25 Must Know Foreign Phrases for Your Mediterranean Cruise


Cruising around the Mediterranean is the best way to experience Europe, from its beautiful architecture to its amazing culinary traditions.

You’ll have a much easier time exploring the charming towns of the Mediterranean if you can charm the waiter and ask for directions, so it might be worth learning a few choice phrases. Whether you’ve only just decided where you’re going or you’re already on the ship, our must-know foreign phrase guide has got everything you need to know for your Mediterranean cruise.



French waiters are notorious for being a bit standoffish, but you’ll probably find that attempting your order en français will have them warming to you in no time. Try out these essential phrases.

Bonjour! (Hello)

Greeting someone before you speak to them is considered good manners in France, so be sure to start off any pleasantries with a cheerful bonjour. You can also say bonsoir (good evening) or a casual salut (hi).

S’il Vous Plaît (Please)

Good manners can get you far, so adding a little s’il vous plaît to your croissant order is always a good idea, especially if you’re asking for extra jam. Use the formal ‘vous’ when talking to someone you don’t know well or change to the informal s’il te plaît when talking to friends.

Merçi (Thank you)

Pronounced ‘mer-see’ rather than ‘mercy’, saying thank you in the native language is a great way to show your appreciation, especially when you don’t speak much French. Use liberally, manners cost nothing and they definitely get you better service.

Oui and Non (Yes and No)

It might seem pretty basic, but being able to say yes and no in the native language is always very useful. Whether you’re saying ‘oui, merçi’ to your favourite flavour of macaron or ‘non, merçi’ to goods offered by market stall traders, you’ll be able to make yourself understood.

Parlez-Vous Anglais? (Do you speak English?)

Many French people learn to speak proficient English at school, but it’s always better to ask than assume. A simple ‘parlez-vous anglais?’ is the best way to ask if someone is willing to chat to you in English.

Ou est…? (Where is)

If you’re visiting France, it’s pretty likely you’re going to want to see some of the amazing local sights and tourist attractions. Asking someone ‘Ou est le Louvre?’ can save you hours of confused wandering when you can’t work out how to read your map.

Je Voudrais… (I would like)

Many of your interactions on holiday abroad are likely to be with waiters, shop owners, ticket sellers, and other people you are purchasing things from. Learning to say ‘je voudrais un café, s’il vous plaît’ will help make sure you get that espresso you wanted, even in the most out-of-the-way café bars.


Mallorca - Spain

People will usually be very encouraging and friendly if you try your hand at a few Spanish phrases, so go ahead and use these whenever you’re talking to a local.

Hola! (Hello)

Hola is a pretty friendly greeting that translates as ‘hi!’, so say this to people you know. For a more formal version, buenos días means good morning and buenas tardes good afternoon.

Gracias (Thank you)

Everyone appreciates a word of thanks and it’s even better in your own language. Say ‘gracias’ to everyone who helps you out, whether they’re holding a door or bringing you a coffee.

Por Favor (Please)

Por favor is a great phrase to know for everything from getting an ice cream to asking someone for directions. Even if you don’t speak much Spanish, saying please and thank you is a good way to get started and win some friends in the process.

Sí and No (yes and no)

Being able to say yes and no in the local language is always really useful. Say sí to tapas with your glass of wine in the bar and you’ll never regret it.

¿Habla Inglés? (Do you speak English?)

You should never assume that someone speaks English, although many Spanish people do. Instead, ask ¿habla inglés? and you’ll find most people are willing to help you out by switching to English.

¿Dónde está…? (Where is..)

Whether you’re looking for the beach, the cathedral, or the nearest tapas bar, you’re bound to get the best directions and recommendations from local people. Learn to ask ¿Dónde está…? followed by a few handy nouns and you’ll find it much easier to get around.


Gargnano am Gardasee, Italy

From art to arancini, learning some basic Italian phrases will make it easier to chat to locals and discover the real Italy behind the tourist destinations.

Ciao (hello)

If you know any Italian at all, this is probably the word that you’ve been dying to say. Pronounced ‘chow’, use it to say both hello and goodbye and you’ll soon sound like a local.

Grazie (Thank you)

It’s virtually impossible to visit Italy without spending the majority of your time eating, so this is a word that you’re going to need. Say ‘grazie’ to show your appreciation for the heavenly looking pasta the waiter has just brought you.

Per Favore (Please)

Another essential phrase for making the most of Italy, saying per favore is the best way to make sure that you get service with a smile and maybe a little extra on your slice of pizza al taglio.

Si and No (Yes and no)

Yes and no are always useful phrases to know no matter where you’re travelling and you’ll be very glad of them in Italy when you can say ‘si’ to that offer of pistachio gelato.

Mi Scusi (Excuse me/pardon me)

If you’re visiting Rome or another Italian city, there are guaranteed to be lots of crowds and 15-person-deep queues. Make your way through the bustle by saying ‘mi scusi’ to alert people that you’re trying to pass.

Parla Inglese? (Do you speak English?)

As with many European countries, a lot of Italians speak English, especially in areas with lots of tourists. It’s always best to ask rather than assume, however, so ‘parla inglese?’ is a good phrase to know.


Navagio beach and shipwreck, Zakynthos, Greece

Many Greeks, especially in touristy areas, will speak at least some English, but they very much appreciate it if you can use a few words of Greek. Charm the locals and discover a more authentic Greece with these phrases to get you started.

Yia Sas (hello)

You’ll find that the Greeks as a whole are pretty friendly people, so you’ll soon have made friends with your local shop owner and bartender. Give them a cheerful ‘yia sas’ as you pass, or open with it when you meet someone new.

Efharistó (Thank you)

Usually one of the first things that a friendly local will teach you to say, being able to say thank you is always useful. Say ‘efharistó’ for everything from the waiter bringing you your meal to someone giving you directions to the beach.

Parakaló (Please)

Parakaló can be used to say ‘please’ and also ‘you’re welcome’, so it’s a pretty handy phrase to know if you want your mum to be proud of your manners.

Xérete angliká? (Do you speak English?)

Lots of Greek people do speak English, and many of them very well, but it’s never polite to just presume. Ask ‘xérete angliká?’ before you switch to English and you’re much more likely to get a friendly response.

Boríte na me voithísete? (Could you help me?)

Whether you’re lost among the ruins of Ancient Athens or you can’t work out how much the tomatoes at the market stall cost, asking ‘boríte na me voithísete?’ is the best way to get a helping hand.

Stin iyá su! (Cheers!)

If you’re sharing a round of ouzos with newfound Greek buddies, or a friendly restaurant manager, a shout of ‘stin iyá su!’ will help you fit in like a local.

If you want to try out your newly-learnt phrases on a luxurious Mediterranean cruise, why not book on of Cruise1st’s great deals today? Browse the full collection online, or call our sales team on 0808 2746 777.

25 Must Know Foreign Phrases for Your Mediterranean Cruise
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25 Must Know Foreign Phrases for Your Mediterranean Cruise
Are you planning a trip to the Mediterranean? Take a look at our guide to useful French, Italian, Greek and Spanish phrases to help you holiday in style!

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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