Mediterranean cruises conjure dreamy images of long sunny days spent in hidden coves, eating delicious local food and sipping a drink watching a beautiful sunset. Fortunately, this dream is easily fulfilled with several small ship cruises in the Mediterranean Sea. Affectionately known in Europe as ‘the Med, ’ the word "Mediterranean" means in the ‘middle of the land’ as the sea is almost surrounded, save small connections at Gibraltar, Marmara, and the Red Sea. Thanks to this, the waters of the Mediterranean are extremely calm and clear, and the tides are minimal, perfect for swimming, sailing, and snorkeling.
This overall sense of calm and relaxation extends beyond the waters and to the people and culture of the countries that surround the Mediterranean. The locals are renowned for their laid-back attitude and friendly nature, with long warm afternoons spent at the beach or enjoying long lunches and people-watching. The cuisine is one of the highlights of a cruise around the Mediterranean, with fresh seafood and a wealth of unique local delicacies for each region. Work off all this fine food with scenic hikes and beautiful swim-stops on a small ship cruise of the Mediterranean Sea.
Croatia boasts a colossal coastline dotted with tiny beautiful islands, rich history, and culture in the east of the Mediterranean. Island hopping is popular on small ship cruises around the Mediterranean. Croatia truly shines here, with hundreds of tiny islets such as Korcula and Hvar. Guests will find seemingly endless beaches and long sunny days spent snorkeling, sunbathing, and enjoying the local cuisine. Most small ship cruises of Croatia begin at one of the main cities of Split or Dubrovnik, each home to a vibrant and bustling town with impressive historic architecture. Most cruises are one-way, which allows guests the maximum time to explore new experiences and places on the Croatian coast.
This small and beautiful country remains a hidden gem of the Mediterranean. With a beautiful coastline and endless fjords, a small ship cruise is one of the best ways to experience Montenegro. The Fjords are calm and quiet, with fascinating man-made islets to visit, including a church and museum. There are also a host of small towns clinging to the coastline with beaches easily within reach of a small ship. The main town of Kotor is a must-see stop-off. The old city clings precariously to the cliffs behind, creating a stunning backdrop for a vibrant and lively town. No cars are allowed past the ancient gate, which means you can wander freely through the cobbled streets, enjoying the sea of cafes and restaurants that offer traditional local hospitality and cuisine.
Greece is one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world. A small ship cruise of the Greek Isles is the perfect way to see everything this gorgeous country offers, from stunning beaches and sparkling blue waters to its fascinating history and culture. With so much to see and do, travelers experience its great offerings, like the fantastic food and vibrant nightlife. With various itineraries, there’s sure to be a cruise perfect for you.
Turkey is a beautiful country with so much to offer adventure-seekers. From the bustling city life of Istanbul to its small islands spread across the coastline, there is something for everyone in Turkey. And there is no better way to see it all than on a small ship cruise. You can explore everything the country offers from the comfort of your floating hotel room and wake up each day in a new place, ready to explore. So if you're looking for a fantastic vacation that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime, consider booking a cruise along Turkey's stunning coastline. The shoreline is dotted with beautiful tiny islands, clear blue waters, and long sandy beaches - ideal places for sunbathing and swimming. Paddleboarding, snorkeling, and sea kayaking are available for the more adventurous.
Spain is a top destination for small ship cruises thanks to its stunning coastline. With a mix of tiny coastal towns, glamorous ports, and striking beaches, it will be a relaxing and fun-filled experience. Cruising in Spain allows you to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, fantastic food, rich history, and culture and partake in watersports, all on one trip. Explore the coastline, relax on the beach, and enjoy the nightlife, surrounded by the Spanish people's fun-loving attitude—a genuinely unique and memorable experience.
Although technically not a Mediterranean country, Portugal has a similarly relaxed atmosphere. Every region has its rich history and culture. Porto and Douro Valley offer a unique cultural and culinary adventure, perfect for wine lovers. The cruises in the Portuguese islands provide fascinating insights into the history and culture of these remote outposts. The Azores and Madeira are ideal destinations for nature lovers and adventure seekers with their rugged coastlines, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life. The delicious local cuisine makes the Azores and Madeira unforgettable destinations.
Italy offers a variety of small ship adventure cruises that allow travelers to explore the country's stunning coastline and unique ports of call. From the colorful fishing villages of the Cinque Terre to the historic city of Venice, there are endless opportunities for adventure and discovery. Activities on these cruises may include snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking along scenic trails. Additionally, travelers can indulge in local cuisine and wine while taking in the breathtaking views of the Italian coast. Whether seeking a relaxing getaway or an active adventure, a small ship cruise in Italy is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
Best time to cruise in the Mediterranean
A Mediterranean small ship cruise is best enjoyed depending on your tastes and budget. The busiest months are between June and the start of September when the weather is hot and sunny, and there are summer festivals all around the Mediterranean. The best time to visit the Mediterranean for sun worshippers and those who enjoy the hustle is summer; as this is the peak season, it is wise to book your small ship cruise of the Mediterranean well in advance. Those who prefer cooler weather but are still warm and sunny will find that late April to the end of May and the end of September to October are great for sightseeing without the midday heat. These and the rest of the cooler months are much quieter, allowing you to explore the Mediterranean in tranquillity. The prices are often lower, and there is greater availability for small ship cruises outside the peak summer season. Some local winter festivals also include film and religious occasions during the winter months.
How to get to the Mediterranean
Being a much-loved destination for travelers worldwide, reaching a small ship cruise around the Mediterranean is very easy with many options. Flying to Italy is easy internationally with airports in Rome, Pisa, and Florence, connecting flights and ferries to Elba Island for those looking to embark on a small ship cruise in the Tuscan Archipelago. In Croatia, depending on the starting point of your Mediterranean cruise, there are international airports at Split and Dubrovnik, with most cruises departing and finishing at these ports. Montenegro has two international airports at Podgorica and Tivat. For small ship cruises of the Mediterranean, Tivat is the most popular as it is where the departure port is usually found.
Mediterranean Cruise Tips
- Book your trip well in advance, as the Mediterranean coast is extremely popular, with visitors flocking here for the beaches, food, and copious sunshine.
- During peak season, delays are possible at all airports as many people head to the coast. The laid-back style of living feels much better if you arrive a few days early and have time to spare!
- There is so much to do on a small ship cruise around the Mediterranean that it is wise to choose your itinerary based on your interests. Many cruises are mixed activities, but some focus on beaches, fine dining, and other activities, such as hiking or historical and cultural visits.
- The climate varies between the winter and summer, with June-September being the hottest months. Expect plenty of long sunny days and don’t forget the sun cream and a good hat for walking around. The days are still reasonably warm in the cooler months, but the evenings can be chilly if you don’t bring warmer clothes for walking around at night.
- For those who enjoy snorkeling, the Mediterranean is ideal, you can usually get these from the cruise, but if you are planning to do it a lot, it might be worth bringing your own gear.
- The Mediterranean is almost entirely part of the European Union with few restrictions for E.U. citizens. There are also visa-free stays for many tourists, but best check with your consulate at least a few months before your trip.
- The local currency in almost all of the Mediterranean is the Euro, and banks and credit cards are widely accepted.
- Tipping is widely accepted in the Mediterranean, with ten percent being the usual amount for good service in a restaurant or café.
- The Mediterranean culture is extremely relaxed, and everything seems to move at its own pace, especially service. It is generally best to ease yourself into this way of thinking and enjoy it as part of the holiday vibe.