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Discover the Best of Spain and France on Western Mediterranean Cruises

June 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 176

SPAIN

Barcelona

Barcelona, the capital city of the Catalonia Region, is one of Spain's most visited cities, and an impressive capital to see from the sea. Nestled in a valley, and surrounded by imposing forested hills, Barcelona is spectacle second to none.

Art fans can check out the impressive Picasso Museum in the La Ribera District, which houses the most extensive collection of Picasso artworks in the world. The cubist maestro was not the only one besieged by a Barcelona obsession. This bustling city seems to have attracted the most avant-garde artists, architects and sculptors of our present era, so the centre is brimming with numerous art galleries and museums.

Scale the heights of the Montserrat Mountain for a day out in nature, or explore the nooks and crannies of the old city centre. However you end up spending your day in Barcelona, it will surely be a cruise destination difficult to forget.

Málaga

Oh Málaga... what a treasure you are! Not just the birthplace of Picasso, but also one of the most lively port cities in Spain. The beautifully restored old town centre will keep you entertained for hours, with innumerable shopping, historical ruins and (of course) art galleries; while the recently developed port-side is chock-full with fine dining, drinking and endless gallivanting opportunities.

Many cruise reviews rate Malaga as one of the hidden gems of Western Mediterranean cruises and, should you happen to book a cruise deal starting (or ending) in this port city, make sure you book a few extra nights' stay to really enjoy this effervescent town.

Valencia

The central Spanish port town of Valencia is a contradiction in terms. At once modern, yet frightfully ancient; Valencia boasts evidence of its inherent Muslim background, yet is engrossed in modern Christianity. This is one of those cities which are often regarded as the East-meet-West embodiment of the Mediterranean.

A full day, filled with lots of on-shore activities, requires some stamina! The attractions here are certainly plenty; there are cathedrals and museums to visit, architectural gems to admire and local food to savour. Like anchovy flavoured ice cream which is, incidentally, about as bizarre tasting as it sounds. Bet you won't forget that experience in a hurry!

For a real hassle free day out in Valencia, consider booking a hop-on/hop-off bus ticket for the day, which you can also upgrade to include a walking tour with an English speaking guide.

Mallorca

Just off the shore of southern Spain lies Mallorca, an island which needs little introduction. This popular holiday destination receives millions of tourists every year, half of which hail from Mediterranean cruises. Offering super year-round weather and a wealth of fun and entertainment, this tiny speck on the sea has quite an enviable reputation to maintain!

The northern and eastern sides of the islands boast the most pristine beaches, while the southern end is a mix of rocky cliffs and fertile olive groves and forests. In Mallorca everything is close by, so you can easily spend the morning hiking, and the afternoon sun-worshipping. Take advantage of your on-board activity co-ordinator and plan all your shore excursions before you arrive.

FRANCE

Marseilles

Mediterranean cruise holiday destinations don't come more picturesque than Marseille. The second-oldest city in France is an endless sea of terracotta coloured roofs, innumerable sailing boats and cobbled stone alleyways.

Marseille gifts you the chance to see, breath and feel the very essence of southern France... but with a twist. The cherry on the Marseille cake, would have to be the undisputable Arabic influence which seems to have flowed over the Mediterranean as if caught by a magic ocean rip.

The city's colourful history has morphed it into one of the most multi-cultural towns in Europe.

For the best views around, head up to the Basilique de Notre Dame; or stay close and explore the Old Port (Vieux Port) in depth. This is where Marseille was initially founded and the two nearby fortresses are a clear indication of how important a trading centre this was.

Cannes

The jewel in the French crown, so to speak, is the southern French Riviera hub of Cannes. This most glamorous seaside town is catapulted in world news for a few days every year when it hosts the International Film Festival. Most people think that Cannes simply reverts back to a relaxing, beachy feel after the spotlights are gone, but we do beg to differ.

There's an old-world charm, elegance and affluence in Cannes that is not found anywhere else. This is the prime coastal address in the western Mediterranean, and an on-shore visit is just amazing.

The best way to explore Cannes is on foot, but there is a charming touristy train which scours the streets; a great option if you feel like having a lazy and decadent day. Stretch your legs up and down La Croisette, one of the world's most prestigious promenades.

Visit the Palais de Festivals (where the Film festival is held) and walk up the famous staircase, or visit the Musée de la Castre (Castle Museum) locate high above Cannes, just west of the town centre. The gardens of the museum are lovely, and the views of the harbor just spectacular! Oh yes, let's not forget the collections on show... the museum showcases international indigenous artifacts, including ancient Inca, Tibetan and even Tahitian wares.

Monaco

The independent principality of Monaco is one of those added bonuses we love about Western Mediterranean cruises! The House of the Grimaldi has been ruling this prime coastal address for over 700 years and quite frankly, cannot be blamed for not wanting to give it up.

A quick visit to the royal palace may give you a fairly good idea of the kind of view the family wakes up to in the morning. Luckily for them, however, they are very much beloved by the locals.

A day out in Monaco is heavenly easy to plan, as this city-country is only about 4km long! Designer boutiques line the streets leading to the famous Monte Carlo Casino, and the prestigious Exotic Gardens are also well worth a walk. Nature abounds in this tiny holiday package and one could easily spend the whole day just walking, and admiring the fantastic views.

You could also try your luck at the legendary Monte Carlo Casino, one of the world's most prestigious gambling houses. The fashion-police here is rigid to the max, so come in your most glamorous attire if a sneak-peak inside tickles your fancy.

The Mediterranean coast is undoubtedly varied but totally beautiful and offers something for everyone, whether it's the cosmopolitan cities of Barcelona, Cannes or Palma or the historical Rome, Venice or Pisa. P&O Cruises operate some fantastic Mediterranean cruises from Southampton but be warned, you will be spoilt for choice with regard to which luxurious cruise ship to embark and equally so with the choice of cruise itineraries so be sure to speak to the specialists; Bolsover Cruise Club who will provide you will all the information you require to make your booking.

Source: EzineArticles
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