Cruise to Mediterranean

Render of MSC cruise ship cruising past small European city

Mediterranean Cruises: Your guide to cruising southern Europe

  • MSC cruise ship outside of Dubrovnik
  • MSC cruise ship in port of call
  • Two cruises docked at European city

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Frequently asked questions

More than a dozen countries in the Mediterranean regularly welcome cruise ships. The most popular countries include Italy, Greece, Spain, France and Turkey. Cruises are generally divided into Western and Eastern Mediterranean itineraries. A typical Western Mediterranean cruise steers you between Barcelona and Rome, and covers ports in France, Spain and Italy. Some of the top stopovers on this route are Seville, Palma de Mallorca or La Spezia. If you want to experience Venice in Italy, an Eastern Mediterranean cruise is a top choice. These itineraries can encompass the Greek Islands, Croatia, Montenegro and even Turkey, with top ports including Athens, Malta and Santorini. 

Some of the must-see destinations on a Mediterranean cruise are: 

Rome, Italy 

Marvel at the grandeur of the Colosseum, wander through the Roman Forum, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and explore the fascinating stories of the Vatican City. 

Barcelona, Spain 
From Gaudi’s whimsical Sagrada Familia to the busy La Rambla boulevard, this eclectic Spanish city is a favourite amongst cruisers for its tempting seafood and unique architecture. 

Athens/Piraeus, Greece 

A spirited city ideal for history buffs and foodies, home to the legendary Acropolis and the Plaka – known as the ‘Neighbourhood of the Gods’. 

Monaco, France 

Famed for its fast cars and super yachts, Monaco is also brimming with innovative restaurants, day clubs and high-end shopping hotspots. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia 

Known as The Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik’s well-preserved medieval walls and labyrinthine marble streets earned it a starring role in Game of Thrones. 

Venice, Italy  

A city built on water, Venice captivates visitors with winding canals, historic palazzos, and classic gondolas gliding along the waterways. 

Santorini, Greek Islands 

With its white-washed buildings, blue-domed roofs, rugged cliffs and awe-inspiring sunsets, Santorini is truly enchanting. 

It’s always a good time to cruise the Med. Ships are sailing here all year round with regular departures from many ports. The peak season is from late spring to early autumn, which is around May to October. Summer is the busiest time, particularly the months of July and August. You will find that ports are very busy and prices may be higher (along with the temperatures), so it’s a good idea to avoid this time if you can.

Yes. Many of the cruise ships sailing in this region are large vessels packed with fun features, like waterslides, sports courts, games rooms, kids’ clubs and even theme park-style attractions like go kart tracks. These cruises also offer activities tailored for kids, like treasure hunts, cooking classes and more. On shore, kids will love the Med as much as the adults. There are gorgeous beaches for swimming, cycling trails, pretty coastal walks and lots of delicious food.

Cruises in this region offer a mix of international cuisines as well as dishes from the Mediterranean, rich in seafood, olives and fresh vegetables. As ships will be restocking at different ports, they may bring local specialities onboard for you to try. You can also try local wines or spirits from the different Mediterranean nations, like sangria from Spain and ouzo from Greece.

Absolutely. Every cruise will offer a wide selection of set excursions, you're free to explore on your own or book separate tours if you prefer.  

Here are some of the top shore excursions we think you can’t miss in the Med: 

See the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain 

This huge and unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica is one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona. 

Visit Vatican City, Italy 
Take a fascinating tour of the Vatican City, the smallest independent city-state in the world, home to Saint Peter’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel. 

Take a gondola ride in Venice, Italy 
A gondola ride will give you a different perspective of this unique, ‘floating’ city. 

Watch flamenco in Seville, Spain 

Seville is known as the birthplace of flamenco dancing and the shows here are authentic, vibrant and exciting. 

Spend a day on Rhodes, Greece 

The largest of the Dodecanese islands, Rhodes is a sun-kissed paradise with an ancient mediaeval city and a modern district brimming with beaches, shopping and nightlife. 

Go shopping in St. Tropez, France 

Glamorous St. Tropez is the perfect spot for some retail therapy. Discover a mix of bohemian boutiques, high-end designer stores, local markets and art galleries. 

Walk the Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia 
Navigate around the fortresses, towers, and bastions on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient city walls of Dubrovnik. 

There’s lots of flexibility with a Mediterranean cruise because there are so many ports and so many cruise ships sailing between them. You can jump on a cruise for just a couple of days or explore the whole region on a longer itinerary that lasts up to four weeks. As a good rule of thumb, you want to allow around seven days for a Western Mediterranean cruise and around eight to 10 days for an Eastern Mediterranean cruise.

Absolutely! Many cruises offer themed nights, live music, dance performances and informative lectures related to the region and the ports you’ll be visiting. Some of the smaller ships may even bring local performers on board so you can experience an authentic live performance.

There are 27 European countries in the Schengen Area, which includes Mediterranean cruise destinations like Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Croatia. Travellers from many nations are allowed to travel freely within the Schengen area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa. If you’re travelling to non-Schengen countries like Turkey, Montenegro or Cyprus, you may need to apply for a visa. You should always check with your travel expert and check with your relevant government authority.

Yes, several cruise lines offer adults’ only voyages so you can soak up the beauty of the Mediterranean in peace. Viking Cruises and Virgin Voyages do not allow children onboard any of their ships. P&O Cruises UK (a different line to P&O Cruises in Australia) has two adults’ only ships that sail in the Med – Aurora and Arcadia. Some lines, such as Emerald Cruises and Celestyal Cruises, do not recommend cruising with children under the age of 12.

Light clothing for warm days, a jacket for cooler evenings, comfortable walking shoes and swimwear are essential. Europeans are a stylish bunch, so if you want to dine at upmarket restaurants on shore or visit some of the chic bars of the Rivieras, you’ll need to bring some dressier clothes.

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