A couple weeks ago the moment was finally there: after endless travel adventures around the world in more than 7 years I did my first cruise. Obviously super excited I boarded one of the biggest ships in the world: the Crown Princess in Barcelona. On this western Mediterranean cruise I explored in total 6 different ports in 4 different countries. In this blog I will give you tips for a cruise around the med and everything you need to know when you are about to book this trip. Also included is the itinerary of my 7 day Mediterranean cruise and excursion tips.
1. Best time of year to cruise the Mediterranean
When we think about a western mediterranean cruise we think about swimwear, beaches, sunglasses and beautiful people, right? Of course the best time of the year to cruise the Mediterranean is in summer. The most popular months are June, July and August. These are also the peak months for cruising around the Med so if you want to go a little bit outside the peak season and still enjoy the warm weather then taking a Mediterranean cruise in May and September is the best time of year.
Going on a cruise for the first time? Click here to read all my tips for first time cruising.
2. Best thing about a western Mediterranean cruise
Cruising on the Med will get you completely different experiences day by day. The pristine beaches in Italy, the volcanic islands in Spain, the wine regions and the jetset life style in Southern France and of course the ancient ruins of the Roman Empire in Italy. If you are looking for reasons to go on a western Mediterranean cruise then I think I just gave you a bunch.
3. Best cruise line for Mediterranean
It is really hard for me to tell you the best cruise line for the Mediterranean as I recently did my first cruise ever. It was on board the Crown Princess from Princess Cruises. Their standards are really high so I guess for my next western Mediterranean cruise I can’t go for a cheap one.
4. Luxury Mediterranean cruise
As I said the Crown Princess is consider to be one of the most luxury cruise ships out on the ocean. It was refurbished very recently in April 2018, has 4 swimming pools, a kids free sanctuary, multiple jacuzzi’s, fine dining restaurants free of charge, 24 hour in room dining included and many more benefits. Not even talking about the endless entertainment options and activities. Cruising the Med with Princess cruises was a truly luxurious experience that I would totally recommend.
5. How Much does a Mediterranean cruise cost
Something really important to know right? You would be surprised how much med cruises cost. Of course you can make it as expensive as you want, but there are also cheap options. In general a cruise around the Western Med will cost around $140 per person per day. In low season this price drops to around $100 per person per night.
But if you do your research well and book directly with the cruise line you will find great deals. This way you can have a full western Mediterranean cruise experience for less than $100 per night. This includes your cabin, your meals and port fees. Check the link for the latest deals on Princess Cruises.
Are you aware what hotel rooms in Barcelona, Southern France or Italy cost in high season? And they do often not even include breakfast. On board my 7 day Mediterranean cruise I was blown away by all the included dining options on the Crown Princess.
6. How rough is a cruise on the Mediterranean
As far as I can tell you there were hardly any rough seas we had to cross on my trip with Princess cruises. I did a little research for you and found out that rough seas on the Mediterranean mostly only occur in the off-season. I took a Med cruise around mid September and it was a very smooth trip. March and October are considered to be the roughest months and still then rough seas are a rarity.
7. Itinerary western Mediterranean cruise
I already told you the best thing about a Mediterranean cruise is its diversity. If you are looking for a Western Med cruise then make sure beaches, medieval villages, wine, amazing food and historical cities are included in your itinerary. You choose yourself what is the best mix of activities and that is how you choose the best Mediterranean cruise itinerary.
This is the itinerary on my first cruise with the Crown Princess from Barcelona to Rome, a 7 day trip.
8. Highlights western mediterranean cruise
The most common stops on a western Mediterranean cruise are the following
One of my favorite cities in the world and home to one of worlds most famous football clubs FC Barcelona. This is where a lot of western Mediterranean cruises start or end. This means you have enough time to explore the city. On my first cruise trip we also took a trip into the city on did a cooking class. We learned how to make paella! Click here for more things to do on a weekend in Barcelona.
In 2013 Marseille was chosen as the European capital of Culture and no wonder with its many international influences. In this vibrant Mediterranean port you will find many bars and restaurants that serve typical Mediterranean food and of course amazing wines from the nearby Provence. If you are taking a city trip to Marseille make sure to stroll around the Panier district. Just a short drive away you can find the Provence and we all know this is a synonym for great wine region. I discovered the region on a wine tour and ate at a Michelin Star restaurant in a picturesque village up on a hill: La Cadiere d’Azur. Trust me this is one of the better mediterranean cruise excursions tips.
8.3 Nice, Cannes and Monaco
Cannes is where the annual return Film Festival is held and the rich and famous tend to hang out in summer. Nice is famous for its endless sea front called the Bay of Angles where you can easily spend a day and Monaco is a country itself on the French Riviera full of expensive hotels, casinos, over the top restaurants and bars and where the famous street circuit of the Grand Prix Formula 1 is located. Go on a road trip and discover the most lovely villages along the pretentious French Riviera.
Unfortunately for Genoa some of the most well known coastal towns in Italy are relatively close. Most people tend to go on a tour to see either Portofino or Cinque Terre. I also took a tour to see Cinque Terre and although it was super touristy (even in September) Im glad I saw some of these unbelievable cute places. To avoid the crowds hike up to the upper paths in and between the vineyards. There is a hiking trail from village to village or rent a car to explore this region by yourself. It takes about 1,5 hours to get here from Genoa. A similar day tour can be taken to the more closer located Portofino. If you decide to stay and stroll around the historical city of Genoa head to Boccadasse for colored houses on the Mediterranean Sea, similar to Portofino, but not so touristy.
8.5 Rome (Civitavecchia)
The city of Rome is not located on the Mediterranean Sea and therefore the port of call is Civitavecchia. From there it only takes about 45 minutes to get to Rome city center and I don’t need to tell you that this is one of the most amazing cities in the world. I have traveled to over 400 cities and 100 countries around the world but when last September I got to Rome for the first time I was blown away. Also make sure you visit Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and home of the Pope.
8.6 Livorno, Pisa and Florence
The port of call is Livorno but most people use this stop on their Mediterranean cruise to explore the world famous Florence. This historical city lies about 1,5 hours away from the port and strolling around the historical sites and massive squares is simply marvellous. On my cruise around the med I used the stop in Livorno to see the magical leaning Tower of Pisa. I chose to do a Segway tour, which was a great way to see the city. It doesn’t look like, but no worries driving a Segway is the easiest thing ever. Pisa is just 30 minutes away from the port and another city in Italy that blew my mind, simply gorgeous.
On my first visit to Gibraltar I said I would never come back as it was the most unfriendly country I had come across all my travels. Let’s just say it was bad luck! This time I had a great day out. This British Overseas Territory is famous for its incredible rock formation. Hiking to the top following the Mediterranean steps is very much recommended. Have fun with the monkeys but be careful these guys are ferocious thieves. There is also a cable car. A great activity when stopping here on your Med cruise. From the top you can see the North shore of Africa on a clear day.
9. Plan your Med cruise ahead
Although too much planning is not my style you will find out quickly that for a Mediterranean cruise this is a vital thing to do. Most likely you will be cruising the Med in the summer and this also is the peak holiday season in Europe. Make reservations ahead or buy skip the line tickets online for major attractions. This way you will have the most of your excursion days.
10. Plan you arrival and departure
A lot of western Mediterranean cruises depart or arrive in Rome or Barcelona. These are one of the major tourist spots in the world and unique cities. Don’t miss out on them by booking your flight on the exact cruise dates. If arriving from the US include the fact that you will surely be jet legged the first couple days. Again: plan your cruise holiday carefully.
11. Exhausting days
While cruising should be revitalizing I discover on my first cruise in the Med that it is also exhausting if you go on an excursion every single day. I had a great time seeing all these amazing tourist spots on the Mediterranean coast and back on board the Crown Princess I did not want to miss any off the fabulous entertainment either. May be it is my FOMO, but when I came to my cabin late at night I slept like a baby! Oh and the next morning I would get up super early to catch the sunrise from my balcony!
Although my FOMO made it tiring I had the most amazing time on my first cruise with Princess Cruises.
12. Touristy but still amazing
Welcome to one of the most touristy places on earth. One of the Mediterranean cruise tips I think is really important is that you have to expect huge crowds. Places like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Cinque Terre, etc are extremely popular tourist place along the Mediterranean. Although this will put some people off there is always a way to escape the crowds. Just be creative. I just like to warn you because getting that amazing Instagram photo is not as easy as all those influencers make it look like. ;)
And to be honest if you really want a place with no tourists these days you have to take a trip to Siberia! :)
13. Safe destinations
Traveling in Europe in general is regarded really safe and so are all cruise destinations in the Mediterranean. Walking around the cities or visiting one of the many tourist spots along the Med I am 100% sure you will feel safe and nothing bad will happen. That said be aware of pickpocketing. Unfortunately big business in Southern Europe! Bring a money belt to keep your money safe and leave valuables on board.
14. Food journey
Every country claims to be famous for its food (apart from Netherlands). But Spanish, French and Italian cuisine is renowned around the world and let these be the major destinations for a western Mediterranean cruise. Apart from being very well fed on board the ship, also save some space for delicious tapas, French wines and of course pizza, tiramisu and ice cream in Italy.
15. Buy a European sim card
Only since last year roaming in Europe is free with any European sim card. Calling internationally within Europe is often still chargeable but using data is free. It is recommended to get a European sim card on arrival. Click here for a guide buying a sim card at Rome airport. For a Barcelona airport sim card click here.
16. Inform your bank
As you will be traveling overseas to many different countries in just a couple days your bank may think of fraud when using your card. Inform them and make sure they are not blocking your bank cards.
17. Make sure you have travel insurance
This counts for every trip overseas but when traveling on a cruise make sure this is included in your insurance. I always use World Nomads travel insurance for my trip. They have never let me down.
18. Pack whatever you want
One of the best things about cruising is that your hotel room travels with you and you never have to pack and unpack. Every evening when I returned back to my room it was squeaky clean again because of the excellent service on board Crown Princess. Plunging on a fresh bed after an amazing day full of excursions never felt that good. Getting on board is easy as you will only have to drop off your luggage and the staff will do the rest.
For some essential tips what to bring on a cruise have a look at my first time cruising tips article.
This sounds simple but the rush world we are living in we try to make the most of everything. Sometimes we need to step back to truly enjoy. Grab your moments on board. Get back on the ship early. Grab a cocktail and hit up one of the jacuzzi’s. Only to realize you are on an amazing trip around the Mediterranean. Living your best life sounds easy, but in fact is a pretty hard thing to do.
My Mediterranean cruise experience
As you have been able to read in and between these Med cruise tips I had an amazing time on board the Crown Princess. Although taking a cruise was on my bucketlist for many years I had never expected it to be that amazing. It exceed most of my expectations and above all I didn’t think it would be such an easy way of traveling.
Every morning I woke up in a different place and had completely different excursions planned, ate different food and spoke a different language! Cruising was a journey through Europe that brought me a lot of new experiences in just a short time.
Interested what your dream cruise on the Med cost? Click here to see the latest deals for Princess Cruises.
To see all my tips for excursions on a Mediterranean cruise then check out these 6 amazing activities, including videos of my adventures.
Thank you for keeping up with the adventures of Traveltomtom.
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May you have any additional questions leave me a comment, Im happy to help! Happy cruising you all!