woman looks out on ocean in Cala Morell Minorca Spain Carol Yepes
woman looks out on ocean in Cala Morell Minorca Spain Carol Yepes

You would possibly suppose the perfect time to cruise the Mediterranean can be summer season as a result of that is when probably the most ships are cruising in Europe. However I’d argue that different occasions of 12 months are higher.

You will discover ships cruising within the Med year-round, so there’s by no means a time when you possibly can’t cruise in any respect. You’ll discover probably the most ships and itinerary selections in summer season throughout peak season and the fewest throughout winter’s off season. Spring and fall are thought of the shoulder season, when the Mediterranean cruise season is gearing up or winding down.

Bearing in mind worth, climate and crowds, plus selections of ships and ports, I consider the perfect time to cruise the Mediterranean is through the shoulder season. Particularly, I choose April. As your determination is likely to be primarily based on solely various factors, let’s dive into the variables to find out the perfect time so that you can head to the area and hop on a cruise ship.

Join our each day publication

For extra cruise information, opinions and ideas, join TPG’s cruise publication.

Introduction to Mediterranean geography

Turkey’s Aegean coast. (Photograph by Anton Petrus/Getty Photos)

The Mediterranean Sea consists of 11 smaller seas. Searching for Mediterranean cruises will be complicated as a result of some cruise traces prefer to label their itineraries in accordance with the smaller sea names.

You would possibly discover cruises to the Adriatic, between Italy’s east coast and the central European international locations of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania; these will take you to ports similar to Venice, Italy, and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Aegean cruises traverse the big open sea between Greece and Turkey and go as far south as Crete, with stops in Athens and Santorini in Greece and Istanbul in Turkey. Sailings by the Ionian Sea, positioned between the only real of Italy’s boot and western Greece, carry you to the Italian island of Sicily and the Greek island of Corfu.

All of those cruise locations are thought of Mediterranean, together with Monaco, the southern coasts of France and Spain, and even Israel. Ports in Portugal are additionally included in Mediterranean cruise itineraries. Despite the fact that it would not have any shoreline on the Mediterranean Sea, Portugal is taken into account a part of the Mediterranean area.

Associated: Finest Mediterranean cruises for each sort of traveler

The very best time to cruise the Mediterranean primarily based on selections of ships and itineraries

View of town of Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. (Photograph by Kirk Fisher/Getty Photos)

Cruise traces that sail the area all 12 months embrace Viking, MSC Cruises, Costa, Celestyal and Norwegian Cruise Line. However whilst you would possibly have the ability to cruise the Mediterranean in winter, your alternative of ports is considerably restricted. We discovered no sailings to the favored ports of Corfu, Dubrovnik or Koper, Slovenia in December or January.

Many of the winter choices cruise the western ports of Italy, plus France, and westward to Barcelona. There are a handful of longer sailings that sail from Athens or embrace Istanbul, western Turkey, Israel and even Alexandria, Egypt. Amongst in style cruise traces, solely Viking contains stops in Santorini in winter, and solely Costa affords cruises that embrace Venice within the winter. Norwegian’s winter Mediterranean itineraries are targeted on Spain and Portugal.

Spring and early summer season carry extra ships and extra port selections. Starting in March, we discovered dozens of ships scheduled to go to Venice, Corfu and Santorini. Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises all have ships able to sail the Med in March. In April, the checklist of mainstream, premium and luxurious traces cruising Mediterranean waters grows bigger, and contains Windstar, Royal Caribbean, Silversea and Celeb Cruises.

By June, the selection of cruise traces and itineraries is at its peak. Among the many mainstream traces, solely Carnival Cruise Line remains to be absent in June, opting as an alternative to sail a brief season of 10-and 11-night cruises in September and October.

Most ships keep in Europe by summer season earlier than starting a worldwide dispersion between October and November. Disney Cruise Line is the primary to go away, with its final summer season Mediterranean crusing often falling in July. Celeb is among the many final to go away, usually persevering with its Mediterranean cruises nicely into December and even January, incorporating the vacation season.

In case your dream is to see Venice or Santorini, or to cruise with one of many mainstream traces, you possibly can rule out winter however ought to discover ample selections between March and October. By the top of November, the variety of ships calling at Mediterranean ports has dropped to winter ranges.

Associated: Finest Mediterranean cruise tricks to improve your European trip

The very best time for a Mediterranean crusing primarily based on costs and crowds

In case your perfect Mediterranean cruise would not embrace crowds, winter is an efficient alternative, aside from December vacation weeks. However most vacationers will choose a bit extra heat and a bigger alternative of ports whereas nonetheless prioritizing a great worth and lighter crowds.

Throughout the board, from mainstream to luxurious, Mediterranean cruise fares peak in June, July and August. Costs for big-ship cruises various by as a lot as $60 per particular person per evening between spring sailings and summer season. On luxurious traces like Silversea, spring cruise fares had been lots of of {dollars} cheaper per particular person per evening in comparison with summer season fares. March sees an upward tick in charges because of spring break journey. The very best offers we discovered exterior of winter fell in April and November.

To determine what crowds would seem like in varied months, we checked out two in style ports the place the impact of a number of ships is felt probably the most — Santorini and Venice. Go to Santorini in June or July and one can find your self preventing for respiration room amongst as many as 15,000 different cruise ship passengers.

Evaluate that with an April or November cease there, the place the each day cruise passenger load tops out round 3,000. We discovered days in April the place just one or two mid-sized ships had been scheduled to be in port.

A crowded Santorini. (Photograph by George Pachantouris/Getty Photos)

I have been to Santorini when 4 mid-sized ships (roughly 5,000 passengers) had been in port and located it difficult to stroll by the slim maze of outlets, eating places and motels. It was crowded sufficient that I used to be involved about returning to the ship on time as a result of the traces on the cable automobile that takes cruise passengers down the cliffs to the tender dock had been so lengthy. With 15,000 individuals in port, I don’t know the way you’d have the ability to stroll by city in any respect. Santorini is a good-sized island, however many of the issues cruisers need to see are perched on the slim rim of the cliffs.

Venice has lately in the reduction of on its cruise tourism capability, partially by forcing some ships to dock in alternate ports and convey visitors to town by bus. We included passenger counts from Trieste, Ravenna and Venice and located June numbers as excessive as 6,000 passengers arriving, however as little as 4,000. Cruise passenger arrivals in April are sometimes under 3,000 per day. The numbers are decrease than Santorini — however then, Venice has a much more sophisticated crowd management situation.

If avoiding excessive costs and crowd congestion is your precedence, rule out summer season months and keep on with both winter or the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

Associated: Finest Mediterranean cruise shore excursions

The very best time to cruise the Med primarily based on climate

Temperatures stay reasonable throughout many of the Mediterranean year-round, however even Istanbul will be chilly, with a mean excessive temperature of 48 levels in January. Athens, Rome, Barcelona and many of the Greek islands see temperatures within the mid- to upper-50s in December and January, warming barely in February.

Summer season temperatures will be brutal within the bigger cities. Athens reaches 90 levels and better frequently in July and August. Rome and Barcelona common roughly 2 levels cooler than that in the summertime.

Rain is extra frequent throughout the Mediterranean in October and November than most different months, however the common month-to-month rainfall, even within the fall, is three inches or much less. The northern ports within the Adriatic see a bit extra rain than many of the Med. Don’t neglect the famed Acqua Alta, or mega-tides in Venice, which is able to go away you sloshing by St. Mark’s Sq. in rubber boots. Although a genuinely uncommon incidence, the excessive tides are most definitely to occur in November and December, making them a priority when reserving a cruise on one of many handful of ships with November stops in Venice.

If chilly, scorching or moist climate are deciding components on your Mediterranean cruise, rule out January, February and December for the coolness, July and August for the warmth, and October, November and December for rain and tides. That leaves March, April, Might, June and September as the perfect climate months for cruising within the Mediterranean.

Associated: When is the perfect time to e-book a cruise?

Backside line

Everybody has their very own reasoning for the timing of a cruise. Yours would possibly embrace touring whereas college is out or maximizing time on the seaside. Maybe you might be loyal to at least one specific cruise line or have your coronary heart set on cruising on a newly launched ship.

No matter your causes, there may be not a nasty time to cruise the Mediterranean. My favourite is April for the confluence of affordable fares, nice climate, manageable crowds and an abundance of itinerary and ship selections, however I’ve beloved sailings in different months as nicely.

My recommendation is easy: Even when I believe shoulder-season months are the perfect time to cruise the Mediterranean, go when it really works greatest for you and your journey companions. As a result of a dream cruise in Europe, even with less-than-ideal climate or annoying crowds, is healthier than no cruise in any respect.

Planning a cruise? Begin with these tales: