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Setting sail from 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.
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’.
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.
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.
We never fail to be moved when we see the terracotta roofs and honey-golden walls of Dubrovnik, and a stroll around the perfectly preserved old town is a highlight of any visit to the Dalmatian coast. Make sure you take the time to walk around the walls and soak up the marvellous sea views.
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.
Croatia’s second city enjoys a dramatic setting, hugging a sweeping bay against a backdrop of sheer grey mountains. Split's labyrinthine old town is contained within the remarkable Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and spills out onto the buzzing seafront Riva promenade.
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’.
Corfu, known as Kerkyra in Greek, is a beautiful island of verdant hills and rocky coves, and away from the more crowded resorts it remains a sleepy and idyllic place. Don’t miss the picturesque Venetian architecture of Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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 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.
Arriving in 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. As the saying goes, the city wasn't built in a day, and if you want to make the most of Rome you'll need to spend at least a couple of nights here. 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 Via Appia - this ancient Roman road is now part of a national park, and closed to car traffic on Sundays. Take a picnic, stroll, and visit the extraordinary catacombs.
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
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.
Extend your stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels but we particularly love the Campo de’ Fiori, for its great location in the centre of everything.
Beat the queues
Get a private guide to help you jump the queues into the Vatican who can whizz you through the galleries to see the essentials and ensure your best view of the Sistine Chapel.