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Best Overall: See Viking Cruises Rates "Includes six guided tours, alcoholic beverages with meals and more."
Best Budget: See MSC Cruises Rates "Specializes in affordable cruises in the Mediterranean region with more than 14 of its vessels cruising there."
Best Historical Cruise: See Voyages to Antiquity Rates "The journey includes educational excursions, such as the UNESCO World Heritage site of Epidaurus."
Best Short Cruise: See Celesytal Cruises Rates "Packs a punch with six ports of call on a four-night cruise."
Best Value: See Norwegian Cruise Line Rates "An affordable and fun-filled cruise ship from a convenient departure port."
Best Tall Ship Cruise: See Windstar Cruises Rates "Passengers will experience exceptional cuisine onboard from award-winning chefs."
Best for Luxury: See Regent Seven Seas Rates "An excellent choice with all-inclusive pricing and premium service."
Best New Ship: See Celebrity Cruises Rates "The 10-night voyage allows extra time to experience all the vessel has to offer."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Viking Cruises
- Sails from: Istanbul, Turkey
- Duration: 7 nights
- Ship Name: Viking Sky
- Itinerary: Troy, Turkey; Kusadisi, Turkey; Rhodes, Greece; Heraklion; Greece; Athens, Greece
With six guided tours included in the fare, alcoholic beverages with meals and a casual, yet elegant 930-passenger ship, Viking is a different kind of ocean cruise. Still, the experience closely resembles the relaxed, educational style of the company’s popular river cruises. With more space onboard than a river cruise, guests can unwind in one of the best spas at sea, soak in views in the two-story observation room and dine in one of several fabulous restaurants. During the “Ancient Mediterranean Treasures” voyage, the Viking Sky explores Greece and Turkey, with opportunities to experience an archaeological museum in Heraklion, the medieval town of Rhodes and the legendary city of Troy – to name a few.
Best Budget: MSC Cruises
- Sails from: Naples, Italy
- Duration: 7 nights
- Ship Name: MSC Bellissima
- Itinerary: Messina, Italy; Valletta, Malta; Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; Genoa, Italy, Naples, Italy
MSC is a mainstream cruise line that specializes in affordable cruises in the Mediterranean region with more than 14 of its vessels cruising there – that’s nearly the entire fleet. Its newest ship, the MSC Bellissima, sails a series of round-trip cruises from Naples that visits four countries in seven days: Malta, Italy, Spain and France. The Bellissima is also fully-loaded with new innovations, like the world’s first robot cruise assistant, a massive LED dome on the central promenade and digital technology that allows guests to connect with each other onboard. Entertainment ranges from dazzling Cirque du Soleil shows to a desert-themed water park — plus, there’s 12 different dining options and 20 bars.
Best Historical Cruise: Voyages to Antiquity
- Sails from: Athens, Greece
- Duration: 14 nights
- Ship Name: Aegean Odyssey
- Itinerary: Piraeus, Delos, Mykonos, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Karpathos, Nisyros, Rhodes, Santorini, Athens (Greece)
History buffs who want to learn more about ancient cultures of the Mediterranean ports should consider a cruise with Voyages to Antiquity. The company operates a single ship, the Aegean Odyssey, on longer voyages (typically 14 nights minimum) throughout the Mediterranean region, including the “Classical Greece” voyage that explores the Greek Islands and comes with a two-night hotel stay in Athens before the cruise. The journey features educational excursions such as the UNESCO World Heritage site of Epidaurus, the deserted isle of Delos, the religious center of the Cyclades and the villages of Karpathos — all bundled in the fare. Additionally, the 378-passenger ship has two dining venues, a small spa, library and several lounges.
Best Short Cruise: Celesytal Cruises
- Sails from: Piraeus, Greece
- Duration: 4 nights
- Ship Name: Celestyal Olympia
- Itinerary: Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Santorini, Piraeus; Greece; Kusadisi, Turkey
If you don’t have time for a longer voyage but want a little taste of Greece, consider Celestyal Cruises – which packs a punch with six ports of call on a four-night cruise. The Greek-based cruise line operates the 1,664-passenger Celestyal Olympia, and is all about immersing passengers in Greek culture. Onboard, the entire ship is Greek-themed from décor and food to music. Activities include yoga, dance competitions, Greek language classes, cooking lessons and more – but don’t expect the over-the-top amenities found on mainstream ships.
Gratuities, unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and two excursions are also included in the pricing. For this itinerary, it’s an acropolis tour of Lindos, the Citadel of the Knights (in Rhodes) and an ancient Ephesus bus tour.
Best Value: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Sails from: Barcelona, Spain
- Duration: 7 nights
- Ship Name: Norwegian Epic
- Itinerary: Naples, Italy; Rome, Italy; Livorno, Italy; Cannes, France; Palma de Mallorca, Spain
For an affordable and fun-filled cruise ship from a convenient departure port, consider the Norwegian’s Epic’s round-trip voyage from Barcelona. Norwegian Epic is one of the cruise line’s most popular ships, with more than 20 dining venues and unique activities and entertainment. Cruisers can experience Cirque Dreams and Dinner show, the Aqua Park with the largest bowl slide at sea, a boxercise ring at the fitness center, a bowling alley, an adults-only lounge and an array of teens and kid’s clubs. There’s also a variety of cabin choices from solo traveler studios, family staterooms and spa suites. In addition, the cruise visits France, Spain and three stops in Italy.
Best Tall Ship Cruise: Windstar Cruises
- Sails from: Venice, Italy
- Duration: 7 nights
- Ship Name: Wind Surf
- Itinerary: Opatija, Croatia; Zadar, Croatia; Split, Croatia; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Piran, Slovenia; Venice, Italy
Feel the power of the wind on a voyage through the Adriatic Sea with Windstar Cruises, a luxury tall-sailing ship cruise line. On the “Quintessential Croatia” cruise, travelers will explore parts of the Eastern Mediterranean region including sleepy seaside resort towns like Opatija as well as bustling cities like Split, home to Diocletian’s Palace — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a partner to the James Beard Foundation, passengers experience exceptional cuisine onboard from award-winning chefs, plus themed voyages include live cooking demos, market tours and beverage pairings. The recently-renovated, 310-passenger ship also has an open-bridge policy, a water sports platform and several elegant viewing lounges.
Best for Luxury: Regent Seven Seas
- Sails from: Rome, Italy
- Duration: 8 nights
- Ship Name: Seven Seas Voyager
- Itinerary: Rome, Italy; Sorrento, Italy; Taormina, Italy; Ephesus, Turkey; Istanbul, Turkey; Bozcaada, Turkey; Athens, Greece.
For an ultra-luxurious yacht voyage to Turkey, Regent Seven Seas is an excellent choice with all-inclusive pricing and premium service. In Sorrento, guests can enjoy a scenic drive along the stunning Amalfi coast followed by lunch at a Michelin-rated restaurant, or in Ephesus, they can visit historical ruins including the ancient city of Miletus. Every stateroom on the 700-passenger ship is a spacious suite with a private balcony. On Regent, everything is included: airfare, specialty restaurants, gratuities, Wi-Fi and beverages are all part of the pricing. There’s plenty to do onboard as well, ranging from a relaxing spa, onboard cooking lessons, trivia and lively evening shows.
Best New Ship: Celebrity Cruises
- Sails from: Rome, Italy
- Duration: 10 nights
- Ship Name: Celebrity Edge
- Itinerary: Naples, Italy; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Barcelona, Spain; Montecarlo, Monaco, Santa Margherita, Italy; La Spezia; Italy, Rome, Italy
Celebrity’s much-anticipated new ship, the Celebrity Edge, launched in December 2018 and will be plying the waters of the Mediterranean this summer and fall. Better yet, the 10-night voyage allows extra time to experience all the vessel has to offer. The avant garde ship steps away from traditional ship layouts (it was designed entirely in 3D), and has trend-setting features like a rooftop garden with live musical performances, a curtainless theater with 10 panoramic screens, Eden Bar, a glass-enclosed lounge with interactive performances and “Magic Carpet,” a cantilevered “elevator” deck that spans 13 floors. The cruise sails round-trip from Rome and visits three countries in six ports of call.
For more options, check out our guide to the best cruise lines.