Cozumel Cruise
Photo By: Chris Harrison (Creative Commons)

Making The Most Of The Mediterranean

The cruise industry has grown at a rapid rate over the past few decades, and continues to do so. Since the 1970’s the industry has experienced a reputation overhaul and is now growing in popularity as a first choice holiday. Gone are the days when the majority of people would book a week in the sun at a hotel, and spend seven days sat on their sun lounger. Today’s holidaymakers want to experience the world, and visit several places in one holiday

The attraction of visiting more than one location on a cruise has been highlighted by the increased numbers of people booking excursions ashore. More and more people want to really explore and get involved in the various destinations, not content with simply viewing it from the vessel.

As the popularity of excursions ashore has grown, so too has the variety of activities on offer to the passengers. The cruise industry has recognized that the interests of people holidaying on cruise ships vary immensely and they have adapted their excursion offerings accordingly. Whether you want to go ashore for a bit of culture, shopping, an adrenaline rush, or simply to try some of the local cuisine there is an excursion available to meet your needs.

The problem for cruise passengers now is which of the excursions out of the many available options do they choose to make the most of their limited holiday time? To narrow down the extensive list of options, think about what it is you want to experience while cruising in the Mediterranean. Here is a look at some of the gems it has to offer.

For The Shopaholic

Europe is well known for its fabulous shopping and the Mediterranean countries certainly don’t disappoint! The Western Mediterranean cruise destinations are especially impressive with visits to cities such as Naples, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Nice, Seville and Lisbon all possible. These cities are individually all shopping Mecca’s in their own rights with many people travelling from the USA to visit just one of them for a shopping trip. So to be able to do more than one in a holiday is a real treat. Just make sure you don’t spend all your money on the first stop!

For The Culture Creature

Once again the Mediterranean cities spoil us for choice in this section. The cultural highlights have to be the abundance of Greek and Roman ruins available to see. The Parthenon in Greece, Ephesus in Turkey and the Coliseum in Italy to name but a few. However, it’s not just ruins that will delight your cultural taste buds, there are also centuries of art and architecture. Florence is a hub of architectural and artistic delights.

Some cities, such as Florence, Rome and Avignon are a fair distance from the closest cruise port, so bear in mind that visiting these cities will involve a long day, and not all of it spent sightseeing. This is worth considering when choosing which city excursion you opt for.

Although you don’t have to travel inland to experience European culture, much of it can be seen along the coastline. As one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia with its burnt orange rooftops surrounded by azure water is a sight that once seen is never forgotten.

For Nature Lovers

The bird life around the Mediterranean is impressive. Montenegro homes Europe’s largest bird sanctuary, the 27-mile long Lake Skadar. Storks, flamingoes, pelicans, spoonbills and egrets can be seen in Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Golden eagles, rare white pelicans and giant black vultures are to be seen in Greece, Albania and Montenegro.

The Mediterranean waters are home to an abundance of wildlife including dolphins, the famous Loggerhead turtles and seals. Many cruise operators will offer glass bottom boat trips or snorkeling expeditions. It just depends on how up close you want to get with the wildlife!

For The Adrenaline Junkie

The countries surrounding the Mediterranean have a vast amount on offer for the adrenaline seeker. From whitewater rafting in France and Slovenia, surfing in Italy, caving in Spain, sea kayaking in Croatia, scuba diving the underwater ruins of Kekova in Turkey or paragliding in Kas in Turkey there is plenty on offer.

Depending on how extreme the activity you are seeking is, you may need to organize it yourself as not many of the cruise operators have extensive lists of organized extreme sports excursions.

For Those Who Love Their Food

As soon as you conjure up a mental image of the Mediterranean food is one of the first things that will come to mind. It is a region blessed with culinary delights. Italy is famous for its pizza and pasta, France for its fabulous cheeses, baguettes and croissants, Greece for its olives, and Spain for its tapas. Wherever your cruise visits, you can be sure that delicious food will only be a few minutes away.

The biggest problem you will have is that there is so much on offer, and as hard as it is to accept; your holiday only has a finite number of days in it. You might just have to go back again next year!