you that Rome is landlocked, which is why shore excursions to the city often arrive via Civitavecchia. It’s a handsome port town in its own right that you could easily lose hours to in coffee shops and family-run restaurants.

Rome itself, however, is a bustling bastion of culture. The central attraction of the city by far is its Colosseum, looming large and infused with classic history. Yet the more you look around Rome, the more you find remnants of both the ancient world and the Renaissance era of art and enlightenment. That said, the shopping and style here are second to none, and many cruisers visit the Italian capital to get their hands on fabrics and garments you won’t find anywhere else.

Livorno

This west-coast port town is popular not just for its own beauty, all flowery window boxes and hilltop views, but also because it’s the cruising gateway to wider Tuscany.

From there, you can head to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance and home to the famous Il Duomo basilica. The city, compact yet characterful, also houses jewellery shops embedded into a bridge over the River Arno, as well as dozens of fashion houses and other shops.

Alternatively, you can take a shore excursion from Livorno out to Pisa to see its famous Leaning Tower. Don’t disregard the wider city of Pisa itself though, whose cuisine is divine and whose art is worthy of praise.

Sorrento

One of the most beautiful parts of Italy, located in the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is characterised by cobbled streets, authentic bars and stunning views of Naples and Mount Vesuvius.

The Amalfi Coast is within easy reach, as is Pompeii and Naples, or take a leisurely stroll through lemon and olive groves and gorgeous villages and low-key coastal resorts.

Time moves slowly here. Visit the old fishing quarter, known as Marina Grande, and enjoy local seafood by the harbour, or take a walk around the beautiful old town and its quiet lanes.

What are the best cruise ships for an Italy cruise?

You really can’t go wrong here, as almost every cruise ship that sails the Mediterranean will go out of its way to make sure Italy features in its itinerary. That said, give a few of our favourites some thought if you’re planning an Italian cruise break:

Marella Dream

Dream Cruise Ship

As the name implies, onboard this cruise ship, it’s all about putting your pleasure first. The dining options alone include everything from comfort food and Asian spices to sizzling hot-stone steaks, while the lounge bars and casinos bring glamour to your evenings. Entertainment is Broadway level, while the pools, spas, saunas and gym equipment ensure you can rejuvenate your body between adventures.

Marella Celebration

Marella Celebration

Marella Celebration is all about luxury and making the most of life’s little moments. Its onboard beauty salon and spa stretches over two storeys of pampering, whereas the Sun Lounge features al fresco cocktails and daybeds. Mealtimes offer everything from fast food to select gourmet dishes, and the menus take their cues from every corner of the globe.

Shore excursion ideas

Italy has so much variation, you could find yourself cycling through vineyards one day and touring the artworks of da Vinci the next. There’s oodles to choose from, but check out a few of our favourites:

A trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

A visit to Pompeii is a must if you’re anywhere close to the Naples region. Here you can see a town that was devastated by the Mount Vesuvius volcano in 79AD and has been well preserved since that time. Feeling energetic? Then can climb Vesuvius, too!

A day in Florence

Florence cruises

The birthplace of the Renaissance is well worth taking a detour out of Livorno for. Florence is densely packed with historic touches, having been home to famous and influential families like the Medicis and, of course, da Vinci himself. Il Duomo at the city centre is the star attraction, but don’t be shy in seeing the city’s hidden side, too. The fashion boutiques here give their Milan counterparts a run for their money.

Historic tours of Rome

Everyone who visits Italy, especially when cruising, should tour Rome. Shore excursions are hugely varied when it comes to visiting the capital, ranging from those for foodies through to fashion and, of course, history. The ancient relics of the city are beautifully preserved, while the shopping and dining are world class. Visit Rome, and you visit the heart of where trends are born.

Top ports in this destination