12 Top Cruise Ports in Italy: A Mediterranean Journey

cruise ports in Italy

Cruise ports in Italy, nestled along the country’s extensive Mediterranean coastline, serve as gateways to this European gem’s stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

This article lists the 12 top cruise ports in Italy and details what each offers to tourists embarking on a cruise.

1. Civitavecchia Cruise Port

port of Civitavecchia

The Civitavecchia port (website) is a vital hub for anyone setting sail on a Mediterranean cruise. Known as Rome’s cruise port, this hub is more than just a stopping point; it’s a destination enriched with cultural landmarks.

Among them is Fort Michelangelo, a notable sight you’ll encounter upon arriving at the Port of Civitavecchia.

Transportation Services

  • Complimentary Port Shuttles: Many tourists use the free shuttle service to get from the ship’s pier to the port entrance.
  • Railway Station Connectivity: Civitavecchia station, a mere 800 meters from the port, offers regular train services to Rome.
  • Bus and Taxi Services: Upon exiting the port, local buses and taxis are readily available for further transport needs.

Travel Tips

  • Train Transfers to Rome: An approximately 70 to 90-minute train ride can take you into the heart of Rome with its historic sites.
  • Airport Transfers: If heading to Fiumicino Airport, two train rides are necessary – first to Roma Ostiense and then to the airport.
  • Advance Planning Advised: Careful planning is key when timing transfers between the port, Rome, or the airports.

Discovering Civitavecchia can be a delightful prelude or epilogue to your voyage, provided you’re well-informed and carefully plan your travels.

2. Venice Cruise Port

cruise ship entering Venice

Venice, famed for its intricate waterways and rich history, is a pivotal hub for Mediterranean cruises. Although the historic Port of Venice, in Italian Stazione Marittima (website), no longer accommodates large cruise ships, it remains a gateway for smaller vessels and river boats.

Cruise ships now mainly dock at alternate ports such as Venice-Marghera, Ravenna, and Monfalcone. Passengers typically check in at Stazione Marittima and are then transported to their respective ports.

Public Transportation

A light rail shuttles passengers to Piazzale Roma. From there, a pleasant stroll can lead to the heart of Venice. Buses are available to the mainland but won’t take you directly to Venice’s core.

The “Vaporetto” ferries are a reliable choice for inter-island travel, with the San Basilio terminal near the port.

3. Livorno Cruise Port

port of Livorno

Livorno Cruise Port (website), positioned on Italy’s northwest seaside, serves as an essential maritime hub for Tuscany, offering the perfect launchpad for shore excursions to the region’s renowned cities of Florence, Pisa, and Lucca.

Before you start exploring the Tuscan region upon arriving in Livorno, consider taking time to discover the town. While it may not be a major tourist destination, Livorno offers a charming and enjoyable atmosphere that’s worth experiencing.

For transportation from the port, check if your cruise line provides a shuttle to the town center or to Livorno Central Train Station. If not, a convenient bus service runs from Piazza Giuseppe Micheli to various parts of the city. 

If you want to venture beyond Livorno, use the train services to visit nearby Pisa and Lucca. The train to Pisa is particularly convenient, bringing you close to the iconic Leaning Tower and other historical sites. For more detailed travel plans, visit the Trenitalia website for up-to-date schedules and pricing.

As for facilities, Livorno, one of the busiest ports in Italy, also serves as an important ferry terminal, offering sea routes to Corsica, Sardinia, and even Barcelona. The ferry embarkation points are adequately close to where the voyage liners dock.

4. Genoa Cruise Port

Genoa cruise port

Located at the heart of Genoa’s maritime hub, Stazione Maritima (website), one of Italy’s most popular ports, serves as the primary terminal for cruise ships.

Genoa serves as an ideal cruise port for visitors eager to discover the marvels of the Italian Riviera, including the enchanting Cinque Terre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the glamorous Portofino, and the picturesque Santa Margherita.

Conveniently positioned on the Ligurian coast, Genoa offers convenient services to various destinations, including France, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, and notable Italian gems. A terminal near Stazione Maritima makes it easy to reach all these destinations.

Transport Options:

  • Walking: Most of the city’s attractions, including those at the Old Harbor, are within walking distance.
  • Metro: A metro station is conveniently situated near the terminal, connecting passengers to various parts of the city.
  • Bus: Regular bus services run to the commercial center from the terminal.
  • Train: For farther destinations like Milan, the Genova Principe train station can be reached by transport, though it’s a considerable walk from the port.

Local Highlights:

  • Architecture: A stroll through the city would not be complete without witnessing the famed Genoa Cathedral and the modern marvels like the Biosphere and Aquarium.

Pro Tip: Those embarking or debarking from a cruise in Genoa might find it advantageous to include Milan in their itinerary. This vibrant city can serve as an excellent starting or endpoint, easily accessible by train.

5. Naples Cruise Port

aerial view of the port of Naples, Italy

Located in the heart of the vibrant city of Naples, the Porto Napoli, also known as Stazione Maritima (website), is strategically positioned just across from the prominent Piazza del Municipio and the majestic Castel Nuovo.

Just a brief 10-minute stroll is all it takes to immerse oneself in the bustling Naples city center.

Getting Around

  • Metro Access: A metro station is conveniently placed close by, facilitating effortless exploration of the city.
  • Tour Buses: The Naples hop-on-hop-off bus service terminal is within easy reach, offering two distinct itineraries—one spotlighting the city center and another unveiling the scenic coastline.
  • Ferry Services: Departing from the Molo Beverello area, visitors can access ferries and hydrofoils to the picturesque islands of Capri and Ischia, Sorrento, and other noteworthy destinations.

Suggested Read: For a look at what Naples has to offer, read 10 Reasons to Visit Naples, Italy. From pizzerias to Pompeii, this city has it all.

Recommended Excursions

  • Island Excursions: The enchanting Island of Capri is a short hydrofoil ride away. It boasts breathtaking landscapes and exquisite dining options.
  • Amalfi Coast Adventure: For those beginning or concluding their voyage in Naples, a jaunt along the famed Amalfi Coast—with stops in Sorrento, Positano (and its best restaurants), and Amalfi—is a must-do.
  • Pompeii Exploration: A recommended excursion from the port of Napoli, visiting the ancient ruins of Pompeii offers a fascinating glimpse into life before the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

6. Salerno Cruise Port

aerial view of the cruise port of Salerno, Italy

The Salerno Cruise Port is located in Southern Italy and serves as a gateway to the scenic Amalfi Coast. The port is well-equipped for cruise passengers, offering a range of convenient transportation options.

Upon disembarking, passengers can utilize a complimentary shuttle service to the port gate. Given that the port’s layout isn’t conducive to on-foot exploration, this shuttle is a lifesaver for reaching downtown Salerno, roughly 4 km away.

Salerno boasts an efficient metro system that runs parallel to the coast through the city center, making it an ideal place to explore further.

Additionally, Sitabus operates extensive coach services, connecting Salerno to popular destinations like Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento. A 24-hour pass is affordable, but note that buses can be crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Interested in a maritime adventure? The port’s ferry service offers trips along the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, adding a scenic route to your itinerary. For instance, a return ferry trip to the quaint town of Amalfi is modestly priced.

Apart from these services, train travel in Italy can be arranged through the Trenitalia website, with current schedules and fares clearly laid out.

While in Salerno, strolling along the Lungomare Trieste promenade is a must. Rich in history and beauty, the imposing Arechis Castle and Salerno Cathedral are also well worth a visit.

7. Messina Cruise Port

cruise ship leaving the port of Messina

The picturesque port city of Messina (website), located on the northeastern coast of Sicily, is a notable stop for cruise ships navigating the Mediterranean Sea.

With Mount Etna looming in the distance, it serves as an exceptional gateway for travelers keen on exploring Sicily’s rich historical tapestry and natural wonders.

When disembarking at the Messina cruise ship terminal, the vibrant city welcomes you with its array of cultural landmarks. The cathedral (Duomo), boasting an intriguing astronomical clock, and a heap of local museums are some of the city’s highlights that I like to immerse myself in.

Train Service

  • Messina Marittima and Messina Centrale are the two main train stations.
  • Hourly trains to Taormina-Giardini offer scenic rides taking about an hour.
  • For up-to-date schedules and fares, the Trenitalia website is your go-to resource.

Bus Service

  • Buses to Taormina are also an option, though it’s a longer trip (nearly two hours).
  • The central bus station is conveniently positioned next to the Messina Centrale train station.

Exploring Beyond Messina

To fully appreciate Sicily’s beauty, consider joining an excursion to Taormina or Mount Etna, which enhances the experience. Taormina mesmerizes with its hilltop allure, offering breathtaking vistas and the chance to wander through Corso Umberto’s shops.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Mount Etna is a day trip; due to the volcano’s distance, booking an excursion from the cruise ship is preferable.

8. Trieste Cruise Port

Trieste cruise port

The Trieste cruise port, nestled in Italy’s northeastern part of the Adriatic Sea, serves as a key maritime hub. It is recognized as one of Italy’s most pivotal cruise and ferry terminals, catering to both international cruise lines and local ferry services.

Historically, even before its incorporation into Italy during the Austro-Hungarian Empire era, Trieste played a crucial role as a significant port city in the region.

Cruise ships at the Trieste Cruise Port (website) dock in an exceptionally convenient location, adjacent to Trieste’s renowned main square, Piazza Unità d’Italia.

Suggested Read: 20 Famous Italian Piazzas That Will Leave You Breathless

At Trieste’s port, a single pier on the Gulf of Trieste accommodates two cruise ships simultaneously.

Passengers can simply walk along a designated pathway and cross the street to find themselves in the heart of the city, immediately immersed in its rich array of attractions and historical sites.

9. Ancona Cruise Port

view of the port of Ancona

Ancona, located along the Adriatic Sea, is renowned for its picturesque sea views and wealth of historical architecture.

The cruise port of Ancona (website) is strategically located opposite the city’s bustling center, facilitating immediate access for visitors to explore on foot. This makes it an ideal port of call for those arriving by sea.

The Cathedral of Ancona, established in 1189 with its notable lion-flanked doorway, stands as a testament to the city’s art and history. Other significant sites include the Arch of Trajan, an ancient entrance to the harbor, and the architectural marvels of the Lazzaretto and Episcopal Palace.

The city’s convenient bus service provides easy access to local beaches and key viewpoints like the Duomo and Passeto.

Further afield, the historical towns of Urbino, San Marino, and Loreto are accessible, highlighting the region’s cultural and religious heritage.

10. Bari Cruise Port

view of the port of Bari, Italy

Arriving at Bari via Karol Wojtyla Airport, the journey to the terminal is straightforward. Take a taxi or bus to the city center, and then bus number 20 leads directly to the new terminal.

This terminal between Saint Cataldo Quay and Foraneo Quay underscores Bari’s importance as a cruise destination.

The historic city center, a short 20-minute walk from the port, is easily accessible, with plenty of shuttles and taxis available.

Bari’s old town, known for its medieval architecture and lively nightlife, boasts attractions such as the Basilica of San Nicola and the Castello Normanno-Svevo (Norman-Swabian Castle).

The city’s diverse districts highlight Bari’s rich urban tapestry, from the medieval streets of the Old Town to the modern core of Borgo Murattiano with its shopping lanes.

The port is more than a point of transit; it’s a cultural hub, reflecting Bari’s Byzantine, Norman, and Arabic heritage.

11. Palermo Cruise Port

cruise port in Palermo

Palermo, a city teeming with history, is a lively cruise port on Sicily’s northwestern coast. Its proximity to downtown, just a five-minute walk, makes it a convenient entry point for visitors to explore the area directly from the port, which currently accommodates ferries.

Getting Around

Transportation from the port includes the Hop on/off buses, which offer two routes directly from the terminal: the 60-minute Line A and the 50-minute Line B.

Additionally, exploring Palermo on foot or by horse-drawn carriage provides a unique city experience, while the Trenino tourist train offers sightseeing tours starting at the port.

Sights to See

Key attractions in Palermo include the Politeama and Massimo theatres, Piazza Quattro Canti, and the botanical gardens. The Capuchin Catacombs offer a unique, though eerie, experience. Caution is advised near the port area after dark.

Local Tips

Most establishments follow a siesta schedule, closing in the early afternoon and reopening in the evening, Monday to Saturday. Some larger stores may remain open all week, offering extended shopping hours.

12. Cagliari Cruise Port

view of the port of Cagliari

Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, stands out as a cruise port seamlessly blending historical allure with scenic landscapes. Its integration within the city ensures visitors have straightforward access to the center and various amenities.

The port serves as a welcoming entrance to the sunny and temperate city, inviting exploration at any time of the year.

A brief journey from the port, Cagliari’s historic old town awaits. Its geographical layout offers a mix of gentle strolls and more vigorous walks.

A complimentary shuttle bus aids those looking to venture from their cruise ship directly to Piazza Matteotti, a hub near key transport links.

Alongside its historic and architectural sights, Cagliari’s coastlines boast expansive sandy beaches and inviting waters, ideal for leisure or aquatic activities.

Moreover, the city’s culinary scene is a highlight, featuring a fusion of Mediterranean flavors and Sardinian tradition, sure to delight any palate.

Before You Go…

Curious to see where luxury meets history in Italy? Dive into our exploration of the Top 10 Richest Cities in Italy.

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