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What is a Mediterranean Cruise Itinerary?

Istanbul, Turkey, might be a stop on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise.
Many people book Mediterranean cruises through travel agents.
Spain is a port of call on Western Mediterranean cruises.
A Mediterranean cruise can take vacationers to locations that are rich in culture.
A Mediterranean cruise might allow visitors to see the Parthenon in Greece.
Western Mediterranean cruises usually stop in Italy and nearby countries of Europe.
Italy is a stop on a Western Mediterranean cruise.
The Sistine Chapel is a popular place to visit in Rome during a Mediterranean cruise stop.
Morning prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
There are more than 50 possible ports of call in the Mediterranean Sea.
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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2014
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For travelers who want to sample a variety of rich culture and history, embarking on a Mediterranean cruise will leave them wanting more. With approximately 50 cruise lines operating in the Mediterranean Sea and over 50 ports of call, travelers have a plethora of options for their Mediterranean cruise itinerary. Mediterranean cruises vary in length, but most of the larger cruise lines offer voyages that range from 10-14 days, and points of departure are flexible along the cruise route.

A common theme among cruise lines is to break down their Mediterranean cruises into categories of Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean and the Holy Land. A review of theses classifications, including the most frequented ports of call, will give a general idea of which places in Europe, Asia or Africa that will be visited on a Mediterranean cruise.

Western Mediterranean cruises include stops in Spain, France and the west coast of Italy. Almost all Western cruises will stop in Barcelona, Spain and Rome, Italy. For many large cruise lines these cities will also be an embarkation or debarkation point. Situated only 90 miles (145 km) from the French border, the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona is the capitol of the Catalonia region of Spain. Visiting the Picasso Gallery and enjoying a serving of paella, Spain’s national dish, at a local restaurant are two popular activities for visiting cruisers.

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When Mediterranean cruise ships head for Italy, most stop in Civitavecchia, known as the gateway city to Rome. Many travelers could spend weeks in Rome taking in the historical sites of this ancient city, however, the tight schedule of a cruise does not allow this. A day in Rome could include a trip to the Colosseum, tours of the Sistine Chapel or the Vatican, and a coin toss in the famous Trevi Fountain after having taste-tested some of the local pasta.

Ports of call in France on a Western Mediterranean cruise vary greatly between cruise lines that service the Mediterranean. Stops may include Marseille, the second largest city in France, and the starting off point for visits to the country’s Provence region, or somewhere along the French Riviera, such as Nice or Cannes. Regardless of the port, guests on a Mediterranean cruise have a variety of options in these French ports of call. Marseille, the largest port in the Mediterranean, boasts ample opportunity for shopping after visiting the Basilica of Notre Dame or Aix, the home of famous artist, Paul Cézanne.

Nice, located only 15 miles (24 km) from Cannes is a great place to walk along the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea on their Promenade des Anglais or “Walk of the English,” after travelers taste the local favorite, Socca, which is a pancake made out of chickpea flour. Cannes is home to the famous International Film Festival. Cruisers can shop at their high fashion boutiques or try their luck out a casino in nearby Monte Carlo.

An Eastern Mediterranean cruise itinerary may also start in Barcelona or Rome, however, they will head further east, including stops in Athens, Greece and Istanbul, Turkey. The port city of Piraeus is the gateway city to Athens, where cruisers can visit the Acropolis, the Parthenon and other historical landmarks. Istanbul is the crossroads where Asia meets Europe. Visitors cannot leave Istanbul without exploring the architecture remaining from past ruling empires. The most popular are the Blue Mosque, famous for it minarets and blue tiling on the inside, and the Topkapi Palace Museum, a lavish palace built during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

Some Eastern and most Western Mediterranean Cruises stop somewhere in the Holy Land and some cruise lines offer specific cruises that mostly consist of ports of call in the Holy Land. These areas, known as the “cradle of civilization” are home to countless religious architectural, archeological and historical sites. The most popular port of call is Jerusalem, which is considered Judaism’s holiest city, Islam’s third holiest city and the place where Christians may walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Other significant Holy Land ports of call include, Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus and the location where Mary and Mohammed had communications with the Angel Gabriel, and Port Said, Egypt, where cruisers may debark to visit Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza.

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Sporkasia
Post 4

If you have a Mediterranean cruise itinerary that includes some of the African countries then I suggest you go during the winter months. The weather will be cooler. During the summer the temperatures throughout Africa can be very hot to say the least.

If you have children this might not be something you can do because they are in school, but it's something to consider. Of course, the northern Mediterranean ports are likely to be cooler than you want in winter.

mobilian33
Post 3

@Animandel - You are right about there being less rain during the summer months in these areas, but this time of the year is also the peak season for Mediterranean cruise lines. This means you will have to battle a crowd of tourists, long lines and crowded beaches and attractions. You also won't be able to get cheap Mediterranean cruise packages during the summer like you can during the slower times of the year.

In my opinion, the best time to go on one of these cruises is any time but the summer months. Things are much more relaxed when the summer crowds are not around, and I would rather put up with the rain than all those people.

Animandel
Post 2

The last thing you want when you go on a cruise or any vacation for that matter is bad weather. Nothing spoils a cruise like a lot of rain that prevents you from enjoying all of the great ports and beaches. You should consider this when you are planning a cruise to the Mediterranean.

Of course there is no way to know exactly what the weather will be when you book a cruise, but you might want to keep in mind that some times during the year are more likely to have rain than others. It depends on the itinerary you book, but in general your vacation is less likely to be rained on during the summer months.

Laotionne
Post 1

When is the best time to go on a Mediterranean cruise?

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