The Best Mediterranean Cruises for 2022 - Cruise International

The best Mediterranean cruises to book now for 2022

By Claire Benktander | 13 Jan 2022

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With a rich tapestry of history, iconic architecture, sun-soaked coves and captivating cultural treasures, the Med continues to sparkle as a cruise destination. We round up the best Mediterranean cruises for the year ahead.

The Best Mediterranean Cruises for 2022

Adapting to an ever-changing world means cruise lines are increasingly inventive with itineraries; but the Mediterranean remains our number one cruise destination. Here are the very best Mediterranean cruises to book now for 2022.

Best Mediterranean cruise for culture: Venice & Adriatic with Cunard

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Venice. Credit: Unsplash

Cunard’s Queen Victoria sails from Southampton to the walled city of Dubrovnik for its 19-night cruise in September. Hvar comes next before the beautiful beaches of Greece’s Corfu and Gibraltar. But it’s Venice that is the main highlight, lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces, alleys and piazzas, before finishing back in Southampton.

Cunard’s round-trip Venice and the Adriatic cruise from Southampton on Queen Victoria departs 4 September 2022 (cunard.com)

Best Mediterranean cruise for wine connoisseurs: Burgundy & Provence with Avalon Waterways

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Lavender field in Provence, France

Oenophiles who would like to explore southern France should try Avalon’s enchanting eight-day river cruise. Cruise from the Côte d’Azur to Paris to take in a selection of wine-flavoured regions and the world-famous Burgundy and Provence varietals. In Avignon you’ll visit the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and enjoy a guided tour of the largest gothic fortress in the world as well as calling in to Arles, famed for inspiring Van Gogh.

Mâcon plays an important role in the wine trade and you can explore the city before taking a short cruise to Tournon nestled among vineyards, where you’ll walk among this medieval treasure. You’ll also indulge in Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, all while on board a state-of-the-art, luxurious river cruise vessel before ending in Burgundy’s St Jean. de Losne.

Avalon Waterways’ Burgundy & Provence river cruise from Port St. Louis departs in April and May 2022 (avalonwaterways.co.uk)

Best Mediterranean cruise for exploring iconic cities: Coasts of Culture with Oceania

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Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain

This longer 22-day voyage from Oceania Cruises offers more opportunities to spend time in smaller towns and cities, such as Seville in Spain, with its Gothic buildings and ancient architecture.

Then, island-hop between Madeira and Sardinia and Sicily – where Syracuse is known for its Greek and Roman ruins. You’ll also call in at Barcelona, St Tropez and Monaco before finishing in historic Valletta.

Oceania Cruises’ Coasts of Culture cruise from Lisbon on Nautica departs 3 August 2022 (oceaniacruises.com).

Best Mediterranean cruise for ancient wonders: Ephesus & Greek Islands with Seabourn

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Mykonos, Greece

This seven-night Ephesus & Greek Isles voyage with luxury, all-inclusive line Seabourn offers a lovely way to meander through the Aegean isles and along the Turquoise Coast.

Departing from Piraeus, the ancient port on the edge of Athens, it calls at beautiful Greek islands including Patmos – a UNESCO world heritage site – Mykonos, with its maze-like whitewashed streets, and Skiathos, where you can get boats to isolated beaches.

Seabourn’s Ephesus & Greek Island Gems round-trip cruise from Athens on Seabourn Encore departs 7 August 2022 (seabourn.com).

Best Mediterranean cruise for history lovers: Ancient Mediterranean Treasures with Viking

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Pantheon, Athens. Credit: Unsplash

Sail from Turkey to Greece with Viking starting with an overnight in Istanbul and finishing with two days in Piraeus to explore Athens (or vice versa). Six guided excursions are included with extra paid-for tours, such as visiting a centuries-old Turkish bath in Istanbul and dinner in Athens’ Plaka District while watching traditional dancing.

Sailing through the Dardanelles, there’s a day at Çanakkale in Turkey to see the nearby ruins of Troy or the First World War battlefields of Gallipoli. At Kuşadasi you can visit the extensive ruins of Ephesus, where the Virgin Mary is said to have once lived, and at Heraklion in Crete you can visit the Palace of Knossos and see the labyrinthine corridors of King Minos’s court, where the mythical half-man, half-bull Minotaur lived.

Viking Cruises’ Ancient Mediterranean Treasures cruise from Athens or Istanbul on Viking Sky departs once a month (vikingcruises.co.uk)

Best Mediterranean cruise for religious history: Israel, Egypt & Med with Celebrity Cruises

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Jerusalem

An overnight stay at Ashdod for excursions to Jerusalem and Bethlehem is the highlight of this 10-day voyage with Celebrity Cruises. Immerse yourself among the shrines, monuments and churches and bathe in the soothing mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea.

The round-trip from Athens also calls in at historic Ephesus in Turkey as well as Haifa in Israel and two days in Alexandria, Egypt.

Celebrity Cruises’ Israel, Egypt & Med round-trip cruise from Athens on Celebrity Apex departs once a month in September & October 2022  (celebritycruises.com)

Best Mediterranean cruises for art lovers: Lyon & Provence with Viking River Cruises

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The Pont Saint Benezet and the Palais des Papes in Avignon, South France

Starting with three days in Lyon, France’s third largest city and the ultimate in food destinations, this eight-day cruise with Viking River Cruises takes you to the wine regions of Burgundy and Beaujolais around the Roman town of Vienne.

There are more vineyards around Tournon, but Avignon is an architectural revelation with its Gothic Papal residence, fortress, church and palace. The Roman city of Arles, an inspiration to countless artists, is also on the itinerary, but you can add on a three-night hotel break in Nice, on the Côte d’Azur with tours of the Old Town, English and Russian quarters as well as walks along the beach.

Viking River Cruises’ Lyon & Provence river cruise from Avignon departs once a month from April-November 2022 (vikingrivercruises.co.uk)

Best Mediterranean cruise for architecture: Lisbon to Barcelona with Silversea

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Lisbon, Portugal

Silversea’s seven-day itinerary starts in the Atlantic in Portugal’s charming capital, Lisbon, before calling in at ancient Spanish Andalucian city Cadiz.

You’ll also explore Cartagena and Valencia’s Moorish history and scars from the Spanish civil war, while Palma has a Moorish royal palace still used by the King of Spain. The cruise ends with a night’s stay in Barcelona, arguably Spain’s most exciting city.

Silversea’ Lisbon to Barcelona cruise from Lisbon on Silver Spirit departs March 31st 2o22 (silversea.com)

Best Mediterranean cruise for beaches: Croatia in Depth with Emerald Waterways

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Emerald Azzurra at Cres Island, Croatia.

Emerald Waterways‘ voyages along the Dalmatian coast offer the chance to explore Croatia’s gorgeous islands on a boutique-style yacht. The itinerary weaves a path from Split to Dubrovnik calling at UNESCO-listed Trogir with Romanesque churches and Renaissance buildings, as well as Šibenik with its UNESCO-listed St James Cathedral.

Swim under the waterfalls of Krka National Park and walk through vineyards and lavender fields near Hvar before stopping at Korčula’s sandy beaches and medieval architecture, Šibenik and Zadar. The cruise, which includes breakfast and lunch but only two dinners so passengers can go local, finishes with an overnight stay in Dubrovnik (or Venice, depending on where you choose begin your cruise).

Emerald Waterways’ Croatia in Depth from Venice or Dubrovnik departs twice-monthly from April to November in 2022 (emeraldwaterways.co.uk)

Best Mediterranean cruise for romance: Mediterranean Empires with Holland America

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Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Two overnight stops, in Istanbul and Venice, make Holland America Line’s 12-day itinerary stand out from the crowd. Depart Venice for an eastern Mediterranean cruise that includes a day at the seaside town of Katakolon for excursions to the ancient Greek ruins of Olympia, then on to Piraeus for a day in Athens.

Scenic cruising through the Dardanelles ends in Istanbul for two days of sightseeing that might include the sublime beauty of the Blue Mosque, the grandeur of Topkapi Palace where the Ottoman sultans kept their harem, or perhaps the Grand Bazaar full of spices, rugs and leather goods. There are calls at the picturesque Greek island of Mykonos, historic Rhodes and Crete, before heading north to Croatia’s UNESCO-listed island, Korčula, where 400 years of Venetian rule is reflected in its charming streets, then an overnight stop in Venice itself – possibly the most romantic city in the world.

Holland America’s Mediterranean Empires round-trip cruise from Venice on Oosterdam departs on 13 June and 9 August 2022 (hollandamerica.com).

Best Mediterranean cruise for glitz & glamour: Nice to Mallorca with Hapag-Lloyd

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Combine Spanish style with French sophistication and you have a cruise that defines cosmopolitan chic. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ nine-day voyage on luxurious small ship MS Europa leaves Nice for an overnight stay at the millionaires’ playground of Monaco and Cannes. Then, explore France’s Marseille and Sete before sailing to Barcelona for a day of exploring.

Hapag-Lloyd’s Nice to Mallorca cruise on MS Europe from Nice departs 11 April 2022 (hl-cruises.com)

Best Mediterranean cruise for island-hopping: Classical Islands of Greece with Saga

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Spirit of Discovery

If you’re hankering after some island hopping but want a no-fly cruise, Saga Cruises has just the thing: a 22-night return-trip from Southampton.

Explore Malaga, founded by Phoenicians, where you can see Roman ruins and The Alcazaba – a Moorish fortress; Valletta, Malta’s capital, which was built by the Knights of St John and still has buildings from that period; Heraklion in Crete has a Venetian fortress, and during an overnight stay in Piraeus there are Greek ruins galore in Athens. The cruise also includes a spot of Greek-island hopping, calling in at Mykonos, Katakolon and lovely Milos.

Saga’s Classical Islands of Greece on the Spirit of Adventure departs 13 October 2022 (travel.saga.co.uk)

Best Mediterranean cruise if you’re new to cruising: Italy, France & Spain with Norwegian

Lounge on board Norwegian

There are few new-to-cruise itineraries that can beat the Western Med. Almost all European history can be seen in the well-known ports and excursion cities that passengers visit, from Barcelona with its old Gothic quarter and uplifting Art Nouveau architecture to the monuments, ruins and still-standing ancient buildings of Rome.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s seven-day round-trip from Barcelona also calls at Naples, a fascinating city and just a short train journey from Pompeii, while Livorno has Pisa almost on its doorstep by train. By contrast Cannes, in the south of France, and Palma, on the Spanish island of Majorca, have both interesting architecture and pretty beaches.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Mediterranean round-trip cruise from Barcelona on Norwegian Epic departs weekly from 17 April to 25 September 2022 (ncl.com)

Best Mediterranean cruise for foodies: Mediterranean with MSC Cruises

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Cinque Terre, Italy. Credit: Brooks Rice via Unsplash

There’s something for everyone on MSC Cruises’ idyllic seven-night Mediterranean cruise, which starts in the charming port of Palma, in Mallorca. The ship then heads out to colourful Barcelona, and metropolitan Cannes, on the French Côte d’Azur, which is great for people watching; or if that doesn’t float your boat, there’s a wonderful nature walk round the back streets.

On arriving at the Italian Riviera, you’ll have a day at Genoa and another at La Spezia, one of the best-known ports of the Cinque Terre. The former fishing village is now a hotspot of tall, colourful, buildings clinging to the cliffs along this dramatic coastline.

MSC Cruises’ Mediterranean cruise on MSC Grandiosa departs once a month from September to November 2022 (msccruises.co.uk)

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