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Setting sail from Valparaíso
Characterful, colourful and a little chaotic, the port city of Valparaíso enjoys a somewhat awkward setting, scattered across 45 vertiginous hills. Thanks to this difficult topography the city streets are punctuated by steep staircases and funicular elevators, and energetic explorers will be rewarded with wonderful views of the pastel hued buildings that hug the slopes. Valparaíso's most famous former resident was the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and you can visit one of his former residences, La Sebastiana, which now houses a small museum.
Amble through the city, taking the really cheap cable cars when you can to help you up and down the hills!
The busy port of Coquimbo is the gateway to the charming colonial city of La Serena, one of the oldest in Chile, where you’ll find attractive architecture and a fine stretch of beach. Other nearby sights include the fertile Elqui and Limarí Valleys, home to excellent wineries and ancient petroglyphs.
Situated in the far north of Chile, the golden sands of Iquique attract both sunseekers and thrillseekers; surfing and paragliding are particularly popular here thanks to the clear skies and the wind coming in off the Pacific. The city is also home to some charming old mansions, remnants of a 19th century nitrate mining boom.
Peru: General San Martin (Pisco)
Peru: Lima (Callao)
Peru’s underrated capital enjoys a fine setting on the Pacific coast, and the handsome colonial-era buildings surrounding the Plaza de Armas give clues to Lima’s distinguished history; for three centuries this was the capital of the Spanish Americas, when the city grew rich on the back of plundered Inca gold.
Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city and most important commercial centre, and acts as the gateway to the Pacific coast and the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands. It’s a busy, buzzing sort of place, centred around the pleasant riverfront Malecón promenade.
Arriving in Colón
Situated at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, Colón takes its name from Christopher Columbus, known in Spanish as Cristóbal Colón, although it's hard to imagine the famous explorer would find much reason to linger here nowadays. Once a thriving port, the city is now in a state of seemingly terminal decline, its colonial architecture crumbling and the modern city beset by social problems. It's not somewhere you will want to hang around for long, and serves merely as a gateway to the Canal, which will carry you to much nicer places.
The Historical Panama Canal Railway goes from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast – the journey time is about one hour, and the views are amazing.
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, with constant innovations such as the Outdoor Fitness Garden, 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||575 International Staff|
Luxury with a difference: the resort style - with excellent entertainment and facilities, wide range of dining and highly developed on board programme - distinguishes glamorous Crystal from its competitors in the sector.
|Cruising speed||21 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Valparaíso
The 23 room Palacio Astoreca comprises two buildings, including a completely restored national monument.
For contrast, visit clean and orderly Viña del Mar just up the coast.
Stay a little longer in Panama
It’s not in Colón, but if you want to extend your stay we propose Isla Palenque, off the Pacific coast of Panama – tricky to get to, but not to be missed.
Explore the Panamian jungle
Take a canopy tour and swing between great trees, seeing the wildlife as you go. Watch out – it’s not for the faint-hearted!