Why Go?

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. 

When To Go

The Mediterranean cruise season starts in April and stretches through the end of October, when temperatures range from the 70s to the mid-90s and ships reposition from the Caribbean, Asia, South America, or elsewhere. June through August are particularly busy months, when school’s out for the summer and families vacation together. During this period, cruise ships bring the crowds with them.

May and early fall are better choices if you want to avoid hordes of tourists — and snag better deals — though the weather can be too chilly for swimming and beaches.

If you want to add a pre- or post-cruise stay, festivals — such as the Monaco Grand Prix or Cannes Film Festival — are abundant in the spring and can be packaged with cruises that embark or disembark in the corresponding ports. A few cruise lines extend their seasons beyond October to include the winter months. Though the weather can be unpredictable, by then the crowds have thinned out significantly. Be aware that some resort towns shutter their establishments for the season.

Routes

A wide of variety of itineraries is offered in the Western Mediterranean, so even if you’re a seasoned cruiser, you can revisit the region without experiencing the same itinerary twice. Two important points: The size of your ship will shape your itinerary: The smaller the vessel, the less trodden the ports. Also, many cruise lines offer sequences of itineraries so that cruisers can book back-to-back sailings.

Most itineraries are port-intensive. If you want a relaxing cruise, choose an itinerary that factors in a sea day or two; many of the longer cruises incorporate overnights in port.

Seven-day sailings typically depart from Rome or Barcelona (Spain), Monte Carlo, or Nice (France), depending on the size of the ship, then ply eastward to the Italian Riviera or westward along the coasts of France, Spain, or Portugal, with stops in the Balearic Islands, Corsica, or Sardinia.

Other itineraries circumvent the boot of Italy from Venice to Rome or vice versa, or combine ports in both the western and eastern Mediterranean, such as those on the Adriatic coast or the Greek Isles, or may even hit Morocco or Tunisia.

For a first-time cruiser, a classic route could start in Barcelona, then call in Marseilles (France), Livorno (Florence, Italy), and Naples or Sorrento (Italy), then Citavecchia — the port for Rome. If you’re already familiar with the Western Mediterranean, you could incorporate more off-the-beaten track destinations such as Elba or Villefranche (Nice, France). 

Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Itineraries

Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruises

Ports

  • Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
  • NAPLES (POMPEII), ITALY
  • Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy
  • Barcelona, Spain
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Ports

Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - NAPLES (POMPEII), ITALY - Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy - Barcelona, Spain - View more ports

View All 460 Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruises

Best Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Excursions

Best Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Ports

Photo of Cartagena, Spain

Cartagena, Spain

4.4
(594 Reviews)
Photo of Gibraltar  (U.K.)

Gibraltar (U.K.)

4.3
(776 Reviews)

View All 37 Europe - Western Mediterranean Ports

Best cruise lines to Europe - Western Mediterranean

Disney Cruise Line

Sails 5 Ships

Average rating of:

4.4

Viking Ocean Cruises

Sails 11 Ships

Average rating of:

4.4

Crystal Cruises

Sails 4 Ships

Average rating of:

4.4

Windstar Cruises

Sails 6 Ships

Average rating of:

4.4

Azamara Club Cruises

Sails 4 Ships

Average rating of:

4.3

Seabourn

Sails 9 Ships

Average rating of:

4.3

Marella Cruises

Sails 6 Ships

Average rating of:

4.3

Cunard

Sails 3 Ships

Average rating of:

4.2

Royal Caribbean

Sails 26 Ships

Average rating of:

4.1

Celebrity Cruises

Sails 16 Ships

Average rating of:

4.1

Oceania Cruises

Sails 7 Ships

Average rating of:

4.1

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Sails 6 Ships

Average rating of:

4.1

Princess Cruises

Sails 19 Ships

Average rating of:

4.0

Holland America Line

Sails 15 Ships

Average rating of:

4.0

Silversea Cruises

Sails 12 Ships

Average rating of:

4.0

Carnival Cruise Lines

Sails 25 Ships

Average rating of:

3.9

Norwegian Cruise Line

Sails 18 Ships

Average rating of:

3.7

MSC Cruises

Sails 20 Ships

Average rating of:

3.7

Costa Cruises

Sails 19 Ships

Average rating of:

3.3

View All 19 Cruise Lines

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3020 Western Mediterranean Reviews

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Great Cruise to see many different places in Europe! by j3williams7

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Costa Smeralda / Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean

This is the BEST way to travel through Europe. Congrats to Costa Cruise on such a great ship and staff.

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2 Comments

First Trip to Europe, first cruise in Europe. Very nice. by SeaAngel77

Sail date: / Traveled as: Family (young children)
Ship: MSC Grandiosa / Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean

Nicely Done. Beautiful Ship. Very European and Nice for family.

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Very Nice European Cruise by tmsmiranda

Sail date: / Traveled as: Family (older children)
Ship: MSC Grandiosa / Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean

Ship was beautiful; service was great; food was ok; destinations and tours were awesome (except for France); price was extremely good for a balcony.

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3 Comments

Very disappointed by calebgreen

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Costa Smeralda / Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean

Would 150% not recommend or go on another costa cruise. This was a new ship and was supposed to be to great destinations that were a total let down if you booked excursions with the cruise line. Entertainment, food, and excursions were less than mediocre at best. Sad this was a dark cloud following us on our anniversary cruise. Should have went with another cruise line.

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Was this review helpful? 58
2 Comments

Comfy cruise by cassatt54

Sail date: / Traveled as: Couple
Ship: Costa Smeralda / Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean

A super variety of port yours ; excellent rooms and staff = good food : we felt it was worth it in every wsyn

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