Southern Europe

Cruising the Mediterranean is like embarking on a romantic odyssey.
By: Kathy McCabe
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Cruising the Mediterranean is like embarking on a romantic odyssey. Warm breezes, sparkling blue water, fresh seafood, medieval towns and European culture combine to create a relaxing and enlightening vacation. The Med offers port choices both big and small. Because Mediterranean destinations are so close together, you can visit a different country each day. Most Med cruises build in a day or 2 of time at sea for rest and relaxation.

Selected destinations
Dubrovnik, Croatia; Cannes, Marseille and Nice (Villefranche), France; Mykonos, Rhodes, Patmos, Santorini and Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Civitavecchia (Rome), Genoa, Livorno (Florence), Sicily, Sorrento and Venice, Italy; Valletta, Malta; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Lisbon, Portugual; Barcelona, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Istanbul, Turkey

Embarkation
Cannes and Nice, France; Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Civitavecchia (Rome), Genoa and Venice, Italy; Monaco; Barcelona, Spain

Cruise lines
Celebrity, Clipper, Costa, Crystal, First European, Holland America, Norwegian, Orient, Princess, Radisson, Royal Caribbean, Royal Olympic, Seabourn, Silversea, Star Clippers, Windstar

Highlights

The most popular attraction in Barcelona, Spain, is La Sagrada Familia (The Church of the Holy Family). The famed architect Antonio Gaudi began work on the building in 1883 and improvements continue today.

From Malaga, Spain, take an excursion to Granada and visit the ruins of the Moorish palace Alhambra.

Although it's an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta is not a beach destination. Instead, stick to visiting the capital city of Valletta or the medieval town of Medina.

While Monte Carlo, Monaco is tiny, it is also very hilly. For a peek inside the world of the royal Grimaldis, visit Place du Palais, and for a window on the world of the rich and famous, check out the Monte Carlo Casino. (You must be 21, and there's a dress code at night.)

The ancient-walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is home to palaces, Venetian-style buildings and charming markets and is 1 of the most beautiful port cities in the Mediterranean. Walk atop the walls for some spectacular views of the city and the sea.

A stop in Sorrento, Italy, puts you within an hour of the ancient ruins of Pompeii, which was destroyed in A.D. 79 during a massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Your ship's shore excursion should include a knowledgeable guide.

To get away from it all on the Greek island of Santorini, visit the town of Oia, on the northern tip of the island. The little town is filled with white-washed houses, art galleries and small restaurants.

If you can take a cruise with Kusadasi, Turkey, on the itinerary, do it! Ephesus, 1 of the best-preserved ancient historical sites in the world, is nearby. You can also get some great deals on rugs in Kusadasi.

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