A cruise around the Mediterranean offers the perfect tonic for mind, soul and senses – with plenty to keep travellers coming back for more.
The Mediterranean Sea has long been a key route for traders and, as a result, its ports of call are – or lead to – some of the world’s must-see attractions. With so much on offer, the Med’s highlights can’t be experienced in one journey, which is why it’s such a great sell for agents.
A ‘typical’ Western Med cruise could include Palma, Majorca, where many ships home port for their summer season. Throw in wonderful, enticing Barcelona; add a French Riviera resort or two such as St Tropez, Monte Carlo or Nice; then enhance with one or two ports in Italy.
Or you could venture east and discover Greece or Croatia, where highlights include the ancient Acropolis and the breathtaking and historic port city of Dubrovnik.
For Lynn Narraway, managing director UK and Ireland at Seabourn, the attraction of the Med is wide-ranging. “There are no long flights to deal with. The weather is wonderfully reliable. You see familiar destinations from an entirely new perspective,” she said.
Elaine Gillard, senior sales and marketing manager for Crystal Cruises, agrees. “The Mediterranean boasts some of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. Whether guests want culture, history, great food and wine or exhilarating adventures, they’re spoilt for choice on a Med cruise,” she said.
Princess Cruises reports Med cruises are its most popular choice for families. Princess’s vice president UK and Europe, Tony Roberts, said: “With no-fly options from Southampton, travelling out of ports such as Barcelona, Rome and Athens, there is something to suit everyone.
“The Mediterranean offers stunning weather, centuries of history at some of the most famous cultural sites in the world, and fun for the entire family, both on board and ashore.”
What’s more, a Med cruise is a great chance to experience a brand-new ship. Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, which launched in April, and MSC’s Seaview, which launched in June, are both sailing the Med this summer. Celebrity Edge, which launches later this year, will spend its first summer in the Med in 2019.
Culture and beauty in the Med
In 2019, Crystal will sail an expanded Mediterranean season from April to October, with Crystal Serenity offering six-to-13-day options, including a golf- themed cruise from Lisbon to Monte Carlo, departing 12 August.
Sister company Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises’ 62-guest Crystal Esprit has added new Mediterranean cruises next year – among them a seven-day sailing from Malaga to Barcelona and an eight-day round-trip from Nice, including exclusive access to the Monaco Grand Prix.
Emerald Waterways river cruise fans will be thrilled to learn the company is operating its first ocean cruise itineraries in 2019, sailing along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast in the Adriatic Sea.
Emerald Waterways’ global brand curator, David Winterton, said: “Our guests are always looking for new destinations, and the Mediterranean offers them the chance to explore a combination of culture, history and beauty.
“Since the launch of our Dalmatian Coast brochure, we have seen phenomenal demand, with our original sailing dates selling out in just a few weeks. Further dates are also selling quickly, highlighting how popular this destination is proving.”
Meanwhile, Oceania has 40 Med cruises for the 2019 season and is adding new ports to entice repeat cruisers, such as Castellón, a 13th-century secret hideaway on Spain’s orange grove-dotted Costa Azahar.
Royal Caribbean’s newly renovated Independence of the Seas – a favourite among Brits – will sail out of Southampton on 19 October 2019 for a seven-night France, Spain and Portugal cruise, calling at Le Havre (for Paris/Normandy), Vigo and Lisbon. Prices start at £933pp for an interior stateroom. royalcaribbean.co.uk
CroisiEurope has a 10-day Mediterranean Colours cruise from Catania to Limassol via Katakolon, Itea, Piraeus, Santorini and Rhodes, including the Corinth Canal. Excursions to Delphi and Paphos are included in the price, which is £1,399pp, departing 29 November 2018. Optional excursions include the Acropolis and Mount Etna. croisieurope.co.uk
Seabourn’s 11-day Italy & Spanish Splendours itinerary on Seabourn Odyssey between Civitavecchia and Barcelona takes in Naples, Trapani, Monte Carlo, La Joliette, Sete, Mahon, Ibiza, Cartagena and Valencia, departing 27 October 2018. Cruise-only prices start at £2,999pp. Gratuities and most drinks are included. seabourn.com