Cruise columnist Tiana Templeman has tips for sailing the Mediterranean.
An impressive array of ports packed with history, culture and natural beauty, a Mediterranean cruise is one of the best ways to experience Europe with a minimum of fuss. However, this destination offers a very different cruise experience to those available closer to home in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific.
For a start, you will be in port almost every day with the chance to experience many different countries and destinations in the one trip. With so much to see and do, it's tempting to lock in shore excursions at every stop but don't get too carried away.
Even if you absolutely love architecture, you will quickly tire of it if you concentrate on historic buildings and ancient forts at every place you visit. Instead, create some variety in your touring plans.
For example, you could visit Ephesus in Turkey one day and explore a vineyard at the next port. Mixing it up helps to avoid "port fatigue" and makes each shore day more enjoyable.
It is also worth getting up early but, don't worry, there is no need to do this every day of your holiday.
It is however, good to set your alarm occasionally so you don't miss unique sights like an early-morning view of the smoking Stromboli volcano or the beauty of Santorini at sunrise.
Mediterranean ports typically involve lots of walking and most of it tends to be over uneven terrain, such as ancient historic sites or along cobbled streets. Bring shoes with a good grip and cushioning to protect your feet from the rigours of walking on stone and marble for up to eight hours a day. Most importantly, wear-in new shoes before you leave home.
When you are exploring onshore, allow time to enjoy the local cuisine. Whereas it may seem crazy to pay for dining in port when you can eat for free on the ship, you should do it at least a few times in the Mediterranean as the food is superb.
Choose an atmospheric bar or coffee shop and people watch or enjoy a leisurely lunch at a charming trattoria. If you aren't sure where to go, wander away from the main tourist strip and look for restaurants filled with locals. Just remember to bring clothes that look the part.
Mediterranean ports tend to be quite chic, which means you might not feel comfortable dining in trainers and baggy shorts. Pack outfits that are stylish yet comfortable with layers you can peel off as the day heats up. Think chinos or tailored shorts paired with a polo shirt for men and, for women, light pants and a blouse or a pretty sundress with a cardigan.
With so many different countries to explore on the one cruise, it can be tempting to purchase souvenirs at each destination along the way. However, if there are 10 ports and you spend just $33.50 on souvenirs at each one, that's a lot of money to hand over for ornaments and trinkets. Plus you'll have to somehow cram all of them into your suitcase at the end of the trip. Walking around towns like Venice, Mykonos, and Dubrovnik and soaking up the atmosphere creates memories that will last a lifetime, and they're yours for free.
Do you have a question about cruising? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with Cruise in the subject line and Tiana will be able to help.