Whether you are a fan of big cruise lines, a sailing enthusiast or just fascinated by that beautiful blue Mediterranean, there are numerous options to see Italy by ship. Usually the itineraries covered by this type of travel include Italian ports of call among a larger tour of the Mediterranean. Italy’s central location allows many great Italian cities such as Venice to be included in both Easter Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean tours. Visiting Italy by ship is a great way to maximize your travel experience in a relatively short time. Sea travel may also be budget friendly, with many options available and no need to exchange currency while on board (depending upon the tour operator). Traveling the Mediterranean by ship can be the most relaxing and carefree way of seeing Italy and so much more.
Italy by Cruise
Whether you choose a gigantic activity laden cruise ship from the major companies, or a smaller or older vessel, Italy by cruise is an excellent choice. The virtual resorts-at-sea usually make stops at the major ports along the Mediterranean (Rome, Genoa, Naples, Venice), while smaller cruise lines are able to visit smaller, more intimate ports (Portofino, Capri, Sardinia). Besides the different stops, lager ships often will spend more days at sea since they offer countless varieties of entertainment, activities and of course restaurants.
Smaller cruise lines do not offer as much variety but do pack their cruises with entertainment options while at sea. For more intimate cruising options, there are ships that are more like private yachts that let you cruise in celebrity-like comfort, a blend of big ship amenities with small ship privacy, all while hitting the best ports of call. There are also cruises that highlight the region’s history, culture or food that have become very popular as well as the non-stop fun of “Italian style” cruises.
Italy by Sail
Nearly every type of sailing craft plies the Mediterranean, from three masted barks and schooners to five masted “Clippers” that offer yacht-like comfort. Seeing Italy upon a majestic sailing ship does have romance to it, but remember that it is not a cruise ship. By nature, even the largest Clipper style sail cruiser is a much more intimate experience than being on a cruise line. The smaller vessels will not have the entertainment and dining options available on a giant cruise ship, however some of the larger sail cruisers do have swimming pools and many water sport activities are available. Most of passengers aboard these cruises are already sailing enthusiasts, but you do not have to be to enjoy a sailing cruise as some ships even offer sailing instruction as one of their activities. One thing you will notice about visiting Italy and other ports along your itinerary is just how quiet Traveling under sail, especially at night, is compared to engine powered travel.
The peak season for travel on the Mediterranean is from about April to September. However many of these ships, both cruise ships and sailing craft switch itineraries in the winter months and head toward the tropics. However, on some cruise lines of this type, you will feel like you never left the Mediterranean with “Italian style” cruises to the Caribbean and South America. These cruises offer Italian themed entertainment and activities including on-board festivals.
Some of the sail cruisers are also certified expedition vessels and spend the Mediterranean off-season in the southern hemisphere, including Antarctica. But whatever season you decide to travel, there are numerous options available as ships ply the Mediterranean year round. Those travelers not bothered by cooler temperatures and choppier seas can sail the Med on virtually empty cruise ships at reduced prices.
Continue to Part II: Italian Cruising
By Justin Demetri