Sailing from United Arab Emirates
Setting sail from Dubai
For some Dubai, the most famous of the United Arab Emirates, is the ultimate glamorous holiday destination. Amazing high rise buildings, extensive air-conditioned shopping malls, and extraordinary man-made tourist attractions (such as indoor ski-slopes) abound. Some of the most glitzy and expensive hotels in the world can be found here, so for shopping, sunshine and fun for all the family, this is a great choice. For others, this is a cultural desert as barren as the sands which surround it. But if you search hard you will find the old souk-like centre around Dubai Creek - take a traditional dhow and you will begin to understand the magic of Arabia.
The historic Persian trading centre, the Bastakia Quarter, was a marketplace for pearls and textiles. Even then, this was the home of ‘tax-free', and the area is characterised by Arabian architecture, wind towers, and narrow lanes.
Oman’s capital is low-rise and laid back, a far cry from the towering bling of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Take a stroll along the waterfront Corniche promenade, soak up the sun on one of the excellent beaches, or explore the mosques and forts of the atmospheric old quarter.
Salalah is Oman’s second city, and the capital of the southern Dhofar region. Many visitors are surprised by the pleasant sub-tropical climate, which turns the city into an oasis of lush greenery during the ‘khareef’ (monsoon) season between June and September, and in many ways it’s more reminiscent of Zanzibar than Muscat.
Aqaba is Jordan’s principal beach resort, situated on the Red Sea coast close to the Israeli border. The main attraction in Aqaba itself is the incredible diving, though many visitors will choose to instead use the port as a jumping off point for the 'Rose City' of Petra and the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum.
Eilat is Israel’s southernmost city, a bustling Red Sea resort town that is especially popular with families. Just across the border is the Jordanian port of Aqaba, gateway to Petra and Wadi Rum, while inland from Eilat lies the rugged and rocky Negev Desert.
Egypt: Sharm El-Sheikh
Sharm El-Sheikh is Egypt’s most popular beach resort, situated on the Red Sea coast on the Sinai Peninsula. The wonderfully warm waters of the Ras Mohamed National Park offer fantastic snorkelling and diving, and other nearby attractions include the impressive Byzantine-era St Catherine’s Monastery.
Prepare to be amazed – the thin belt of greenery along the banks of the Nile in Upper Egypt gives Luxor a lush setting for an extraordinary collection of tombs, temple complexes and stone structures that hint at the magnificence of this former Ancient Egyptian capital.
Marmaris is one of Turkey’s biggest beach resorts, with the crowds to match. It’s easy to see why so many are drawn here, with a great location on a mountainous bay, but we’d recommend heading further along the coast in search of quieter beaches and picturesque fishing villages.
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.
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 Dubai
So many to choose from! Our current Mundy preference is Al Qasr at the Madinat Jumeirah.
Private tours from Dubai
Head out into the desert for the lush valley of Wadi Hatta and Hatta Village, then travel by four wheel drive across the dunes.
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.