Nice cruises are available for day, weekend, and longer vacations from a handful of yacht charter companies based in the marinas south of Villefranche sur Mer and Beaulieu sur Mer. The marinas here (especially the one at Beaulieu sur Mer) are known and respected private marinas with lovely yachts from around the world berthed at them.
The much larger Nice Cruise Port is another place where yachts for charter are based, and some of the companies that offer them will have an office located somewhere along the Promenade des Anglais. These are not inexpensive charters, and you don't just wander up to a captain and negotiate a deal. These are luxury yachts that can be seen in places such as Monte Carlo and Cannes with Hollywood celebrities and powerful billionaires onboard.
If you can't afford to cruise as though you are an Onassis, taking a day to walk around the port and marinas is an excellent excursion. While you're at it, you can enjoy dining in one of the city's finest restaurants with the best views of the port and bay. You can also visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a magnificent seaside palazzo on Mont Boron that is one of the city's museums. It is possible to book a day, sunset, or dinner cruise for a reasonable price if you have a group assembling for special events like a wedding. Be sure to make the arrangements for these Nice cruises and as far in advance as possible, especially if the dates fall during popular festivals or holidays like the Nice Regatta held in July, Carnival held in February, and the Nice Jazz Festival held in July.
In addition to spending a day on a yacht being pampered like the rich and famous, there are cruises from Nice to Italy available, as the Italian Riviera and popular ports of San Remo, Genoa, and Livorno are located only a couple hundred miles away. These cruises from Nice to Italy are almost always on luxury yachts with a full crew, although it is possible to charter bareboat yachts, which are most often available in Marseille and Cannes.
The islands of Corsica (a French island) and Sardinia (Italian) lie in the Mediterranean between Nice and the Italian mainland. There is regularly scheduled ferry service from the Nice Cruise Port to Corsica, and ferry cruises from Nice to Italy are possible from there. The ferry service is affordable even for backpackers staying in hostels. Additionally, there are yacht charters lasting for several days or weeks available to destinations even further afield, including Sicily, North Africa, and the Greek Islands.
By far, the largest numbers of visitors who arrive at the Nice Cruise Port come on large international ocean liners that dock here for a night or two during longer Mediterranean cruises. Some itineraries actually begin or end in Nice, and offer extensions that spend several days in Nice hotels and enjoy tours of the city and region. Many of these Nice cruises are on smaller luxury ships holding only 150 to 550 passengers such as the Windstar and Silversea lines. This is the Riviera, after all, and arriving in style is important.