If you’ve ever dreamed of a Mediterranean cruise but weren’t sure how to make it happen, this article is for you. I’ll give you my top tips on what to expect and how to plan your cruise.
Which time of year is best for traveling to the Mediterranean?
A Mediterranean cruise’s peak season is between April and October. Obviously, July and August are the two busiest months of the year, so if you don’t like crowds, those months aren’t for you. Besides being the hottest time of the year, it’s also the most expensive.
Ideally, it would be best if you went in May-June at the beginning of the season and or in September. Generally, the weather is still great, and the cruise ships and ports are less crowded. Plus, the cruise prices are lower as well.
Where are the main Mediterranean cruise ports?
Barcelona, Venice, Genoa, Civitavecchia, near Rome, Southampton, and Athens are the main ports from which Mediterranean cruises depart.
If you start your cruise from a port city that’s actually in the Mediterranean, you’ll be in the Mediterranean from the day you start, which means no transits or lost time.
What types of Mediterranean cruise itineraries are there?
A broad selection of five Mediterranean cruises is now available to you.
As a beginning, let’s take a look at the Central Mediterranean cruise. It is usually a week-long cruise that goes a circuit of the heart of the Mediterranean, taking in destinations like parts of Italy, the Balearic Islands, Malta, Southern France, and Spanish cities such as Barcelona. This option is excellent for those who want to discover the natural and cultural beauty of the South-west Europe.
The Greek islands are also a top-rated cruise destination along the Mediterranean. Most cruise lines operate these cruises in small ships with smaller crews that are more convenient for getting around these islands. Since the ships are smaller, they are less crowded as well. Perfect choice to explore a wide range of historical sites and ancient cities.
In addition, you can take longer Mediterranean cruises, up to two weeks long, which usually originate in Northern Europe and the UK. Because they need to travel through those areas to reach the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, these routes include stops in places like France, Portugal, and Gibraltar. Because of this, they are usually slightly longer. The result is that you will see a wider variety of countries. These trips are perfect for those interested in discovering cultures and cuisines from Western Mediterranean and South Europe.
An Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, which is trendy, usually begins in Venice and continues down the coast through places like Montenegro, Croatia, Crete, and Greece. This cruise vacation is perfect for people who want to discover not-so-well-known places in the East Mediterranean area, such as the Adriatic coast, that culturally and culinary differ.
The last option is the repositioning cruises that are available at the beginning or end of the Mediterranean season when the ships are usually redeploying to or from the Caribbean. Quite an excellent combination of Mediterranean and Caribbean, so you’ll see some of both. Of course, these cruises are longer, but you can enjoy the most beautiful northern hemisphere places, such as the beautiful beaches and ancient sites.
Cruise lines operating in the Mediterranean
If you are planning a Mediterranean cruise, make sure you choose the right cruise line.
At least twenty cruise lines offer Mediterranean sails during the summer, so you have many choices. Take time to decide which cruise line is right for you based on the type of travel, budget, and interests you have.
The most popular Mediterian cruise lines are Seabourn, Viking, Azamara, MSC, Silversea, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess. As far as itineraries go, they’ll be identical, so it’s not that important.
You should still do your research, however. For example, the size of the ship is crucial because the itineraries will differ slightly. Some ports can’t accommodate bigger vessels. This way, they can’t port to smaller islands. In contrast, smaller ships have far more flexibility when it comes to entering ports so that they can go to smaller and more unusual ports.
Overall, not only choose the right cruise line but within that cruise line also pay close attention to the size of the ships at the ports they visit.
What you need to know about shore excursions
To begin with, some of the ports you are scheduled to visit are located quite far from what is stated on the itinerary. The port of Le Havre is approximately two or three hours from Paris if you are taking a cruise from Northern Europe. In the case of Italy, Rome is actually about two hours away from the port.
When looking at the itinerary, it is vital to understand how close the destination is to the port. As many risks are involved, you may want to book excursions on these with the cruise line to return before the ship departs. In the case of a cruise line excursion, the ship will wait for you if it is delayed getting back; in the event of independent travel, when you get lost or miss your taxi, the ship may leave without you. Planning carefully when you want to discover places on your own is vital to avoid inconveniences.
Be careful not to overschedule!
You should be careful not to overschedule on a Mediterranean cruise. While it may be tempting to squeeze in as much as possible, you will likely become exhausted and frustrated if you try to pack in so much. It would be best if you left some free time in your cruise itinerary to explore at your own pace and enjoy yourself.
Moreover, overscheduling leads to missed opportunities. On your trip, you can enjoy a wide range of sights and activities in the Mediterranean. You’ll be able to take advantage of any interesting sights or activities that come up by leaving some free time in your schedule.
Last but not least, a cruise should be a relaxing experience. If you constantly run from one activity to another, you won’t have much time to relax.
How to save money on a Mediterranean cruise?
There are a lot of countries you can visit on a Mediterranean cruise, but the cost can be high. Some tips for saving money on your next Mediterranean cruise:
- You can save significant amounts on cruises if you book early. Cruise lines often offer discounts for early bookings.
- It is possible to find great deals on repositioning cruises because they do not receive as much attention as traditional cruises in the typical season.
- Cruises departing from less well-known ports (like Venice or Barcelona) often have lower prices than those departing from more popular Mediterranean ports.
- Take advantage of cruise deals during the off-season. Cruises departing during the shoulder seasons are often cheaper.
- You can save money on your overall vacation costs by purchasing a package deal that includes airfare, hotel, and transfers.
- Be sure to ask about onboard credits when you book your cruise. These can be used for excursions, spa treatments, and more.
To sum up
Taking these tips into consideration will help you have an enjoyable Mediterranean cruise. Check your fares carefully, take advantage of onboard activities and excursions, and shop around to find the best deal. A little planning will ensure that you have the time of your life.