A cruise is a great way to explore the Mediterranean’s diverse culture, captivating history, stunning beauty, and of course, delectable cuisine — all while unpacking your suitcase just once. Our readers’ top 10 offers a variety of cruise experiences sure to suit every style.
1. Viking Cruises (Winner)
Viking’s goal is to immerse passengers in each destination through uniquely curated excursions and onboard presentations. Viking’s ocean ships are designed to access almost any port, giving you more time on the ground to explore with at least one free shore excursion included at every port — a Viking signature.
The onboard atmosphere is relaxed yet elegant with Viking’s minimalist, but beautiful, Scandinavian design throughout. Passengers love it because they’re not nickel-and-dimed once on board. The price you see includes free Wi-Fi, beer, wine, and soft drinks with meals, dining at any restaurant, and access to Viking’s unique Nordic Spa, with its exhilarating Snow Grotto, while onboard.
There are additional paid excursions offered at each port as well, and you can upgrade your beverage package to include additional wine and liquor options if you wish. One thing to know: All Viking guests must be 18 years or older.
2. Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean sails several sizes of ships through the Mediterranean with anywhere from 2,700 to nearly 5,000 guests. While the goal in the Med is to get off the ship and explore the unique cultural options while in port, Royal Caribbean creates an environment where you don’t really need to leave the ship if you don’t want to.
The ships have an exhaustive list of onboard experiences including nightly live entertainment, specialty dining options, areas to play sports like pickleball, pools, and everything from salsa dancing to jewelry-making classes. The larger ships simply come with more to do, for everyone in the family, including waterslides, roller skating, and even bumper cars.
If you’re considering a Royal Caribbean cruise with grandkids, check out these tips.
3. Holland America Line
Holland America is marking a major milestone this year celebrating its 150th Anniversary. In the late 1800s, Holland first sailed immigrants looking for a new start from Europe to America. In fact, 10 percent of all immigrants sailed over on what was then called the Netherlands-American Steamship Company. Today, the cruise line hosts Americans, and of course other nationalities, on its ships in the Mediterranean showing off the region’s vibrant and diverse cultures with thousands of unique excursions.
While the experiences off the ship are amazing, passengers also love the delicious cuisine on board. Holland America also has what they call “Collectors’ Voyages” allowing guests to book back-to-back trips, so you only have to unpack once, but enjoy twice as many destinations.
4. Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises describes itself as a “relaxed luxury resort at sea.” The cruise line provides a modern, yet dignified experience on board. Experience distinguished cuisine and cocktails, Broadway-quality shows and live music, plus enrichment and educational options that satisfy even the most inquisitive passenger.
To top it off, Celebrity focuses on exceptional service, leaving passengers wanting nothing more.
5. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line, or NCL, is known for bringing “freestyle cruising” to the industry. That means cruising the way you want, on your schedule, to enjoy your vacation, your way. You can leave your tux at home, there aren’t any set dinner times, and you’re not assigned to dine with the same group every night.
NCL also pays attention to solo travelers with studio rooms specifically designed for them. The set-up helps solo travelers avoid the dreaded single supplement.
Of course, NCL also offers quality entertainment, experiences, and cuisine.
6. Disney Cruise Line
With Disney in the name, you know kids are going to love a Disney Cruise. Stories have been told of parents losing their children to the amazing, kids-only, onboard experiences day after day. While being a kid-at-heart always helps, Disney’s adults-only areas and attention to detail are what keep parents, and even travelers without children, coming back.
It’s obviously not all about Mickey when you’re exploring destinations with such a richness of culture as those in the Mediterranean. Disney’s meticulous service transitions seamlessly to its excursions offered on shore.
7. Oceania Cruises
One of the luxury cruise lines on the list, Oceania Cruises offers personalized service, a refined atmosphere on board, and amazing dining. In fact, they’ve trademarked the phrase “The Finest Cuisine at Sea.” Famed French Chef Jacques Pepin has been the cruise line’s executive culinary director since 2003 and his attention to culinary detail shows in every dish presented.
Oceania also maximizes its time in port with extended stays, immersive “Go Local” and “Go Green” excursions, and small group sizes. There’s evening entertainment, shopping, and even a casino on board, so you’ll need a variety of outfits to transition from day to night.
Oceania’s ships hold between 684 and 1,250 guests depending on the ship you choose.
8. Princess Cruises
The original Love Boat, Princess Cruises prides itself on its “Local Connections” experience — pairing passengers with locals in each port to learn about the region from those who live there. The immersive experience on its Mediterranean cruises continues on board with regional dancers, chefs, and musicians.
There are also plenty of dining, cocktail, and entertainment opportunities on board, including productions from Wicked Composer Stephen Schwartz.
Princess plans to debut two new ships in the Mediterranean in 2025: Sun Princess and Star Princess. Both ships will carry more than 4,000 passengers.
9. Windstar Cruises
Windstar Cruises is known as a small ship leader in the industry with its vessels holding between a mere 148 and 350 passengers. Their small ships allow passengers time in ports that larger ships can’t access, like Old Town Dubrovnik in Croatia. One unique experience when you sail with Windstar is the opportunity to visit local markets with the ship’s chef. Windstar also partners with the James Beard Foundation, bringing the expertise of some of the most sought-after chefs in the world to your daily dining experience.
Another special treat, Windstar’s Watersports Platform gives you access to the Mediterranean’s beautiful blue water straight from the ship. Kayak, snorkel, stand-up paddleboard, or just jump right in.
Passengers love Windstar’s comfortable elegance and immersive shore excursions.
10. Celestyal Cruises
It may be number 10 on the list, but Celestyal Cruises is number one in the hearts of passengers looking for an authentic Greek cruising experience. In fact, the cruise line prides itself on being Greek cruising experts. Greek culture is part of everything they do. Learn a bit of the Greek language or a traditional dance while on board. Enjoy authentic cuisine and cocktails at every meal, then take the experience even deeper with shore excursions carefully curated by its experts.
Celestyal Cruises also explores other areas of the eastern Mediterranean including Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, and Israel.
Finally, hear it straight from the expert — one of Celestyal’s seasoned captains shared his eight essential tips for cruising the Greek Islands with us.
Read more from our 2023 Best Of Travel Awards.