Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat August 01 2015

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  • Amber Nolan | August 1, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    7 Best Mediterranean Cruises

    7 Best Mediterranean Cruises

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    The summer and fall seasons are both excellent times to cruise the Mediterranean region, and while many ships reposition to Europe and offer numerous sailings, there are several voyages that stand out. These ships specialize in cruising this area and offer unusual itineraries to lesser-visited ports in Greece, Spain, Croatia, Italy and France as well as ports in the Southern Mediterranean — often on newer vessels. These seven cruises provide a variety of options ranging from mainstream ships to luxurious yachts.

    Cruise Spain on Windstar’s New Ship

    In 2015, Windstar expanded its fleet of tall sailing vessels to include two luxury yachts: Star Legend and Star Pride.  The 212-passenger Star Legend will explore the southern coast of Spain on an eight-night voyage from Lisbon, Portugal that embarks September 11. Passengers can unwind in all-suite accommodations as the ship sails to Portimao, Portugal; Seville, Spain; and Gibraltar (British Territory). After that, it’s a relaxing day at sea where passengers can visit the bridge, pamper themselves at the spa or take a dip in the pool. The ship then makes three more stops in Spain: Malaga, Almeria and Palma de Mallorca before concluding in Barcelona.

    Eastern Mediterranean on a Tall Sailing Ship

    Star Clippers, a tall-sailing company, has an 11-night cruise aboard its Royal Clipper embarking August 1 and 22 from Rome to Venice. The voyage includes four ports of call in Italy with optional tours of Pompeii or the dazzling island of Capri (home to the Blue Grotto). After that, it sails to Greece, Montenegro and three ports of call in Croatia. Star Clippers is also one of the few cruise lines that visits the photogenic city of Piran, Slovenia.

    NCL’s Western Mediterranean

    Norwegian’s seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary sails a popular loop round-trip from Rome with departures through November. For entertainment during days at sea, the Norwegian Epic boasts a multi-slide Aqua Park, a neon bowling alley and lounge, a comedy club, and an adults-only, Ibiza-inspired beach club. During the voyage, Epic calls in Tuscany’s Livorno and Naples, Italy; Cannes, France; Palma Majorca and Barcelona, Spain. 

    Italy, Malta, and Greece on Ponant

    The luxury French cruise line Ponant is stationing its newest ship in the Mediterranean for the summer and fall season. The 264-passenger Le Lyrial features two elegant restaurants and an open-air bar that overlooks the pool. Magnificent staterooms and suites with ocean views and private balconies are ideal for watching the scenery during the seven-night cruise from Athens to Marseille. The ship makes three stops in Italy’s Sicily and Sardinia, as well as Zante, Greece and Valletta, Malta. The ship sets sail on October 13.

    Azamara’s Southern Mediterranean Cruise

    Azamara Club Cruises has a 12-night “Best of Holy Lands” voyage that lets passengers visit revered sites like Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee and the River Jordan. The Azamara Journey embarks from Piraeus (Athens), Greece and will spend two full days in its first port of call: Ashdod (Jerusalem) Israel, followed by Haifa (Nazareth). With a capacity of 686 guests, Azamara’s ships aren’t crowded yet still have enough amenities for sea days — like Elemis spa, a show lounge for evening performances, and scheduled activities such as trivia nights. The ship also calls in four locations in Turkey, including an overnight in Istanbul. There are two sailing dates in September and October.

    Turkey and Greece with Voyages to Antiquity

    Those interested in port-intensive itineraries should consider Voyages to Antiquity, a small-ship company that specializes in Mediterranean cruises. The September 5 journey from Istanbul includes free airfare, two nights’ hotel stay before the cruise, and shore excursions that focus on the history of the Byzantine Empire. The 11-night journey only spends one full day at sea cruising the Dardanelles — so most of the time will be spent at five different ports in Greece and three in Turkey.

    Croatia, Montenegro, Greece and Albania with Variety Cruises

    Known for its Adriatic voyages, Variety Cruises has announced new itineraries for June through October 2016. The MS Panorama, a yacht-like sailing ship, is offering a seven-night, round-trip voyage from Dubrovnik that calls in one other port in Croatia (Korcula), two ports in Greece: Paxos Island and Corfu as well as off-the-path ports of Sarande, Albania and Kotor, Montenegro. The recently remodeled ship features a classic cruise experience with a sundeck and handful of lounges in which to relax. 


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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