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Guide to the Best Cruise Ports in Italy

Guide to the Best Cruise Ports in Italy

Are you looking for the best cruise ports in Italy? In this guide, we will round up the best cruise ports in Italy, alongside all the relevant information you need to know such as the best things to do in each Italian cruise port and how to get there.

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Any long time reader of the blog will know that I love cruising and perhaps my favorite place to cruise is Italy! It really has something for everyone from history, food and culture to beaches. It is also great if you are cruising with small children as Italians generally love kids and is any easy place to go on a babymoon cruise too.

So without further ado here is our port by port ultimate guide: 

Best Cruise Ports in Italy

Bari Cruise Port

Although Bari might not be as well known as other Italian cities such as Rome and Florence, it is actually the largest city in the region on Puglia, the heel of Italy. It is also a very popular stop on many cruise itineraries especially those on All Italian cruises or those doing a cruises that also take in Montenegro, and the Greek Islands (usually departing from Venice).

Bari Cruise port details: 

One of the things that I love about Bari Cruise post it that Bari is accessible from the Bari Cruise Port by foot.

In fact it is only a short walk from where most cruises dock to get to historic town centre – be warned it can be a bit industrial on arrival however. 

Things to Do Near Bari Cruise Port?

As Bari city is itself walkable from the port, it is quite a popular port to not go on a guided cruise excursion.

The short walk into Bari will take you to the historic centre which has in its centre a beautiful templar Cathedral.

Also the region of Puglia is home to the Slow Food Movement and you will get some absolutely amazing eats in the city.

The region of Puglia is famous for its olive oil and is a must try. Other than that you must try the regional speciality of Orchiette which is a very unique pasta dish that you really only get in Puglia. 

If you want to explore Bari, but would prefer to do an organised excursion I would certainly consider looking into something that takes in a food or culinary aspect such as the Bari Street Food Tour

Shore Excursions from Bari Cruise Port

But if you want to do a shore excursion or head further afield from Bari Cruise port then some things you may wish to consider:

  • Visit the Truli Houses of Alberobello. Alberobello is a beautiful and picturesque town and is a must for any visit to Puglia. Truli Houses are a unique architecture of the Puglia region and a must for any Italy bucket list.
  • Polignano – a beautiful beach town with a famous cave restaurant. 
  • Matera – a beautiful hilltop city that is famed for being the setting for the James Bond Film No Time to Die as the city with Vespa’s grave.

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>For more information on Bari Shore Excursions click here. 

Civitavecchia Cruise Port – the cruise port for Rome 

You will find that many cruises around the Mediterranean will start, finish or at least visit the cruise port of Rome Civitavecchia. However the thing you need to know is that Rome is not a coastal city. Civitavecchia is the closest port to Rome but is not itself ion Rome. 

Whether you are starting, ending or just doing an excursion from Civitavecchia, it is worth pointing out that the port is actually relatively accessible and easy to get. 

While it is a very industrial port, you will have to get a bus to and from the port entrance to the ship, the town of Civitavecchia is very close and the train station (providing you don’t have too much luggage with you) is actually very walkable – and we have done this. 

The port is accessible by foot however there are few attractions in Civitavecchia itself.

Excursions from Civitavecchia Cruise Port

So what are the best excursions to take from Civitavecchia either through your ship or organised separately?

Well the cruise port of Civitavecchia has few attractions that warrant mentioning here. THErefore if you don’t want a ship you will be traveling from Civitavecchia. The main excursions people will take from Civitavecchia is obviously a day trip to Rome.

Rome has some much on offer that I would recommend doing a tour on your own so you can pick exactly what you want to do. While there is a train station in Civitavecchia, the times and frequency can be temperamental so this one may be worth doing through the cruise ship. 

Some highlights of Rome obviously include: 

Just be sure that if you are visiting any religious sites on your excursions that you know what the Italian church dress code is. 

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>For more information on Civitavecchia Shore Excursions click here. 

Genoa Cruise Port 

Genoa Cruise Port - Best Cruise Ports in Italy

Genoa Cruise Port – Best Cruise Ports in Italy

Genoa Cruise port details: 

If you are traveling on a Costa or MSC Cruise you will often find that Genoa is a point of disembarkation and embarkation.

Genoa (or Genova, as it’s also known) is surely one of Italy’s most underrated city destinations. This buzzing port city was one of Europe’s great seafaring superpowers and is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus (and pesto). There’s an embarrassment of riches here, but amazingly it’s relatively tourist-free.

One of the great things about the Genoa Cruise port is that the e port is located near to the redeveloped Old Port Area so is within easy walking distance providing you don’t have too much luggage with you. 

Note: if you have questions about how to pack for cruise travel be sure to check out our cruise packing guides: 

Best Things to Do Near Genoa Cruise Port

If you want to explore the area of Genoa near the port this is completely possible to do on your own. Head first to the redeveloped Old Port area for Genoa’s main tourist attractions, as well as plenty of curiosities.

Walk along the promenade and you’ll come across pirate ships, museums, cafes, and a panoramic lift, but families should make a beeline for the Aquarium. It’s is the biggest in Europe, and it’s got sharks.

Grown-ups might be more interested in exploring Genoa’s architectural and gastronomic highlights. The old town area is a tangle of narrow medieval streets ripe for exploring.

San Lorenzo is the must-see church, and the UNESCO World Heritage site Strade Nuove is comprised of no less than 42 Renaissance and Baroque palaces!

Or if you just want to take a relaxing day by the sea then head to Boccadasse, the fisherman’s village, or catch the train out along the coast to one of the Italian Riviera’s many colourful towns. The famous Cinque Terre is just 1hr 40 minutes on the train.

Best Cruise Excursions from Genoa

However if you want to do something further afield than Genoa old town, you may want to consider booking a cruise excursions or organising your own. 

The best cruise shore excursions from Genoa include:

  • Day Trip to Portofino
  • Day Trip to Cinque Terre (although if your cruise also take in La Spezia this is much closer)

What to Eat in Genoa Cruise Port

The wider region of Liguria is famous for the quality of its olive oil, focaccia, and basil. There’s an Eataly outpost to keep foodies happy.

Written by The Mediterranean Traveller

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>For more information on Genoa Shore Excursions click here. 

La Spezia Cruise Port

La Spezia is the main cruise port for the Cinque Terre Region.

What to do In La Spezia Cruise Port By Greta’s Travels :

La Spezia is quickly becoming one of the most popular cruise ports in Italy, thanks to its strategic location close to Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre is a National Park made up by the five towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore (hence the name Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands”) and is famous for the stunning hike with views over the sea that connects them.

From La Spezia cruise port Cinque Terre is a short 20 minute train away, or if you chose to do an excursion with the cruise boat it will be an even shorter drive.
 
The best thing to do in Cinque Terre in my opinion is the hike along the Sentiero Azzurro. The Sentiero Azzurro and towns are all part of a national park, that you have to pay 8 EUR to access it.
 
The hike is well worth it, with stunning views over the Italian coastline to reward you of your hiking efforts.

What to Do in La Spezia If you Don’t want to Visit Cinque Terre

If you don’t wish to do an excursion to Cinque Terre, you can also visit the beautiful coastal city of La Spezia.
 
When you arrive in La Spezia the harbour is very close to the town centre and you will easily be able to go there for a walk.
 
In a brief 15-20 minutes you will reach Corso Cavour and Via Prione, the two main shopping streets of La Spezia. Here you can wander around, check out some Italian fashion, and fill up on focaccia and gelato.
 
CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>For more information on La Spezia Shore Excursions click here. 

Livorno Cruise Port

Livorno town is reached by a cheap shuttle bus for those not wanting to take an excursion.

Livorno itself is a quaint town with many canals and a decent aquarium for those cruising with toddlers or babies, but most people use Livorno as a jumping off port for other more famous Tuscan cities.

Excursions From Livorno

Fortress in Livorno Italy Cruise Port

Fortress in Livorno Italy Cruise Port

The three main attractions from Livorno are:

  • Florence,
  • Sienna
  • and Pisa

The towns of Lucca and San Gimignano are also accessible from Livorno.  

Most cruise ships will organize cruise excursions to all  tof these places but are also doable by train providing you leave yourself enough time and you have a long enough port day (this differs by cruise so do be sure to check your cruise itinerary).

Florence for me is the biggest draw offering the most rounded experience. Here you can see David, the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio and have some amazing food. 

If it is your first time in Tuscany then Florence would definitely metope pick for a shore excursions. 

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>For more information on Livorno Shore Excursions click here. 

Messina Cruise Port

Messina cruise port, or Terminal Crociere di Messina as it is otherwise known is the biggest cruise port in Sicily.

One of the great things about the Messina cruise port is that it is located very close to town and very easy to do on your own without the need of a shore excursion.

The town itself is very pretty to walk around and has many attractions such as several important churches, a lighthouse and beautiful fountain.

Excursions from Messina Cruise Port

However if you would love to explore Sicily beyond Messina then there are lots of options.

However for me there is one place anyone day tripping from Messina should visit and that is Taormina.

Fans of the White Lotus series will be familiar with Taormina as the setting for season two of the show.

Taormina is a beautiful hillside town with Roman ruins, amazing food – try the local gelato, and local wines. It is really the quaintest Italian town to walk around and is a draw for many celebrities. 

However the other place that is very popular to visit from Messina is the famed Mount Etna. Most tours to Mount Etna will take you up towards the top of the Mountain, allow you to see the Silvestri Craters and take in the stunning views of the island. Some also include a trip to one of the many local vineyards. 

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>For more information on Messina Shore Excursions click here. 

Naples Cruise Port

View of Pompeii

View of Pompeii

Naples Cruise Port is located centrally meaning it is very easy to access the city of Naples itself by foot. There is also a hop on hop off bus stop, located close to the terminal which is another great way to explore the area on your own without the need for a shore excursion. 

Excursions From Naples Cruise Port

Naples is actually one of my favorite Italian Cruise Ports as although Naples is not my favorite city, it is the gateway to so many amazing sites.

Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and of course the island of Capri are all great choices for excursions and can be easily organized through the ship or independently.

And the one thing I love about all of these places is actually how close they are to Naples. In many of the other Italy cruise ports – I am looking at you Rome, there are long coach journeys involved in getting to your destination. Naples by comparison has all the excursions relatively close by. 

However I will note that if you are going to Naples in the summer, and plan to head down to the Amalfi Coast the traffic can be crazy. For this reason you may prefer a ship organised tour. 

And of course after any tour, the only way to finish your day in Naples is with  a proper Neopolitan Pizza – need I say more!

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Click here to view Naples Shore Excursions.

Palermo Cruise Port

Palermo Cruise Port, Italy Cruise Ports

Palermo Cruise Port, Italy Cruise Ports

Palermo is a harbour side city so it’s easy to jump right off your cruise ship and explore on foot.

Any day in Palermo should start at the Cathedral of Palermo which is a fusion of Western, Islamic and Byzantine architecture. Tours of the Cathedral’s tombs, crypts and its roof terraces are available either onsite (€7 per person) or through your ship’s excursion team. When we were in port we opted to look around the main Cathedral, which is free, and then watch the world go by from a neighbouring cafe with gelato in hand.

Alongside the Cathedral the the ornate Palazzo dei Normanni museum, which has a beautiful central courtyard, and Palermo Archaeological Museum are also walkable from the cruise terminal.

Fans of the Godfather films will also not want to miss a tour of Italy’s largest Opera House The Teattro Massimo which was featured in scenes from the third movie.

If you enjoy testing local produce then Palermo also has daily food markets. 

Best Shore Excursions from Palermo Cruise Port?

Most people tend to stick to Palermo based shore excursions when in Palermo cruise port

Written by TinBox Traveller

Venice Cruise Port

View from Cruise Ship leaving Venice Cruise Port

View from Cruise Ship leaving Venice Cruise Port

Venice Cruise port details

Venice is one of the more confusing ports to embark from due to the fact there are several ports and lots of confusing and contradictory information information about curses in Venice – mainly because of the recent cruise ship ban. 

There are actually three difference places in Venice that cruises can dock in which are:

  • Stazzione Marittima
  • San Basilio
  • Riva dei Sette Martiri

Be sure to check exactly which your location your ship leaves from. 

Bacino Della Stazione Marittima in Venice has several piers at the port so find out which you are docked at and leave yourself plenty of time for embarkation. If you are cruising on a large ship this is the most likely embarkation day point. 

The San Basilio port usually has the smaller ships, river cruises and ferries that connect Venice to Croatia 

Riva dei Sette Martiri is where historically ships would dock and it is in walking distance to the St Marks Square but this is not a common embarkation anymore. Today this is used exclusively for yachts instead of cruise ships. 

Venice Airport to Cruise Port

You can get a taxi from Marco Polo Airport to the cruise terminal. It takes around 20 minutes and should cost no more than 40 Euros. The budget option is to take the airport bus. For those willing to splash more cash you can take a water taxi and get a scenic view of Venice. This however is the most costly method at around 100 Euros a trip.

If you are traveling to Venice’s other airport Treviso the best option is likely to be to take th airport bus.

Is the Venice cruise port accessible by foot? 

Venice is a pedestrianized city which means that it is a great city to explore by foot. Otherwise take the vaporetti and tour the city by boat. There really is no need to get a shore excursion around Venice if you don’t want to.

What to do near Venice Cruise Port

Basically, the cruise port is near to everything amazing in Venice. Obviously the most popular tourist sites in Venice are Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge! We also love just taking a Vaporetti around the city or perhaps one not visit one of Venice’s other island such as Murano or Burano. They are so colorful and make for amazing photographs.

What to Eat in Venice Cruise Port

Venice has some amazing food and so many feature regional staples such as rice and seafood!. The regional specialities are risotto, in particularly seafood risottos.

Why not consider taking a food tour to get to know the food better.

If you want coffee and cake, remember in Venice you pay a premium to sit while Venetians opt to stand at the bar.

CRUISEPORTSITALY” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>For more information on shore excursions in Venice click here. 

FAQs about Italy Cruise Ports?

Where do cruises leave from in Italy?

Cruises leave Italy from a variety of places. However the most common ports in Italy for embarkation include:

  • Genoa – for those cruising with MSC
  • Rome Civitavecchia – commonly a embarkation day port for Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
  • Venice – for cruises that visit Italy and the Greek Islands this is a common embarkation point. 

What is your favorite Italian Cruise Port?

Don’t fancy a cruise – check out this 10 day Italian itinerary for land!

 

Francesca

Saturday 6th of April 2019

This is a great guide for cruisers. I wish I had had this when I did my Mediterranean Cruise. Also, totally agree about Naples. You BETTER have pizza.

Harmony, Momma To Go

Saturday 23rd of June 2018

First of all I love Italy - second of all I had no idea there were so many cruise ports! I need a mediteranea cruise in my life!

hilary

Thursday 21st of June 2018

WOW! These photos are amazing and what great information for your fellow cruisers! I've actually never been on a cruise, but have visited a few of these cities. Many others are on my list... #citytripping

Elizabeth (Wander Mum)

Thursday 21st of June 2018

I’m so impressed with all your cruise trips. I’ve never done a cruise, can you believe it? I’ve been to loads of these places in Italy though! It is such a diverse country. I’d never get bored of exploring Italy. Thanks for linking #citytripping

California Globetrotter

Tuesday 19th of June 2018

Seems like doing a cruise and hitting up the best of the best is a great way to explore Italy! Would love to do a Mediterranean cruise one day! #CityTripping