The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations, especially between the months of April and October. The sheer diversity of ports here offers an abundance of experiences from gourmet food that delights your stomach to charming medieval town centres that put a smile on the face of history buffs.
We all know about places like Barcelona, Rome and Marseille, but what about those ports that are more underrated? These destinations may not immediately stand out when you see them on a cruise itinerary, but here’s why they are definitely worth getting excited about.
As we highlighted in a previous blog post, Malta is home to fascinating history – much of which is free to explore. But that’s not just restricted to the main island, so you can look forward to more of the same when your ship stops off in Gozo. If you are interested in history, the citadel in Victoria (sometimes called Rabat) city centre is a great place to start. If you want to go even further back in time, you can visit various Neolithic monuments or Calypso Cave. The latter is said to be mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.
Gozo hit the news earlier in 2017 when its famous Azure Window was sadly lost to the raging sea. However, the beautiful coastline of the island is still a beautiful sight to behold. In fact, the Wied il-Mielah Window on the north coast has gained a new collection of fans and is said to be just as spectacular as its, now lost, cousin.
Whilst Dubrovnik might get most of the plaudits when it comes to beautiful Croatian ports, there are others too. Case in point comes in the form of Zadar, an ancient city on the Dalmatian Coast that provides a breathtaking welcome for everyone who arrives via cruise ship. The walled Old Town is home to many architectural treasures, such as St. Donat’s church and remnants from both the Roman and Venetian Empires.
One of the first things you will hear as you step off the ship is the ingenious Sea Organ. Using the power of the waves, this manmade attraction makes it sound like the ocean is playing a tune as it laps the shore. Another plus when visiting Zadar is the proximity of the port to the city centre. It’s a simple 10-minute walk until you start to reach Zadar’s highlights and the car-free streets are a joy to navigate.
Because we know Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, it may not fill you with as much excitement as other ports on your Mediterranean cruise. However, there’s a lot to look forward to when you dock at the rock and this Spanish-influenced peninsula is definitely growing in popularity. Its small size makes it a great stop for a day trip and the range of activities means you can relax or be as active as you like.
Many of the things to see and do, such as St Michael’s Cave, the cable car and the Barbary macaques, involve the rock itself – but there is much more besides. From Moorish architecture to dolphin spotting in the bay, it’s time we started appreciating this fantastic home-from-home.
Whilst it doesn’t have the pull of Rome or Venice, Ravenna (on the east coast) is still an Italian cruise port with a lot going for it. Many cruisers opt for excursions that take them to nearby Bologna, but you will not be disappointed if you decide to stay in Ravenna instead.
Your ship will dock close to the largest marina in the Adriatic and transfers to the city centre will take about 20 minutes by coach. This destination is most famous for its intricate mosaics, a tradition that spreads across the city. There are eight buildings, constructed between the 5th and 6th centuries, which have been given UNESCO World Heritage status for their designs. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is possibly the most alluring example, but all are easy to explore in a short amount of time. Aside from the mosaics, Ravenna is also home to the tomb of the poet Dante, famous for works such as ‘Inferno’.
This hidden gem can be found on the island of Crete and is considered to be one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. You may not agree with this upon arrival at the cruise port, but your opinion will soon change once you take the 20-minute shuttle into the centre.
You will immediately have a great chance to sample some local food as you are dropped off outside the market. After a wander through and possibly a bite to eat, you could choose to explore the historic Venetian harbour. Along with a dramatic fortress which holds the interesting Maritime Museum, there’s the charming lighthouse and the arsenals where ships were built during the Venetian Empire. Away from the waterfront, the winding streets and narrow alleyways provide many cafés and restaurants in which to escape the heat with a refreshing drink.
So, if you are inspired to visit any of these underrated ports on your next Mediterranean cruise, we have some great itineraries available. Call us today for more information or to book your holiday.