The Western Mediterranean is a popular choice for first-time cruisers, and no wonder: It’s a cornucopia of culture with varied landscapes from cliff-top towns and cosmopolitan cities to volcanic terrain, sandy beaches, and rolling vineyards.
The boot of Italy divides the Mediterranean, and the western region typically includes stops in Italy, Spain, or France and the islands in between.
Exploring this region by ship has its advantages over a land voyage: A cruise can save you money over the conversion to euros and time over the hassle of booking hotels. While many cities are accessible from port, a number of inland treasures — such as Provence (France) and Italy's Tuscan countryside — are a short drive away.
Sailing the Western Mediterranean is like a trip through time. It’s possible to traverse centuries of history in just one cruise. Stunning architectural gems — like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia or Rome’s ancient ruins — are en route, as are some excellent museums situated on cobblestone streets.
There’s also no better place to indulge your cravings than here, where diversity runs from the pesto of Genoa, Italy, to paella in Valencia, Spain. Forage for truffles in Tuscany or sip rosé in Provence. Michelin-starred restaurants abound, as do authentic dives and farmers markets.
More frequently here than in the Caribbean, ships overnight in port; evenings are a completely different experience than during the day. For example, you can hit the casino in Monte Carlo (Monaco), a nightclub in St. Tropez (France), or simply stroll under the twinkling stars.