Cruise Experts Tell All: Top Mediterranean Shore Excursions

Shore excursions can really enhance the cruise travel experience. Whether you like active or scenic, historic or cultural, Holland America Line features thousands of tours to fit every interest. If you can’t decide what shore excursion to take in the Mediterranean, get suggestions from the people who know best … our own past passengers!

The “Cruise Experts Tell All” series turns to our own guests to get an insider’s perspective on cruising with Holland America Line. We asked our Facebook fans for their favorite Mediterranean shore excursions, and the answers included a variety of inspiring experiences.

Favorite Shore Excursions:

My favourite excursion was to Capri. Absolutely best time, beautiful island, great food and a trip in a boat, of course! Cannot forget to mention excursion to Ypres. Everyone should do this one. It is humbling! — Ann Goody

We did excursions in every port and enjoyed them all. They were all memorable. However, our favourite shore excursion was definitely in Santorini to the village of Oia. With its magical picturesque architecture, it was a port we did not want to leave and left us longing to return. Kusidasi was another standout visiting the ancient ruins of Ephesus. Katakolon also greatly impressed with a visit to the ancient ruins of Olympia, site of the original Olympics. – Ian and Marg McHutchison

Ian and Marg McHutchison ranked Santorini, Ephesus and Olympia as their top tours.

Ian and Marg McHutchison ranked Santorini, Ephesus and Olympia as their top tours.

Our favorite shore excursion would be hard to nail down. We loved going to the Vatican, and Taormina in Sicily. The Vatican was amazing even for a non-Catholic; grand and historic. — Patricia Nichols

My favorite shore excursion was in Sicily on a tour of Taormina and Mt. Etna. Spectacular and interesting to go from the warmth of a sunny day in Taormina to the snow at Mt Etna! Next favorite was to Melissani Lake, Kefalonia Greece. — Carol Knowles

Carol Knowles' tour in Taormina featured sun and snow!

Carol Knowles’ tour in Taormina featured sun and snow!

Staying in Kusadasi overnight allowed for two excursions. We choose Ephesus and the Terrace Houses on the first day and the Three Ancient Cities: Priene, Didyma & Miletus. Very interesting and being able to actually touch the artifacts and walk were people walked years ago was unbelievable. — Debbie Fuller

How do you rate shore excursions (LOL)? They were all fantastic. If I had to pick; I’d say the most challenging was the Acropolis at Lindos, but Ephesus had to be the best for the history. — Bob Thomas

We took a tour in Cadiz, the Flamenco Dancing event, and my wife learned to dance. In Portugal we visited the sites and a winery on another tour. They were amazing excursions. — Nick & Caroline Scime

Nick and Caroline Scime enjoy a tour in Cadiz and showcased Flamenco Dancing.

Nick and Caroline Scime enjoy a tour in Cadiz and showcased Flamenco Dancing.

The nicest tour was an overnight from Civitavecchia to Livorno and staying overnight in Florence to see it illuminated. Tien-Lun Yao

Favorite shore excursion: Rome, Italy … a full day of sightseeing and a delicious lunch at a great restaurant. – William Norton

My favorite shore excursion was in Egypt, The Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx & The Nile in Style. To stand at the base of The Pyramids is awe inspiring. This unique and historical destination is truly one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Visiting this part of the world was a once in a life time opportunity that we likely would not have pursued had it not been for this cruise itinerary. — Maureen and Garry Melnyk

Maureen and Garry Melnyk rated their tours in Egypt number-one.

Maureen and Garry Melnyk rated their tours in Egypt number-one.

Our favorite shore excursion was Pompeii because of the history associated with it. — Nancy and Joe Weigand

Nancy and Joe Weigand enjoyed the hitory of Pompeii.

Nancy and Joe Weigand enjoyed the history of Pompeii.

I’ve had a lot of fabulous shore excursions in the Med and let me put in a good word for my some of my favorite Shore Excursions staff. Tessa Oostrik, Inge Klasen and Willeke van Paassen have all been a great help to me on my Med cruises. Thinking back to my most recent Med cruise, I really enjoyed the Ancient Herculaneum excursion. I was moved by visiting this ancient city that was destroyed in the year 79 AD. I felt strange standing in what was likely a bedroom of a house that was destroyed by volcanic ash. The city seemed surprisingly modern for something so old. — Ted Wade

In the Tuscany Region, the combination of Florence, Pisa and Luca was one of many shore excursion highlights during both cruises, the site seeing (Photo on Hop on Hop off bus), the cleanliness of the cities, the fascination of no cars in Luca and of course the opportunity to ‘hold up’ the Leaning Tower of Pizza. The proud locals of these towns ensured tourists shared in their enthusiasm and culture. — Steven Hood


If you’re taking a Mediterranean cruise that visits these ports, the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you get the tour of your choice.

Have you taken a shore excursion in the Mediterranean? What was your favorite tour? Tell us in the comments below!


Join the Discussion


  1. Gail Long September 24, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    When I visited Ephesus (Turkey) I realized I had never been in a situation with easily 1000 people roaming around and no one was saying a word. Total quiet in absolute awe. The most inspirational and unexpected experience I ever had. Since then I tell people if I had my life to live over I would want to spend my life as a archeologist and “dig” in Ephesus. I was also blessed to sit in the amphitheatre there and have a fellow “cruiser” stand in the middle of the theatre and sing a beautiful, breathtaking aria. We were spellbound as was she. No acoustics and you could hear every word Amazing. What a day! I will never forget it.

  2. Maria Lopez September 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Cruise the Mediterranean on April / 2014 , my favorite tour was the Alcasar palace and gardens it was beautiful , it would had been perfect if not for our tour guide that left my husband behind , I was running after that guide to tell him to slow down and my husband got lost it was a terrible experience , he told me to go find him or that he could get a taxi back , we were 4 hours away , I hope they don’t have this person anymore Amsterdam 2014 .

  3. Susan Cumby September 24, 2014 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    I loved Santorini

  4. William Westfall September 24, 2014 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Roman Holiday – Tour of all the Rome locations from the movie. Included a charming Italian lunch, with wine and later a gelato. So much history within walking distance. I thought I spotted Audrey just around the corner a couple of times but alas it was a glorious day in Rome and the movie will forever remind me of a special time not so very far away. Back to the ship in time for dinner, some entertainment and a few more memories at the piano bar. Slept like a baby.

  5. Judy Epworth September 25, 2014 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Loved Malta and Fort St. Elmo which is a World War II museum, walking the narrow
    streets and gazing at the beautiful blue Mediteranean.

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