These small-ship holidays provide a fresh take on cruising the Mediterranean, writes Joanna Booth.
1 Cyclades odyssey
The handsome, nimble
will whisk 49 passengers on a whistle-stop tour of the Cyclades, surely Greece's most striking island group. Pairing popular stops such as volcanic Santorini and vibrant Mykonos with tranquil Antiparos and untouched Folegandros, the itinerary also blends sightseeing with sunbathing, swimming and hanging out in tavernas. On board, your relaxing doze on a deckchair will be accompanied by the rhythmic rapping of the rigging.
From $3152pp for an eight-day Jewels of the Cyclades cruise departing June 14.
2 Six-star sailing
Experience la dolce vita by cruising out of Venice on Scenic Eclipse, a yacht with va-va-voom where the 228 passengers are pampered with on-board butler service, a helipad and a submarine. Your voyage shows off the Western Med's highlights — including walled Dubrovnik, volcanic Sicily, the plunging cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, and the French Riviera — but in a style most cruises can't match.
From $11,915pp for an 11-day Mediterranean Treasures itinerary departing May 21, 2020.
3 Sails in the Adriatic
Hop aboard a four-cabin, 15m yacht and let the wind carry you down the Montenegro coast, stopping off to wander through walled Venetian towns, take off-the-ship dips, and to sunbathe on otherwise inaccessible beaches. Pick up the basics from your skipper, or let him take over. When night falls, you can curl up in your cosy berth, or snooze beneath the stars.
From $1439 for an eight-day Montenegro Sailing tour departing May 2.
4 Secret Greece
Haven't heard of Evia? Luckily, you're not the only one. Skipper Thanos will show your brood his boyhood haunts on the second-largest but little-visited Greek island.
, the crew will happily show you the ropes, or you can kick back and relax in-between swimming, turtle-spotting, and exploring castles, villages and temples onshore. You'll soon understand why those in the know — who over the years have included the Greek royals, the Picasso family and Maria Callas — have been so keen to keep Evia their secret.
From $2115 per adult and $1950 per child for an eight-day Family Caique Cruise departing July 28. Minimum age 7 years.
5 Spanish ships
Explore the Spanish coast on Star Flyer, a tall-masted ship carrying 170 passengers. Think teak, polished brass and two swimming pools, although you can climb up to the crow's nest if you are keen. Visit historic Malaga and Cartagena, and the sun-kissed islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Sardinia before finishing up in Malta.
From $4070pp for a nine-night Malta, Balearics and Spain cruise departing
6 Traditional Turkey
Leave the raucous resorts behind and head offshore along Turkey's pretty Turquoise Coast on a traditional wooden gulet. This two-week voyage between Dalaman and Antalya gives an in-depth insight into the mysterious Lycian civilisation, via castles and tombs found in secluded coves. After admiring the archaeology, you can hike, kayak, swim, or just have a snooze on deck and wait for a mountain of meze to appear, rather magically, from the tiny galley.
From $8059pp for a 15-day Cruising the Lycian Shore itinerary departing August 31.
7 Croatia with no crowds
Croatia experiences chronic overcrowding, but visit on the 31-passenger Peregrine Dalmatia and local guides will show you its secluded side. Swim off the ship in deserted bays, dock at quiet islands and then cruise up the Neretva River before hopping off to drive over the Bosnian border to Mostar. You won't be alone in these sparkling waters, but you probably won't mind sharing when a pod of dolphins decides to buddy up with the ship for a mile or two.
From $3026 for an eight-day Croatia Coastal Cruising — Split to Dubrovnik itinerary departing April 20.
8 A volcanic voyage
See Stromboli's spectacular ash plumes from the comfort — and safety — of Sundial, a 12-passenger, two-masted caique. You'll sail among the volcanic peaks, black sands and cerulean seas of Italy's Aeolian Islands, hopping off to cycle to spectacular caves, villages and wineries. If all those hills sound too much like hard work, simply upgrade to an e-bike and you'll swoop up them as effortlessly as Sundial herself.
From $2760 for an eight-day Italy Bike & Boat: Sicily & The Aeolian Islands itinerary departing in August or September, including bike hire. E-bike upgrades $188.