Sailing the storied waters of the Mediterranean offers a sense of romance and adventure on the high seas that is virtually unsurpassed, with its shimmering, cerulean sea providing access to a staggering array of diversified ports, ranging from sleepy old-world fishing villages nestled by coastal cliffs to bustling and exotic metropolises that span Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. While many Americans first acquire their sea legs hopping between the island paradises of the Caribbean (see our Caribbean Cruises 101), the siren call of the Mediterranean sounds out strong, enticing U.S. travelers to traverse the Atlantic in search of the region’s treasure trove of ports steeped in rich histories and captivating cultures.
Regardless of the amount of cruise hours you may have logged, there is a ship stationed in the tranquil Mediterranean to fit every passenger’s desire – mainstream mega-ships that are big on activities and value; intimate expedition-style vessels that focus on education; luxury liners that dole out pampering between ports; and tall ships that offer hands-on, back-to-basics sailings are just a sampling of the Mediterranean cruise experiences on hand. In fact, with the Mediterranean now the third most popular cruising destination in the world (following on the heels of the Caribbean and Alaska), the cruise industry has heartily responded to the demand: Since 2000, the number of cruise ship berths in the region has more than tripled (with more than 18,000 available in 2010).
In order to help you plan your perfect Mediterranean cruise vacation, our cruise experts have rounded up answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as some useful tips for booking Mediterranean cruises. We’ve also broken down the cruise offerings into two main regions: the more popular Western Mediterranean cruises, which largely cover Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, and Morocco, and the more exotic Eastern Mediterranean cruises, which typically take in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Israel, and Egypt. Once you’ve got your feet wet, head over the Cruise section of our blog for the latest updates on the industry, or check out our Mediterranean cruise deals section for ways to stretch your travel budget a bit further.