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Ancient theatres, hidden caves & food markets: What to do on an eastern Mediterranean cruise

Eastern Mediterranean cruise vacations take in a wealth of amazing ports across Greece, Turkey and more – here are some highlights you might not know about.

Eastern Mediterranean cruises offer everything from fascinating ancient history to stunning beaches and everything in between.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) offers a selection of Mediterranean cruises 2023 to ensure vacationers can enjoy everything the region has to offer next year. What’s more, they can do so without breaking the bank!

Thanks to NCL’s Cyber Sale, travelers can get 50 percent off all cruises and receive all applicable Free at Sea packages when they upgrade from only £199pp* – that’s premium beverages, speciality dining, excursion discounts, WiFi and third and fourth guests only playing applicable taxes!

You’ll be hitting up some fabulous destinations on NCL’s vacations too. Eastern Mediterranean cruise vacations call at gems in Greece, Turkey, Israel and Cyprus, hitting up countless well-known tourist sites such as the history-packed Greek capital of Athens and Tel Aviv (Haifa) in Israel.

However, NCL also stops at a number of lesser-known hotspots you might not know quite so much about. We’ve taken a look at some of these highlights and what you can enjoy there, whether you’re after culture, nature, entertainment or relaxation.



What to do in Rhodes… for culture

OK, you’re on a Greek island, one thing you won’t be short of on Rhodes is culture. You can’t miss the medieval Old Town surrounded by ancient walls studded with seven gates – the whole thing is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights here are the Street of the Knights, with the Palace of the Grand Master at one end and the Hospital of the Knights (co-housed with the Archaeological Museum) at the other. Think inns where knights of old once made merry, winding cobblestones alleyways and Ottoman and Jewish quarters steeped in history.

What to do in Rhodes… for relaxation

Greek islands are always gorgeous when viewed from out at sea so head on over to the port of Mandraki, by the Old Town, and take a boat trip along the coast – down to Lindos is best thanks to the fabulous beaches; Kallithea Beach, Anthony Quinn Beach, Tsambika and Agathi are the best.

What to do in Rhodes for… entertainment

Wine-making is big in Rhodes – production dates back to the 7th century AD – and vineyards lie on the foothills of Mt Attavyros while wineries are plentiful. Take a trip to one during your eastern Mediterranean cruise to partake in a wine-tasting experience and learn about the indigenous Athiri and Muscat white grapes and the red Mandilaria and Amorgiano.

What to do in Rhodes for… nature

For flora on Greece cruises to Rhodes, head to the Rodini Valley Park which is great for hiking and picnicking amid ponds and plane trees. For fauna there’s the Valley of the Butterflies which, you’d never guess, is chocka with butterflies from June to September as millions of colorful Panaxia butterflies descend to feed on the sap of the Zitia trees and lay their eggs.



What to do in Limassol… for culture

If you have pack in one ancient site during Norwegian Cruise Line’s eastern Mediterranean cruises, do get to Kourion Archaeological Site, one of Cyprus’s most important city-kingdoms in antiquity. The jewel here is the incredible Greco-Roman theatre, built in the 2nd century BC and extended in the 2nd century AD. It’s still used today for open-air musical and theatrical performances! The ‘House of Eustolios’ is another gem boasting 5th-century mosaic floors (the ‘House of Achilles’ and the ‘House of the Gladiators’ also have similarly impressive art underfoot) as are the Roman Agora and public bath.

What to do in Limassol… for relaxation

Take a break from history with a gentle meander down the Limassol Promenade taking in the vistas of the beaches, palms and sea. Peckish? Thirsty? You won’t be for long thanks to the array of restaurants, cafes and English-style pubs plus countless shops – no excuses for not taking home souvenirs here!

What to do in Limassol for… entertainment

Get active with the great array of watersports on offer in Cyprus – the climate means windsurfing is doable year-round. Wakeboarding, surfing and kitesurfing are also popular here, with the best spots Ladys Mile, Curium and Paralimni Beach.

What to do in Limassol… for nature

You know that famous Botticelli painting The Birth of Venus? Naked woman standing in a shell and so on? Well, according to legend, this event – the Greek goddess of love and beauty being escorted to land – happened a mere half an hour’s drive from Limassol near Paphos at the Rock of Aphrodite (or Petra Tou Romiou). Even better? You too can swim in these mystical waters – no promises a giant shell will do the hard work of taking you back to the beach though.



What to do in Kusadasi… for culture

This is your eastern Mediterranean cruise port of call to visit the breathtaking ruins of the Ionian Greek city Ephesus – once the trade centre of the ancient world and a religious centre of early Christianity. The city – founded by the female warrior tribe of the Amazons, according to legend – was home to The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today Ephesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for its well-preserved ruins.

What to do in Kusadasi… for relaxation

Head to the beach to chill out during your Turkey cruise port of call here. Ladies Beach, Long Beach, Silver Sands Beach and Love Beach are your best bets.

What to do in Kusadasi… for entertainment

Kusadasi is home to two waterparks – Adaland and Aqua Fantasy. For thrills tackle such slides as Black Thunder and Kamikaze or if you’d rather take it easy hop into a rubber ring and float around the Lazy River.

What to do in Kusadasi… for nature

Dilek Peninsula National Park, known locally as Milli Park, is located south of Kusadasi. Here you can hit a hiking trail, relax on the beach or go snorkelling. A highlight is the tucked-away Cave of Zeus which offers divine swimming (no pun intended) thanks to the crystal clear and deep mineral waters.

Tel Aviv (Haifa)


What to do in Tel Aviv… for culture

Jerusalem may get more glory on the historical front what with Jesus dying there and all but fellow Israeli city Tel Aviv still has oodles to shout about. Head south along the promenade here to the ancient port city of Jaffa – it’s 4,000 years old – and enjoy a mooch around the narrow streets. Highlights include Old Jaffa Visitors Center (a great place to learn all about Jaffa’s tumultuous history), Jaffa Flea Market, Jaffa Port and the Jaffa Port Market.

What to do in Tel Aviv… for relaxation

You’ll probably be ready for a kip in the sun by this point on your cruise to Israel, so head to Tel Aviv’s famous city beach – it stretches for miles – and get out that book you keep meaning to read.

What to do in Tel Aviv… for entertainment

The food scene is brilliant in Tel Aviv so check out the city’s main street market during your visit on an NCL eastern Mediterranean cruise. You can take a Tel Aviv food tour or wander around alone picking up some tasty eats.

What to do in Tel Aviv… for nature

Try to squeeze in a trip to the Dead Sea if you can – it’s two hours or so drive from Tel Aviv but is well worth the trek. The sea is one of the saltiest lakes in the world and the lowest place on the planet. Where did it get its name? The Dead Sea is so called due to its harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish. As a human though, you simply must get the obligatory photo of you floating while reading a newspaper – the high salinity here means a person’s body weight is higher than the density of the saltwater which increases buoyancy.

Set Sail

Mediterranean: Greece, Turkey, Israel & Cyprus from Athens with NCL

Duration: 9 nights

Where: Athens (Piraeus), Greece | Kusadasi, Turkey | Istanbul, Turkey | Patmos, Greece | Jerusalem (Ashdod), Israel | Tel-Aviv (Haifa), Israel | Limassol, Cyprus | Rhodes, Greece | Athens (Piraeus), Greece

Ship: Norwegian Jade

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Published 12.13.22