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Travel bucket list idea:

Cruise the Mediterranean Sea

  • Multiple countries

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

Cruising and the Mediterranean are the perfect match, thanks to gorgeous beaches, glamorous ports and cultural thrills galore, all packed into a relatively manageable area.

You could be basking on the beach in Mykonos one day and watching a fiery sunset over Santorini the next. Or cycling round the medieval walls of Lucca, or tucking into sweet cannoli with your cappuccino in Taormina.

Every kind of cruise ship criss-crosses the Mediterranean, from sailing ships around the Greek islands to luxury vessels along the Cote d’Azur or swish yachts exploring the pine-clad islands of the Croatian coastline. Take time to choose the right experience, whether a grand tour or a voyage that focuses in more depth on a smaller area, like the Balearics, or the Peloponnese.

You could opt for a fully-rigged, tall ship, or ‘clipper’. These authentic ships, modelled on the original ‘greyhounds of the sea’ from the early 20th century, fly over the water with no sound but the waves, wind and creak of the lines. There are few seagoing experiences as romantic as this.


Price from: £Varies
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 4 days +

Getting there & doing it

The biggest departure ports in the Mediterranean are Venice, Rome, Athens and Barcelona, although ships also sail from Palma, Cannes, Dubrovnik and Valletta, and from Southampton on longer, no-fly cruises.

Voyages range from four-day mini-breaks in the Greek islands to grand circumnavigations taking three or more weeks. A cruise needs to be viewed as an introduction to an area, and an effortless way to get around.

One tip is to look for itineraries that give you late departures from port, or even overnights, as the Mediterranean in summer is often loveliest in the evening.

When to do it

The Mediterranean is undeniably crowded in summer so avoid August if you can. May to October are the warmest months, the sea perfect for swimming in September. Culture lovers could consider low season cruises in winter, when museums and galleries are empty.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Emerald Cruises [Mediterranean]

  • Multiple countries

Award-winning European river cruise specialist, with highly-regarded, modern ships. They offer small-ship yacht voyages to Croatia, the western Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Ionian – the perfect way to explore each destination in depth.

Princess Cruises [Mediterranean]

  • United States of America (USA)

The world’s second-largest cruise operator has several ships in the Mediterranean in summer, offering classy cuisine, family fun and a high standard of entertainment.

Seabourn [Mediterranean]

  • Multiple countries

Sleek, all-inclusive ships with superyacht service and creative itineraries make Seabourn one of the top choices for luxury Mediterranean cruises.

Star Clippers [Mediterranean]

  • Multiple countries

Star Clippers’ graceful, square-rigged sailing ships explore the Mediterranean throughout the summer. The focus is on smaller, out-of-the-way ports like Hydra and Skopelos in Greece.

Tradewind Voyages [Mediterranean]

  • Hadleigh, Suffolk, Multiple countries

The elegant Golden Horizon sails northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, the Indian Ocean and Australia, carried by the wind and currents. More eclectic and adventurous itineraries than Star Clipper.