Call now 01246 819 819 to book
Show sea days
One of the busiest cruise ports in the Mediterranean, the seaside city of Barcelona is known for its iconic architecture, colourful culture, and world-class drinking and dining.
Explore Antoni Gaudí’s surreal Sagrada Família, the famous boulevard of the Ramblas, the medieval Barri Gótic, and the Museu Picasso. But there’s even more to discover in this sprawling Spanish city, an MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination: from hidden tapas bars and fabulous food markets to Europe’s biggest football stadium.
TUNIS African and Arabic hospitality await you in exotic Tunis, on the coast of North Africa. Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, actually consists of three cities: the modern Capital City of the Tunisian Republic, with its wide streets, skyscrapers and busy sidewalk cafes; the Arabic Medina (Old Town) from the Middle Ages, an exciting labyrinth laden with secrets, narrow alleyways, small shops, huge mosques and palaces and finally Carthage, the ancient Phoenician – Roman city, which lies 18 km from the city
The port of Palermo, a buzzing MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination, is the regional capital of the island of Sicily. This cosmopolitan city is known for its heavenly architecture, serious street food, and outrageously beautiful beaches.
Naples is a large, sprawling Mediterranean port, with a centre that has many different focuses just waiting to be discovered on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion.
No trip to Naples is complete without visiting the area between Piazza Garibaldi and Via Toledo, roughly corresponding to the old Roman Neapolis (much of which is still unexcavated like in many other Italian cities).
The old part of Naples – the centro storico – is formed by the main streets of Via dei Tribunali and Via San Biagio dei Librai (the latter also known as “Spaccanapoli” as it literally splits Naples in two), which still follow the path of the ancient Roman roads. This is much the liveliest and most teeming part of Naples, an open-air kasbah of hawking, yelling humanity that makes up in energy what it lacks in grace. But it’s the city’s most intriguing quarter, and a must-see on any cruise to Naples. The Duomo is a Gothic building from the early thirteenth century (though with a late nineteenth-century neo-Gothic facade) dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Gennaro.
MSC Mediterranean cruises also offer excursions to Pompeii. One of Campania’s most important Roman commercial centres – a moneyed resort for wealthy patricians and a trading town that exported wine and fish – the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 in effect froze the town’s way of life as it stood at the time.
Trips can also be taken to the island of Capri, place of legend, home to the mythical Sirens and a much-eulogized playground of the super-rich in the years since – though now it has settled down to a lucrative existence as a target for day-trippers from the mainland.
Definitely worth a visit, but these days the origins of much of the purple prose may be hard to find.
Genoa is marvellously eclectic, vibrant and full of rough-edged style; it’s a great cruise excursion.
Indeed “La Superba” (The Superb), as it was known at the height of its authority as a Mediterranean superpower, boasts more zest and intrigue than all the surrounding coastal resorts put together.
During a holiday to Genoa you can explore its old town: a dense and fascinating warren of medieval alleyways home to large palazzi built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Genoa’s wealthy mercantile families and now transformed into museums and art galleries. You should seek out the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Renaissance palaces of Via Garibaldi which contain the cream of Genoa’s art collections, as well as furniture and decor from the grandest days of the city’s past, when its ships sailed to all corners of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Acquario di Genova is the city’s pride and joy, parked like a giant ocean liner on the waterfront, with seventy tanks housing sea creatures from all the world’s major habitats, including the world’s biggest reconstruction of a Caribbean coral reef. It’s a great aquarium by any standards, the second largest in Europe by capacity, and boasts a fashionably ecology-conscious slant and excellent background information in Italian and English.
Just 35 km south of Genoa, there’s no denying the appeal of Portofino, tucked into a protected inlet surrounded by lush cypress- and olive-clad slopes. It’s an A-list resort that has been attracting high-flying bankers, celebs and their hangers-on for years, as evidenced by the flotillas of giant yachts usually anchored just outside. It’s a tiny place that is attractive yet somehow off-putting at the same time, with a quota of fancy shops, bars and restaurants for a place twice its size.
A journey through culture and art. With an MSC Cruise you will immerse yourself in one of the most fascinating and historical regions in Italy. Welcome to Sicily: in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by crystal clear waters, this magical and welcoming land preserves traces of ancient civilizations.
With a hike in the Val di Noto, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, you will be able to fully enjoy the sicilian baroque, on the trail of “Commissioner Montalbano”, the famous character created by the author Andrea Camilleri. Passing through Ragusa Ibla, the ancient historical center of Ragusa, with its numerous churches and many buildings of times gone by, continuing to Scicli, where you will be able to admire the Byzantine settlements in the area of Chiafura, to finally arrive in Modica, famous not only for the delicious chocolate of Aztec origin but also for the artistic value of its buildings.
Moving on to Syracuse, you will reach the island of Ortygia, the old town, connected to the mainland by the Umbertino bridge. Here, great civilizations have come and gone: from the Greeks and Phoenicians to the Romans, from the Arabs to the Byzantines, to the Normans and the Aragonese. To experience life in this city to the full you shouldn’t miss a visit to the market: lose yourself among the stalls, where the sellers of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables are all proposing their goods with the typical vanniate, screams/rhymes in the local dialect.
Or take an excursion to the archeological Park of Syracuse. In this site you will be able to admire, among other things, relics of Greco-Roman eras, like the Greek Theatre of the V century BC, where the playwright Aeschylus staged The Women of Aetna in 476 BC; The ear of Dionysus, 23 meter high artificial cave; the Roman Amphitheatre, carved into the rock and among the largest in Sicily; and the Ara of Ierone, the altar that was originally about 198 meters long and over 20 wide.
On the Peloponnese shores stands the little seaside town of Katakolon, Greece, an MSC Mediterranean cruises destination. Situated on a headland overlooking the blue Ionian Sea, this charming location boasts a lighthouse, the Agios Nicolaos Church, and musical instruments museum. A short ride away lies the ancient site of Olympia, the extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Site. 3000 years ago, it hosted Greece’s first Olympic Games in its Panhellenic religious sanctuary.
From 2021, the city of Piraeus, one of the oldest ports in the world, will join the list of ports visited by MSC Mediterranean Cruises. Guests will be introduced to the treasures of Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Piraeus, an MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination, has been the port of Athens since ancient times. It’s a city filled with incredible wonders including Mikrolimano Bay, Agia Triada (Church of the Holy Trinity), and the Archaeological Museum.
Nowadays, Piraeus is a bustling centre with attractive waterfront cafés and restaurants, making it an ideal stop in the Mediterranean. Use it as a stepping stone to see the Acropolis and greater Athens.
Rhodes, a Greek Dodecanese island and MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination, is celebrated for its beautiful beaches, archaeological ruins, and magnificent museums. Its historical Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest medieval city in the European continent!
Sharm el-Sheikh is an Egyptian resort town between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. It’s known for its sheltered sandy beaches, clear waters and coral reefs. Naama Bay, with a palm tree-lined promenade, is filled with bars and restaurants. Ras Muhammad National Park is a major diving destination, with marine life around the Shark and Yolanda reefs and the Thistlegorm wreck.
Port Safaga (Bur Safaga in Arabic), where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, is a village on the Red Sea coast.
The town, whose economy is driven by the nearby phosphate mines, consists of a single windswept avenue running straight on, past concrete boxes with bold signs proclaiming their function.
Silos and cranes identify the port, which runs alongside (but remains out of bounds) for most of this distance. However, inland from Port Safaga, a shore excursion on your MSC Grand Voyages cruise can be the opportunity to discover Luxor and the overwhelming concentration of relics in the area.
A tourist mecca ever since Nile steamers began calling in the nineteenth century, visitors come to view the remains of Thebes, Ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom capital, and its associated sites. The town itself boasts Luxor Temple, a graceful ornament to its waterfront and “downtown”, while a mile or so north is Karnak Temple, a stupendous complex built over 1,300 years. Across the river are the amazing tombs and mortuary temples of the Theban Necropolis, an attraction not to be missed on your holiday in Egypt.
Around 55km south of Suez is the town of Sokhna, whose beaches are popular with Egyptians but attract few foreigners. The town’s name derives from the hot springs (35°C) originating in the Jebel Ataqa.
Jeddah, a Saudi Arabian port city on the Red Sea, is a modern commercial hub and gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina. Resort hotels, beaches and outdoor sculptures line the Corniche, a seafront promenade anchored by the iconic King Fahd’s Fountain. The city’s Al-Balad historic district dates to the 7th century and retains traditional homes built from coral.
Stepping ashore in Oman’s capital Muscat, when your MSC cruise takes you to Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Qatar, means stepping into one of the oldest cities of the Middle East. This is where incense was shipped to Greece and Rome as far back as the 2nd century.
Today it is still possible to find traces of its glorious past in the old centre where, until the latter part of the past century, the gates that separated the various quarters would be closed three hours after dawn. Muttrah, the historic centre of trade and activity of the capital that you will see during the cruise, is one of the most intriguing and well preserved parts of the town centre.
Its commercial vocation is due to its proximity to the large port, where your MSC ship, which is named after its sovereign Qabus, will be waiting for you. Dedicate part of your vacation to Muscat to visit the sites, like the fish market, the Portuguese fort and, above all Muttrah’s Souq, one of cruisers’ favourite destinations.
You can continue along the sea road to the old town of Muscat where, about 200 years ago, the predecessor of the
current head of state, built the Al Alam (the Flag), the palace which was restored in the Seventies and has become the Sultan’s official residence. It is a beautiful example of contemporary Arab architecture situated at the centre of the part of Muscat which is still surrounded by its 17th century walls.
Nearby, in the quarter of Bawshar, you find the Great Mosque of Sultan Qabus. About 6500 devotees gather to pray in the main prayer hall which has a single, huge carpet of about 4200 sq.m., made of one billion and 700 million knots and weighs 21 tons. All the halls, which may be visited also by non-Muslims, are decorated with motifs that celebrate Arab culture.
The United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, offers an intriguing contrast to its freewheeling neighbour Dubai, a little over an hour’s drive down the coast.
Leading attractions on your Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Qatar cruises to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates include the extravagant Emirates Palace hotel and the even more spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque, while the various attractions of Yas Island, home to the vast Ferrari World theme park, lie just down the road.
The blockbuster attraction at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island is a dream excursion for any F1 fans. The “world’s biggest indoor theme park”, it offers a wide range of Ferrari-themed rides and displays which will appeal both to kids and grown-ups, including the chance to drive an F1 simulator or to ride the Formula Rossa roller coaster (the world’s fastest) or to experience race-day acceleration in the G Force “tower of speed” – as well as numerous gentler family-oriented rides.
Dedicated motorsports enthusiasts will also enjoy the big display of classic and contemporary Ferraris
, and the virtual tour of the firm’s famous Maranello factory. Some 15km from central Abu Dhabi, the mighty Sheikh Zayed Mosque dominates all landward approaches to the city, its snowy-white mass of domes and minarets visible for miles around and providing a spectacular symbol of Islamic pride at the entrance to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Completed in 2007, the mosque was commissioned by and named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who lies buried in a modest white marble mausoleum close to the entrance. The mosque is one of the world’s biggest and certainly the most expensive, having taken twelve years to build at a cost of around US$500 million. It’s also unusual in being one of only two mosques in the UAE open to non-Muslims.
A shore excursion on your MSC Emirates and Oman cruise can be the opportunity to discover Bur Dubai, at the heart of the metropolis of Dubai, on the south side of the breezy Creek. It’s the oldest part of Dubai and it offers a fascinating insight into the city’s traditional roots.
This is where you’ll find many of the place’s most interesting Arabian heritage houses, clustered in the beautiful old Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront Shindagha district, as well as the excellent Dubai Museum and the atmospheric Textile Souk.
MSC Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Qatar also offer excursions to the bustling district of Deira: the centre of Dubai’s traditional commercial activity, much of it still conducted in the area’s vibrant array of old-fashioned souks, including the famous gold and spice markets. A few kilometres south of the old city centre, modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers including the glittering Emirates Towers.
Even these, however, are outshone by the massive Downtown Dubai development at the southern end of the strip, centred on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, flanked by further record-breaking attractions including the gargantuan Dubai Mall and spectacular Dubai Fountain.
West of the Sheikh Zayed Road, the sprawling beachside suburb of Jumeirah is the traditional address-of-choice for Dubai’s European expats, its endless swathes of walled villas dotted with half a dozen shopping malls and a smattering of low-key sights. At the southern end of Jumeirah, there are more iconic sights in the sleepy suburb of Umm Suqeim, including the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the extraordinary mock-Arabian Madinat Jumeirah complex and the unforgettable Burj al Arab hotel.
Searching for the latest prices…