The Mediterranean region is known as the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’. Known for its rich history, architecture and natural beauty, the coastline is dotted with prominent cruise ports that drive tourism in the region.
Numerous ships visit the cruise ports in the Mediterranean during summer, which is the peak season. There is much to explore, from food to culture to shopping.
Check out ten amazing Mediterranean cruise ports in this article.
1. Port of Barcelona, Spain
Considered the top cruise port in the western Mediterranean region, the Barcelona cruise facility consists of 5 terminals in two locations. The North and South terminals are located in Barcelona’s World Trade Centre, while terminals A, B and C lie on the Adossat quays, overlooking the Porta d’Europa bridge.
Six cruise berths cover more than 1850 metres with depths ranging from 8.4 to 12 m. The city centre is just 2.5 kilometres from the terminal while the airport is only 12 kilometres away. Attractions like the La Rambla, Picasso Museum, Santa Maria Del Mar etc., are close to the port.
Barcelona is one of the most picturesque terminals in the world, where passengers can relax in lavish waiting areas while enjoying delicious foods, with a great view of the Mediterranean sea.
The Palacruceros terminal was opened in 2007 and designed by Studio Vicini. It is situated at Addossat pier, about 750 kilometres from the bridge. Helix cruise centre is the latest edition to the cruise port. It covers 12,500 square metres and represents a modern architecture style designed to prevent congestion during embarkation and disembarkation.
2. Port of Athens/Piraeus, Greece
Piraeus harbour has functioned as the port of Athens since the third century BC. It is one of the oldest ports in the world, enclosed by fortification walls built by ancient Greeks. Apart from serving as a major commercial port, it is also a famous cruise destination. People visit the city for its architecture, historical centre, Acropolis, the famous Archaeological Museum, ancient temples, Colosseum and much more.
If you’re not interested in history, Piraeus is also a point of departure for ferries connecting the city with the Greek islands, known for white-sandy beaches, resorts and adventure sports, especially cliff jumping.
Three cruise terminals, Miaoulis A, Themistocles B and Alkimos C, are located 510 metres away from one another. They accommodate cruise ships of different sizes. Additionally, a free shuttle service connects the three facilities. The port also has a helipad and a happy train, just 195 metres from the cruise terminal.
A perfect combination of culture and modernity, the terminals have several lounges, waiting rooms, restrooms, a shopping centre, restaurants, wifi and a helpdesk.
3. Port of Marseille, France
The cruise terminal is an intrinsic part of the largest french port, the Marseille Fos. It is situated on France’s northern shore and contains ferry berths that link cities like Sardinia, Tunisia and Algeria. In 2019, the port was visited by over 600 cruise ships carrying around 1.80 million passengers, most hailing from Belgium, Switzerland and nearby countries. Cruise season starts from February to December; however, most cruise ships visit from June till October.
One of the most popular cruise destinations in the Mediterranean, Marseille is also the 16th biggest port in the world. It has numerous terminals situated in two distinct harbour regions, capable of handling the largest cruise ships.
The Joliette terminal berths are close to the city centre and handle medium-sized cruises and yachts. It is close to the La Major Church and the historic province called Le Panier. Passengers getting down at this terminal can easily walk downtown.
Most cruise ships arriving at Marseille dock at the Provence Cruise Centre. It is just 10 kilometres from the old city and has a vast terminal building with a terrace overlooking the port city. It is also the point of embarkation for all round-trip cruise departures.
4. Port of Naples, Italy
Naples is a famous cruise destination for the third-largest Italian city and Campania’s capital. The Stazione Maritima, or the Naples cruise port, is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. A perfect blend of history and culture. The graffiti and paintings take you back to the days of Royalty. It also offers a panoramic view of the Amalfi coast and the surrounding hills adorned with lemon trees and olive plantations.
Naples or Porto Napoli has ferry connections to nearby settlements of Capri, Sorrento etc. The cruise terminal lies in the southern part of Naples. It has numerous piers which serve different sizes of cruise ships. The main harbour is the Molo Beverello which is adjacent to the ferry terminal.
The cruise centre terminal building is expansive, endowed with advanced facilities and AI. Apart from basic amenities, passengers can book private lounges or a business meeting space in advance.
The cruise terminal is a 10-minute walk from the Piazza del Plebiscito or the historical city centre. Travelling on foot from the cruise terminal is a good option since there is so much to explore and appreciate in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Port of Dubrovnik, Croatia
The cruise port of Dubrovnik lies in the Gruz or Kanatfig region, on the Adriatic sea coast. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Mediterranean region.
It is around three kilometres from the old town. Most cruise vessels dock here; however, some anchor in the old port. The tourists get on tender boats and reach the cruise terminal.
The city houses more than 45,000 inhabitants, and the cruise terminal receives 600 cruises annually. There are several berths at the terminal which serve 900,000 passengers each year. Besides Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka and Sibenik are other important Croatian cruise ports.
In 2016, the authorities decided to construct a new cruise terminal to handle the increasing number of tourists and prevent port congestion. Dubrovnik International Cruise Port Investment or DICPI operates this new facility comprising two cruise berths, covering 810 and 500 metres. Another berth measuring 410 metres was constructed. It can even accommodate RCI’s Oasis-class cruise ships.
The Romans built the coastal town in the seventh century. It is known for its scenic beauty, fortifications, museums, royal palaces and medieval architecture. Monasteries, including the Rector’s place and Mint house, are famous, while the city walls are the most popular attractions. Running over two kilometres, they are 5 to 6 metres thick. In ancient times, turrets and watch towers were built to protect the settlement.
6. Port of Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor cruise port lies in the indented portion of the Adriatic sea, known as the Gulf of Kotor. It is also considered Europe’s southern-most fjord. The cruise terminal is enclosed by lush green mountains, river valleys and trees, making it one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the world.
The fortified city dates back to the Middle Ages and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, given its rich cultural heritage.
The cruise port has a single pier for receiving three ships at once. Most cruise ships dock around 300 ft from the town centre. Passengers can either take a taxi or a bus from the cruise terminal.
The port cannot accommodate the largest cruise vessels that anchor in the Bay, and tourists are brought onshore via tender boats. The ride takes 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how far the cruise ship has anchored.
Kotor port has a souvenir shop and restrooms. The berths do not have an ATM or WIFI; however, passengers can avail these services in the adjacent building.
Tourists must visit Saint John’s Fort, the public beach and the Kamelija shopping centre close to the cruise terminal. Another famous attraction is the Maritime Museum of Montenegro lying amidst the old town. It is housed in a 19th-century baroque construction and contains numerous naval artefacts, model ships and exhibits.
7. Port of Istanbul, Turkey
Galataport is a world-class cruise port on the Mediterranean coastline, extending to the Black Sea. The cruise terminal was designed for every type and size of cruise ship. The port can accommodate 25 million passengers, including 6.5 million foreign tourists.
It is aesthetic and functional. The terminal architecture draws on the culture of the region. Its design is based on ancient cisterns of the Roman Empire, and rounded columns reflect the character of Ottoman buildings.
It has a unique hatch system allowing an underground terminal covering 29,000 m2. Its construction has transformed the coastline of Karakoy; earlier, it was closed to the general public and is now the city’s most beautiful waterfront.
The terminal is endowed with modern technologies and is four times bigger than the earlier structure. Passenger control, custom operations and road connectivity are underground, allowing unrestricted sea view. It also has a vast parking lot for 2500 cars.
The underground cruise terminal can accommodate three cruise ships and 15,000 passengers while handling 17,000 luggage items on a 1200 m long conveyor belt.
8. Port of Monaco
The Monaco cruise terminal overlooks the French Riviera and is a charming place. It is adjacent to the yacht harbour and the tourist help desk. The airport is within walking distance of famous landmarks and historic buildings. Tourists can reach the Old town on foot as cruise ships anchor close to the old city centre.
People can climb the steep hill from the yacht harbour to the Cousteau Museum or take a bus or taxi. The Monte Carlo district, famous for its casinos, is far from the cruise terminal but a must-visit even if one is not interested in trying their luck.
Monte Carlo is known as a tax haven which attracts the wealthy. The town has luxurious hotels, resorts and restaurants. Monaco is world-famous for the Monaco Grand Prix. Tourists should go for food and wine-focused shore excursions and sports car experiences in Monaco. Shopping and trying local food is a must.
9. Port of La Goulette, Tunisia
La Goulette is the cruise port of the capital, Tunis. Its name is derived from ‘gullet’, which means a channel. It is around 15 kilometres from the main city centre and is said to be one of the principal cruise facilities in the Mediterranean. Many ships can dock simultaneously in the terminal, a fine example of modernity and scenic beauty. It has designated areas for customs, waiting, luggage, etc., to ease tourists.
There is much to do in Tunisia. History and architecture enthusiasts must visit the ruins of Carthage, an ancient city of Phoenicians. Its remains lie across the Bay of Tunis since it was ravaged during the Punic battle. Bardo Museum is known as one of the best museums in the North African region. It houses a unique mosaic collection and original artefacts.
Sidi Bou Said is an Andalusian-style locality in Tunis’ waterfront area. It was founded in 1914 and is known for its wall paintings. Olive Tree Mosque on Medina Street dates back to 732 BC and embodies early Islamic architectural style.
10. Port of Valletta, Malta
Malta’s central position in the Mediterranean opens infinite possibilities for eastern and western itineraries. Valletta Cruise Port is a natural deep-water harbour open to cruise ships annually. It has two passenger terminals with numerous berths. The main cruise centre lies in the Magazino hall. It is a modern facility with a comfortable seating area and is easily accessible to special-needs guests.
Many movies were shot in Valletta, such as Troy. The city has medieval architecture and rich history. It is a melting pot of Arab, African, Roman, Greek and Phoenician cultures. Popular buildings include Saint Jansco Cathedral and Grandmaster’s Palace.
Valletta Cruise Port is close to the International Airport and railway station. Valletta is a vibrant city offering exciting shore excursions. Tourists can also relax at the beach or book private beachside cabanas with swimming pools.
You might also like to read
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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.
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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.