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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.
When you disembark from your MSC cruise in Aqaba, you can enjoy its idyllic, sunny setting on the shores of the Red Sea, at the country’s southernmost tip.
From something of a dowdy backwater, in the last decade or so Aqaba has transformed itself into a pleasant, if still under-resourced, leisure destination. Hotels at all grades are springing up in the town as well as at luxury waterfront developments up and down the coast; investment is coming in to improve the city’s infrastructure and facilities. Some of the best diving and snorkellingin theworld is centred on the unspoiled coral reefs that hug the coast just south of the town – an engaging contrast with the nearby desert attractions of Petra and Wadi Rum.
The city centre forms a dense network of streets and alleys clustered just behind the beach road (called the “Corniche”). A shore excursion on your MSC Grand Voyages cruise can also be the opportunity to discover Petra. Tucked away in a remote valley basin in the heart of southern Jordan’s Shara mountains and shielded from the outside world behind an impenetrable barrier of rock, Petra remains wreathed in mystery.
Since a Western adventurer stumbled on the site in 1812, it has fired imaginations, its grandeur and dramatic setting pushing it – like the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal – into the realms of legend. Today, it’s almost as if time has literally drawn a veil over the once-great city, which grew wealthy enough on the caravan trade to challenge the might of Rome: two millennia of wind and rain have blurred the sharp edges of its ornate classical facades and rubbed away at its soft sandstone to expose vivid bands of colour beneath, putting the whole scene into soft focus.
Approximately 200-km southeast of mainland Greece, lies Santorini, a Cyclades Island. This MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination was formed from the remains of a volcanic caldera which is evident in its rugged geology. Santorini is famous for its sheer cliffs, red beach, and whitewashed houses that contrast strikingly against the blue Aegean Sea. The island is also home to ancient archaeological sites, hot spring swimming, and stunning wineries.
During the 18th-century, Mykonos’ maze of tangled lanes would confuse even the most well-travelled pirates. Nowadays pretending to get lost in these winding alleys makes for a day of entertainment! This MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination is known for its romantic Greek Island glamour. See brilliant beaches, turquoise waters, and picturesque whitewashed villages.
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.
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.
Kotor is one of the most atmospheric medieval towns on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast, set against a backdrop of breathtaking mountains. It’s an attractive MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination for those with a love of history and architecture. Glimpse ancient churches, an array of rustic palaces, and a maze of streets and squares. Kotor is also a gateway for other extraordinary Montenegro destinations, such as the stunning town of Perast.
If you are looking for elegance and culture, the ideal destination is Trieste. An MSC Mediterranean Cruise will take you to the old cafés where you can relive the same atmosphere that inspired many writers, among the Art Nouveau and Neoclassical palaces, or along the Grand Canal.
Your MSC Cruise will take you to the “little Vienna on the sea” which is now one of the largest ports in Italy for freight traffic, one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the peninsula. A meeting of peoples, languages and religions that magnify the city’s Central European, Slav and Mediterranean soul.
One of the MSC Excursions will guide you to visit The Castle of Miramare, residence of Maximilian of Hapsburg and Charlotte of Belgium. A desirable palace for its view of the Gulf of Trieste and unique elegance of the furnishings still visible of the apartments, on the spouses’ ground floor and the guests’ first floor. Built between 1856 and 1860, it contains a small castle used by the married couple during the construction works in the magnificent richly scented park that surrounds it.
Another MSC Excursion will take you to visit the Roman amphitheatre at the foot of the Colle di San Giusto, set among the modern buildings of Trieste, a city with an ancient history. Constructed around the end of the 1st century, it was only brought to light in 1938. Interestingly, it once overlooked the sea.
Everything in Trieste faces the sea including Piazza Unità d’Italia, the Piazza Grande, the destination of an MSC Excursion. Strolling along this large rectangle framed on three sides by the city’s most famous buildings and the renowned Caffè degli Specchi, stopping under the column of the Statue of Charles VI and idling in front of the Fountain of the Four Continents, are experiences crowned by the view of the sea on the fourth side.
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