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Cruise Experts Tell All: Why You Should Take a Mediterranean Cruise

Are you thinking about taking a Mediterranean cruise but not sure it’s for you? Hear about cruising the Med from the people who know best … our own past passengers!

In a new series called “Cruise Experts Tell All,” the Holland America Blog is turning to our own guests to get an insider’s perspective on cruising. To kick off the series, we asked our Facebook fans for their advice about the Mediterranean, and this is just the first installment. More topics about the Med with thoughts and photos from our guests will be featured in upcoming posts, from shore excursions to memorable moments and more!

Why do so many travelers take a Mediterranean cruise each year? Is it the history and culture, the architecture and ambiance? Perhaps is the variety of cuisine. We asked our cruising experts why they chose a Mediterranean itinerary and what makes it so special. The answers varied, however the ports of call seemed to be the number-one reason to hope on a Holland America Line cruise to the Med.

For our family of four, the ports in this region gave us a glimpse into history plus a taste of authentic cuisine. The beautiful scenery combined with the historic structures and the fabulous food meant that the region had it all. This was a very port intense cruise itinerary (Barcelona, Marseilles, Monaco, Livorno, Rome, Naples, Taormina, Corfu, Kotor, Dubrovnik and Venice) but each of the ports we visited gave us a good and different taste of the region. – Colleen de Neve

Photographer Colleen De Neve put her skills to good use in photographing all of the ports visited along the way.

Photographer Colleen De Neve put her skills to good use in capturing all of the ports visited along the way.

After having cruised Northern Europe during our summer vacation in August the last three years, we wanted to go back to the Mediterranean and the sun for this year’s vacation. As we had already cruised the Med before, we searched for a cruise offering us a different itinerary, letting us discover new ports. This is why we picked this Noordam cruise, because of its unique itinerary. So this was our first experience with HAL as well, and we were not disappointed! — Guest Agnes Garbe

I picked a Mediterranean cruise because I wanted to see Venice, Istanbul and Greece. I knew very little about Croatia and Montenegro but that was an amazing surprise. What beautiful countries they are. — Bob Lewis

Two of the main reasons Bob Lewis picked a Mediterranean cruise were to see Italy and Greece. He visited Venice, left, and Athens, among others.

Two of the main reasons Bob Lewis picked a Mediterranean cruise were to see Italy and Greece. He visited Venice, left, and Athens on his journey.

We chose the Mediterranean itinerary because it included places we wanted to see such as: Monte Carlo, Pisa, Rome and Pompeii. We combined this cruise with the Greek Explorer Cruise, as we also wanted to see Venice and Greece, including Olympia. — Nancy and Joe Weigand

Although Australia is a fully multi-cultural society, we do not have the wonderful historical, vibrant cities visited on a cruise through the Mediterranean. My cruising experience on the Nieuw Amsterdam started in the wonderful city of Venice – how amazing to be berthed minutes from the city and then to glide down the Grand Canal. A magical experience … — Christine Auton

There’s a lot of history and beauty in the Med that I honestly didn’t expect. For example, I had heard good things about Barcelona but I was just amazed at what a wonderful city it is – now it’s my favorite in the world. It’s an amazing blend of new and old. La Sagrada Familia is a great example of that. The outside looks a million years old while the inside looks like something from a futuristic movie. You could spend most of the day just at that one spot, but don’t because there are plenty of other Gaudi masterpieces to view. — Ted Wade

Ted Wade was most impressed with Barcelona on his Med cruise.

Ted Wade was most impressed with Barcelona on his Med cruise.

We love Italy and wanted to see more of all of the coasts so the Mediterranean was the best way to do that. We were able to have coffee on our verandah balcony every morning which was so nice. We were celebrating my husbands 60th birthday and our 40th wedding anniversary so also romantic to have the balcony to enjoy just the two of us. – Steve and Val Fox

Cruising the Med is a great way to visit and experience a different port or a different country every day. We feel that cruising in Europe is the best way to visit multiple countries in one trip. You get a taste of the country and culture while traveling in a safe, secure way. — Maureen and Garry Melnyk

We picked the Mediterranean cruise because of the great itinerary with many new places for us in Greece and Turkey, but also because we got a great fare for a long Collectors’ Voayge … It was also our first cruise in Europe, even though we live here we’ve have only cruised in North America three times before. – Henrik Laurino

Henrik Laurino chose a Med cruise for the new places he'd get to visit.

Henrik Laurino chose a Med cruise for the new places he’d get to visit.

We decided that the Mediterranean would be an excellent opportunity to see where much of the world’s history took place. After much research we decided the 20-day Collector Rome/Rome/Rome was an excellent value. Additionally we decided to take advantage of the 4-day pre-cruise tour package of Rome that was offered by HAL. – Mike Heemer

Ever since I studied Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” in high school, I had wanted to stand near the Rialto and say “What news on the Rialto?” We spent two days in Venice before the cruise actually began, seeing as much as we could of the art work and history there. Then we sat back and absolutely enjoyed wherever the cruise took us. Split (new to us) and Athens (we had been there 40 years before, and it was interesting to compare the state of the Acropolis with 40 years ago). Istanbul was next and what a surprising city it was. Next were the Greek Isle ports and the city of Ephesus. One tends to think of Ephesus as some obscure little city where Paul spent some time. We were amazed to find it a very highly developed city for its time. It was impressive for us also, as well as a piece of living history, to see the amphitheater where the riot against Paul took place, led by the priests of Artemis – Geoffrey Logan

Geoffrey Logan knew he wanted to visit Italy after reading Shakespeare.

Geoffrey Logan knew he wanted to visit Italy after reading Shakespeare.

I have been on three Mediterranean cruises since 2008 … I’m set to take a friend on the Ryndam in October for a short Greece & Turkey cruise to introduce her to cruising and the Mediterranean. HAL seems to get into port where other ships don’t call, so towns like Marmaris, we have all to ourselves. The shore excursions are always top of the line, and include home cooked meals, villa visits, and cultural experiences not offered on other cruise lines. – Mary Nichols

I love cruising in the Med because the ports are a gateway to cities rich in culture and history. Where else can you immerse yourself in ancient cities in the morning and relax on stunning beaches, swim in crystal clear waters in the afternoon? – Gary Toon

The first Med cruise was recommended to me by another interior designer, Richard. He told me how all the ports are close together and basically you float around in a circle and go to all these wonderful places. So I decided to give it a try. My niece and I went on our first Med cruise in 2008 … an Eastern Med itinerary on Noordam called Roman Empire. We absolutely loved it. I did Western Med in both 2012 and 2013. Some of my favorite places are the water in Dubrovnik, Paleokastritsa Beach on the other side of Corfu and a dockside restaurant in Katakalon. – Luh McDevitt Madera

Luh fondly remembers the beach at Corfu and a restaurant on Katakolon.

Luh McDevitt Madera fondly remembers the beach at Corfu and a restaurant on Katakolon.

The eastern Mediterranean to the Greek islands is our favorite route because of the relaxed nature of Greek culture, the friendly people and charming destinations. — Karin Neelse

First of all, I like cruising. The ability to see multiple places from my “home base” makes life so much easier. You unpack once and 20 days later, you pack again to go home. Who could not enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean’s water or the grandeur of its coast line. It is where civilization began. When you think of the United States and its history, you go back a few hundred years. When you look at the Mediterranean all the countries bordering it, you can walk where people lived and died over a thousand years ago. You can tour churches/cathedrals that were conceptualized centuries ago and are still being built. You can see the contrast between the various architectural periods. The landscapes demonstrate the uniqueness of the environment. The Romans built roads that are still being used. We should be so lucky. — Barbara Demuth

We loved cruising the Mediterranean because every stop is dynamic! There was never a “down” day, all the sights and excursions were the stuff of dreams! And the weather is mild and lovely. – Patricia Nichols

I love cruising the Med because of the wonderful scenery. I took this cruise for the Ancient Civilizations, but came away with so much more. – Bob Thomas

Bob Thomas had a more enriching Med experience than he expected.

Bob Thomas had a more enriching Med experience than he expected.

We loved the diversity of countries and cultures, the amazing history, breathtaking scenery, beautiful weather and last but not least, the magnificent newly launched Nieuw Amsterdam. — Ian and Marg McHutchison

The close proximity of ports was a big plus. It allowed so much more site-seeing. [Cruising the Med] allowed as (as Australians) to experience historic treasures that previously we had only learnt about in school days. For example, to be standing on the site of the Acropolis bought back memories of completing a school project many years ago. – Steven Hood

We were completing our two-week tour of Italy, the Amalfi Coast and then Tuscany (my retirement trip) and decided that we would take the transatlantic cruise from Rome back to Florida. It was perfect because I had just completed my dream by graduating from my Chef Training at Culinary School and now my wife selected your cruise line because of the Culinary Classes and kitchen on board. We attended them daily and enjoyed meeting all the chefs and touring your kitchen. — Nick & Caroline Scime

Nick & Caroline Scime  enjoyed sites like the Colosseum and local entertainment.

Nick & Caroline Scime enjoyed sites like the Colosseum and local entertainment.

For many, a Mediterranean cruise provides the convenience of being able to see many places without having to travel too far or take a long flight.

Cruising the Med is great as I can choose a U.K. departure port or fly to, Rome, for example, to cruise. Also it is such a varied destination. — Ann Goody

We like Cruising The Mediterranean because it is not large and also not too small to sail with a cruise ship and go ashore at different ports The many countries situated on the Mediterranean are so different from people, architecture, environment, culture and customs. And thats what we are looking for. AND: because it’s usually good weather. AND: it is not that far from the Netherlands. — Anneke Pors

Anneke Pors explored Barcelona, Valencia and Lisbon on her cruise.

Anneke Pors explored Barcelona, Valencia and Lisbon on her cruise.

It was our 50th wedding anniversary and my wife had never been to Europe. And it was a round-trip from and to Ft. Lauderdale. – William Norton

I picked a Mediterranean itinerary because Barcelona is my city and going to the harbour by taxi instead of taking a plane to Seattle, Ft.Lauderdale, etc. is good to do from time to time. – Matias Yarza

We love cruising in the Med because it is just a 2-hour plane ride away. Two hours in the plane and we are in the sun, enjoying the cruise ship and culture. Because cruising in the Med also means culture. Think Rome, Barcelona, Venice, Istanbul … Culture!! — Jaco Olierook and family

Jaco Olierook and his family like the ease of getting to the Med after only a two-hour flight.

Jaco Olierook and his family like the ease of getting to the Med after only a two-hour flight.

A big variation of cultures, climate, offers etc. from a city like Venice/Istanbul/Barcelona (and many many more) to an island like Santorini or Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre. And for us Europeans: home-base — few ports like Venice we can go by car. — Tien-Lun Yao

It's all about the diversity and convenience for guest Tien-Lun.

It’s all about the diversity and convenience for guest Tien-Lun.

Has this made you want to take a Mediterranean cruise? Tell us where you’d like to go below!

Thanks to all of Holland America Line’s Facebook fans who responded with passion, humor and loyalty. More posts with advice on Mediterranean cruising will be on the blog soon. And be on the lookout on Facebook for future requests for blog participation!

If you’ve been on a Holland America Line cruise and would like to send in your thoughts and photos, please send to and you could be featured on social media.

  • Joan Evans

    We would love to take a cruise with Holland America.Heard so many good things.the Meditteranian looks amazing.Dont know if we should do.a River boat cruise first.Never been to Europe before.Wondering how pricey these cruises are.Thanks.

  • Glenn Johnson

    Now thats what i call a Hollanation. Wow!

  • Alexander MacKay

    We are booked to go September 21st

  • Glenn Johnson

    History! this is were it started. When you are on the deck having a kool drink looking at the sun setting, just think, Thousands of years ago Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were sailing in the same sea. What could be better.

  • Charlene Clausen

    Booked the 12-day Romance for our 40th anniversary next year. We’ll see you for the Sept. 1st sailing from Venice. Can’t wait! After spending 3 weeks in Italy last year with girlfriends, I just had to take my hubby there to experience the beauty, history, warmth and food of that country. Everything/every place else is a bonus.

  • Barbara Felsecker

    My husband and I have reservations for the early October, Mediterranean cruise with Holland America. We will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary! My one question for any of you out there who have cruised in October…is the weather generally good during October?


    We talk of a cruise we rejoice in going on one,There are all the ports of call; the Ship an crew ,,they are priceless gifts,an to view History, is the joy of a cruise.THANK YOU HOLLAND ANERICA..

  • Susan Cumby

    The best cruise I took was on the NieuwAmsterdam from Venice to Barcelona. Absolutely breathtaking. Want to do it again going the opposite way.

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