The Best Western Mediterranean Cruises has one of the most diverse cruise regions. A western Mediterranean cruise covers two continents; Europe and Africa. This region includes Italy, France and Spain, Morocco and Tunisia. This cruise is great for art and history lovers who also wish to explore the region’s landmarks, beaches, cafes and boutique shops. The Mediterranean Europe is one of the most culturally rich and exotic destinations in the world. You can visit places like the ancient stone villages and sunny beaches of Portugal, or the middle Turkey. Whether you want stunning landscapes, wonderful cuisine, or you are just looking for a cultural experience, there is something for everyone on a Western Mediterranean Cruise.
When Should You Go?
The high season in the Mediterranean is the summer. It will be hot and sunny, the water warm, and millions will head to the coast to soak up the sun. The best time to take a western Mediterranean cruise is in the spring or late fall, which offer the advantage of more competitive fares, fewer crowds in port and more pleasant temperatures. Plus more things are open; Europeans notoriously take the entire month of August off, and many restaurants are closed in the middle of summer. Families might want to cruise from mid-June to mid-August, when ship’s children’s facilities are running at full speed, but fares may be pricier and ports will be more crowded. If you want to travel even earlier in the year, head to the southern destinations. Sardinia, Corsica, and Malta are beautiful in April. Late March up thru April is a perfect time to visit Morocco, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea.
Wildlife in the Mediterranean
The primary reason people take a Western Mediterranean cruise is for the cultural experience, but if you are looking for wildlife, you will not be disappointed. There is a variety of marine life including swordfish, tuna, dolphins, and a few sharks in the Mediterranean waters. Along the coasts of Albania, Greece, and Turkey you will find Loggerhead turtles and the endangered monk seals. Birdlife is also abundant. Portugal, Morocco, and Spain have populations of storks, flamingos, pelicans, spoonbills, and egrets. Golden eagles and huge black vultures can be seen in Greece and Albania. The rare white pelican can be found in Montenegro, where the 27 mile long Lake Skadar has the largest bird sanctuary in Europe. There are also over 250 species of birdlife in Turkey that migrate there each spring and fall.
Best Western Mediterranean Cruise Lines
With a nearly 1-to-1 crew-to-passenger ratio, the Seabourn Odyssey welcomes cruisers with its top-notch customer service. The ship began is an all-suite vessel. Travelers can enjoy complimentary Champagne upon arrival, fresh fruit daily and 24-hour room service, plus everyone has access to a personal suite stewardess for additional requests. Each cabin is equipped with a separate living area and bedroom, a stocked bar, a flat-screen television, a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a tub, shower and dual sinks.
There are four dining options, nightly entertainment and onboard amenities that include two pools, six outdoor hot tubs, a fitness center, a nine-hole putting green and a spa. The ship also allows cruisers to enjoy water sports equipment like kayaks, paddle boats and Hobie Cat sailboats.
The Viking Sky is one of the newest ships in Viking’s ocean cruising line. All cabins offer 270 to 1,448 square feet of space, and include balconies, complimentary Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs and bathrooms with heated floors, among other amenities. Viking Sky’s activities include classes at the fitness center, treatments at the spa and destination-focused lectures. The ship also offers four pools and whirlpools, including an infinity pool on the stern of the ship. In the evenings, passengers can enjoy live performances in the theater or watch destination-related movies in one of two cinemas. With 550 crew members on board, the ship maintains a nearly 2-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio.
The Viking Star stands outs for its staterooms, which all have a veranda. Cabins range from the 270-square-foot Veranda cabins to the 1,448-square-foot Owner’s Suite, which offers a dining area that can seat six, an ocean view dry sauna and a boardroom that seats 12, among other amenities. Amenities include a spa, several shops, a theater that hosts live performances and lectures, two cinemas for screening movies and two pools, including a glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern. Guests will have eight dining options to choose from, all with no additional charge or fee.
The Seven Seas Voyager has all-suite accommodations, which include flat-screen TVs, private balconies and marble bathrooms. Passengers can lounge poolside or receive treatments at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Guests can dine at one of the ship’s six venues, and all specialty dining is included in the cruise fare. When nighttime rolls around, guests can try their luck at the casino, catch a stage production at the Constellation Theater or savor a nightcap at one of four lounges and bars.
The Quest appeals to travelers seeking an intimate, relaxed atmosphere. The ship’s staterooms include flat-screen TVs, minibars and 24-hour room service. Suites offer additional perks such as 235 complimentary Internet minutes and complimentary specialty dining. Cruisers can also spend time at the spa and fitness facilities, which previous passengers described as modern and comfortable. Onboard entertainment includes seminars, wine tastings among other enrichment programs. At night, passengers can enjoy blackjack in Casino Luxe, take in shows at the Cabaret Lounge or sip cocktails at one of the three lounges.
Crystal Serenity features Crystal Penthouses and a series of renovated restaurants. A main highlight is the herb garden, which boasts olive trees and fresh lavender. And with 12 onboard restaurants, there are plenty of dining options. 85 percent of all staterooms are appointed with verandas, and all cabins come with flat-screen TVs, minifridges and bathrooms with tubs. Guests staying in a Penthouse category room have access to extras like Jacuzzis, nightly hors’ d’oeuvres and personal butler service. The Serenity has language classes, wine and food tastings, and personalized service with 655 crew members catering to 1,070. Amenities include a feng shui-inspired spa, five bars and lounges, a casino, shopping boutiques, and a sports deck with a driving range.
Best Western Mediterranean Cruise Ports
The list of ports in the Western Mediterranean is long. Here are the ports that should not be missed:
While the Spanish port of Almeria’s biggest draw is certainly its beaches, which are excellent for enjoying any number of water-based activities or sunning the day away, the city is a wonderful place to experience authentic Andalucian culture. Visitors will also find many galleries, shops and restaurants, as well as museums and historic landmarks.
Barcelona is also a city with distinct neighborhoods. Ciutat Vella is the heart of everything, with museums, shopping and cafes. Then there’s Port Vell which features bars, restaurants, shops, an IMAX theater and the largest aquarium in Europe. Barri Gotic is the center of the old city and brings together the best of Barcelona in a series of narrow streets, shops, cafes and magical corridors. One of Barcelona’s best attributes is that its neighborhoods are walkable and easily accessible by bus, metro or even on foot. Don’t miss a stroll along Las Ramblas, with produce and flower stands, a historic opera house and the Erotica Museum.
Corsica (Ajaccio), France
No doubt about it: Ajaccio is a great cruise port — easily explored on foot; crammed with good restaurants and well-stocked, unusual shops. You’ll find Italian influence here in some street names and in the local cuisine; though essentially French, it has a spicy undertone and features pork as a popular ingredient. In terms of shops and restaurants, Ajaccio feels 100 percent French. Expect pretty patisseries, stylish fashion shops and pharmacy windows, packed with every beauty accessory known to woman — but at prices so high they would make a Parisien gasp. This is an island, after all; everything has to be imported, and that’s reflected in the price tags.
A former fishing village in the northwest of Spain, Ferrol exemplifies authentic Galician culture and is packed with sights and attractions for visitors to explore throughout its various neighborhoods. Within the city, tourists can visit a castle, museums covering a variety of topics and historic churches. There are also several beaches in Ferrol, each unique and well-suited for a hot day.
Madeira (Funchal), Portugal
Cruisers who have Funchal as one of their stops will find cuisine that celebrates the freshest ingredients, a population that is joyous and gracious, activities that run the gamut from vigorous hiking to placid contemplation of nature, and great shopping opportunities for locally made crafts and embroidery.
Most cruisers make a beeline for Le Vieux Port, a buzzing, picturesque harbor lined with boutiques, restaurants and cafes. This district attracts an eclectic crowd, from local fishermen to millionaires venturing ashore from James Bond-style mega-yachts. All gather to soak up Le Vieux Port’s charming atmosphere, browse its bustling markets and tuck into a bowl of Marseille’s classic signature dish, bouillabaisse (a rich fish stew).
Monaco (Monte Carlo), France
Arriving by ship into the Monte Carlo harbor is an amazing experience. If your docking time is before dawn, you’ll see the lights of the principality twinkling throughout the mountains that surround the harbor and the beautifully lit Grand Casino at center stage. If you arrive during daylight hours, you are faced with the sight of one magnificent yacht after another vying for space in the little harbor. Whenever you are fortunate enough to visit Monaco and the dazzling district of Monte Carlo, you’ll find plenty to do. In fact, these 485 acres offer so much, you’ll need to come back to explore again.
Naples is home to architectural highpoints that includes the Gallerias Principe di Napoli and Umberto II, the royal palaces, churches and former convents. This is a city of broad avenues as well as narrow alleyways. The port of Naples serves as a gateway to key destinations — Pompeii, Sorrento, Ravello, Positano, Capri and Ischia — but it is also a city to be enjoyed in its own right.
Palma de Malorca, Spain
The architecture of this Mediterranean port mixes Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles. Palma’s winding streets find their way to grand churches, yacht harbors, beaches, fountains and old castles. Because there is so much histor, it’s a perfect port to explore on foot. Palma de Malorca is also an outdoors city, with much pedestrian traffic and the opportunity to eat or relax outside in a variety of settings — parks and boulevards, and museums and historical sites. For sun worshippers, the beaches are close by and the water is wonderfully clear.
The town sits on a tiny bay within the Gulf of Tigullio; pastel-colored buildings rim the harbor while the verdant land surrounding it rises almost vertically. It’s a naturally beautiful environment, so much so that the promontory to the north of the village has been designated a national park, complete with paths and trails for all to enjoy. The sea surrounding it has also been declared a national park and a diver’s and snorkeler’s haven, where red coral grows and flourishes. A bit further out at sea is the “Cetacean Sanctuary,” where whales and dolphins congregate peacefully. The yachts that line the harbor give one a sense of what the village has in store, along with the stunning backdrop of sapphire-colored water and bougainvilleas trailing down the mountainsides. There’s Louis Vuitton! Ferragamo! Gucci! There’s Cartier and Hermes! There’s a cafe where for a cool $10 you can buy yourself a Coke or a cup of coffee! Oh, all of these and more are within view, but it’s the natural beauty of the place that can make you breathless.
First-time visitors will be surprised by the scenic layout, with its famous seven hills and the Tiber River running through the city, and the senses may be shocked by the general energy, hustle and bustle. With cars, taxis and scooters roaring here and there, crossing the street can be a challenge. The food is wonderful and the spirit of the good life abounds. And the shopping scene serves up Prada, Gucci, Armani and more. What could be better than that? Rome has one of the world’s most important collections of once-in-a-lifetime sights to see, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum and on and on and on. And for those historic monuments alone, the city is worth a visit.
The first things that you see when you arrive in the harbor, are glamorous yachts.
The town itself is full of amber-colored buildings surrounding the port, narrow streets, and alleys that climb away from it to the hills above. The Citadelle is visible from the sea. Saint-Tropez is a small French town with history and a sense of place, a maritime sensibility, world-renowned sandals and the famous Tarte Tropezienne, a cream-and-sponge cake developed by a relocated Pole from a recipe he got from his grandmother. It is perfect embodiment of the French Riviera, and the best thing about Saint-Tropez is that you can make it your own and choose the way you want to see it.
From historic churches and museums to glittering coastline and a mountainous national park, visitors will find much to explore in Salerno. Though the city dates back to ancient times it has undergone many periods of revitalization and modernization and offers any amenity one can think of. Additionally, other cities along the Amalfi Coast can easily be reached from Salerno.
This clifftop town — with its alfresco cafes, 19th-century villas-turned-hotels, warrens of old city shopping streets and coastal views — is a picturesque place to spend a relaxing day ashore. Sorrento offers cruisers a delectable taste of Italy that will leave you hungrily anticipating later ports of call along the Italian coast or yearning to return to take a bigger bite out of the scenic Amalfi Coast.
Once you are in the protected harbor of Valletta, it feels as though modern civilization has disappeared. You’ll see a car or two driving on the winding streets amid the limestone battlements, castles and hillside structures, but they’ll seem out of place. Malta is has 7,000 years of interesting history, yet is still fully modernized and contemporary. When you enter the Valletta Harbor, you’ll see stone battlements of forts along the waterway, along with cream-colored buildings and ancient church steeples. Colorful luzzo boats maneuver the waters around the cruise ships and tankers.