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The best Eastern Mediterranean cruises in 2019 and 2020

Cruise Advice

The Eastern Mediterranean is a classic cruising destination, and there is no other area offering such a variety of ports of call to be visited on a single itinerary.

We're delighted to see the region making a comeback, as more cruise lines announce their return with an increase in voyages in the Eastern Med. Highlights include the Greek islands, with their charming whitewashed buildings, cobbled streets and rustic fishing villages; the scintillating city of Istanbul, where highlights include the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar; and the Holy Land, such a significant place for followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Eastern Mediterranean is ideal for spring sunshine or an autumn escape, and itineraries commonly operate in May and October, although summer departures are also available. We've picked out a few of the best Eastern Mediterranean voyages from a selection of our favourite cruise lines.

Best for culture...

Having recently completed a huge refurbishment, resulting in additional restaurant options and open seating dining, Crystal Symphony is proving to be a popular option for the Mediterranean in 2019. Her 10th October voyage departs Rome and includes calls to Sorrento, Crete, Rhodes, Santorini, Patmos and Haifa, plus an overnight call in Ashdod, allowing you to visit Jerusalem's most impressive sights such as the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Best for the Greek islands...

Silversea regularly visit the Eastern Mediterranean as part of their repositioning cruises, but few sailings in recent years have focused on the delights of the Aegean as wonderfully as the 23rd May 2020 Athens round-trip on board Silver Shadow, fresh from her extensive refurbishment. See the whitewashed buildings perched on the hillsides of Santorini and Patmos, enjoy a late evening at the extraordinary site of Ephesus, and visit charming Rhodes and Crete.

Oia village in Santorini, Greece

Best for East meets West...

Oceania Cruises' 15th May 2020 10-day voyage on board Sirena, and Regent Seven Seas' 4th October 2020 sailing on board Seven Seas Splendor, the newest vessel in the fleet, both explore the Aegean and include an overnight in Istanbul, where Asia Minor reaches out across the Bosphorus and almost touches Europe. The city remains a bristling, bustling cultural melting pot, the skyline dotted with magnificent minarets and domes.

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

Best for small ship fans...

In June and July 2020 SeaDream I and SeaDream II sail around the Greek islands on 7-day round-trip departures from Athens. Both enjoy lots of late evenings in port in pretty towns like Milos and Patmos, making the most of the al fresco nature of these ships. Enjoy dining on deck watching the warm Mediterranean sun dip below the horizon - pure bliss.

SeaDream Yacht Club in Mykonos, Greece

Best for antiquity...

Viking Ocean Cruises have numerous departures available in October and November in both 2019 and 2020, with a 15-night Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land itinerary that includes Rome and Athens, as well as visits to Naples (for Pompeii) and Crete, home of the legendary Minotaur. There is a day in Ashdod and an overnight in Haifa, putting Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth within reach. You will also call at Limassol, Cyprus, and storied Rhodes and Mykonos.

Entrance to Rhodes harbour, Greece

Best of the rest...

Seabourn have a handful of summer sailings in July and August 2019 from Athens that visit the Greek islands, as well as ancient Syracuse on Sicily and picturesque Gozo and Valletta, whilst Windstar offer numerous departures to the area on board their lovely sail-assisted yacht Wind Star.

Blue Lagoon in Gozo, Malta
Alex Loizou
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Director of Sales & Marketing at Mundy Cruising

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