The Western Mediterranean
All the major cruise lines, and a bunch of the smaller lines, sail in the “Western Mediterranean.” This is definitely a “greatest hits” kind of cruise destination, suited to first time and veteran European visitors alike. Most cruises begin in Rome’s port of Civitavecchia or in Barcelona. Wherever you start or stop, you may wish to snag a few hotel nights and extend your visit.
Think: The rivieras of Spain, France, and Italy. The major ports are Rome, Livorno (for Florence and Tuscany), Naples and Sicily, Monte Carlo, Nice and Marseille (French Riviera), Barcelona, Madrid, and even Tunisia.
Overarching Themes: The 800 pound gorilla will be Rome, though Florence, Monte Carlo and Barcelona weigh in pretty impressively, as well. Major topics will include the Roman Empire, the ceaseless hodge-podge of European warfare, the Roman Catholic Church, spectacular art, architecture, and literature, and the bon vivant lifestyles of the Mediterranean coast.
If you were not paying close attention in high school and college, now is your chance to catch it all again. This time, you can do it with a great glass of wine. Bon Voyage!