When it comes to places to take a cruise vacation, few places can compare to the Mediterranean region. With its combination of history, culture and beauty, the area has several ports of call that will delight vacationers. There are several destinations that simply should not be missed if time allows. Here are some of the best:

*Venice – One would be hard pressed to find a better view from the deck of a cruise ship than that of sailing into Venice on the Giudecca Canal and seeing the terracotta roofs throughout the city. Venice is equally stunning in the summer or the fall. One of the advantages of the city is that no matter how full of tourists it is, escape is possible through its series of canals that feature several ancient palaces and houses of nobility. Visitors should be sure to make use of the water buses to get away from the tourist areas and really explore the city.

*Naples – Steeped in history, the Bay of Naples features Mount Vesuvius and the City of Pompeii, which was destroyed by the volcano. When visiting this site the tour guides really bring the stories to life. The bay also features several steep cliffs along the coast. Hire a boat to visit the nearby island of Capri, home of the original shorter pants.

*Monte Carlo – Known mostly for its luxury, many first-time visitors will be surprised at the compactness of this port. Be sure to visit the route for the famous Grand Prix race and the Palace in Monaco, which is still the home of the prince but is also open to the public. Find a seat at a street side café and watch the Lamborghinis and Ferraris cruise by and take part in the area’s favorite hobby, people watching. Monte Carlo is where the rich and exotic people of the world come to play. Take the time to visit the inside of the Casino Royale, even if just to take a look around. Being the second smallest country in the world, it can be walked within two hours.

*Santorini - Any picture taken on this beautiful Greek island is postcard worthy. The buildings are white-washed with blue tops, while the churches are white and topped with blue domes. Relax on the black sand beach or attempt to climb the stairs to the top of the city and witness the view off the cliffs and into the sea.

*Athens – Few stops offer more rich history and architecture than does Greece. While there are many sites to visit in Athens, a must see is the Acropolis.

The Mediterranean region has become a favorite for those booking cruise vacations, and there is little wonder why. Beauty, culture and history abound in every location. Each one has its specialty and many of them also have small islands which can be visited. Deciding to visit the region is a no-brainer, but picking which ports to see may be a little more difficult.
Charlotte Fletcher writes on behalf of www.monkey.co.uk, a travel insurance comparison website.