The treasures of the Mediterranean offer a tantalising taste of the cruise lifestyle, but with such a variety of ports and itineraries to choose from, which part of the region is best suited to your needs?
When it comes to choosing a Mediterranean cruise, travellers are faced with one of two options – the east side or the west. The Western Mediterranean roughly consists of Monaco, Spain, France and the west coast of Italy (including Sicily); the Eastern Mediterranean includes the Balkans, the Greek Isles, Turkey and Cyprus. Italy straddles the two with Rome often serving as a port for western routes and Venice serving the eastern itineraries.
Whether it’s your first cruise or your twentieth, there are gems to discover on both sides of the Med. The region is rich in history, culture, UNESCO World Heritage sites and delicious cuisine – there really is an experience for every taste. However, there are a few characteristics of the east and west that might sway your attention to one or the other…
The Western Mediterranean offers a dazzling mix of beautiful architecture and world-class museums. From the Vatican in Rome to Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, visitors to the west can feast their eyes on impressive constructions, many of which have deep religious significance. Additionally, art lovers can explore exquisite collections such as that of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Dali Museum in Palamos. In a nutshell, culture vultures will find plenty to keep their interest levels high.
The epicurean traveller with a predilection for rustic French cuisine, creative Spanish tapas or hearty Italian comfort food will find a cruise of the Western Med caters to all their culinary desires. Munch your way through Spanish paella, French pastries and the fresh seafood pastas that can be found all along the Italian coast. All washed down with excellent wines or luxurious cava, of course – the perfect accompaniment to a seaside view.
The city slicker will be delighted with some of the ports of choice on a Western Mediterranean cruise. Barcelona and Rome are two of the most popular embarkation and debarkation ports whilst locations like Florence and Monaco offer further opportunities to experience the beating heart of vibrant Europe.
The Eastern Mediterranean possesses charms that are similar yet different to the west. Here you can find just as much history and culture, but with Greece and Turkey onside, the opportunities for delving into the secrets of the ancient world through fascinating archaeological sites are more of a draw than sophisticated museums and galleries. If crumbling ruins and sites steeped in mythology hold appeal for you, the famous Acropolis of Athens or rock-hewn Lycian Tombs of Dalyan will certainly satisfy your soul.
In terms of gastronomy, the east also has its own brand of delicious delights to offer with a focus on grilled seafood, roasted meats, kebabs, mezze and fresh salads. Eateries tend to be like the towns – more rustic and earthy than the glossy destinations of the west. You are more likely to haggle for goods in a colourful street market in this part of the Med than spend an afternoon browsing boutique-lined streets.
However, the big draw of the Eastern Mediterranean is the glorious coastline that is a standard feature throughout. The crystalline waters of Croatia; the powder soft sands of Turkey; the rugged coastline of Greece – all make for a beach lover’s dream.
Expect embarkation ports such as Athens and Istanbul to grace an Eastern Mediterranean cruise itinerary, where you can marvel at the Parthenon and the Blue Mosque respectively.
Whichever side of the Med you choose to pursue, there’s always next year to see how the other side live. But one thing all trips have in common is the need for the correct travel insurance policy to cover you in case anything should go wrong. Use our free online comparison tool at Medical Travel Compared to get your Mediterranean cruise insurance quote today.