So what is it about the Med that keeps luring us back? We've compiled a list of just some of the reasons why you should consider booking a Mediterranean cruise…
1. Travel close to home
The most obvious reason for the Med's enduring popularity is its proximity to the UK. Most embarkation ports can be reached in a couple of hours by plane, or by a more leisurely train journey if you don't like flying. There are also plenty of Mediterranean cruises from Southampton, Dover, Portsmouth and a host of other ports dotted around the UK, for maximum convenience and the minimum of stress.
2. Discover some of Europe's hidden gems
The great empires of antiquity grew rich off the back of trade across the Mediterranean, so it's no wonder some of Europe's most intriguing towns and cities are scattered around its shores. At Mundy we specialise in small ship cruising, and a smaller vessel allows you to access the lesser known Mediterranean ports such as the UNESCO-listed old town of Trogir in Croatia, or the pretty fishing village of Sanary-sur-Mer on the Côte d'Azur.
3. Food and wine
Few regions on earth can rival the Mediterranean for sheer culinary excellence. A Western Mediterranean cruise will take you from the vineyards of southern France to the tantalising trattorias of Rome and Naples, with the chance to sample everything from rustic family-style cooking in Sicily to Michelin-starred molecular cuisine in Barcelona. Head east and feast on fresh seafood on the Dalmatian coast, snack on meze in Greece and Turkey, or enjoy fragrant North African dishes in Morocco.
4. Centuries of history
A cruise around the 'Middle Sea' will give you a real appreciation of how each great Mediterranean civilisation rose and fell, and the many overlapping layers of history are a reminder of how many times the map has been redrawn over the centuries. From the pyramids of Egypt to the crumbling temples of the Ancient Greeks, from Roman amphitheatres to Ottoman mosques, the archaeological treasures of the Mediterranean provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.
5. Glorious sunshine
The weather is another obvious reason why the Mediterranean is such a popular holiday destination, with balmy temperatures and many more hours of sunshine than we enjoy in the UK. The Med in the height of summer can be too hot for some, and the crowds can be off-putting in the more popular destinations, but the so-called 'shoulder seasons' in spring and autumn are a wonderful time to travel, when the temperature is generally still warm without being uncomfortable.
6. Wake up somewhere new every day
One of the great things about a cruise holiday is the fact that you wake up somewhere new every day, but you only have to unpack your suitcase once. This is particularly true in the Mediterranean, where the short distances are ideal for port-intensive itineraries that are geared towards in-depth exploration of any given region. Soak up the highlights of the Aegean on a Greek island hopping cruise, spend a week living la dolce vita on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast, or cruise the turquoise waters of the Adriatic on a Croatian island adventure - the choice is yours.
7. Head off the beaten track
Although we normally think of the Mediterranean as a region we know very well, there are still plenty of less visited corners where you can escape the crowds. Croatia is no longer the hidden gem that it once was, and Montenegro is going the same way, but did you know you can visit Albania on a cruise? Slovenia also has a small stretch of coastline, home to the attractive port of Piran, while some Eastern Mediterranean cruises will even head through the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, visiting ports as far afield as Ukraine, Georgia and southern Russia.
8. The music of the Mediterranean
The countries surrounding the Mediterranean are home to a rich variety of musical traditions, from Italian opera to Portuguese fado. On a cruise around the Med you might have the opportunity to watch (or even try) flamenco dancing in Seville, tarantella in southern Italy, or belly dancing in Turkey and Egypt. The young (and young at heart) can even hit one of Ibiza's famous clubs if your ship is docked on the White Isle for long enough!
9. Glitz and glamour
A Mediterranean cruise can also take you to some of Europe's most exclusive destinations, and there is nowhere more synonymous with glitz and glamour than the French Riviera. Soak up the sun in Nice, rub shoulders with the rich and famous in Saint Tropez, or go star-spotting in Cannes and Monte Carlo. Certain cruises even give you the opportunity to watch the Monaco Grand Prix as part of your trip, while many ships continue east to the equally stunning Italian Riviera, visiting ports including Portofino and Portovenere.
10. Art and architecture
The wider Mediterranean region is a treasure trove of artistic and architectural delights, the birthplace of the Renaissance and an important centre for movements including Modernism, Impressionism and Surrealism. Marvel at the masterpieces of Florence and the canals of Venice on a cruise around Italy, explore Gaudí's mindboggling Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, scale the heights of the Alhambra palace in Granada, or walk the medieval walls of beautiful terracotta-tiled Dubrovnik.
11. A spiritual melting pot
Wherever you go in the Mediterranean, it's impossible to escape the influence of religion on the history of the region, from the Islamic conquest of Spain to the medieval Crusades. We particularly recommend a Holy Land cruise to the easternmost reaches of the Mediterranean, an unforgettable experience regardless of your own beliefs. Jerusalem is a destination that should be on everyone's bucket list, a holy city for three different religions and a fascinating place to spend some time. Other important religious centres around the Mediterranean include Rome, seat of the Catholic Church, and Istanbul, once the capital of the Byzantine Empire and now home to some of the world's most impressive Islamic architecture.
12. Natural wonders
The Mediterranean is also home to some stunning landscapes and natural parks rich in biodiversity. Wildlife enthusiasts should take a trip to the flamingo-filled étangs of southern France, hang out with the Barbary macaques in Gibraltar or explore the island of Sardinia, home to several rare endemic species, while fans of fire and brimstone will enjoy the volcanic island of Stromboli and smouldering Mount Etna. Cruising into the Bay of Kotor, a remarkable fjord-like inlet on the coast of Montenegro, is another real Mediterranean highlight.
13. Beaches and islands
Last but not least, the Mediterranean is of course home to the lion's share of Europe's best beaches. A Greek island cruise might take you to spectacular spots on Zakynthos, Mykonos and Naxos, while a Western Mediterranean cruise could include time on the Algarve, the Spanish Costas or the Balearic islands. Cyprus, Croatia, Malta and Turkey all have some splendid beaches on offer, and a cruise may also give you the chance to sample some of the Med's less celebrated coasts, such as the virtually untouched beaches of southern Albania or the increasingly popular coast of Montenegro.