There was a time when Mediterranean cruises involved older ships sailing tried-and-true itineraries. But today, the Eastern and Western Mediterranean are vacation hot spots, and the lines are showing off their latest-and-greatest vessels on creative routes from April to November.
These floating hotels take you to places where seafaring traditions date from ancient times. History, art, culture, beaches, shopping, and views are all on the agenda with Mediterranean cruises.
1. Celebrity Cruise Lines Silhouette: Italy and Croatia
Celebrity’s Mediterranean cruises from Venice combine the sights in Rome and Naples with time to explore the newly popular beaches of Croatia and Montenegro. The 2,886-passenger Silhouette is one of the most stylish ships afloat, with such features as a half-acre of real grass on top and an interactive grill restaurant where you can cook your own dinner.
2. Oceania Cruises Riviera: Western Mediterranean
One of Oceania’s newest vessels, the 1,250-passenger Riviera, has a Canyon Ranch spa and cuisine overseen by French master chef Jacques Pépin, the PBS host and cookbook author. There’s also a Bon Appétit Culinary Center where you can improve your own cooking skills. Mediterranean cruises hot spots include Monte Carlo, Rome, Marseilles and Florence. Some sails include exotic Casablanca. Departures are from Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome and Venice.
3. Norwegian Cruise Line Epic: Western Mediterranean
Weeklong Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona on Norwegian's 4,100-passenger Epic give you a great overview of the region: the Vatican and Colosseum in Rome, Renaissance art in Florence, ancient Pompeii in Naples, French culture in Nice. But what's happening onboard the line’s newest and largest ship is exciting, too, from the ice bar to the Blue Man Group show to the choice of 20 eateries — there’s even a circus.
4. Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam: Eastern and Western Mediterranean
Holland America Line's 2,100-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam wins points as a traditional ship with trendy niceties that include cabanas you can rent for private sea views and a Master Chef's Table. But the itineraries — departing from either Barcelona or Venice — are also knockouts. Choose an Eastern Mediterranean cruise and visit the Greek Isles, Athens and Istanbul; head west to Rome, Florence and Venice; or combine the two and get the whole Mediterranean cruises shebang.
5. Seabourn Quest: Eastern and Western Mediterranean
Mediterranean cruises on Seabourn’s latest vessel, the luxurious, 450-passenger Quest, involve all the pampering imaginable — free-flowing champagne, fine eats, fancy accommodations, even cold towels proffered on a hot day. The itineraries are also beyond the norm, including visits to such beautiful small ports as Portofino and Lipari, Italy; Kos, Greece; and St. Tropez, France. Departures are from Barcelona, Istanbul, Athens, Venice and Rome.
Published January 2012
Also of Interest
- 5 tips for snagging cheaper airfares
- 7 ways you can prevent arthritis
- Share your wisdom and experience — help a child learn to read
Visit the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.