Cruise the Mediterranean and you get it all-easy access to ancient civilizations and easy hours relaxing on blazingly beautiful beaches. Nowhere else can such an array of culture and history be found in such a relatively small and stunning vicinity, where the weather ranges from ideal to mild and the cruises range from amazing to spectacular.
A Mediterranean cruise allows you to enjoy these fabled lands at a deliciously slow pace. While cruising the Mediterranean, conquer ports during the day and return to the vast comfort of your ship at night, savoring new cultures without the hassle of transferring between airports and hotels. Unpack once, and let the world revolve around you.
Mediterranean cruise itineraries generally split the Mediterranean Sea in two, taking passengers on a western Mediterranean cruise near Spain, France, and Italy, or an eastern Mediterranean cruise near Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. But cruise itineraries become more creative when travel agents connect the dots, finding the perfect Mediterranean cruise so you don’t miss out. It’s all up to you, and which ports-of-call call your name the loudest.
Circumnavigating from Gibraltar to Istanbul and back along the northern coast of Africa, your ship will pass many ports to call upon. Describing the riches of each would take a thousand poets a thousand years. Don’t panic, though, for below you will find a few brief descriptions of the lesser-known locales from which people send postcards to their travel agents, thanking them for the memories of a lifetime.
Greeks first discovered the port of Ajaccio on the French island of Corsica, drawn by its sunny bay lined with citrus groves, olive trees, and vineyards. They called this island Kalliste-the beautiful-and you’ll soon know why. Passengers disembark here to see the Maison Bonaparte, Napoleon’s home, before venturing to Les Calanche, a mountain landscape of multi-colored granite forms resembling people, animals, and buildings.
Leaving Corsica, your boat next sails to Valletta on the island of Malta. The Maltese Islands have often been referred to as the islands of sunshine and history, and with good reason. With a history boasting 6,000 years of civilization, past empires blend and dominate every square inch of its lands, temples, and monuments. Blessed with year-round sunshine and set in crystal clear waters, Malta is truly the heart of the Mediterranean.
Hidden behind Italy’s boot you’ll find the Pearl of the Adriatic-Dubrovnik. This Croatian capital of culture, a favorite of cruise passengers, is said to be the most perfectly preserved medieval town in the world. Once a powerful maritime force, strong enough to rival Venice, the town’s inhabitants have restored it to its former glory. For the best views, climb to the top of the city’s historic wall and walk around the town.
Visit Corfu Island in Greece
Continuing on your Mediterranean cruise, go south along the coast and you’ll find Corfu, considered by many to be the most scenic of the Greek islands, thanks to an abundance of rainfall and lush vegetation. Simply put, Corfu is a beautiful island with a great personality. The people here, as they are throughout all of Greece, consider hospitality a sacred duty and will do everything possible to enhance your stay. Make friends and have the time of your life.
As you approach Istanbul from the sea, be ready to hear the rhythmic hum of the Islamic call to prayer as it dances across the water. Changing names and empires often, Istanbul now proudly stands with one foot in Asia and the other in Europe. Visit the Hagia Sophia, one of the world’s greatest churches since being built in 537, and the legendary Blue Mosque, erected in 1609 to surpass the beauty of the Hagia Sophia. You be the judge.
If you can cruise through the Greek Isles without jumping off to live amongst their beauty, you’ll gladly make it to Cyprus. Known as both the “Island of Love” and “Aphrodite’s Island,” Cyprus mixes a love of its natural beauty with a love of life that lies deep within the souls of each Cypriot, who embrace good company first and the fine local wines second.
With so many places in and around the Mediterranean Sea, choosing just a few to visit can seem a daunting task. From Moroccan marketplaces to Venetian gondoliers, to the towering cliffs of the French Riviera to the ample vineyards in Spain’s Andalusian countryside, the ports of the Mediterranean offer it all and have for centuries.