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Setting sail from Marseille
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.
Originally founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC, and later an important Roman town, the pretty port of Antibes has a rich history. The charming old town, surrounded by Vauban’s medieval ramparts, has inspired many artists and writers over the years, including Picasso, Monet and Graham Greene.
Genoa has a legendary seafaring heritage, and was once a powerful maritime republic. However, the city’s most famous son, Christopher Columbus, was spurned by the Genoese elite when he came looking for funds for his expedition, and his discoveries for the Spanish Crown ironically played no small part in Genoa’s downfall.
The colourful facades along Portovenere’s UNESCO-listed harbourfront make this one of the most picturesque villages on the Ligurian coast, and it has often been described as the ‘sixth town’ of the Cinque Terre. Wandering the narrow alleyways is a delight, and it’s worth the climb to the impressive hilltop Castle Doria.
Situated on the northeastern coast of Sardinia, Olbia is a busy port city that serves mostly as a gateway to the beautiful Costa Smeralda. The compact historic centre has some pleasant places to eat, drink and shop if you feel like exploring, or you may prefer to head straight for the beach.
The attractive, oceanfront capital of Corsica was the birthplace of the island’s most famous son, Napoleon Bonaparte. You can find out more about the emperor at his childhood home, the Maison Bonaparte, which is now a museum.
Spain: Palma de Mallorca
Mallorca is renowned for its beaches, ranging from big, bustling resorts to small, secluded coves. The island interior offers ruggedly beautiful scenery and quaint little towns, while the charming capital, Palma, boasts an attractive old quarter dominated by the imposing Gothic cathedral.
Arriving in Barcelona
Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, is one of our favourite ports of call. 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 this most beguiling of cities. Take a stroll along the Ramblas, soak up the wonderful art of Picasso and Miró, or watch Lionel Messi work his mesmerising magic at the Camp Nou. Barcelona is truly a city with something for everyone.
For the ultimate boozy lunch head to Can Paixano, also known as La Xampanyeria, where local residents, office workers and the odd adventurous tourist crowd around the bar and tuck into sandwiches washed down with Cava.
Your home from home
Crystal have repeatedly been voted the World’s Best and Serenity is arguably one of the finest ships at sea.
What we love
Crystal Serenity is Symphony's big sister and, like her, 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.
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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.
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Barcelona
The lovely Hotel Arts on the sea front is perfectly located for a pre- or post-cruise stay, and has great restaurants too.
Take a day trip to the attractive city of Girona, with its fascinating mix of Gothic, Moorish and Modernist architecture, as well as an exceptionally well preserved Jewish Quarter.