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Setting sail from Cape Town
This magical multicultural city is the perfect jumping off point to explore Southern Africa, but do make sure you linger a few days to enjoy the buzz of a city where Africa meets a European-style cosmopolitan atmosphere, creating a vibrant melting pot of cultures and religions. With flat-topped Table Mountain soaring above the city, beautiful natural landscapes, and gardens within the city, you never feel far from nature here. Enjoy the waterfront, museums and elegant architecture, then take the time to venture further afield - there is so much within easy reach.
Robben Island is a must, possibly the most well known island-prison in the world. Make sure you book ahead - the ferries leave at specific times and numbers are limited.
Sandwiched between the Namib Desert and the wild Atlantic coast, the geographically isolated town of Lüderitz is notable for its surreal Art Nouveau architecture. Most of these colourful buildings date back to the diamond rush period of the early 20th century, when Namibia was a German colony.
Namibia: Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay is situated on the edge of a tidal lagoon, sheltered from the Atlantic by a long sand spit. This important wetland area is famous for its birdlife, home to one of southern Africa’s largest flamingo colonies, and it’s a short drive to the city of Swakopmund, known for its quirky German colonial architecture.
Saint Helena: Jamestown
Ascension Island: Ascension Island
The remote South Atlantic island of Ascension, accessible only by sea, receives just a handful of tourists each year. Points of interest include the quaint capital, Georgetown, which has a discernibly British feel, and the remarkable man-made cloud forest of Green Mountain.
The busy, dusty streets of Senegal’s capital Dakar are filled with life and colour, noises, smells and local music. The people here are friendly and helpful, so expect a warm welcome – but watch out for the usual hustles and scams of a busy city.
Cape Verde: Porto Novo (Santo Antão)
Santo Antão is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Cape Verde islands, a landscape of spectacular peaks and ridges where houses cling precariously to the steep valley sides. The winding mountain roads, which take you up past banana and sugarcane plantations, are not for the faint of heart, but worth it for the stunning views from the top.
Canary Islands: Santa Cruz de La Palma
The lush volcanic island of La Palma is one of the Canary Islands’ best kept secrets, a place where tourism is still low key and the beautiful scenery is unspoilt by high rise developments. Don’t miss the colourful colonial architecture of the capital, Santa Cruz, reminiscent of the Spanish Caribbean.
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon’s colourful cityscape includes Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums. But for many the best times will be had wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets, with their great local food, wine and music.
Funchal, Madeira’s bustling capital, tumbles down a dramatic hillside towards a beautiful sweeping bay. Highlights include colourful markets, wine lodges and the spectacular cable car ride up to the village of Monte, home of the famous toboggan run.
Canary Islands: Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Situated on Tenerife’s north eastern shore, the island’s capital is a busy port that serves mostly as a gateway to the popular south west coast and the spectacular volcanic landscapes of the island’s interior.
Canary Islands: Arrecife (Lanzarote)
In recent years Lanzarote has begun to shake off its mass market reputation and reinvent itself as a more upmarket destination. The extraordinary volcanic landscapes and the works of local artist César Manrique give the island a unique appearance, and the understated capital, Arrecife, is well worth exploring.
Rebuilt after a terrible earthquake in 1960, Agadir is Morocco’s most popular beach resort, and there is a relaxed European feel that sets it apart from other Moroccan cities. The beachfront promenade is lovely and the waters are clean and clear, making this a popular winter sun destination.
Bustling and modern, fizzing with industry and commerce, Casablanca is often overlooked in favour of Morocco’s better known tourist draws. But then this is part of its appeal: it’s an authentic and unvarnished city, and it’s also home to the spectacular modernist architecture of the Hassan II Mosque.
The crumbling, sun-baked seafront city of Cádiz is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the western world, founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC. Although the city lacks any obvious landmarks, it’s rich in atmosphere, and plays host to one of Spain’s most colourful carnivals.
Málaga boasts plenty of chic restaurants and bars where you can ease into the rhythms of life in southern Spain, before exploring sights including the intriguing, unfinished Gothic cathedral, and a museum devoted to the city's most famous son, Pablo Picasso.
From the warren-like medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic to the fantastical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, from the dizzy heights of Mount Tibidabo to the golden sands of Barceloneta, there’s never a dull moment in Barcelona.
The rumbustious port of Marseille often gets a bad press, but the city has been transformed in recent years, with a host of new cultural attractions. The vibrant Vieux Port remains at the heart of life in Marseille, however, and is the best place to begin your exploration of the city’s many historic sights.
Few ports conjure up images of glitz and movie star glamour quite so readily as Cannes. May is when the glitterati roll into town for the Film Festival, but there’s still plenty to divert you the rest of the year, including the old quarter, Le Suquet, and the dazzling Croisette.
Monaco: Monte Carlo
Renowned for its casino, its Grand Prix and its oligarch-friendly tax policies, Monte Carlo is glamour and hedonism personified, with a price tag to match. This little principality enjoys a lovely setting, the villas and penthouses tumbling down the hillside towards the sweeping blue expanse of the Mediterranean.
Italy: Santa Margherita Ligure
Santa Margherita is Portofino without the bling, a photogenic yet down-to-earth place where yachts bob in the water and elegant hotels overlook the lovely seafront promenade. Relax and enjoy the view, or use the town as a base for exploring the beaches and picturesque towns of the Ligurian coast.
Italy: Florence / Pisa (Livorno)
The faded port town of Livorno serves as a gateway to Tuscany’s star attractions. Wonderful Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, is resplendent with beautiful architecture and unrivalled artistic treasures, while nearby Pisa is of course famous for its precarious Leaning Tower.
Italy: Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world’s great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
The lovely town of Sorrento, draped across rugged cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples, has been charming visitors since the days of the Grand Tour. The Renaissance palaces and many craft shops make Sorrento an attractive destination in its own right, and it’s also a jumping off point for Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
Taormina enjoys a truly spectacular setting on Sicily’s east coast, perched on a mountainside looking out towards the smouldering Mount Etna. The medieval streets are pleasant but often crowded in high season, so we’d recommend getting out and exploring the surrounding countryside.
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.
Greece: Agios Nikolaos
The charming port of Agios Nikolaos, on the north east coast of Crete, offers a beguiling blend of characterful tavernas, lively bars and designer boutiques. The town is centred around little Lake Voulismeni, and nearby attractions include some lovely beaches and the Minoan ruins at Gournia.
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.
The Turkish port of Kusadasi is the gateway to Ephesus, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the Eastern Mediterranean. This was the Roman capital of Asia Minor, and the remains constitute the most complete classical city in Europe.
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.
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
Where to stay in Cape Town
There are some great hotels to choose from, but at Mundy we especially like the Cape Grace on the waterfront.
Extend your stay in South Africa
Take a wine tour to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek for tastings, beautiful countryside and great food.
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.