Med cruis­ing:

What's hot this year in Europe's play­ground

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The pop­u­lar­ity of Mediter­ranean cruis­ing shows no sign of slow­ing down, with a host of new ports, ex­cur­sions and itin­er­ar­ies. Jo Austin goes in search of the best in the Med

If my wor­ries about sea­sick­ness are ever go­ing to be put to at bed then this is surely the mo­ment. My evening de­par­ture from Pi­raeus, out­side Athens, on­board the five-star Ha­pag-Lloyd

Europa 2 is so seam­less that it is not un­til the early hours that I notice the open sea out of my win­dow and re­alise we are on the move.

This is a ship built for the ut­most com­fort and on my is­land-hop­ping Mediter­ranean jour­ney to Palermo my only bumpy ride is on the ship’s rib, when I am in­vited to cir­cum­nav­i­gate the ship to get a fish-eye view from be­low her bows. I am glad I have left my cam­era be­hind!

Af­ter an al­fresco break­fast in the Yacht Club Restau­rant I take a look at the “Pro­gramme of the Day” that has been slipped un­der my cabin door and choose a shore ex­cur­sion on the pic­ture-post­card is­land of San­torini.

One of Greece’s most stun­ning is­lands is eas­ily reached via a sim­ple boat ride.

Look­ing down from the cliff-top into the caldera in the crys­tal wa­ters of the Adri­atic, I am re­minded that

San­torini is still an ac­tive vol­cano.

I buy my­self an ice cream and a brimmed straw hat and start ex­plor­ing the streets of

Oia, with their white churches and iconic blue domes, which are throng­ing with tourists.

Draw­ing the crowds

Cruis­ing in the Mediter­ranean con­tin­ues to at­tract record num­bers and it re­mains Brits’ favourite cruis­ing des­ti­na­tion with plenty of de­par­tures out of UK ports. While over­crowd­ing in some ports has made a few head­lines, the flip side is that some op­er­a­tors are now mov­ing into new ports – such as Crys­tal’s maiden calls to Menorca, Mo­nop­oli and Galipoli.

Says Andy Harmer, Se­nior Vice-Pres­i­dent of Mem­ber­ship and Di­rec­tor CLIA UK and Ire­land: “Cruise ships are one of the more high-pro­file and easy-to-tar­get flash points

From left: A view of the har­bour of Ko­tor, Mon­tene­gro, Above: A house with flow­ers in Mo­nop­oli, Italy

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