Southern Europe and The Mediterranean

Regional Cities

Naples can be an acquired taste. Italy's third largest city is sure to conjure up strong feelings. For some it's an admiration of the city's authentic vibe, while for others it's a dislike for the economic disparity that exists here. Sophia Loren...

The Greeks founded Nice, naming it Nike, or Victory. They could not have been more accurate, as Nice has come to represent the perfect combination of French urban chic (it's the fifth largest city in France) and laid-back European enjoyment. It's...

Palermo is the capital city of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, and the small mass of land right next to the toe of Italy's boot. All of Sicily's official business is conducted here in its largest city, with 900,000 people calling...

Casablanca means white house in Spanish, and the reason for the city's name will become quite obvious as you explore the city's landscape. White houses and white office buildings are the norm here in Morocco's busiest city. The Hassan II mosque...

In 1419, Tristao Vaz Teixiera and Joao Goncalves Zarco discovered the island of Madeira, on which was established the exquisite city of Funchal. This is a city of incredible lights and sights, a place of dreamy sunsets and gorgeous scenery. The...

The Cyclades Islands in Greece are some of the most magnificent islands in the world. The startling contrast between bright white sands and sharp cliffs overlooking crystal blue waters offers visitors a dreamlike experience that is incomparable...

Simply stated, Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. To get a good sense of what the capital of Italy has to offer, you would need at least two weeks of solid sightseeing, and then you might start to understand and...

The Cyclades Islands in Greece are a gorgeous collection of unique and beautiful islands. The southernmost gem in this island collection is Santorini. This is the island that most often adorns tourist brochures welcoming visitors with its...

Seville is the capital of Andalusia and has become famous simply for its beauty. The intrinsic splendor of the region has been complemented by amazing man-made architecture, combining to form one of the most visually appealing cities anywhere....

Sorrento has long held a special place in the heart of Italians. Its rugged beauty has attracted poets, philosophers, playwrights, and authors for centuries. Roman mythology places Sorrento as the spot where sailors were lured to their death by...

St. Tropez has come to define the French Riviera. The world's wealthiest and most eccentric flock here in the summer time. Some travel by yacht. Others arrive by jet. All come to enjoy a season-long party before departing to let the small town...

Taormina is on Sicily's eastern coast, overlooking the turquoise Ionian Sea. The beautiful town is built right into a cliff, and every year thousands of tourists descend upon the otherwise sleepy village to revel in the perfect weather and...

The Canary Islands are culturally and geographically Spanish, but these islands are all unique and each offers tourists a different flavor. The Canaries have long served as a retreat off the coast of Africa; a place for Europeans to enjoy respite...

Sixty miles south of Sicily, you will find a magnificent island by the name of Malta. This Mediterranean dream is home to the lovely city of Valletta, a tourist's heaven. The waters off the coast of Valletta are a sparkling blue, and the whole...

Varna is probably the most picturesque city in Bulgaria, and its wide beaches and crowded port are home to a huge diversity of people and cultures. Featuring the best weather in the country, Varna has become an increasingly popular spot to visit...

Venice is known as La Serenissima, or the Serene Republic. One look around the city will help you understand why. At first you may not recognize the absence of sound that fills your ears. But then it hits you - there are no cars here. As you walk...

Galicia is a Celtic-like region located in the mysterious northwest of Spain. It is green, dense, and misty, with destinations ranging from tranquil beaches to incredible mountains and medieval villages. Vigo is a small subdivision of Galicia...

Villefranche is one of the small beach towns nestled between Nice and Monte Carlo. As the train winds from the two major resorts, each stop along the way looks like a postcard. Villefranche and its neighbors, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and St. Jean Cap...

Yalta is an extraordinary destination that is perfect for a cruising vacation. If you are looking for a little relaxation and pure enjoyment, the beaches along the Crimean coast of Yalta are ideal. If you wish to sightsee and gather insight into...

Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Saint Paul, Marco Polo and millions of others from the dawn of civilization to present-day cruise vacationers have explored the coastal cities and thousands of islands of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. These are, in fact, places linked mainly by the sea, and much of their history, commerce and traditions have their origins there.

Cruises in this part of the world fall into three broad categories:

Eastern Mediterranean/Aegean Sea

cruises visit ports in Turkey, Greece and islands such as Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. Ships traveling this itinerary on seven-day cruises often departing from Piraeus (Athens), Greece, or Istanbul, Turkey, though some longer voyages sail from ports farther west.

Western Mediterranean/Southern Europe

cruises sail among the cities and villages of Southern Europe from the Adriatic to the Straits of Gibraltar, including Venice, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Genoa, Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; St.-Tropez, France; Barcelona, Spain; and a host of others, ranging from small villages to major cities.

Southern Mediterranean

cruises visit the more exotic ports of call along the coast of North Africa from Morocco to the Holy Lands, including Tunis, Tunisia; Tripoli, Libya; Alexandria, Egypt; and Haifa, Israel, among others.

Ports of Call

Istanbul -

A crossroads of civilization throughout history, this ancient city literally serves as the bridge between Europe and Asia and lies at the head of the busy Bosphorus Strait where it joins the Black Sea. Busy, beautiful and almost overwhelming in the richness of its history, art and culture, Istanbul rates as a "must visit" destination.

Sultanahmet Square -

Two of Istanbul's most famous sites, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, stand just a short distance apart in the Sultanahmet Square district. The central focus of the city since the Romans built a Hippodrome stadium for races there more than 1,000 years ago, the square also is home to several museums and a bazaar where visitors can purchase genuine Turkish carpets and other handicrafts.

Topkapi Palace -

Built more than 500 years ago as the residence for the ruler of the Ottoman Empire, this complex of pavilions linked by four large courtyards today is a national museum housing fantastic treasures and providing a glimpse into the world of the Sultans who once ruled here.

Grand Bazaar -

A visit to Istanbul could not be complete without a trip to the Grand Bazaar and some serious shopping. A labyrinth of narrow streets leads bargain hunters past the hundreds of stalls offering everything from candies to fine jewelry. Remember that the merchants here expect to negotiate price.

Venice -

Considered by many to be the most romantic city in the world, Venice is famous for its canals and the grand Piazza San Marco. A walk through the city's narrow streets inevitably leads to discoveries that are bound to become fond memories - pleasant plazas bordered by cafes, galleries of fine art and crafts and everyday scenes of life in a unique city.

A Gondola Tour -

Fleets of these distinctive single-oar boats stand travel among the canals that crisscross Venice, giving tourists a water-level view of the city and a unique memory to take home.

Island of Glass -

A short boat ride from the main part of the city takes visitors to the small island of Murano, where artisans demonstrate the skills that have been used to create masterworks of creative glassmaking there since the 13th Century. Today Murano glass is famous throughout the world.

Piazza San Marco -

Any tour of Venice must at some point linger for a while in this world famous plaza. St. Mark's Basilica, which dates to the 11th Century, and the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) anchor one end, and cafes and shops line the arcades behind graceful porticos on the sides of the Piazza.

Barcelona -

Some experienced cruise travelers rate Barcelona among the world's most beautiful port cities. The tree-lined walkways, cafes and flower stalls of La Rambla, the mile-long focal point of the city's shopping and nightlife, could alone earn this Spanish port city that distinction.

Architectural Wonder -

Among Barcelona's most famous landmarks, the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia represents the crowning achievement of architect Antoni Gaudi, though it remains a work in progress more than 100 years after its construction began in 1882. The church's fantastic towers, striking artistic touches and unconventional design of the church today hint at the grandeur of the architect's design.

La Rambla -

This distinctive urban space invites visitors to linger and enjoy with open-air cafes, shops and non-stop entertainment throughout the day and night. Its proximity to the cruise port also makes it an ideal place to begin or end a tour of the area.

Montserrat -

A relatively short coach trip outside the city into the mountains takes visitors to the spectacular Benedictine monastery at Montserrat, which dates back to the 9th Century. Both the richly decorated basilica and the views from this historic religious center could be described as breathtaking.