Are you wondering how to choose the perfect Mediterranean cruise? Let us help you! In this article, we will explain all the different types of Mediterranean cruises. We will also explain to you the pros and cons of all the different types of cruises. So let us help you to choose the perfect Mediterranean cruise.
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Mediterranean cruises are a wonderful experience! Let’s explore together the different types and what to expect from each one.
Western versus Eastern Mediterranean:
Mediterranean cruises are categorised geographically in two types western and eastern.
- Western Med usually includes cruises that are west of Italy and they generally depart from Barcellona or Rome (Civitavecchia). They visit Spain, France, Italy, Malta, and Gibraltar.
- Eastern Med cruises focus on the Adriatic sea and the Greek Islands. They usually depart from Athens or Venice. They visit Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece. Occasionally longer cruises can go as far as Istambul.
- Combination of the two: these are generally longer cruises 15+ days and offer a combination of eastern and western Med. Most of the time they are one way (For example from Barcelona to Athens). They are often called Mediterranean explorers or Mediterranean Medley.
So which are the best ports to visit? Every port is pretty unique and has some wonderful things to see.
In general, the western Med ports are more for people looking to visit cities, cultural and archeological sites. While the eastern Med is better for people looking to relax on a beach or swimming in the Med.
You can check our other article for a complete list of the best Mediterranean cruise ports. Here we can give you a list of our favorite ports:
- Western Med: Barcelona, Palma de Maiorca, Gibraltar, Livorno (for Pisa and Florence), Genova, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Naples (if you want to know more about what to see and do in Naples Italy check the following article) more, Salerno.
- Eastern Med: Athens, Venice, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Split, Dubrovnik
One two three weeks?
How long should you plan to be on a Med cruise? In our opinion the longer the better. Especially if you are coming all the way from North America you should plan on a two weeks cruise minimum because the first couple of days you are probably dealing with jet lag (You can read more on how to avoid jet lag in the following article). One week med cruises are cheaper but they don’t visit as many ports as a 2 or 3 weeks cruise.
We tried a seven days cruise and we loved it and we also did 21 days that was absolutely fantastic (You can read about our 21 days Mediterranean cruise here).
So, to summarise, try to do the longest Mediterranean cruise you can afford. In our opinion the perfect Mediterranean cruise is at least 2 weeks.
One way or return?
Another factor that you have to consider when you wonder on how to choose the perfect Mediterranean cruise is should you do a one way or return cruise.
If you take a One-way cruise you will embark in one port and disembark in a different one. For example, embark in Barcelona and disembark in Civitavecchia. While on a return cruise the embarkation and disembarkation are in the same port (Venice to Venice or Athens to Athens).
- One way: the advantages of a one-way cruise are the fact that you will be able to visit more ports. These types of cruises are usually longer than 7 days. The biggest disadvantage of a one-way cruise is the fact that the flight might be slightly more expensive due to the fact that you arrive at one airport and you leave from a different one. You can read the following article on top tips for booking your flights before and after a cruise, to learn more on flights for your cruise.
- Return: these types of cruises are generally one week and they circle around 6-7 ports in the same area. They are more popular in the Greek islands or the Adriatic sea. These cruises have the advantage that you end up flying in and out from the same airport making it easier to find a cheaper flight. Another bonus about return cruises is that are also generally cheaper than one-way type cruises.
Which cruise line should I choose?
This is totally up to you. Every major cruise line has several Mediterranean itineraries and they visit the most famous ports. So pick the cruise line you like the best or the one that has the itinerary that you like the most.
Obviously if you are enrolled on a loyalty program with a cruise line try to stick with the same line. That way you will build up your status.
When is the best time to go?
Most mainstream cruise lines run the Med itineraries between April and November. And if you are looking to enjoy the sun and to swim in the Med the best time to go is in the middle of the summer (June to September).
The middle of summer is also the time when the sea is the calmest and chances of storms are very little.
Unfortunately this time of the year it is also the most expensive and the most crowded. It is also the hottest time of the year (40C plus!) making visiting cities a bit uncomfortable.
Mediterranean Cruises off season
If you are looking for visiting cities and doing more sightseeing shoulder season is better for you. In fact, early spring and the fall are cheaper, less crowded and the temperatures are better. On the downside, the weather might be more unpredictable, chances of rain are higher and the sea can be rough.
Two European-based cruise lines Costa and MSC run cruises in the Med year-round. A Mediterranean cruise in the winter is a completely different experience but still very very enjoyable. In particular, if you pick a cruise that head quite south like the Greek islands chances are that the temperatures can be mild (18-20C). It is also a great time to visit places like Santorini, Venice or Athens with way fewer tourists. On top of that, these cruises are generally quite inexpensive and offer a great opportunity to visit Europe at a much lower price.
We did a seven days Mediterranean cruise in February and we had a fantastic time. We were lucky and the weather was quite mild and pleasant. Once we reached Palma de Mallorca, the temperatures during the day were around 19C and sunny. Maybe was just luck.
We hope that these few notes will help you pick your next Mediterranean cruise. If you have any questions leave a comment below.
Andrea was born and raised in Northern Italy. At the age of 30, he moved to Vancouver Canada. Over the years he traveled extensively in North America, Europe, Central America, and Asia. He is passionate about traveling, cruising, and travel photography. He likes to write about his traveling and shows his travel photos.