Decisions, decisions! Think about going on a cruise to the Mediterranean and you have the choice of Western destinations of distinction, like Paris, Madeira and Barcelona, or explore eastwards, to the cultural shores of Turkey, the islands of Greece or the glittering white coastline of Croatia.  Of course, if you’re lucky your cruise may even transport you to both regions as part of the itinerary. But if you just can’t decide which way your compass should be pointing this year, here are a few tips that should help you pick the right cruise for you…

Heading west

A trip to the Western Mediterranean is a chance to experience art, architecture and culture. Spain is renowned for its artists and architects, and on Western Mediterranean cruises you’ll be able to call in at popular ports like Barcelona, where you can visit the famous building sof Gaudi, like the Sagrada Familia cathedral and the Pedrera. Head up to the top floor of El Corte Inglés department store while you’re in the Plaza Catalunya and you can enjoy a view across the whole city. Remember that this is the Mediterranean: don’t just plump for the tasty tapas, but also sample the ultra-fresh seafood!

If you travel with MSC Cruises, one of the other cities that you might hit on your itinerary is Marseilles, France’s second largest city and a gem at that. While you’re in Marseilles, 2013 European Capital of Culture, take time to visit the fortress-turned-prison Chateau d’ If, of Count of Monte Cristo fame, or the Palais Longchamp, a monument and architectural feat which now houses Marseille’s Museum of Fine Arts and a natural history museum.

Going east

Hang a left and go east and you’re heading towards sheer Mediterranean beauty, fascinating ancient history and serious culinary skill. See charming islands such as Santorini, where the gleaming white houses look onto impossibly blue waters as the sun blazes away. If your cruise escorts you across the waters to Greece, you may be able to call in at the port of Katakolon, a starting point for visiting Olympia, the site of the original Olympic Games.

Take your cruise with P & O Cruises and you can stop by at Dubrovnik, Croatia’s gemlike city. Explore the famous city walls, built in the 13th century and work up an appetite for some ‘Ispod peke’ – dishes cooked slowly in a coal-oven which give you a real taste of the local flavours.

Alternatively, travel as far as the south of Turkey, and you’ll be greeted by a country straddling both Europe and Asia, with distinctive sights to match, such as the archaeological finds at Epheseus (via Izmir port), for example, or the mountain-backed city of Antalya with its mix of Roman ruins and modern culture.

There’s no denying the beauty of both sides of this expansive and historic sea. Whichever way you choose, browse our best Mediterranean cruise deals to find out how far you could go this year…

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