See ancient wonders of the world and kick back on paradise islands with a cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Whether you've always dreamed of seeing the pyramids of Egypt, or you just want to relax amid the picturesque coastal scenery of Cyprus and the Greek islands, travelling by boat is the best way to experience this diverse region.
Retrace the journeys of ancient explorers, traders and conquering armies as you travel in style between major locations in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa to see where modern civilisation began.
- Currency - Greece and Cyprus are the only countries in the region that use the euro, though this currency can be widely exchanged in neighbouring countries. Credit cards may not be accepted when buying goods or services from smaller businesses or in remote areas, but you can find ATMs in major cities to stock up on local currency.
- Population - the Eastern Mediterranean region comprises countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, leading to significant diversity between destinations. Population density is greatest on the coast, while Turkey and Egypt are the countries in the region with the largest populations.
- Language - there is no common language between the countries in this region, though English is widely understood as a second language. Learning basic phrases in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and other languages along your route will be appreciated by locals, and if you are travelling outside of major tourist locations you could benefit from the services of a local guide or interpreter.
- Time Zone - the Eastern Mediterranean is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+02:00). Travelling west of Greece to Italy, France and the Iberian Peninsula, you will need to subtract 1 hour (UTC+01:00).
- Weather - the Mediterranean's subtropical climate stays warm and comfortable all year round, with the months of March and November typically having the most rain. If your cruise visits destinations such as Turkey, Israel and Egypt, the climate becomes more arid as you travel further from the coast.
Did you know..?
The semi-enclosed Mediterranean Sea is home to more than 3,000 islands of varying sizes. The largest islands in the Eastern Mediterranean region include the island nation of Cyprus and the Greek islands of Crete and Euboea.
Who goes there?
Many cruise lines offer tours of the major Greek islands designed to suit travellers of all ages, including family-friendly Louis Cruise Lines and history-focused Voyages to Antiquity 14-day tours departing from Athens.
Princess Cruises and Swan Hellenic conduct cruises to Israel with side trips to Petra in Jordan and the Egyptian pyramids. For premium cruises, Silversea operates routes from Italy to Istanbul and the Black Sea.
Best time to go?
The Eastern Mediterranean offers comfortable conditions all year round, with mild winters and warm summers. You could find the best deals and avoid the crowds by travelling in low season (October to April), though sun seekers can reduce the risk of rain by taking a summer cruise (May to September).
- Athens - the city where western civilisation began, Athens' history is proudly on display wherever you go, watched over by the ancient ruins of the Acropolis. Cruises land at nearby Piraeus, which has operated as the port of Athens for more than 2,000 years.
- Istanbul - a truly cosmopolitan city, Istanbul is the bridge between Europe and Asia, East and West, with a Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman heritage. The history is reflected in Istanbul's splendid architecture, including notable Islamic mosques and Christian churches. The majestic Hagia Sophia was both.
- Israel - the State of Israel may have been founded in 1948, but the history of this significant area stretches back much further. Whether you are religious or just have a passion for history, the significance of this country's plentiful shrines and monuments cannot be underestimated, from the Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City to Bethlehem and the Dead Sea.
- Dubrovnik - this historic Croatian city recovered from its devastation by Yugoslavian troops 20 years ago to become a favourite destination on cruise itineraries. This popularity can be easily understood when admiring Dubrovnik's well-preserved medieval ruins and the mixture of sand and pebble beaches on the serene Dalmatian Coast.
Ports of Interest
- Split, Croatia
- Sorrento, Italy
- Santorini, Greece
- Portofino, Italy
- Palermo, Sicily
- Naples, Italy
- Mykonos, Greece
- Kusadasi, Turkey
- Kos, Greece
- Florence, Italy
- Crete, Greece
- Corfu, Greece
- Capri, Italy
- Brač Island, Croatia
- Bari, Italy
- Venice, Italy
- Piraeus (Athens), Greece
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Genoa, Italy
- Dubrovnik, Croatia