Mediterranean Cruises Cruise Destinations around the World

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Mediterranean cruises afford a great chance to walk like an Egyptian or a Biblical prophet, or a Roman gladiator. The Med's climate and variety of history and culture make it one of the most popular holiday regions in the world, and it's well suited to cruising. Crumbling Phoenician ruins, the yachts of the rich and famous basking in the glow of the Cote d'Azur, the art and architecture of Florence and Rome, busy Moroccan souks and the gondoliers of Venice (holding an ice cream, if you're lucky) the name Mediterranean means 'centre of the world' and it's not difficult to see why.

A lot of lines visit this region so there's a good choice of type and length of cruise. Royal Olympic is the largest company operating in the Eastern Mediterranean and has an informal, Greek influenced tone. The port of embarkation and disembarkation is generally Piraeus in Athens. Luxury line Silversea runs week long trips on the Silver Whisper, also starting in Athens and taking in Valetta, Palma de Mallorca, Cadiz and Lisbon. If the region's history and art is what you're most interested in, specialist line Swan Hellenic run lecture cruises in the region. They change their routes every year.

A pricey but stylish way to see the Med is to charter a yacht across to the French Riviera/Cote D'Azur. If you go in May, you could make it in time for Cannes. This film festival is as famous as the stars it attracts anyone who is anyone in the film industry will make sure they're seen there. Unless you know the 'right people' getting into the parties will be tricky, but it could be fun trying. If you don't meet with success you can always console yourself browsing the fashionable city's boutiques. Another possible (but expensive) charter destination is the Monaco Grand Prix, also in May. The seaside villages of Villefranche and St Jean Cap Ferrat are idyllic stop off points between Nice and Monaco, full of fine restaurants and pretty bays.

Some of the many other possible destinations for Mediterranean cruises include Barcelona, Casablanca (play it again Sam), Corsica, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Malta and Sicily. In the winter, Egypt and the Red Sea wonderful coral reefs for snorkeling and diving are popular, and the recent thawing of Libya as a tourist destination makes Tripoli an interesting choice.

Geologically, the Mediterranean region consists of what was, five million years ago, a massive dry valley separating Europe, Africa and Asia. Then a broach occurred, leading to a cataclysmic flood which created the sea we know today. The climate there is temperate (i.e. changeable) but mild. In summer it is warmed by hot, dry air blowing in from the Sahara : winter sees cooler, damper winds from the Atlantic. Since ancient times grapes, dates, figs, almonds and carob have been grown and traded in the basin (among many other products).