With summer just around the corner, the ports of the Mediterranean are bracing themselves for another popular season of cruising. Many cruise lines have outlined their itineraries months or even years in advance and many ports such as those in Spain, Italy, and Greece are expected to receive visitor figures in the millions.
Whilst these destinations may appeal to sun-worshipping customers, who are seeking an opportunity to soak up the rays in some of Europe’s most popular destinations, other cruisers may appreciate a more peaceful range of destinations. Our blog this week outlines some of the Mediterranean’s most popular cruise ports and how many visitors each has received respectively in recent years*.
The second largest city in Spain is also the Mediterranean’s most popular cruising destination, with more than 2,000,000 visitors expected to arrive in 2016. It’s easy to see why as well – Barcelona is home to vast golden beaches, a vibrant and bustling city and jaw-dropping cultural landmarks.
These include the magnificent Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction for over a century, and the artistic Park Guell. Barcelona’s visitor figures will be further enhanced this year, following the decision by Royal Caribbean to position their brand new vessel, Harmony of the Seas, in the city’s port.
Not far behind Barcelona in terms of visiting passengers is the Italian capital city of Rome. This vast city offers so much to see and explore that it may allure passengers into visiting the city again after their cruise.
From the magnificent wonder of the world that is the Colosseum to the treasure trove of the Vatican City, Rome has so much to explore. Likewise, if passengers would prefer a leisurely pace, there are plenty of shopping outlets and coffee shops in which to unwind within the many squares and near the Trevi Fountain.
There has been much debate in recent years over the arrival of large ships into Venice, following fears of significant damage to the city. Plans had been put in place to impose an embargo on cruise ships over 96,000 GT passing through the centre of Venice, though this was later overturned. Considering the only in which to access the city’s cruise terminal is to sail through the city, this caused significant commotion in 2015.
It’s easy to see why it’s so popular, though, with many eras represented through the varying styles of grandiose and impressive architecture. Glistening canals thread through Venice, whilst residents and tourists wander through this impressive destination and marvel over the stunning palaces, cathedrals, piazzas and bridges.
For those seeking an alternative to the hustle and bustle of Spain’s cities, there is respite to be found in the Balearic Islands. Many cruise ships will visit the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca over the summer, with each island offering stunning golden beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. As many holiday-makers seek alternatives to Turkey and Northern Africa, the Balearic Islands may be one of the main beneficiaries.
The south of France has long been popular with holiday-makers and the city of Marseille is no exception. One of the best places to soak up the French culture is in the gorgeous Vieux Port (old harbour), where you can watch fishermen sell their stock by auction. Passengers can choose to head to the Notre Dame de la Garde - a huge church which offers breath-taking views over the city.
When you think of Athens, it is likely that one of the aspects that will cross your mind is the mythology that envelops all of Greece. Almost every natural event or occurrence in history has its own story owing to Greek mythology and this aspect certainly has a charming effect on visitors. Of course, no journey to Athens would be complete without visiting the ancient Acropolis.
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*Figures as of 2014. Source: Wikipedia