Ancient Cultures and History
One of the most popular cruising regions in all of Europe
The Eastern Mediterranean has been gaining in popularity as a cruising region over recent years. Encompassing the area ranging from Italy’s east coast to the Adriatic and Greek Isles (all the way to Turkey, in fact), the Eastern Med is now Usually an Eastern Mediterranean sailing will often start in Piraeus (the port city for Athens), Rome (served by the port city of Civitavecchia) or Venice. Sandwiched in between could be stops in the Greek islands, Croatia, Italy or Turkey. Some cruise lines mix a combination of Eastern and Western Mediterranean ports into their Med itineraries and will include stops in Barcelona or Genoa as well.
Using Athens, Venice and Rome as the starting and ending points of the voyage is a wise choice on the part of the cruise lines since those cities present the most varied options for pre or post-cruise stays. Neither can be seen adequately in a one-day port stop, so most cruisers will opt to add on a two or three-day stay in these cities.
Depending upon the length of the sailing, many cruise lines will include at least one overnight port stay on their Eastern Mediterranean cruises. The most popular ports for this would include Barcelona and Venice since those places offer the most varied nightlife that passengers can take advantage of during an overnight port stay. Also, some cruise lines, especially those embarking or disembarking in Athens, may include a more comprehensive exploration of the Greek Isles, including port stops in Santorini and Katakolon. In fact, for those cruisers who prefer more time in and around the water, rather than an itinerary that involves a lot of touring through ancient cathedrals and other historically significant sights, an itinerary that primarily features the Greek Isles may be just the ticket. These types of sailings will provide for some touring, but also for lots of quality beach time, a uniquely Eastern Mediterranean atmosphere, and ports that are steeped in lots of rich history as well. Common ports on these Greek Isles itineraries often include Santorini, Rhodes, Mykonos, Corfu, Samos and even the small island of Patmos. A visit to the Cave of St. John is a must see for cruise passengers who are lucky enough to make a port call here.
While some of the cruise lines base ships in the Eastern Med year-round, historically it has been a summertime cruising destination. Most Eastern Mediterranean cruises run from Spring to Autumn, with the focus being on the high summer season. Winter cruising in the Med, though, has become more and more popular in recent years, especially since the temperatures are more moderate (usually in the 50’s to 70’s as opposed to the 80’s and 90’s of summer), and the crowds are significantly less. Prices are usually more reasonable during this time too; a significant consideration if one is planning for a pre or post-cruise stay of some duration.
Most of the mass market cruise lines will position a ship in the Eastern Mediterranean at least during the warmer months of the year. Additionally, some cruise lines base smaller ships in the Eastern Med which are capable of getting into some of the smaller, more exotic ports of call inaccessible to the big vessels.
The Eastern Mediterranean presents one of the most wonderful cruising options in all of Europe. It is a place that will delight even the most seasoned traveller and it will provide for a holiday that will never be forgotten no matter how many subsequent trips you take to other luxurious destinations in the future.
It offers a unique blend of ancient cultures and history along with such wonderful treasures as pristine beaches and quaint little villages. Because of the sheer diversity of the region and its features, it probably offers the greatest array of holiday options in Europe.