With the exception of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean is the most popular cruise destination on the planet, and the western portion, stretching from Portugal and Spain to France and Italy, contains the most stylish ports in the cruising world, including Monaco, Saint-Tropez and the whole Riviera. Passengers have the full lineup of major cruise lines to choose from, but smaller luxury lines are truly in their element here. The selection of the perfect Western Mediterranean cruise comes down to what you want to see within its broad confines and which fine cruise line can get you there in style.
Windstar Cruises is one quite posh choice with interesting itineraries in the West Med. Its eight-day Treasures of Southern Spain and Morocco (departing April 16, 2016) starts in Lisbon and takes passengers first to the Kasbah in Tangier, Morocco, followed by a stop in Málaga, Spain, Picasso’s picturesque hometown. There are calls in Granada for a tour of the fabled Alhambra Palace and in Cartagena, home to celebrated Roman ruins.
The final port of call is Ibiza, an ideal spot for beach time and shopping in a Mediterranean Old Town replete with drawbridges and Gothic architecture. A highlight of this cruise is Windstar’s signature private event in the Roman amphitheater at Tarragona, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here passengers are treated to tapas and sangria while enjoying the cavortings of a troupe of traditionally costumed entertainers known as Catalan giants and big-heads, plus the building of a breathtaking human tower by the Castellers.
The cruise ends in Barcelona, but the 148-passenger, fourmasted Wind Star with computer-controlled sails continues on from Barcelona through the Western Mediterranean with a six-day Islands of the West Med voyage. Its first destination is Palma on the island of Mallorca, succeeded by stops on three more islands: Italy’s Sardinia, home to the walled city of Alghero and Neptune’s Grotto; France’s Corsica, featuring the medieval city of Bonifacio; and Elba, the Italian island famed for its Renaissance museums and villas. Windstar’s private event on this cruise takes place on Mallorca at the March Palace, a private mansion studded with artworks by Rodin, Dalí and Henry Moore. By combining these two Windstar cruises, you can take in a wide sweep of the iconic islands and turquoise seas that lie between Lisbon and Rome.
Oceania Cruises offers another banquet of Western Mediterranean delights on Barcelona-to-Rome voyages aboard the aptly named 1,258-passenger Riviera. A 10-day cruise takes in Marseille, jet-setting Saint-Tropez and the Côte d’Azur resort of Cannes in French waters, followed by a stop in the casino and beach mecca of Monte Carlo. The sailing concludes on Italy’s west coast with calls at the village of Portofino, the cliffs of Cinque Terre, the galleries of Florence and the leaning tower of Pisa. Oceania’s elegant ship offers a multitude of onboard diversions, too, from putting greens and artists-in-residence workshops to Bon Appétit magazine cooking classes. Oceania’s other itineraries in the West Med include an 11-day cruise that anchors at Gibraltar and a 12-day cruise in late spring that adds Corsica and Valencia, Spain.
Silversea provides a twist to the popular Rome-to-Barcelona itinerary on its eight-day cruises by calling on Sorrento (gateway to the Amalfi Coast and Mount Vesuvius); Trapani (on the isle of Sicily); Cagliari (on Sardinia); and Porto Mahón, the main town on Spain’s Balearic Island, renowned for its Neolithic monuments. Silversea’s 540-passenger, high-end, all-suites Silver Spirit also comes into port on the African edge of the Western Mediterranean at Tunis for a look at the ruins of ancient Carthage.
Crystal Cruises covers the breadth of the Western Mediterranean on its voyages spanning Lisbon and Rome that include three-day stays in Monaco during the Grand Prix auto race in May. Some of Crystal’s cruises also extend to Morocco’s Tangier and Casablanca and Spain’s Canary Islands. Crystal’s two highly rated luxury liners, the 1,090-passenger Crystal Serenity and the 960-passenger Crystal Symphony, are packed with pastimes, from digital filmmaking classes and PGA golf instruction to Hollywood movie presentations and its own Monte Carlo-style casino.
For passengers with a surfeit of time to sail the southern shores of Western Europe, Seabourn runs a 21-day Mediterranean Nights cruise that makes a round-trip voyage from Monaco encompassing a bewildering array of delights, including Corsica, Sardinia, Florence, Malta, Amalfi, Saint-Tropez, Marseille and Barcelona. The 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn is well suited to a leisurely, stylish sailing of the Mediterranean, with spacious suites and a large full-service spa.
Offering a cruise experience closer to that of a private yacht than a small cruise ship, SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I plies the West Med beginning in April next year, capped by two seven-day autumn voyages that can be combined: Rome to Cannes and Cannes to Málaga. The Rome itinerary includes visits to Sorrento and the isle of Capri in Italy and Corsica and Saint-Tropez in France. From Cannes, the next cruise returns first to Saint-Tropez and then continues westward to two charming French ports: Cassis, which lies just east of Marseille and is notable for its maritime bluffs, and Collioure, a Catalan commune with a striking 12th-century castle. Collioure is also celebrated for its anchovies (the world’s best, some say) and was long the home of Master and Commander novelist Patrick O’Brian. SeaDream’s Western Mediterranean wanderings finish up with four magical stops in Spain at Barcelona, Valencia, Cartagena and Málaga. The SeaDream I mega-yacht accommodates 112 passengers, carries a nearly equal number of crew members, offers gourmet cuisine and refined service and maintains a sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere devoid of onboard casinos and stage shows.
All in all, there are plenty of ways to experience the pleasures of the West Med, no matter which ports or sailing vessel one favors.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.