Warm weather, deep blue waters and the beauty of the Mediterranean are at arm's reach in adventure cruises. An unforgettable experience.
Mediterranean cruises conjure up dreamy images of long sunny days spent in hidden coves, eating delicious local food and sipping a drink watching a beautiful sunset. Fortunately, this is a dream that is easily fulfilled with a number of small ship cruises available 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 entirely surrounded, save small connections at Gibraltar, Marmara and the Red Sea. Thanks to this, the waters of the Mediterranean are extremely calm, clear and tides are minimal, perfect for swimming, sailing and snorkelling.
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.
Best Mediterranean cruises and areas to visit
Cruises in the Mediterranean give guests the opportunity to explore some of the best and most beautiful stretches of coastline the region has to offer. Small islets and tiny villages clinging to the coast as well as miles of stunning beaches are all on offer in the Mediterranean.
This chain of seven islands off the coast of Italy was believed by the Romans to be made of a necklace lost by their goddess of beauty, Venus. The islands are well-known for their own natural beauty and unique flora and fauna leading the Italian Government to designate the archipelago a national park and its surrounding waters a marine park. The park is home to a variety of protected butterflies, birds and even a number of wild boars. The islands vary in size from the larger Elba which once housed the exiled leader Napoleon, quite a place to be exiled, Elba is famous for its wine, beautiful beaches and historic towns.
In the east of the Mediterranean, Croatia boasts a colossal coastline dotted with tiny beautiful islands, rich history, and culture. Island hopping is popular on small ship cruises around the Mediterranean and this is where Croatia truly shines, with hundreds of tiny islets such as Korcula and Hvar where guests will find seemingly endless beaches, as well as long sunny days, spent snorkelling, 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 exploring new experiences and places on the Croatian coast.
This small and beautiful country remains, somehow, a hidden gem of the Mediterranean. With a beautiful coastline and a seemingly endless number of 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 one 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 must-see stop-off, the old city clings precariously to the cliffs behind to create a stunning backdrop for a vibrant and lively town. There are no cars 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.
Best time to cruise in the Mediterranean
A Mediterranean small ship cruise is best enjoyed depending on your personal 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 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 giving you a chance to explore the Mediterranean in tranquillity. The prices are often lower and there is greater availability for small ship cruises outside of the peak summer season. There are also a number of local winter festivals including film and religious occasions during the winter months.
How to get to the Mediterranean
Being a much-loved destination for travellers from around the world, 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 with 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 both Split and Dubrovnik cities with the majority of 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 well in advance of your trip 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 large numbers of 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 have a focus on beaches, fine dining and other activities, such as hiking or historic 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. In the cooler months, the days are still reasonably warm, but the evenings can be chilly if you don’t bring warmer clothes for walking around at night.
- For those who enjoy snorkelling, the Mediterranean is ideal, you can usually get these from the cruise but if you are planning to do it a lot then 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 bank and credit cards are widely accepted.
- Tipping is widely accepted as the norm in the Mediterranean with ten per cent 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.