This great watery basin bordered by Europe, Asia and Africa retains some of the world’s most outstanding relics of past civilisations and empires, is home to some of Europe’s most vibrant cities and hosts some of its very best beaches. The Mediterranean really is a cruise destination where one sea fits all.

“With cruise lines adding even more choice when it comes to experiences available in those impressive European ports of call, the popularity of Mediterranean cruises shows no sign of slowing down”

ANDY HARMER, SVP MEMBERSHIP & DIRECTOR, CLIA UK & IRELAND

Changing tide

Perhaps reflecting the gradual changes in weather patterns or simply meeting demand, the traditional Med season is extending beyond the classic summer months, with several cruise lines now offering sailings from October to March.

Another move to meet demand is the increasing number of ex-UK cruises to the Mediterranean. Said Justin Stanton, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: “I would advise your clients on early decision-making for ex-UK 2018 Mediterranean cruises as they are selling fast.”

Perfect 10

  1. History afloat: Viking Cruises has rolled out its Viking Resident Historians programme, featuring a faculty of historians to provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their Mediterranean sailing itinerary

  2. Opera at sea: Silversea features a 12-day opera cruise from Athens to Rome on July 15 2017 on board its new flagship Silver Muse, featuring two private concerts from the Academia Teatro alla Scala

  3. Funchal fireworks: Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral leaves Southampton on December 21 2017 for an 18-night Christmas and New Year cruise to the Canaries and Madeira, costing from £1,999pp

  4. Wellness: Oceania Cruises has a series of exclusive excursions focused on wellness and healthy living. Tours will be offered onshore in France, Spain, Italy and Greece in partnership with Canyon Ranch which has a SpaClub on board every Oceania Cruises ship

  5. Crowd-free: Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ all-suite luxury ship Explorer will be sailing the Mediterranean in November on a 12-night Plazas and Cathedrals all-inclusive cruise from Rome to Lisbon. From £6,069pp the ship will visit Barcelona, Palma, Málaga and Portofino, with an overnight stay in Cádiz

  6. Art at sea: Hapag Lloyd is featuring a 10-day art2sea cruise from Palma Mallorca to Monte Carlo, June 24 to July 4 2018. Art experts will provide insights into their specialist field. From £4,845pp

  7. Maiden voyage: Seabourn Ovation, which debuts in spring 2018, will have its inaugural 11-day luxury cruise on May 5 2018, sailing from Venice to Barcelona and visiting Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Malta, Italy, France and Spain Additional Med itineraries are scheduled in May, October and November. Seabourn Quest, Encore and Odyssey will also be sailing in the Mediterranean in 2018

  8. Golf and tapas: An eight-night Azamara Iberian Adventure cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon, departing April 20 2018, will include the option to buy a golf package to include play at Valderrama in Spain and top-class courses in Valencia, Majorca and the Algarve. Cruise-only from £1679 pp

  9. Body beautiful: Regent Seven Seas has introduced an holistic wellbeing programme with Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Debuting on the Med aboard Seven Seas Voyager, guests will be able to choose from more than 10 land-based wellness excursions.

  10. Adults only: Thomson Celebration will move to Dubrovnik for summer 2018. It will operate an adults-only programme, ‘Venetian Vistas’, which offers customers the chance to wake up in a new destination each day

What’s new

MSC’s new MSC Meraviglia will sail the Mediterranean through the winter from October 17 2017 to March 18 2018, out of Genoa, visiting Naples, Messina, Valletta, Barcelona and Marseille. Prices start at £599pp for cruise only and £829 for a fly-cruise.

Next year, the 2,700-guest Sapphire Princess will sail round-trip from Southampton to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Although the ship has been in the fleet since 2004, this will be Sapphire Princess’ maiden visit to Europe. There will be seven Mediterranean itineraries available from April - October, ranging from 10 to 14 nights.

Thomson’s TUI Discovery will be based in the UK for the first time in 2018, sailing out of Newcastle and Southampton and calling at 12 new ports including Monaco, Ancona and Skiathos on 12 new itineraries. Making its debut in Corfu Town in summer 2018, TUI Discovery 2 will sail four itineraries in the Eastern Mediterranean, while Thomson Dream will be based in Palma, Majorca.

Holland America Line has announced a ‘ReadySetSail’ event giving guests the opportunity to save and spend via onboard spending money of up to $500. On a 12-night Mediterranean cruise on ms Westerdam, departing June 4 2017, guests will receive between $100 and $300 per stateroom onboard spend, plus pre-paid gratuities worth $325 per stateroom. Book by June 1 2017.

Star Clippers has a new mini-cruise around the Greek islands, departing August 30 2017 from Athens and visiting Mykonos and Hydra. The five-night land-cruise holiday includes two nights post-cruise in Athens, with accommodation at the four-star St. George Lycabettus. The price of £999pp includes return UK flights, transfers in Athens, three nights on board Star Flyer and two nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast.

MSC Meraviglia will be the first ship to be fully enabled with ‘MSC for Me’ technology, a digital multichannel experience available on smart phone, tablet app, interactive cabin TV screen or public interactive screens which allows passengers to be connected to the ship and its crew.

Hapag Lloyd is featuring Alghero in Sardinia as a new port of call in 2018 and five Med cruises in 2018.

Southampton will be the home port for Celebrity Silhouette for the first time, starting Summer 2018.

Where to book it

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 11-day Eastern Mediterranean fly/cruise out of Rome on Norwegian Spirit is priced from £1,269pp. It departs the UK on October 22 2017 and sails to Iraklion (Crete), Rhodes, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Valletta (Malta), Messina (Sicily), Naples and then back to Rome.

Princess Cruises’ 14-night Mediterranean Adventurer sails May 12 2018 from Southampton to Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Genoa, Marseille and Gibraltar and back. From £1,498pp.

A three-night full-board mini-cruise around the Greek islands onboard Star Clippers’ Star Flyer, including two nights’ hotel accommodation post-cruise, with breakfast, costs £999pp, including return UK flights and transfers.