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See Also: Cruises in The Western Mediterranean

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Cruises in The Western Mediterranean

Useful Information For All Cruises !

Cruise the Eastern Mediterranean

An Eastern Mediterranean cruise often takes in several historical ports, interesting cultural experiences, and gorgeous coastal landscapes – making it easy to satisfy a variety of interests. Some itineraries, however, place more emphasis on history and culture, visiting destinations like Venice, Athens, Katakolon (for visits to Olympia), Istanbul, and Dubrovnik – while other itineraries focus more on beach fun and sun, perhaps visiting mainly the Greek Islands.

A general trend of all Mediterranean itineraries, however, is that rather than spending days upon days out at sea, cruises tend to visit ports very frequently because places are relatively close together. This means you often enjoy a great variety of landscapes, cultures and countries in a single trip.
‘Eastern’ Mediterranean cruises tend to focus on ports in Greece, Turkey, Croatia, and Italy. The most common points for embarkation and debarkation are Venice (Italy), Piraeus near Athens (Greece), or Istanbul (Turkey).

In Greece, many itineraries include Athens, with excursions including the Parthenon, the Agora Market, the National Archaeological Museum and the view from Lykavittos Hill. The small port town of Katakolon is also on many itineraries because it is so convenient for trips to Olympia, where the ancient Olympics were held (from 776 BC). In the Greek Islands, Corfu often features on cruise itineraries, as do Santorini, Rhodes and Mykonos.

In Turkey, Istanbul is a classic stop off, offering a fascinating blend of the east and west and with so many spectacular sights such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Haghia Sofia church. Kusadasi is also popular for excursions to the nearby ancient city of Ephesus.

In Croatia, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik is the top cruise port, full of historical sights such as the Pile Gate (city entrance) and the 14th-century Franciscan Monastery, and pleasant outdoor cafes for some caffeine-fuelled coffee and people-watching.

In Italy, Venice is the most popular port in the Eastern Mediterranean, with its dense network of canals, more than 400 bridges, and many beautiful piazzas and elegant palaces.

Choosing A Mediterranean Cruise

The ports of call visited on different cruises to the ‘Eastern’ Mediterranean vary dramatically, with some focusing more on the beaches of the Greek islands, for example, and others heading mostly for historic locations such as the city of Dubrovnik or Athens. If you’re keen on sightseeing rather than lazing on the beach, make sure the itinerary visits culture- or history-rich destinations, and also leaves you enough time to take in at least the highlights – otherwise you’ll leave disappointed. Many itineraries rush from one place to another with only a half day here and there, which is not very conducive to either sightseeing or relaxation.

Budget Friendly Cruises

A seven-night full-board Mediterranean ‘Adriatic & Aegean’ Cruise on board the Costa Victoria costs from £449 (including flights from a London airport) with Virgin Holiday Cruises, visiting three countries: Italy, Greece and Croatia. This cruise goes during winter (November), which explains why it is cheaper than many others that go during the peak season (July and August). Not only may you pay more for cruises in July and August, but you’ll also face the worst of the tourist crowds and sometimes unbearably hot temperatures. By November, you’ll dodge the worst crowds, and enjoy lower temperatures and better prices.

The cruise sails from the dreamy city of Venice in Italy and calls at Ancona (Italy); the gorgeous Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Corfu; and on to the historic city of Dubrovnik in Croatia before returning to Venice. The main criticism of this cruise is the lack of time in each port of call. Many stops only last for half a day, which isn’t nearly enough time to see the place properly; a fleeting visit is all you get, but for the price and length of the cruise that’s hardly surprising.

The Italian-style Costa Victoria seems to get pretty good reviews from passengers. It has a choice of bars and restaurants and plenty of deck space for sun bathing, ocean air and sea views. Dining ranges from a casual pizzeria to dressy, formal restaurants. There’s a fitness centre, spa and indoor pool to keep you busy when you’re on board, and there are family-oriented services such as a children’s room and a teen club. For evening entertainment there is live music, a show lounge, dancing, a casino and a disco. The ship can take up to 2,370 passengers in its 964 cabins.

Visit http://www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk/costa-cruises-costa-victoria-mediterranean-7-nights-november-2009-0016079-holiday.php for full information about this cruise

An Alternative Budget Option

If you’d rather a summertime cruise in the ‘budget’ category, easyCruise offers a 7-night half-board ‘Aegean Islands, Crete & Turkey’ trip throughout the summer, costing from £892 per person in August. It aims to show you the best of the Greek Cycladic and Dodecanese islands, with a visit to the large Greek island of Crete, and a stop in Turkey’s lively tourist resort of Bodrum – perfect if you’re seeking out the beach with a few visits to ancient sites and pretty Greek villages

You leave Piraeus (near Athens) for the Greek island of Mykonos, where you have a full day and evening before cruising on to the historical resort town of Bodrum in Turkey for an afternoon and overnight stay. Next on the list are the Greek islands of Kos (full day and overnight), Rhodes (full day and evening), Agios Nikolaos in Crete (afternoon and evening), and Syros (afternoon and evening) before returning overnight to Piraeus for debarkation. Although this packs in a lot of stops in just a week-long trip, the islands’ close proximity means that you actually spend most of your time at the destinations rather than at sea, making it excellent value if you want to explore or have time on the beach. As this holiday is half-board you can eat either lunch or dinner at your daily destination, which allows you to try authentic local cuisine – a holiday highlight for many people.

The easyCruise Life is a modern but ‘no frills’ vessel carrying around 500 passengers in accommodation that aims to be good value for money, but without many of the extras you find on luxury cruise ships. The main difference between easyCruise and more expensive lines is that most of the services and amenities provided on board are not included in the fare – although they do generally seem to be offered at a fairly reasonable price.
Visit http://bookings.easycruise.com/RDS/B2C/cruiseAction.do?method=getCruiseCabins &category=9&promotion=no&tab=Cruises&cabBookHere=yes for more information.

Mid-range Priced Cruises In The Mediterranean

Archers Direct offer a full-board, 11-day ‘Classical Marvels of the Mediterranean’ Cruise on board the MS Noordam in August from £1155 per person (including return flights between the UK and Rome).

The highlights of the cruise include visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical Dubrovnik in Croatia; Corfu, Katakolon (for a visit to Olympia), Santorini and Piraeus (for a visit to Athens) in Greece; Kusadasi on Turkey’s Aegean coast (with an optional excursion to the ancient city of Ephesus); and historical Messina in Sicily. Only a couple of days are spent at sea, with all the others spent visiting ports of call for sightseeing.
The Noordam can accommodate up to 1,918 guests and facilities include two swimming pools, several restaurants and bars, internet cafés, a show lounge, volleyball and basketball courts, a spa and salon with hydro pool and thermal suites, a fitness centre, a casino, shops and boutiques.
Visit http://www.archersdirect.co.uk/product-detail/2432/17/0 for details.

Luxury Cruises In The Mediterranean

P&O Cruises offer a full-board 16-night Mediterranean trip in July, during school summer holidays, on board the Aurora, costing from £1709 per person. This is our most expensive cruise for the Eastern Mediterranean, so falls into the ‘Luxury’ category, although its price tag is party due to the time of year it departs and the generous length of the trip. The cruise has an Eastern Mediterranean slant, although it also visits Spain en route from the UK.
There are visits to eight ports in six different countries. The cruise leaves Southampton in the UK and sails to the city of Cadiz in Spain, before cruising on to the beautiful Greek island of Cephalonia, followed by Dubrovnik (Croatia), Venice (Italy), Korcula (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Gibraltar, and then back to Southampton. This cruise is more about ports of call rather than the voyage, as it spends a full day in each place (except for Gibraltar, where you get a morning, and Southampton, where the trip starts and ends). On the other hand, the vessel is well-equipped so there’s plenty to do when you’re at sea.
The Aurora holds up to 1,950 passengers and is good for families, with facilities for all ages, including a cinema, three pools, a gym, spa, bars and both relaxed and formal restaurants. The price includes daytime activities such as the pools sauna and sports facilities, and evening entertainment such as live comedy and theatre – plus car parking in Southampton and all meals in the main restaurants.

For full details visit http://www.pocruises.com/Cruises/R908/Overview.axd

When To Go

The Mediterranean climate is ideal for cruising – warm and sunny almost year-round, making trips possible even in winter (as long as you aren’t hoping to catch too many rays on deck). In Dubrovnik (Croatia), for example, daytime temperatures in July and August often reach 29°C, while at the same time of year the Greek island of Corfu often sees temperatures hitting 31°C. For a cheaper and less sweltering trip, Spring (April to mid-June) and Autumn (mid-September and throughout October) are good times to travel – and even winter doesn’t get too cold in most places (in Corfu, for example, December averages range from about 7-15°C).

 

 

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