Small Cruise Ships Sailing to the Mediterranean

Small Cruise Ships Sailing to the Mediterranean: Guide to Intimate and Authentic Travel Experiences

by Christian Petzold - updated August 24, 2023

Ready to uncover the magic of the Mediterranean? Small cruise ships sailing to the Mediterranean offer a unique and intimate travel experience. These vessels offer a cozy and personal journey, allowing you to explore hidden gems of the Mediterranean that are often unreachable by their larger counterparts. 

You’ll discover the beauty of less-traveled ports, the perfect times for cruising, and the top companies to consider for your maritime adventure. Ready to hoist the anchor and set sail?

Understanding Small Cruise Ships

If you’re looking for a more intimate and luxurious experience, the small cruise ships in the Mediterranean might be the perfect fit for you. Small cruise ships offer a more personalized experience and allow you to visit ports that larger ships cannot reach.

Small cruise ships are typically defined as ships that carry fewer than 500 passengers. These ships offer a more intimate atmosphere and personalized service. You’ll get to know your fellow passengers and the crew and have more opportunities to interact with them throughout your journey.

Luxurious ships are often small cruise ships that offer an elegant and intimate experience. These ships are designed to provide you with the utmost comfort and relaxation. You’ll find luxurious amenities like spas, fine dining restaurants, and spacious suites.

Elegance is a hallmark of small cruise ships Mediterranean. These ships are designed to provide a refined and sophisticated experience. You’ll find elegant decor, stylish furnishings, and high-end finishes throughout the ship.

The intimate atmosphere of small cruise ships Mediterranean allows for more personalized service. The crew can cater to your needs and preferences, and you’ll have more opportunities to interact with them throughout your journey.

Overall, small cruise ships Mediterranean offer a more personalized and luxurious experience. A small cruise ship might be the perfect fit if you’re looking for an intimate and elegant adventure.

Top Mediterranean Destinations

Small cruise ships are the way to go if you’re looking for a unique way to explore the Mediterranean. These intimate vessels offer a more personalized experience, allowing you to visit destinations larger ships can’t access. Here are some of the top Mediterranean destinations to add to your itinerary:

1. Italy’s Charm

Italy is a country that needs no introduction. This country has something for everyone, from Rome’s ancient ruins to Civitavecchia’s picturesque coastline. Small cruise ships in the Mediterranean can take you to some of Italy’s lesser-known destinations, such as the island of Sicily. Here, you can explore the charming town of Taormina or visit the ancient Greek ruins at the Valley of the Temples.

Sicily 1 1

2. Greece’s Rich History

Greece is a country steeped in history, and a small cruise ship is the perfect way to explore its many ancient sites. Athens is a must-visit destination, where you can explore the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Santorini is another popular stop, with its stunning white-washed buildings and crystal-clear waters.


3. Spain’s Vibrant Culture

Spain is known for its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning architecture. Small cruise ships in the Mediterranean can take you to some of Spain’s most iconic destinations, such as Barcelona and Valencia. Barcelona has a rich history and culture, from the Gothic Quarter to the stunning architecture of Antoni Gaudi. 

Valencia is another must-visit destination, with its beautiful beaches, charming Old Town, and futuristic City of Arts and Sciences.

4. Adriatic’s Hidden Gems

The Adriatic Sea is home to some of the Mediterranean’s hidden gems; a small cruise ship is the best way to explore them. Dubrovnik is a popular destination, with its stunning Old Town and medieval walls. But there are also lesser-known destinations to explore, such as the island of Hvar, with its charming town and crystal-clear waters.


5. North Africa’s Exotic Appeal

North Africa offers an entirely different experience from the rest of the Mediterranean, with its exotic appeal and rich history. Small cruise ships can take you to destinations such as Morocco and Tunisia, where you can explore the souks, visit ancient ruins, and soak up the local culture.

No matter where you choose, a small cruise ship in the Mediterranean is the perfect way to explore these destinations in style and comfort.


Weather and Best Time to Cruise

When considering a voyage on small cruise ships Mediterranean, weather plays a pivotal role. The Mediterranean promises a gentle climate, with variations depending on location and season.

The bustling peak cruising season unfolds between June and August, boasting warm, sun-drenched weather. Yet, the crowd of tourists may be overwhelming. Ports of call are often abuzz with visitors.

For those preferring tranquility, consider the shoulder season, spanning from April-May or September-October. Here, the weather remains agreeable, and the crowds dwindle.

July and August stand out for their sultry, dry weather, with temperatures hovering around 30°C (86°F). However, remember this period also marks the height of tourist influx, potentially leading to crowded small ports.

In contrast, spring and fall offer cooler but still mild and pleasant climates. Fewer crowds and lower prices make these seasons enticing. Average temperatures round off at about 20°C (68°F), ideal for leisurely explorations on foot or bike.

Winter voyages on small cruise ships Mediterranean aren’t famous, with unpredictable weather and several closed attractions. Yet, some cruises sail during winter, promising lower prices and sparse crowds.

Do remember to check the destination’s weather forecast while planning your cruise. Essentials include comfortable footwear, a light jacket, and sunscreen. Weather can swiftly change, and being prepared for sudden shifts is wise.

Ultimately, cruising the Mediterranean on small cruise ships during the shoulder season is optimal, with agreeable weather and reduced crowds. Whether seeking a serene retreat or a thrilling journey, a small cruise ship is an excellent way to discover the Mediterranean’s charm.

Small Cruise Ships Sailing to the Mediterranean

1. Windstar Cruises

Explore the Mediterranean on Windstar’s unique fleet of six small cruise ships. With a capacity of 148 to 342 guests, these intimate vessels provide a relaxed, friendly setting. Some highlights include:

  • A trio of vessels with striking sails offering a distinctive cruising experience.
  • A low-key, laid-back onboard atmosphere without the need for formal dinner attire.
  • A diverse array of Mediterranean itineraries focuses on mesmerizing locales such as the Greek islands, the Amalfi Coast, and Croatia.

Experience the charm of small cruise ships Mediterranean style. Windstar cruises offer great value fares for experiencing the charm of small cruise ships Mediterranean style, but note that drinks and gratuities are not included.. 

2. Silversea

Silversea, deeply rooted in Italy, is an exceptional choice for small cruise ships on Mediterranean voyages. Their ‘classic’ fleet varies in size, with the smallest being the 274-guest Silver Wind and the newest additions, Silver Nova and Silver Ray, accommodating up to 728 guests. Highlights of Silversea include:

  • A luxurious all-inclusive concept, with fares covering all meals, alcoholic beverages, and even butler service.
  • An expansive Mediterranean program that features numerous small, off-the-beaten-path ports that other lines seldom reach.

Immerse yourself in the Mediterranean’s allure aboard a Silversea cruise, where luxury and exploration blend seamlessly.

3. Seabourne

Dive deeper into the Mediterranean’s rich diversity with Seabourn’s extended itineraries. You can immerse yourself in this enchanting region by offering a selection of longer voyages. Noteworthy aspects of Seabourn cruises include:

  • A selection of spacious, modern ships accommodating 458 to 604 guests.
  • The choice between the classic ‘triplets’ – Odyssey, Quest, and Sojourn, or the newer and slightly larger vessels, Encore and Ovation.
  • All-inclusive fares, providing a seamless cruise experience.

Seabourn is an excellent choice for small cruise ships’ Mediterranean adventures, particularly for those seeking longer journeys. Plus, you’ll often find considerable savings if you have flexible travel dates and are open to different itineraries

4. SeaDream Yacht Club

Step aboard one of SeaDream Yacht Club’s two exclusive 112-passenger vessels and embark on an extraordinary Wine Voyage. Revel in the Mediterranean’s best wine producers with this unique experience. Highlights of this trip include:

  • A seven-night journey from Barcelona to Málaga
  • An exquisite sherry-pairing dinner in Puerto Banús, partnering with the distinguished Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla.
  • An enriching excursion to Anima Negra, one of Mallorca’s most respected wineries.

Starting from $4,726 per person, this all-inclusive voyage fuses wine, travel, and luxury in a unique Mediterranean experience.

5. Scenic

The Scenic Eclipse, with its ten restaurants and bars accommodating merely 228 guests, is set to redefine the luxury cruise landscape. This extraordinary vessel also boasts a heated indoor pool and a Pilates studio. Some key highlights include:

  • A unique Tenerife to Barcelona cruise during its maiden Mediterranean season in April.
  • Fascinating stops at the Moroccan cities of Essaouira and Casablanca, offering a blend of culture and adventure.

Starting from $7,795, experience a new era of opulent cruising aboard the Scenic Eclipse, where the luxury of space is paramount.

6. Ponant

Ponant, a French cruise line, has expanded with six new ‘Explorer class yachts for 184 guests. This is on top of their four 264-guest ships and the cozy 64-guest ship, Le Ponant. You’ll enjoy:

  • An extensive choice of itineraries.
  • Sleek design and French hospitality on board.
  • A marina for watersports and zodiac trips.

Ponant’s small cruise ships’ Mediterranean routes feature enticing trips to Corsica, the south of France, Croatia, the Greek islands, and Italy. Watch for exciting voyages to the Black and Red Seas via Lebanon and Israel.

7. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd’s MS Europa 2, a 500-guest ship, stands out for its bilingual German and English cruises. Recognized as the world’s top ship by the Berlitz Guide, it offers:

  • Nordic-inspired, sunlit interiors.
  • Seven varied restaurants.
  • A wellness-focused large spa.

Fares may be higher and exclude alcoholic drinks and gratuities, but a shipboard credit helps. Explore unique Mediterranean trips starting or ending in Mallorca or the Canary Islands. Experience small cruise ships’ Mediterranean luxury with Hapag-Lloyd.

8. Oceania Cruises

Dive deep into your destination with Oceania’s port-focused itineraries. They designed these for true explorers who enjoy spending abundant time ashore. Key features include:

  • An abundance of overnight stays and late evening departures provide ample time to delve into local cultures.
  • A casual, easygoing atmosphere onboard, complemented by Oceania’s renowned culinary experiences.
  • Diverse ship sizes to suit different preferences: ‘R-class ships host 684 guests, while ‘O-class’ and the latest ‘Allura class ships welcome 1,250 and 1,200 guests, respectively, offering an array of onboard amenities.

Plan your voyage on Oceania’s small cruise ships in the Mediterranean. While standard fares exclude alcoholic beverages and gratuities, their frequent promotional deals often cover these.

9. Emerald Cruises

Tap into small ship cruising with Emerald, a brand that has successfully expanded from its popular river cruises and touring program. Let’s dive into some features:

  • The design of the stunning 100-guest yachts, Emerald Azzura and Sakara, provides the ultimate cruising experience..
  • Onboard, you’ll find an informal, relaxed atmosphere with a main restaurant and pool café to satiate your culinary cravings.
  • Most staterooms boast step-out balconies, distinguishing them from the Scenic ships.
  • This offering is targeted at the premium market, promising high standards of service and comfort.

While fares don’t cover all expenses (drinks outside of mealtimes are extra), they include flights, transfers, meals, wine and beer with meals, WiFi, gratuities, and even excursions in critical ports.


In conclusion, small Mediterranean cruises are a fantastic way to discover this beautiful region. With fewer passengers and visits to unique places, these cruises promise a memorable trip. You have all the information you need to start planning your journey. So why wait?

Get ready to create some incredible memories on the trip of a lifetime. Time to explore the Mediterranean in a whole new way!

Sail into Mediterranean Bliss. Discover the magic of the Mediterranean with our guide to the best month for your dream cruise.

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