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Discover the culture and colour of Civitavecchia, an MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination. This Italian gem is an enjoyable flight from many European and non-European cities. Celebrated for its 16th-century Michelangelo Fort, ancient Taurine Baths, and marble Vanvitelli fountain, the port is a convenient starting point for visiting Rome, Italy’s regal and romantic capital.
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.
The elegant central zone of Málaga – a stop-off on your MSC cruise of the Mediterranean – is largely pedestrianized with the focal point, marble-paved Calle Marqués de Larios, lined with fashionable stores, its most elegant thoroughfare.
Plaza de la Constitución, Málaga’s main square, hosts a monumental fountain flanked by slender palms and the terraces of numerous cafés and restaurants. Málaga centre has a number of interesting churches and museums, not to mention the birthplace of Picasso and the Museo Picasso Málaga, housing an important collection of works by Málaga’s most famous son.
Perched on the hill above the town are the formidable citadels of the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro, magnificent vestiges of the seven centuries that the Moors held sway here.
Málaga is also renowned for its fish and seafood, which can be sampled at tapas bars and restaurants throughout the city, as well as at the old fishing villages of El Palo and Pedregalejo, now absorbed into the suburbs, where there’s a seafront paseo lined with some of the best marisquerías and chiringuitos (beachside fish restaurants) in the province.
The impressive Alcazaba is the place to make for if you’re joining a shore excursion. Clearly visible from your cruise ship, to the left of its entrance on c/Acazabilla stands the Roman Theatre accidentally discovered in 1951, and – following excavation and restoration – now a venue for various outdoor entertainments.
The citadel, too, is Roman in origin, with blocks and columns of marble interspersed among the Moorish brick of the double- and triple-arched gateways. Above the Alcazaba, and connected to it by a long double wall (the coracha), is the Gibralfaro castle. Like the Alcazaba, it has been wonderfully restored and now houses an interesting museum devoted to its history.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the port capital of Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s seven Canary Islands. The city showcases incredible sights such as the Plaza de Espana, the church of St. Francis of Assisi, and the soaring white wave auditorium, the Auditorio de Tenerife. This quintessential Canary Island’s town is a colourful MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination where you can soak up the sun, dine in style, or take a dip in glittering waters.
Let your MSC cruise take you to north-eastern Brazil’s largest metropolitan area, Recife, a dynamic, sprawling city of over four million with a booming economy and two major ports. The city centre – the three islands of Santo Antônio, Boa Vista and Bairro do Recife – is a compelling mix, once you get used to it (a bit like Rio’s old downtown).
The city centre is completely safe and the regenerated Bairro do Recife area in particular is a real gem, more akin to belle époque Europe than to the rest of Brazil.
Most of its middle class lives in the beachside district of Boa Viagem, a forest of high-rise condos and beach hotels to the south, though it’s not as much of a resort area as Maceió – while shopping malls and businesses have moved out here, it remains a residential area at heart.
Olinda is, quite simply, one of the largest and most beautiful complexes of colonial architecture in Brazil, and is just waiting to be admired on an MSC South America cruise excursion. It’s a maze of cobbled streets, hills crowned with brilliant white churches, pastel-coloured houses, Baroque fountains and graceful plazas.
MSC South America cruises also offer excursions to Igarassu. The second-oldest city in Brazil, 32km north of Recife, was founded by the Portuguese in 1537 on a ridge rising out of a sea of palm trees: the name means “great canoe” in the language of the Tupi Indians, the cry that went up when they first saw the Portuguese galleons.
Though it’s nothing like Olinda, a few relics of its past remain in the historic centre (Sítio Histórico de Igarassu); for example, the modest Igreja dos Santos Cosme e Damião, the oldest church in Brazil, is still there on the ridge (the first church was founded in 1535, but this one dates to the 1590s).
High above the enormous bay of Todos os Santos (All Saints), where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, Salvador de Bahia has an electric feel from the moment you arrive.
This is the great cultural and historical centre of Brazil, where Afro-Brazilian heritage is strongest and where capoeira, candomblé and samba de roda were created.
MSC South America cruises offer excursions to the centro histórico of this magical place, a melange of narrow cobbled streets, peeling purple walls, grand Baroque churches, kids kicking footballs, rastas, locals sipping bottled beer on plastic chairs, the wafting aroma of herbs and the almost constant beating of drums, especially as the sun sets. Beyond the old town Salvador is a vast, sprawling city, with a vibrant beach life, modern skyscrapers and plenty of favelas.
The centro histórico is the traditional heart of Salvador; it’s built around the craggy, 70m-high bluff that dominates the eastern side of the bay, and is split into upper and lower sections. Cidade Alta (or simply “Centro”) is strung along its top, linked to the less interesting Cidade Baixa (the old commercial centre, aka “Comércio”) by precipitous streets and the towering Art Deco lift-shaft of the Elevador Lacerda. Cidade Alta is the cultural centre of the city, and the section known as the Pelourinho is the groovy old district with colourful and hilly winding streets, its most vibrant and beguiling neighbourhood.
The best spot to begin a walking tour of the city is at the Praça Municipal, the square dominated by the impressive Palácio do Rio Branco, the old governor’s palace which was in use until 1979. The fine interior is a blend of Rococo plasterwork, polished wooden floors and painted walls and ceilings.
Ilhéus is a city on the banks of the Cachoeira and Almada Rivers, in the eastern Brazilian state of Bahia. It’s known for its colonial architecture and beaches, including Millionaires Beach in the south, lined with palm trees and food stalls. A Christ statue watches over central Christ Beach. Praia da Avenida beach skirts the center, offering views toward the striking spires of 20th-century St. Sebastian Cathedral.
Home to nine of Brazil’s best beaches.
Stop by in Cabo Frio on your South America cruise holiday to Brazil, and pick up a stylish new outfit for the beach.
Situated on the coast of southern Brazil, the port of Cabo Frio is a recent addition to the cruise destinations offered by MSC Cruises. Offering a classic taste of Brazilian life, Cabo Frio is a place full of history, great shopping facilities – especially beachwear – and truly iconic beaches, full of fashionable sun worshippers.
Originally named Santa Helena de Cabo Frio (‘Cape Cold’) by the Portuguese who founded it in 1615, it owes its name to the chilly submarine currents feeding into the coastal waters from the Antarctic. As a tourist destination, the port is certainly one of the best cruise stopovers you’re likely to find.
Next to a wealth of local history and places of archaeological interest, Cabo Frio is also home to nine of Brazil’s best beaches, of which the seemingly endless Forte Beach (named after its ancient defensive fort) is probably the best known. So you’ll want to look your best, and a trip to pick up a little something in the fashionable boutiques on Gamboa Street (known as the ‘beachwear nirvana’), is a must before you hit the beach.
Then later, after you’ve had a thoroughly delicious lounge about in the sun, topping up your tan in your stylish new beachwear, you can head over to one of the colourful beachfront restaurants to try the local speciality, the thoroughly delicious and widely renowned shrimp pasta.
As you’ll be able to appreciate when you cruise the Atlantic Ocean with MSC Cruises, in its position on the southern shore of the magnificent Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro has, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most stunning settings in the world.
Extending for 20km along an alluvial strip, between an azure sea and forest-clad mountains, the city’s streets and buildings have been moulded around the foothills of the mountain range that provides its backdrop, while out in the bay there are many rocky islands fringed with white sand.
The aerial views over Rio are breathtaking, and even the concrete skyscrapers that dominate the city’s skyline add to the attraction. As the former capital of Brazil and now its second-largest city, Rio has a remarkable architectural heritage, some of the country’s best museums and galleries, superb restaurants and a vibrant nightlife – in addition to its legendary beaches. A shore excursion on your MSC South America cruise can be the opportunity to visit the Pão de Açúcar.
The Sugar Loaf Mountain rises where Guanabara Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its name may simply reflect a resemblance to the moulded loaves in which sugar was once commonly sold. Alternatively, it may be a corruption of the indigenous Tamoya word Pau-nh-Açuquá, meaning “high, pointed or isolated hill”. On the top of Corcoavado Mountain instead the Art Deco statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), arms outstretched in welcome, stands 30m high and weighs over 1000 tonnes. It was supposed to be completed for Brazil’s centenary independence celebrations in 1922, but wasn’t actually finished until 1931.
In clear weather, fear no anticlimax: climbing to the statue is a stunning experience, with the whole of Rio and Guanabara Bay laid out before you.
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