Blue Water Holidays
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
Experts in River and Small Ship Cruising Holidays since 2002
01756 706500 +44 1756 706500
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
01756 706500
+44 1756 706500
Western Mediterranean Cruises

Western Mediterranean Cruises

The Mediterranean coasts of France, Spain and Italy offer a wealth of spectacular scenery, fascinating history and picturesque ports.

Explore the French Riviera and glamorous Monte Carlo, Cannes and St Tropez, or the fascinating, unspoilt islands of Corsica, Elba and Sardinia. South of Rome is the dramatic Amalfi Coast and the cliff-top town of Sorrento, from where visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum depart, plus the sophisticated island of Capri and unspoilt Ponza.

Cruise Collection 2019 / 2020 / 2021

About Western Med Cruises

The Western Mediterranean is a major all-year-round cruising area with a large number of cruises available on many different types of ship. It includes the ports along the Mediterranean coasts of Spain and France, and the western coast of Italy.

We offer Western Med coastal cruises on smaller classic ships, sailing ships, large cruise liners, luxury vessels, and megayachts. These include fly-cruises from Med ports with some cruises sailing direct from UK ports. We offer complete packages, cruise-only options, or tailor-made holidays.

Large cruise ships can call at a limited number of ports - Barcelona and Palma in Spain, Marseilles in France, Civitavecchia - the port for Rome, and Livorno for visits to Florence and Pisa.

The most interesting ports of the region are along the French and Italian Rivieras, the islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, and the Balearic islands, and these can only be visited by the smaller ships.

Unique Monte Carlo in Monaco, lively St Tropez and cosmopolitan Cannes are highlights of the French Riviera. In Italy fashionable Portofino and Portovenere, the gateway to the amazing hill towns of the Cinque Terre coast, showcase the Italian Riviera. South of Rome, the famous Isle of Capri, Sorrento and the cliff towns of the Amalfi coast complement the attractions of Mount Vesuvius and historic Pompeii.

The islands of the Western Med are ideal for visits by smaller ships - Ibiza and Menorca in the Balearics, and less visited ports such as Bonifacio and Calvi on Corsica, Olvia on Sardinia, and Portoferraio on Elba. The stunning coastal town of Taormina on Sicily is overlooked by the active volcano of Mount Etna.

Check out the Cruise Collection tab above to explore our range of Western Med cruises on a variety of exciting itineraries on interesting ships.

Palma Cathedral, Mallorca Monte Carlo, Monaco Portoferraio, Elba

Western Med Highlights

Agadir

The port of Agadir is situated at the end of the town's long beach, and during the tourist season there is easy access to local transport into town. The surrounding landscape is dominated by the mountains of the Anti-Atlas and the Sahara Desert, with many quiet beaches along the coast. Agadir beach is lined with cafes, restaurants and hotels, and the Grand Souk is the largest covered market in this region of Morocco. Close by is the walled Berber town of Taroudant.

Agadir (Morocco)

Ajaccio

Ajaccio's port is adjacent to the town, which is the capital of Corsica and the birthplace of Napoleon. His former home is now a museum, one of a number of attractions which include a museum exhibiting paintings by Raphael, Botticelli and Titian, a palm-fringed promenade and a good selection of chic shops and restaurants. Just along the coast is Cupulatta, a breeding centre for tortoises and turtles.

Ajaccio (Corsica)

Alghero

Alghero is situated on the north-west coast of Sardinia, bordered along the shore by the walls of its old bastion. This attractive town has numerous restaurants, boutiques and cafes, and shops selling coral jewellery and carvings. The sights include Alghero Cathedral, the Palazzo D'Albis which was once the home of Emperor Charles V, and Neptune's Grotto, one of the most spectacular caves in the Mediterranean.

Alghero (Italy)

Alicante

Alicante is one of the best-known towns along the Costa Blanca, popular for its long Blue Flag beach, pleasant boulevard and shopping opportunities. The castle of Santa Barbara sits above the town on Mount Benacantil offering good views of the city and coastline, and the town itself has a handsome baroque Town Hall and the blue-domed cathedral of San Nicolas surrounded by gardens.

Alicante (Spain)

Almeria

Almeria is a pleasant coastal town with a tree-lined waterfront promenade, the quaint streets of Las Ramblas and Paseo de Almeria leading to Almadrabillas beach. Its chief sight is the magnificent Arab fortress of Alcazaba, which contains baths and a Muslim Medina, and the gardens of San Nicolas Salmeron Park. The city also has an imposing fortress cathedral, built to withstand attacks from pirates.

Almeria (Spain)

Amalfi

Amalfi is one of the most popular resorts along the famous Amalfi coast. It has a superb setting beneath the mountains, and a great deal of charm. The Duomo is a marvel of ancient Arab-Moorish architecture and dominates the lively central piazza, and narrow lanes and steep terraces of brightly-painted houses lead down to the sea, restaurants and fashionable cafes.

Amalfi (Italy)

Barcelona

Cruise ships arrive in Barcelona at one of the berths beyond the famous thoroughfare, Las Ramblas. The port provides the low-cost Blue Bus shuttle transfer into the city, where there are world-class museums dedicated to football, history, Picasso, Miro and Gaudi. The skyline of Barcelona is dominated by Gaudi's architecture - the magnificent Sagrada Familia Cathedral, the apartment block of Casa Mila, and at ground level, Parc Guell.

Barcelona (Spain)

Bari

Bari has an interesting mixture of Byzantine, Arab, Gothic and Greek buildings. A wide boulevard runs through the town and the old quarter of Barivecchia is a labyrinth of lanes and arched alleys with pastel-coloured houses. The main sights are the imposing Swabian Castle which now houses exhibitions, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, the grand Teatro Piccinni. The chief shopping districts are along the Via Sparano and the Via Argiro.

Bari (Italy)

Bilbao

The Basque city of Bilbao has been a busy port since its foundation in the 14th century and today is an interesting blend of ancient and modern buildings. The highlight is the sculpted form of the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry, and the famous 12-metre high sculpture of the Flower Puppy by Jeff Koons at its entrance.

Bilbao (Spain)

Bonifacio

When arriving by sea, Bonifacio's Haute Ville is a spectacular sight, a citadel perched on high white cliffs. It has old churches, winding streets with arcades and arches, and upmarket boutiques. There is a small train from the old town at the port up to the Haute Ville, and also boat trips to the grottos and caves along the coast. Alternatively, for a small fee, visitors can take the 187-steps of the 'Staircase of the King of Aragon' from the town to the citadel.

Bonifacio (Corsica, France)

Cagliari

Cagliari in southern Sardinia is an ancient city and the capital of the island. A stroll through the town gives easy access to its historic churches and museums and the winding alleys and piazzas of the old the walled Castello area. There are good views of the bay from Terrazza Umberto I, reached via a grand flight of stairs from Bastione di St Remy, and the town also has a Roman amphitheatre dating back to 2AD.

Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy)

Cannes

Cruise ship passengers visiting Cannes will arrive in the heart of this glamorous city, well-known for its famous film festival. Beside the attractive promenade of Le Croisette, there are other treasures to discover ' the 14th-century wooden church in the hill-side district of Le Suquet, the arts and crafts galleries of Le Cannet-Rocheville and the small islands of Lerins in the bay where there are sandy beaches and the monastery of Ste Honorat.

Cannes (France)

Capri

The sophisticated island of Capri is situated in the Bay of Naples and is separated into the lower town of Capri and hill-top Anacapri in the west. A funicular railway runs from the port to Capri Town and its attractive square, chic boutiques and restaurants. From here there is a bus service up to Anacapri and the famous Villa San Michele and its gardens. Other sights include the Blue Grotto and Villa Jovis ' the remains of a Roman palace.

Capri (Italy)

Cartagena

Cartagena has many buildings and fortifications dating from the early 1600s. Horse-drawn carriages frequently pass by carrying sightseers from the up-market area of Bocagrande and the old walled city. Sights include the Palacio de la Inquisicion, the dungeons of Las Bevedas, and Plaza de Santo Domingo where local artisans sell their wares.

Cartagena (Colombia)

Cartagena

The port of Cartagena is within walking distance of the town which has been occupied by Romans, Muslims and Arabs during its long history. A long-forgotten Roman theatre was recently rediscovered in the town, which also has Art Nouveau buildings, a grand City Hall and interesting shops along Calle Mayor. A narrow-gauge train carries visitors to the nearby fishing village of Los Nietos and its salt-water lake.

Casablanca

Casablanca's port sits next to one of the city's chief attractions, the huge and impressive Hassan II Mosque completed in 1993. Long boulevards lead to the medina, the Habbous souk district, the mosaics and cedar-carved ceilings of Mahkama du Pacha and an abundance of good traditional and seafood restaurants.

Casablanca (Morocco)

Catania

Catania is situated at the foot of Mount Etna on Sicily's east coast and has a long and turbulent history, and numerous impressive buildings, including the baroque Duomo, Teatro Bellini, Ursino Castle and ancient churches and palaces. Amongst the many Roman remains are two theatres, thermal baths and the Odeon, all within the city centre.

Catania (Italy)

Cherbourg

Cherbourg's harbour was built on a grand scale and is the largest artificial harbour in the world. Work began in 1783 and was completed in the 19th century under the direction of Napoleon. The town's main attractions are all related to the sea - France's first nuclear submarine, Redoubtable, is now a museum ship moored at Cherbourg's Cite de la Mer where there is also an aquarium. At the foot of the hill-top fortress there is a botanical garden and a small zoo.

Cherbourg (France)

Gibraltar (UK)

The small British territory of Gibraltar is an interesting mixture of British and Spanish cultures, consisting of the famous Rock and a narrow spit of land between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It is famous for the cliff-top colony of Barbary Apes reached by cable car, the Siege Tunnels built during World War II, St Michael's Cave and its unusual auditorium and a variety of shops selling tax-free goods. There are buses and a shuttle service from the port to the town.

Gibraltar

Gijon

The small harbour of Gijon divides the town into two ' the main town and the older quarter of Cimadevilla where the houses of the original fishing village still remain and are well-preserved. The beach resort is centred around Playa del San Lorenzo and several shopping malls and restaurants. There are some museums of interest, including the International Bagpipe Museum and the Roman Archaeological Park of Campa de Torres.

Gijon (Spain)

Ibiza

Best known for its summer club parties, Ibiza is a picturesque island with an historic old town, Dalt Vila, reached via a drawbridge and the impressive gateway of Portal de Ses Taules. There are many gift shops, art galleries and excellent restaurants, and a 14th-century cathedral. Ibiza is the third-largest of the Balearic Islands and has good beaches and an inland terrain speckled with fig and olive trees. To the south are the white salt fields of Las Salinas.

Ibiza (Spain)

La Coruna

La Coruna is a busy port on the north-west coast of Spain in the province of Galicia and one of the gateways to the pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela. The port is close to the World Heritage listed Tower of Hercules, built by the Romans in 2AD and the oldest working lighthouse in the world. Leading off from La Coruna's seafront promenade are medieval churches and baroque palaces.

La Coruna (Spain)

La Goulette

La Goulette has a long promenade and restaurants serving fresh fish and traditional mutton dishes, and is the port for Tunis where you will find the exotic shops and narrow lanes of the medina. Tunis is also well-known for the Bardo Museum and its outstanding collection of mosaics, the 16th-century Kasbah fortress, and the hill-top town of Sidi Bou Said, which is a relaxing oasis of courtyards and bright Mediterranean colours.

La Pallice

La Pallice is the port for La Rochelle, where the harbour is too shallow to accommodate cruise vessels. It was a large submarine base during World War II and its bunker was used as a location for 'Indiana Jones II' and 'Das Boot'. La Pallice is close to the aquarium of La Rochelle and its historic, fortified Old Town.

Las Palmas

This 15th-century city is the capital of Gran Canaria and has many colonial buildings, and a picturesque setting between the beaches of Playa de las Canteras and Playa de las Alcaravaneras. The city's historic district, Vegueta, is a World Heritage Site where sophisticated boutiques and a cosmopolitan atmosphere make Las Palmas a popular tourist destination.

Lisbon

Lisbon has three ports, all with taxi services and within 3 kilometers of the city centre. Lisbon is a sprawling city which has been occupied by Visigoths, Moors, Romans and Celts. Alfama and Barrio Alto are historic districts of cobbled streets, wrought-iron balconies and Moorish buildings. Its most famous landmarks are the World Heritage Sites of Belem Tower and the impressive 16th-century Jeronimos Monastery.

Lisbon (Portugal)

Livorno

Large ships visiting Livorno dock a short distance from this town on the western coast of Tuscany. It has a long seafront stretching to Antignano, edged with trees and Art Nouveau villas. The Venezia Nuova quarter is an area of canals, bridges and the handsome 17th-century buildings of Via Borra. Livorno has good rail links to Florence, Pisa and Lucca.

Mahon

Mahon is the capital of Menorca, and has a lively harbour with market stalls and plenty of cafes. The old quarter has a mixture of English Georgian buildings and Catalan architecture. Worthy of a visit are the Ateneo Cientifico, a museum of natural history, archaeology and art, and the Church of Santa Maria in Plaza de la Constitucion. The island has many attractive crescent-shaped beaches with good swimming ' popular spots are Arenal den Castell and Cala den Porter.

Malaga

Malaga cruise port is situated at the end of the town's promenade. Sitting on a sweeping Andalucian bay, Malaga has long been popular as a beach resort, and has plenty of attractions for visitors. Walk its wide palm-shaded boulevards, narrow streets and squares and discover the Museo Picasso which honours one of Malaga's most famous sons, Alcazaba Fortress and a nearby Roman amphitheatre, and an impressive cathedral.

Malaga (Spain)

Marseille

Marseille's busy new port is a bus ride away from the city, where there are a variety of shops, the Byzantine cathedral of Notre Dame, and Palais du Pharo were Napoleon III once lived. Vieux Port is the historic waterfront area, and boats take visitors to Chateu d'If which featured in 'The Count of Monte Cristo'.

Marseille (France)

Messina

This ancient city of cobblestone streets sits on the north-eastern tip of Sicily, and is a busy port a short walk away for the main Piazza and its Duomo. Messina is usually visited as a gateway to the classical ruins of Taormina, tours to Mount Etna and the Church of the Black Madonna in Tindari.

Messina (Italy)

Monte Carlo

The cruise ship terminal in Monte Carlo is within walking distance of the town, a glitzy and sophisticated destination well-known for its Grand Prix and the Grand Casino, and for the sleek yachts in its harbour. There are numerous boutiques, the imposing St Nicholas Cathedral, and the hill-top Royal Palace.

Monte Carlo (Monaco)

Motril

Motril is the second-largest town in the Spanish province of Granada. Scenically situated against a mountain backdrop, the town has an interesting Mudejar church, and a Baroque Town Hall. There are two popular beaches, Playa Granada and Playa Poniente.

Naples

The city of Naples is a maze of architectural treasures and busy streets in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Among the key sights are the 13th-century Duomo, the Royal Palace, the Teatro San Carlo, and the underground tunnels of the Napoli Sotteranea. The chief shopping areas are Piazza dei Martiri, Via Calabritto, and the glass arcade of Galleria Umberto. Naples is also the gateway to the remains of ancient Pompeii.

Naples (Italy)

Nice

Nice port is situated in the heart of the city, close to the old quarter. The bay is bordered by the sweeping Promenade des Anglais which leads to a pedestrianised zone housing restaurants, cafes, small shops and boutiques and the pleasant Place Rossetti. There is a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, and excellent museums, including two dedicated to the works of Matisse and Chagall.

Nice (France)

Olbia

Olbia is the main port on the island of Sardinia, situated close to the scenic Costa Smerelda. Olbia has good facilities for tourists ' cafes and internet cafes, restaurants and bars. Olbia is best known for its recently discovered shipwrecks, dating back to 5AD, its old town walls, and the Romanesque church of San Simplicio.

Palermo

The port of Palermo sits on the north-west coast of Sicily, and is a ten-minute walk from the city centre, which is rich in history, architecture and culture. There are many historic buildings ' the largest theatre in Italy, the Teatro Massimo, the cathedral, which contains an observatory in one of its domes, the catacombs of the Capuchins housing remains of 8000 monks, and the Museo Archeologico Regionale. Local buses travel to Mount Etna where there is a cable car taking visitors up to the craters.

Palermo (Italy)

Palma

Palma is Mallorca's elegant city. The port is overlooked by the impressive cathedral, behind which is the old town, its boutiques and squares. Shops can be found around the attractive Placa Major and the Passeig des Born, and the ornate Olivar Market is worth a visit for its flower and fruit displays. There are several places of interest ' the Arab Baths, the fortified palace of La Almudaina, the mural by Joan Miro in Parc del Mar and circular Bellver Castle, perched above the city on a hill.

Palma (Mallorca)

Portimao

Portimao is one of the biggest towns on the Algarve, and sits next to the busy and popular resort of Priaia da Rocha and its beaches. Portimao itself has a good choice of restaurants, offers various watersports activities and has a newly-developed waterfront. There are numerous shops, a mixture of local and international stores. Nearby are golf courses, the Caves of Estombar and the Roman villa at Figueira.

Portimao (Portugal)

Porto Rotondo

Porto Rotondo is an exclusive seaside village on Sardinia's Costa Smerelda, close to Mount Ladu and the glamorous coastal resort of Porto Cervo. The coastline is lush and edged with white sand beaches, including Ira, Sassi and Marinella. In the village, Piazzetta San Marco is the place to go for bars and expensive boutiques. Buildings of interest include the church of San Lorenzo and its wooden statues and a granite amphitheatre built in the Greek style. Silvio Berlusconi has a luxurious villa nearby.

Porto Rotondo (Sardinia, Italy)

Portoferraio

This is the capital of the Tuscan island of Elba. Around the harbour are yellow, pink and ochre-painted houses and the old quarter sits inside a Medicean fortress. The home of Napoleon, Villa dei Mulini and his private house, Villa San Martino, are open to the public, and the streets of the town are decorated with flower-filled balconies. Portoferraio has excellent botanic gardens at Giardini Ottone and good views from the Roman ruins of Villa Romana Della Grotta.

Portofino

This beautiful Italian Riviera town has been favoured by the rich and famous for decades. It is built on a hillside sloping down to the sea and its easily recognizable harbour of brightly-painted houses. There are pleasant walks through the olive groves into Portofino National Park and to the gardens and terrace of 15th-century Castello Brown. Sea taxis depart from Portofino for the attractive towns of the Cinque Terre.

Portofino (Italy)

Positano

Positano is one of a string of picturesque fishing villages on the Amalfi Coast. Its houses cling to the hillside and cobbled streets and steep stairways criss-cross the village, which was the backdrop for scenes from 'The Talented Mr Ripley'. The church of Santa Maria Assunta has a colourful majolica-tiled dome and there is an attractive Town Hall. Boat trips take visitors to the sea cave of the Emerald Grotto and ferries depart for the islands of Ischia and Capri and the ancient site of Paestum.

Ravenna

Ravenna was the last capital of the Roman Empire and later became the centre of the Byzantine world. Ravenna is famous for its mosaics from these periods which can be seen in the Basilicas of Sant Apollinare Nuovo and San Vitale, and also for the tomb of the poet Dante. It is also a busy and modern port with shops, cafes and restaurants just a few minutes walk from the centre of the city.

Ravenna (Italy)

Rome

This busy port is a hub for travel throughout the Mediterranean and has direct rail connections to Rome. In Civitavecchia itself, there is a seafront promenade and beach, a long modern pier and the Archaeological Park of Terme Taurine, where there are Roman baths built by Emperor Hadrian around hot sulphur springs. The town has a good choice of seafood restaurants, and a few kilometers down the coast is the important 9th-century castle of Santa Severa, built on the ancient site of Pyrgi.

Rome (Civitavecchia, Italy)

Saint Tropez

The port of St Tropez is in the heart of this sophisticated town, which is a by-word for glitz and glamour and a paradise for shopping and people-watching. Historically, St Tropez was a military stronghold and a small fishing village ' some of its old charm remains in narrow lanes and the Provencal market, the citadel and castle. There is a scenic coastal path leading to small beaches and ancient ruins.

Saint Tropez (France)

Salerno

Salerno is situated at the northern-most end of the Amalfi coast. A short distance from the busy port is a long and picturesque seafront promenade shaded by palm trees, and the town has many palaces including the Baroque Palazzo Morese. Opposite is the fine Cathedral which contains the elaborately decorated crypt of St Matthew. Salerno is often visited as a gateway to the Amalfi coastal villages and the ancient sites of Paestum and Pompeii.

Salerno (Italy)

Santa Cruz

La Palma is a mountainous and scenic island with an impressive volcanic crater, Caldera de Taburiente, and black volcanic sand beaches. The pretty town of Santa Cruz is the capital and main port, famous for its wooden balconies, cobbled streets, ancient buildings and the replica of Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria, which houses the Maritime Museum.

Santa Cruz (La Palma, Canary Islands)

Santa Cruz de La Palma

This is one of the prettiest towns in the Canary Islands and the capital of La Palma. It's a short walk from the port to the colonial centre, where 16th-century buildings close to Avenida Puente are decorated with brightly-painted balconies. In the palm-shaded Plaza Espana is the lovely Iglesia del Salvador and restaurants and shops line Calle O'Dally. Tall ships often call at the harbour, where the Maritime Museum is housed in a reconstruction of Columbus's ship the Santa Maria.

Santa Cruz de La Palma (Spain)

Sevilla

The city of Seville on the Guadalquivir River can be reached by river cruise ships. Passengers aboard larger sea-going vessels can visit Seville from the ports of Sanlucar de Barrameda or Cadiz. Dating back 2000 years, its architecture spans Moorish, Mudejar and Gothic periods. Tapas bars and restaurants are spread across this very attractive city, and sights include the magnificent cathedral, the nearby 9th-century Alcazar and

Sevilla (Spain)

Sorrento

Sorrento lies on a peninsula on the south side of the Bay of Naples, and is the gateway to the picturesque Amalfi Coast, the islands of Ischia and Capri, and the ancient sites of Pompeii and Paestum. Sorrento itself has an unhurried charm, with cafes serving the local tipple, Limoncello in Piazza Tasso. Worth a visit are the Baroque Church del Carmine, the 18th-century villa, Palazzo Correa, and Museo Bottega, which has frescoed vaults and antiquities on display.

Sorrento (Italy)

Taormina

The port for Taormina is Giardini Naxos, whilst Taormina town sits high above the bay on the flanks of Monte Tauro and can be reached by taxi, shuttle bus or a cable car from Mazzaro Bay. The medieval town has elegant boutiques and restaurants along Corso Umberto, a 13th-century Duomo, Palazzo Corvaja and lush public gardens. The chief sight is the idyllically situated Greek amphitheatre with views of snow-capped Mount Etna.

Taormina (Italy)

Toulon

The Provencal port of Toulon has a long history, and its military harbour, fortifications and shipyard were developed under the direction of Cardinal Richelieu and later, Vauban. The town is known for its elegant fountains, its Provencal market held daily on the Cours Lafayette and the elaborate Toulon Opera House. The old town has narrow streets and small squares, whilst the upper town was built on a grand scale by the same architect who re-built Paris.

Toulon (France)

Trapani

Trapani is the western-most fishing and ferry port on the island of Sicily, and was founded in 260BC. It is renowned for its seafood and traditional Sicilian cuisine and although many of the old buildings were destroyed during World War II, some fine palaces survive along the Corso Vittorio Emanuel. The Chieasa del Purgatorio houses the Misteri, the sculptures carried through the town during its famous Good Friday procession, and there are several interesting churches including the Sanctuary of Annunziata.

Trapani (Sicily)

Trieste

The busy port of Trieste is not far from the city centre and the large and grand Piazza Unita d'Italia. Trieste has many neo-classical buildings and old palaces, the famous pastry and chocolate shop, La Bomboniera and the historic Caffe San Marco, once frequented by James Joyce. Roman remains in Trieste include the Arch of Riccardo, the Basilica Forense and an amphitheatre.

Trieste (Italy)

Valencia

This lively city's port is 4 kilometres from the city, which has both ancient and contemporary landmarks. Worth visiting is the area of El Barrio del Carmen, where there is stunning Roman and Arab architecture and the old city gate of Torres de Serrano. The 15th-century Llotja de la Seda is a World Heritage Site and former silk trading centre with an elegant Hall of Columns. To capture Valencia's contemporary flavour, see the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences museum. The cathedral has works by Goya.

Valencia (Spain)

Valletta

Arriving in Valletta, the site of its magnificent Grand Harbour is memorable. The old warehouses of the harbour area now contain a string of elegant restaurants and bars. Uphill is the impressive City Gate, leafy squares and some fine buildings including St John's Cathedral which displays a painting by Caravaggio. Traffic-free Republic Street is the main shopping area, and from the ramparts of Hastings Gardens there are wonderful sea views and a caf'.

Valletta (Malta)

Vigo

Ships visiting Vigo dock in the centre of the city adjacent to the palm-lined Avenida del Castillo. The old quarter is a maze of steep and winding streets where there are several plazas, including Pedra Square and its market and oyster stall. The Rua Real runs up from the port and is the main street, bordered by old fishermen's houses. Vigo has good beaches ' the Playa de Samil and the quieter bays of Santa Baia and Carril.

Vigo (Spain)

Villefranche

Villefranche is regarded as one of the most picturesque harbours on the Cote d'Azur, and its charming town is built on a wooded hillside. The artist Jean Cocteau decorated the 14th-century Chapelle St Pierre des Pecheurs with colourful scenes of gypsies and fishergirls. Cruise ships anchor in the bay for excursions to Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo.

Villefranche (Nice/Monaco, France)