6 Dreamy ports not to be missed on a Mediterranean cruise

Posted on 26 October 2023

The Mediterranean is one of the most popular cruise destinations amongst South African travellers. But there’s so much more to explore. Discover some charming and lesser-known ports on your next Med cruise. 

Written by Jenna Berndt


Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-time cruiser, Mediterranean voyages promise to tick every box for South Africans looking for a European escapade: from history and arts and culture to sun-soaked beaches and that alluring Mediterranean lifestyle.

“Guests often think the main drawcard is the vessel when they’re on a cruise,” says Riet Goetschalckx, Sales Director CEMEA at Oceania Cruises, the world’s leading culinary and destination-focused cruise line.  

“Of course, that is partly true. Oceania vessels are stunning and works of art in their own right. So, while you’d be forgiven for never wanting to disembark, the excursions offered are well worth leaving the ship for! South Africans, in particular, love exploring Europe like locals, immersing themselves in the everyday routines of different communities,” says Riet.  

Here are 6 dreamy ports to visit on your next Med cruise: 

Syracuse (Sicily), Italy 

Cicero once hailed Syracuse as “the greatest Greek city and most beautiful of them all,” and you’ll soon see why when exploring this port for yourself. On the island of Ortygia, founded by the Greeks over 2,000 years ago, UNESCO treasures intertwine with street vendors offering delectable cheese, olives, and cured meats. You’ll also find iconic Mount Etna, bestowing the region with fertile soils that yield world-class wines (a hit with the South Africans!), fruit, and nuts. 

Hidden gem: Tour the Ear of Dionysius, a cave shaped like an ear and renowned for its unique acoustics, where even a whisper will echo across its length. 

Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey 

In ancient Ephesus, you can marvel at the Library of Celsus, the grand amphitheatre, and the mosaic-laden streets. Venture to Priene, Miletus, and Didyma, legendary cities celebrated for their majestic temples and remarkably preserved stadiums. Turkey is also a more rand-friendly destination than many other Med favourites.  

Hidden gem: Perhaps it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but you simply can’t miss it. Visit the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 

Alexandria, Egypt 

Alexandria, a city of incredible contrasts, beckons with its Mediterranean charm and rich history. Explore the new Library of Alexandria and the Alexandria National Museum. Stroll along vibrant waterfronts and serene gardens, encapsulating the city’s unique atmosphere. 

Hidden gem: Delve into the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, a subterranean wonder where ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Greek influences converge. 

Sorrento/Capri, Italy 

Capri’s breathtaking panoramas and charming piazzas are must-sees. Visit the famed Villa San Michele or journey to Pompeii’s ruins. In Sorrento, indulge in cooking classes or explore Naples’ bustling streets while mastering the art of Neapolitan pizza. 

Hidden gem: Venture to the Gardens of Augustus on Capri, offering breathtaking views of the Faraglioni rock formations and the azure sea beyond. 

Saint-Tropez, France 

Embrace the allure of Saint-Tropez, a glamorous haven on the French Riviera. Brimming with chic boutiques, charming cafes, and sun-kissed beaches, this is just the place to live out your Côte d’Azur fantasies, imagining a luxurious and elegant lifestyle here. 

Hidden gem: Stroll through the historic La Ponche quarter, renowned for its charming narrow streets, quaint cafes, and picturesque Provençal ambience. 

Igoumenitsa, Greece 

Unearth an undiscovered gem on Greece’s northwest coast. Igoumenitsa is steeped in history, with ancient settlements dating back to the 4th century BC. Nearby, the archaeological site Nikopolis transports you to the Roman era, where Octavian’s victory over Anthony and Cleopatra is commemorated. 

Hidden gem: Parga is a colourful coastal town with a Venetian castle, harbour, and stunning views over the Ionian Sea. 

How to embark on the Ultimate Voyage: 

Want to cruise the Mediterranean for yourself?

Step onboard Vista, Oceania Cruises’ first new vessel build in a decade, offering 11 dining options, signature culinary venues like The Bakery at Baristas and Ember, and the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Centre.

The Marina and Riviera vessels are also a favourite, offering six gourmet restaurants and the exclusive La Reserve by Wine Spectator, redefining luxury in the cruise industry. Both ships feature state-of-the-art Culinary Centres, Artist Lofts, and the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Centre.

“Value for money remains a key deciding factor for South African travellers,” says Goetschalckx. “Oceania Cruises SimplyMORE is a wonderful value-add sure to enhance your journey. Enjoy up to $1,600 in free shore excursions, up to $2,800 worth of complimentary champagne, wine, and beverages, and free gourmet speciality dining at select restaurants onboard. Plus, you’ll have free unlimited Wi-Fi throughout your cruise.” 

Explore like a local 

“What really sets Oceania’s experiences apart from many other cruise liners is our incredible small-batch ‘Go Local Tours’ that go far beyond the traditional tourist sites,” adds Goetschalckx. “These one-of-a-kind experiences will leave you feeling connected to the places you’re visiting – and forever changed.” 

Enjoy unique excursions on a cruise, such as: 

  • Beyond Blueprints: Immerse yourself in many iconic landmarks’ architecture. 
  • Culinary Discovery Tours: Savor the flavours of Mediterranean cuisine through intimate culinary tours. 
  • Food & Wine Trails Tours: Embark on a sensory journey of local food and wine traditions. 
  • Go Green Tours: Discover sustainable practices and environmental initiatives. 
  • Go Local Tours: Engage with local communities to truly experience their cultures. 

Upcoming Mediterranean Voyages 

Ready to embark on your dreamy Mediterranean voyage? Explore Oceania Cruises’ upcoming cruises, departing from Rome to Monte Carlo on August 25, 2024. Indulge in the Mediterranean’s wonders, from ancient ruins to vibrant cities, as you sail on the Marina, Riviera, or the new Vista. Begin your journey of exploration, indulgence, and pure elegance by securing your spot on these highly sought-after voyages today. 


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