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Setting sail from Venice
Venice is a city like no other, a marble maze of turquoise canals criss-crossed by beautiful bridges, overflowing with palaces, churches and charming little piazzas. No matter how many times you've seen it in photographs, that first glimpse of the Grand Canal will simply take your breath away; it hardly seems credible that such an eye-popping scene could exist outside of a Canaletto painting. Of course Venice is a city that draws big crowds, especially in summer, but don't let this put you off; even the busiest areas are never more than a few steps from a quiet courtyard or a secluded square.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection houses an eclectic assortment of works from the likes of Picasso, Magritte and Jackson Pollock. There is also a lovely garden facing on to the Grand Canal, with a rather rude sculpture of a rider on horseback.
Hvar is the most popular of Croatia’s islands, a ruggedly beautiful place carpeted with lavender fields and dotted with little villages. The island’s capital, Hvar Town, is a charming collection of marble streets arranged around a harbour, and it gets very busy in the summer months.
Kotor sits at the head of a beautiful, fjord-like bay, hemmed in by glowering mountains. The compact, walled old town is Montenegro’s star attraction, a warren of little alleyways and shady squares that is often described as a ‘mini Dubrovnik’.
The volcanic island of Santorini (known officially as Thira) is one of the most spectacularly beautiful in the Mediterranean. The pretty village of Oia, with its whitewashed houses and windmills tumbling down the hillside, is particularly photogenic.
Sun-kissed Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is steeped in history; the medieval heart of Rhodes Town was once home to the crusading Knights of St John, and later fell to the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The hillside village of Lindos, with its pretty whitewashed houses, is another highlight.
Glamorous Mykonos is the most popular of the Cyclades islands, well known as a haunt of the rich and the famous. It’s also the gateway to the nearby island of Delos, home to one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.
Greece: Athens (Piraeus)
Athens is a city awash with historical and cultural significance, but it's much more than an open air museum; this is a dynamic, bustling metropolis, and a place where history is still very much unfolding.
Çanakkale occupies a key strategic location guarding the Dardanelles, at the meeting point of the Aegean and the Sea of Marmara. This region of Turkey is full of historical interest, including the battlefields of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign and the ruins of ancient Troy.
Burgas, situated on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, is more of a jumping-off point than a destination in itself, and it’s a short drive to the lovely old towns of Sozopol and Nessebar. Just outside Burgas there are four lakes that provide an important habitat for migratory birds, and exploring them by kayak is a popular activity.
Constanta, Romania’s largest Black Sea port, is not the most attractive city in the world, but it does have some interesting history; founded by the Greeks over 2,500 years ago, the city was home to the Roman poet Ovid after he was exiled here by the Emperor Augustus in 8 AD. It's also located close to the wildlife-rich Danube Delta, home to pelicans, white-tailed eagles, egrets and more.
Founded by Catherine the Great in 1794, the sunny port of Odessa has a rich and storied history as a cosmopolitan playground for Russian high society, reflected in the city’s gloriously faded neoclassical architecture. Famous sights include the Potemkin Steps, so called after featuring in the classic 1925 film ‘Battleship Potemkin’.
Sochi’s sub-tropical climate and spectacular setting, where the Caucasus mountains meet the Black Sea coast, mean that this has long been a popular summer beach destination, which made it all the more surprising when the city was chosen as the venue for the Winter Olympics in 2014!
The balmy Black Sea port of Batumi is Georgia’s most popular beach resort, and a great introduction to this intriguing country. Significant investment over the last few years has resulted in a glut of eye-catching new buildings, along with a delightfully spruced-up seafront boulevard.
Istanbul is the place where East meets West, where Asia Minor reaches out across the Bosphorus and almost touches Europe, and the city remains a bristling, bustling cultural melting pot, the skyline dotted with magnificent minarets and domes.
Arriving in Athens (Piraeus)
Athens is a city awash with historical and cultural significance. Towering over the city are the gleaming columns of the Parthenon, surely one of the most iconic sights in the whole of Europe. And yet Athens is much more than an open air museum; this is a dynamic, bustling metropolis, and a place where history is still very much unfolding. For all its faults, the Greek capital possesses an energy and an optimism that are manifest in everything from the burgeoning art scene to the restaurants and bars that continue to pop up on a regular basis.
Once you have seen the essentials, explore further afield and you will immediately escape the tourist crowds. Visit Kerameikos cemetery, for example, or Mount Lycabettus.
Your home from home
Crystal have repeatedly been voted the World’s Best cruise line, and Crystal Symphony is certainly a top level classic, not to be missed.
What we love
Crystal Symphony is not a new ship, but you wouldn't know it, since she is subject to an ongoing refurbishment programme, which ensures that the environment is always perfect and the style contemporary. This is, in short, a ship constantly honed to perfection. But ultimately it's all about the unmatchable food and service.
|Crew||566 International Staff|
Luxury with a difference: the resort style - with excellent entertainment and facilities, wide range of dining and highly developed onboard programme - distinguishes glamorous Crystal from its competitors in the sector.
|Cruising speed||21 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite hotel in Venice
The Metropole is an old favourite for its quieter location and lovely lagoon views.
See more of the Veneto
If you’ve time, take the train to Padova and visit the Scrovegni Chapel.
Extend your stay in Athens
At Mundy, we have long been hunting for the perfect Athenian hotel - our favourite so far is the Electra Palace in Plaka.
Excursions from Athens
Delphi is an absolute must – you’ll need a full day though, it’s quite a drive.