Planning a Western Mediterranean cruise? Lucky you. While most of your friends are stuck laboring at their 9-5 jobs you'll be sailing the sunny seas, eating world class food and visiting some of the most fabulous destinations on the planet. In fact, there is so much to see and do, coming up with an itinerary can be quite a challenge. With magical destinations like France, Italy, Spain and Portugal to choose from there are enough options to fill half a dozen vacations. I've compiled a list of some of the best of the region to help you plan your Western Mediterranean cruise.
If you've always wanted to tour the magnificent French Riviera then a cruise is just about the most perfect way to do so. Take a shore excursion to the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer and see the beauty that inspired the art of Matisse and Picasso. In Marseille you can see the Notre-Dame-de-Guarde. Take a journey to Cannes, the home of the world renowned international film festival. And in Nice the Opera House and Old Town await your pleasure. There is so much to see and do in this region that it will be hard to drag yourself away to see the delights the other countries on your itinerary have to offer.
In sunny Spain Barcelona is the port where you will almost certainly dock. If you have an appreciation of architecture you will be completely blown away by the stunning Gothic architecture of the buildings here. Again, you have the opportunity to see the works of the legendary painter Pablo Picasso in the Museu Picasso, where one of the world's most extensive collections of his work are showcased. Another popular Spain cruise destination is Mallorca. Spain's largest island features the massive Palma Cathedral, and if you want to relax for awhile the island offers upwards of 70 magnificent beaches for you to lay back and soak up the sun.
In Portugal the ports of Lisbon and Funchal await. Lisbon, Portugal's capital city has something for the whole family to enjoy. Explore St. George's Castle, Jeronimo's Monastery, or Belem Tower. Ancient curiosities abound in the Gulbenkian Museum. If you have kids you must make time for a visit to the Oceanarium where all manner of marine life from sharks to cute Antarctic penguins can be seen. One of the world's largest aquariums the Oceanarium stands out against the ancient stonework of the rest of the city, and is one of the most state of the art facilities you'll see anywhere in the Western Mediterranean.
On Funchal you enjoy a different sort of adventure. Arrange a shore excursion to climb Picos de Barcelos. This peak is 1,200 feet high and offers a magnificent view of all of Funchal. If you don't want quite that much exertion on your cruise vacation (and who can blame you?) why not make a visit to see Colombo's Statue in Santa Catarina Park or take a relaxing stroll through the botanical garden of Quinta das Cruzes.
Last, but certainly not least we have Italy. The choices here are too numerous to describe at length. Rome will be at the top of most people's itinerary with The Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain and the Arch of Constantine just a few of the major highlights of this historic city. If you've been to Rome before why not take a trip to Florence instead? Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Museum are must-sees in this beautiful city, and if you are this close you shouldn't forget to take the tour to Pisa where you can see the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in all its glory.
Again, these are just a few of the highlights of a Western Mediterranean cruise. A trip through this spectacular region will only whet your appetite and you will find yourself wanting to return again and again to further explore the culture and history of these magnificent ancient cities.