The Mediterranean region has it all – amazing food and wine, famous historical and cultural landmarks, picturesque seaside towns and gorgeous island beaches.

You’d be hard-pressed to experience Spain, France, Italy, and Greece on a single land trip without transportation issues. A Mediterranean cruise, however, is the perfect way to get an easy taste of many coastal countries; You can transfer between destinations while you sleep on your ship.

Most cruise lines operate trips to the Mediterranean in the summer, whether on small ships with a few hundred passengers or huge megaships with thousands of people. Some ships sail to the region throughout the year.

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Most Mediterranean cruises focus on one region (usually the eastern or western parts of the coast), but longer itineraries can include more. While choosing a ship is important, so is choosing which route to take and which countries you want to see.

Consider what’s on your bucket list. Cruise lines offer a variety of options, making it possible for culture vultures, beach lovers, history buffs, and family travelers to prioritize different ports of call and onboard amenities.

Here are some of the best Mediterranean cruises to whet your appetite for European adventure by sea in 2024 and 2025.

Best Cruise for Romantics: Windstar Cruise in the Rivieras

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For romance seekers, few experiences beat a cruise that stretches along the French and Italian Rivieras. France’s Côte d’Azur, with its coastal mountains and crystal blue sea, has inspired artists and romantics for centuries. The equally stunning Italian coast is perfect for romantic strolls around secluded harbors and indulgent, delicious lunches at a table for two overlooking the sea.

Another popular Riviera cruise port is Monaco, where you can visit the Grimaldi family’s royal palace and stop by the glamorous Monte Carlo Casino to pretend you’re enjoying a night in James Bond City.

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Related: Western Mediterranean Vs. Eastern Mediterranean Cruises: Which Itinerary Would I Like More?

You will find these cruises on small and luxury ships. Our pick for romance is Windstar Cruises’ seven-night “Yachtman Harbors of the Riveras” sailing between Rome and Barcelona (or vice versa) on multiple spring, summer and fall dates in 2024 and 2025.

The five-masted Wind Surf is as picture-perfect as the ports you’ll visit, and the 342-passenger ship can follow all the luxury yachts into smaller ports and off-the-beaten-track destinations. Your onboard meals, with many dishes created by James Beard-affiliated chefs, can rival the fresh Mediterranean cuisine you’ll find in port.

Ports of call vary by sailing date but may include Port-Vendres, Sannery-sur-Mer and Cannes, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Portofino and Portoferraio, Italy. For the ultimate Riviera experience, book one of Windstar’s Prix du Monde sailings with exclusive access to Formula One racing events.

Best Cruises for Budget-Conscious Travelers: Celestial Cruises in the Greek Islands

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A visit to the Greek Islands is a magical experience. Lessons from ancient history and the development of Western civilization come to life surrounded by astonishing natural beauty.

Your jaw may drop as your ship navigates the sunken caldera that leads to Santorini, where whitewashed villages dot the steep cliff tops. In Mykonos, you can head to one of the island’s famous beaches or catch a ferry to explore the ancient ruins of Delos, known as the birthplace of Apollo. Budget-conscious travelers can skip the tour and stroll the narrow streets and city walls of Rhodes Old Town.

Related: The best Mediterranean cruise tips to enhance your European vacation

For less expensive ways to see the Greek islands, consider a celestial cruise; It sails three- and four-night minicruises in addition to inexpensive one-week cruises. The four-night cruise packs a lot into a short trip with visits to Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Heraklion and Santorini, as well as Kusadasi, Turkey. Don’t forget to spend time in Athens before or after your cruise.

Celestial’s two ships carry between 1,200 and 1,700 passengers. You’ll enjoy all the amenities of a large cruise ship — like multiple pools, restaurants and bars, and spa and fitness facilities — without being inundated with thousands of fellow cruisers.

Best Cruise for History Lovers: Vikings in the Eastern Mediterranean

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An Eastern Mediterranean cruise of a week or more immerses you in multiple ancient cultures. They take you to historical places that you have traveled to see, including some UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The extraordinary itinerary visits Athens for the Acropolis, Istanbul for the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, and Kusadasi for the impressive ancient city of Ephesus and sites associated with the Virgin Mary. Dubrovnik, Croatia’s medieval Old Town (filming location for HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) will wow you. From Naples, Italy, you can explore the ancient city of Pompeii.

Cruises starting or ending in Rome will treat you to sights like the Colosseum and the Vatican.

Related: Best Mediterranean Cruise Shore Excursions

True history buffs will not be satisfied with just a week in this rich landscape. Choose Viking for your Eastern Mediterranean cruise, and look for longer itineraries, such as 15-day “Ancient Mediterranean Antiquities” voyages in 2024, 2025 and 2026. A one-way trip between Rome and Istanbul hits most of the highlights of ancient civilizations: Naples and Sicily, Italy; Rhodes, Crete and Athens, Greece; and Ephesus, Troy and Istanbul, Turkey.

Viking also offers complimentary shore excursions in each port, so you’ll have access to knowledgeable guides who can explain the historic sites you’re visiting. On board, you’ll find a comfortable home on one of Viking’s 930-passenger vessels, with multiple inclusive dining areas, inviting lounges with Scandinavian-inspired decor, and cozy cabins with thoughtful details like quiet-close drawers and heated bathroom floors. .

Best Cruises for Explorers: Celebrity Cruises in the Holy Land

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Note: Many cruise lines have changed their itineraries to the Holy Land for 2024 to exclude Israel or canceled the voyage altogether. However, most lines still have trips to the Holy Land, including Israel, on their 2025 schedules.

Travelers who really want to immerse themselves in ancient civilizations should explore the long Eastern Mediterranean cruise that connects Greece, Turkey and Italy with port calls in Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Depending on the specific Holy Land tour, you can visit Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza, Jordan’s ancient rose-cut rock city of Petra, and biblical sites in and around Jerusalem.

Celebrity Cruises is a great choice for your Holy Land cruise, as the company offers 10- and 11-night Egypt and Israel itineraries. For example, a 10-night, round-trip Athens cruise visits Haifa and Ashdod, Israel (to Jerusalem) and Alexandria, Egypt; Every port except Haifa has its overnight. Additional time in port allows for overnight tours, so you can go further afield and see all the major sites in each country. The 11-night version adds a stop in Kusadasi for a visit to Ephesus.

Celebrity ships are known for their foodie culture, with multiple specialty restaurants, as well as a bar scene. (Don’t miss the Martini flights.) With a range of rooms, from interior windowless cabins to cozy suites, you can visit the Holy Land at any price.

Best Cruises for Culture Vultures: Norwegian Cruise Line in the Western Mediterranean

Arco de Rua Augusta, Baixa, Lisbon. Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

For foodies, fashionistas and art lovers, it’s hard to top a Western Mediterranean cruise for the famous resort towns and famous coastal cities of Italy, France and Spain.

This is your chance to see Antoni Gaudí’s fantastic Sagrada Familia church and other structures in Barcelona; Visit Michelangelo’s David sculpture and other Renaissance treasures in Florence, Italy; Learn about the iconic film festival in Cannes, France; And stroll through Dubrovnik’s beautiful walled city.

You can shop for Italian, French and Spanish designer fashion when you’re not dining on the best Italian pasta and gelato you’ve ever tasted (or bouillabaisse and escargot in France, or paella and tapas in Spain). Of course, all are accompanied by local wines.

Related: How I Skipped a Cruise Ship Tour in Italy and Made a Better, Cheaper Adventure on My Own

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of Western Mediterranean cruises to major ports in Spain, Italy and France. Norwegian Escape sails the Mediterranean in the spring and fall of 2025. It offers 10- and 11-night cruises that call at various major ports.

For example, an 11-night cruise sails from Barcelona to Trieste, Italy on select dates in 2025. They visit Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Cannes; Florence, Rome, Naples and Taormina (Messina), Italy; Valletta, Malta; Corfu, Greece; and Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia.

It’s a shame there are no sea days on the itinerary as the ship offers plenty to keep cruisers busy on board. There is a wealth of dining options, from French date-night restaurants to tapas bars. There is also a water park, ropes course and a spa with salt room and snow room.

Best cruise for families: Royal Caribbean in the Mediterranean

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While searching Cruise with kids, you want to have time to explore on land and play time on board. Ships offer kids’ clubs as well as attractions such as video arcades and waterslides. Look for an itinerary that includes one or more fun-filled days at sea.

Kids will enjoy places like the Colosseum, where they can pretend they’re gladiators; flower market in Nice, France; and the Leaning Tower of Pisa (on shore excursions from Livorno, Italy). They will also enjoy visiting the beaches of the Greek islands and eating pizza in Naples. If you can find a cruise that includes the Italian seaside villages of the Cinque Terre (accessible from Genoa, Livorno and Portofino), fans of Disney’s animated feature “Lucca” will be delighted.

Family favorite Royal Caribbean has a variety of ships and itineraries sailing around Europe, but the best option for 2025 is a seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Allure of the Seas. The round-trip itinerary departs from Rome. Additional ports of call include Naples and La Spezia, Italy (for Florence); Palma de Mallorca; and Marseille, France.

Related: 7 Classes of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships, Explained

Family-friendly entertainment abounds on board. On sea days, you can also access three main pool areas, a kiddie splash zone, a surfing simulator, a miniature golf course and a zip line.

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