Three buzz-worthy new cruises from Oceania, Celebrity, and Princess are plying the Mediterranean. But which one is right for you? Read on for the breakdown.
Ancient cliff-side villages, artisanal food, history at every turn...there’s more than one reason almost 20 percent of global cruise itineraries sail the Med. Though all three of these ships distill the best of the region in their ports of call, each brings its own offerings to the table—including restaurants and art to rival what you’ll find on land.
Number of Passengers: 1,250.
Great For: Food and culture cognoscenti.
Interiors: With its marble lobby and grand staircase inset with Lalique crystal medallions, Riviera feels like a luxury condo. In the staterooms, you’ll find 1,000-thread-count bedding and bathrooms equipped with that all-too-rare cruise amenity: a full-size tub. (It’s not your average bubble bath, either. The pink bath crystals are made from 250 million-year-old Himalayan salt.)
The Food: Wagyu-beef burgers with black-truffle sauce? Spicy duck-and-watermelon salad? Riviera has a full eight restaurants by Jacques Pépin. All meals are included in your fare.
Shore Excurions: Leave hungry. Riviera’s small-group culinary tours go to Michelin-starred restaurants, a Venetian chocolatier, and a generations-old Santorini wine and olive-oil producer.
Unexpected Perk: In-room mini-bars are stocked with unlimited free nonalcoholic drinks (including European ginger brews).
Itineraries: 7- to 15-night sailings from Athens, Istanbul, Rome, and Venice.
Sample Fare: 7 nights from Athens to Istanbul from $2,499 per person, double, with airfare; with early booking, two-for-one fares are often available. oceaniacruises.com.
Number of Passengers: 2,886.
Great For: Art and design enthusiasts.
Interiors: Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships are contemporary museums at sea, including hundreds of cutting-edge works by the likes of Anish Kapoor and John Baldessari. Adam D. Tihany’s Deco-style Grande Cuvée dining room has a Vegas-inspired wine tower. Staterooms are surprisingly spacious (as large as 575 square feet), with leather banquettes and ample storage space.
The Food: At the reservations-only Qsine, one of eight specialty restaurants, guests create their own global culinary adventure on the iPad menu (don’t miss the sea-bass-ceviche “martinis” or the lobster-and-escargot fritters). Rather eat en plein air? At the Lawn Club Grill, barbecue your own red snapper and flatbread.
Shore Excurions: Soar over Tuscan vineyards and walled towns in a hot-air balloon, or hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius for views across Pompeii’s ruins and the Bay of Naples.
Unexpected Perk: Services such as acupuncture and medi peels are now available, thanks to a newly unveiled partnership with Canyon Ranch.
Itineraries: 11- to 14-night cruises to ports in Croatia, Greece, Israel, Italy, and Turkey.
Sample Fare: 11 nights from Rome to Venice, from $2,199 per person, double, for a Veranda cabin. celebritycruises.com.
Video: Barcelona Port Guide
Number of Passengers: 3,560.
Great For: Multigenerational trips. Grown-ups love the adults-only Sanctuary area, hammams, and whiskey tastings. For the kids? Dancing fountains by the pool and laser tag.
Interiors: All cabins are fitted with off-white leather chairs and headboards. As on many Princess ships, both the bath and closet are partitioned from the main cabin for privacy.
The Food: Options for all ages. Try Horizon Bistro, where turbot wrapped in pancetta is served one night, Brazilian churrasco the next. Tuck into artichoke soufflé and lamb chops at Sabatini’s or hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza at Alfredo’s (it’s pure Napoli).
Shore Excurions: In Venice, 25 guests on the after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica have the mosaic-and-gold domes to themselves. In the south of France, oenophiles can sip vintage rosés at Bandol’s 16th-century Domaine de Souviou; perfume lovers can learn how to blend custom fragrances at the Aix-en-Provence street market.
Unexpected Perk: The bi-level SeaWalk promenade, cantilevered 28 feet beyond the ship’s side, has inch-thick glass floors and offers panoramic views of the sea.
Sample Fare: 12-night Barcelona-to-Venice itinerary aboard Regal Princess, a sister ship to Royal Princess that debuted last month. (In summer 2014, Royal Princess is sailing the Baltic.) From $2,239 per person, double. princess.com.
Appeared as "Cruising Three Ways" in T+L Magazine