Faizal Khan has been wonderful to deal with. He is very knowledgeable and has excellent customer services skills. He made the booking process very smooth and managed to get us a competitive deal.
M Lewis / June 2021
I received excellent customer service from both Ryan Duggan and Beth Higson , they went the extra mile to ensure our trip was exactly as we had wished it. Many thanks
Mr Steve McQuade / June 2021
My consultant was Amy Darbyshire and I feel like I won the jackpot. Nothing was too much trouble. Lots of ideas, options, price cues etc The service was incredible. If Amy promised to call or email information it happened. I am incredibly grateful to all the help she gave me and I’ve now booked my dream holiday thanks to her.
Toni / June 2021
Arrive: Sat 04 December 2021 / Depart: Sat 04 December 2021 at 21:00
The elegant central zone of Málaga – a stop-off on your MSC cruise of the Mediterranean – is largely pedestrianized with the focal point, marble-paved Calle Marqués de Larios, lined with fashionable stores, its most elegant thoroughfare. Plaza de la Constitución, Málaga’s main square, hosts a monumental fountain flanked by slender palms and the terraces of numerous cafés and restaurants. Málaga centre has a number of interesting churches and museums, not to mention the birthplace of Picasso and the Museo Picasso Málaga, housing an important collection of works by Málaga’s most famous son. Perched on the hill above the town are the formidable citadels of the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro, magnificent vestiges of the seven centuries that the Moors held sway here. Málaga is also renowned for its fish and seafood, which can be sampled at tapas bars and restaurants throughout the city, as well as at the old fishing villages of El Palo and Pedregalejo, now absorbed into the suburbs, where there’s a seafront paseo lined with some of the best marisquerías and chiringuitos (beachside fish restaurants) in the province. The impressive Alcazaba is the place to make for if you’re joining a shore excursion. Clearly visible from your cruise ship, to the left of its entrance on c/Acazabilla stands the Roman Theatre accidentally discovered in 1951, and – following excavation and restoration – now a venue for various outdoor entertainments. The citadel, too, is Roman in origin, with blocks and columns of marble interspersed among the Moorish brick of the double- and triple-arched gateways. Above the Alcazaba, and connected to it by a long double wall (the coracha), is the Gibralfaro castle. Like the Alcazaba, it has been wonderfully restored and now houses an interesting museum devoted to its history.
Arrive: Sun 05 December 2021 at 09:00 / Depart: Sun 05 December 2021 at 19:00
Cádiz is among the oldest settlements in Spain and one of the country’s principal ports. On an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion, you can visit its old town, built on a peninsula-island, and remaining much as it must have looked in those days, with grand, open squares, sailors’ alleyways and high, turreted houses. Literally crumbling from the effect of the sea air on its soft limestone, it has a tremendous atmosphere – while slightly seedy, definitely in decline, it is nevertheless full of mystique. The Museo de Cádiz, the province’s most important, overlooks the leafy Plaza de Mina and incorporates the archaeological museum on the ground floor with many important finds and artefacts from the city’s lengthy history. Almost irresistible, even if you don’t normally go for High Baroque, is the attraction of the huge and seriously crumbling eighteenth-century Catedral Nueva. Cádiz is one of Spain’s top holiday cruise destinations for its cathedral, too, decorated entirely in stone, with no gold in sight, and in absolutely perfect proportions. On the edge of the Barrio del Populo, the city’s oldest quarter dating from the Middle Ages, lies the “old” or original cathedral, Santa Cruz. This was one of the buildings severely knocked during the English assault on Cádiz in 1596, causing the thirteenth-century church to be substantially rebuilt. A fine Gothic entry portal survived, and inside there’s a magnificent seventeenth-century retablo with sculptures by Martínez Montañés. A first-century-BC Roman theatre has been excavated behind. Much closer to us in time, instead, is the eighteenth-century mansion, Torre Tavira, with the tallest tower in the city, from where there are great views over the rooftops to the sea beyond. In addition, one of the most impressive Baroque buildings in the city, the chapel of the Hospital de las Mujeres, houses a brilliant El Greco painting.
Arrive: Tue 07 December 2021 at 07:00 / Depart: Tue 07 December 2021 at 17:00
As you arrive in Funchal on an MSC cruise, your ship will cast anchor in a bay protected by mountains rising straight up behind the port. The name, Funchal, derives from that of the fennel plant, the funcho still used today in the traditional sweets known as rebuçados de funcho, that one can find anywhere on the island of Madeira. An excursion will take you around the town centre, to visit historic churches, from the A Sé Cathedral, with its inlaid ceiling, to the majestic Church of the Incarnation, to the church of Carmo without a vault. Another MSC excursion will take you up to the village of Monte, from where one can admire a spectacular view of the Funchal bay. You can visit its 18th century church and the tomb of the last Austrian emperor, Charles I, and stroll around the magnificent botanic gardens. But if you like heights, there’s nothing more impressive than the Cabo Girão and its 589 metre tall cliffs, amongst the highest in the world, at the foot of which lie the cultivated lands known as Fajãs do Cabo Girão. If you’re looking for an equipped beach during your MSC cruise, another excursion will take you to Machico. Founded in the 15th century, it hosts the oldest religious building on the island, the Capela dos Milagres, and the fortresses of São João Baptista and Nossa Senhora do Amparo built in the beginning of the 16th century. The more lively tourist attraction is instead in Calheta, on the south-west coast. Splendid yachts cruising across the Atlantic are moored in the port and if you want to go for a swim there are two beautiful beaches of golden sand; in spite of the modern structures Calheta dates back to the mid-15th century. This is where they make the “Aguardente”, the best white rhum, and fundamental ingredient of Madeira’s typical drink, the “Poncha” .
Arrive: Tue 14 December 2021 at 09:00 / Depart: Tue 14 December 2021 at 18:00
High above the enormous bay of Todos os Santos (All Saints), where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, Salvador de Bahia has an electric feel from the moment you arrive. This is the great cultural and historical centre of Brazil, where Afro-Brazilian heritage is strongest and where capoeira, candomblé and samba de roda were created. MSC South America cruises offer excursions to the centro histórico of this magical place, a melange of narrow cobbled streets, peeling purple walls, grand Baroque churches, kids kicking footballs, rastas, locals sipping bottled beer on plastic chairs, the wafting aroma of herbs and the almost constant beating of drums, especially as the sun sets. Beyond the old town Salvador is a vast, sprawling city, with a vibrant beach life, modern skyscrapers and plenty of favelas. The centro histórico is the traditional heart of Salvador; it’s built around the craggy, 70m-high bluff that dominates the eastern side of the bay, and is split into upper and lower sections. Cidade Alta (or simply “Centro”) is strung along its top, linked to the less interesting Cidade Baixa (the old commercial centre, aka “Comércio”) by precipitous streets and the towering Art Deco lift-shaft of the Elevador Lacerda. Cidade Alta is the cultural centre of the city, and the section known as the Pelourinho is the groovy old district with colourful and hilly winding streets, its most vibrant and beguiling neighbourhood. The best spot to begin a walking tour of the city is at the Praça Municipal, the square dominated by the impressive Palácio do Rio Branco, the old governor’s palace which was in use until 1979. The fine interior is a blend of Rococo plasterwork, polished wooden floors and painted walls and ceilings.
Arrive: Thu 16 December 2021 at 08:00 / Depart: Thu 16 December 2021 at 18:00
On a peninsula north of Cabo Frio, Armação dos Búzios, or just Búzios, is an immensely scenic resort full of high-spending beautiful people, and a very popular port of call on holidays to Brazil with MSC Cruises. Armação, the main settlement, is built in a vaguely colonial style, its streets lined with restaurants, bars and chic boutiques, and has been nicknamed “Brazil’s St Tropez”. It comes then as little surprise to find that it was “discovered” by none other than Brigitte Bardot, who stumbled upon it while touring the area in 1964. Búzios consists of three main settlements, Manguinos, Armação and Ossos, each with its own distinct character. Manguinos, on the isthmus, is the main service centre, with a tourist office, a medical centre and banks. Midway along the peninsula, linked to Manguinos by a road lined with brash hotels, is Armação, an attractive village where cars are banned from some of the cobbled roads. Most of Búzio’s best restaurants and boutiques are concentrated here, along with some of the resort’s nicest pousadas, or inns, and there’s also a helpful tourist office on the main square, Praça Santos Dumont. When you step ashore from your MSC cruise, a fifteen-minute walk along the Orla Bardot – which follows the coast from Armação, passing the lovely seventeenth-century Igreja de NossaSenhora de Sant’Ana on the way –, brings you to Ossos, the oldest settlement, comprising a pretty harbour, a quiet beach and a few bars, restaurants and pousadas. Within walking distance of all Búzios’ settlements are beautiful white-sand beaches – 27 in total – cradled between rocky cliffs and promontories, and lapped by crystal-clear waters. The beaches are varied, with the north-facing ones having the calmest and warmest seas, while those facing the south and east have the most surf.
Arrive: Fri 17 December 2021 at 07:00 / Depart: Fri 17 December 2021 at 19:00
As you’ll be able to appreciate when you cruise the Atlantic Ocean with MSC Cruises, in its position on the southern shore of the magnificent Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro has, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most stunning settings in the world. Extending for 20km along an alluvial strip, between an azure sea and forest-clad mountains, the city’s streets and buildings have been moulded around the foothills of the mountain range that provides its backdrop, while out in the bay there are many rocky islands fringed with white sand. The aerial views over Rio are breathtaking, and even the concrete skyscrapers that dominate the city’s skyline add to the attraction. As the former capital of Brazil and now its second-largest city, Rio has a remarkable architectural heritage, some of the country’s best museums and galleries, superb restaurants and a vibrant nightlife – in addition to its legendary beaches. A shore excursion on your MSC South America cruise can be the opportunity to visit the Pão de Açúcar. The Sugar Loaf Mountain rises where Guanabara Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its name may simply reflect a resemblance to the moulded loaves in which sugar was once commonly sold. Alternatively, it may be a corruption of the indigenous Tamoya word Pau-nh-Açuquá, meaning “high, pointed or isolated hill”. On the top of Corcoavado Mountain instead the Art Deco statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), arms outstretched in welcome, stands 30m high and weighs over 1000 tonnes. It was supposed to be completed for Brazil’s centenary independence celebrations in 1922, but wasn’t actually finished until 1931. In clear weather, fear no anticlimax: climbing to the statue is a stunning experience, with the whole of Rio and Guanabara Bay laid out before you.
Arrive: Sat 18 December 2021 at 08:00 / Depart: Sat 18 December 2021 at 19:00
Without a shadow of a doubt, Ilhabela is one of the most beautiful spots on the Brazilian coast between Santos and Rio. When you step ashore from your MSC cruise ship you’ll feel surrounded by nature. Of volcanic origin, the island’s startling mountainous scenery rises to 1370m and is covered in dense tropical foliage. With 83 percent of the island protected within the boundaries of the Parque Estadual de Ilhabela, the dozens of waterfalls, beautiful beaches and azure seas have contributed to the island’s popularity. Old or new, most of the buildings are in simple Portuguese-colonial styles – as far removed from brash Guarujá as you can get. The island is a haunt of São Paulo’s rich who maintain large and discreetly located homes on the coast, many of which have mooring facilities for luxury yachts or helicopter landing-pads. Almost all of the island’s 30,000 inhabitants live along the sheltered western shore, with the small village of Vila Ilhabela (often referred to as “Centro”) serving as the main population centre. On an MSC South America cruise excursion you can visit Vila Ilhabela, which has a few pretty colonial buildings, dominated by the Igreja Matriz, a little church completed in 1806. Situated on a hill, the white-and-blue wedding cake-like building has a Spanish-marble floor and provides both a cool retreat from the sun and a good view over the area. Following the coastal road south from Vila Ilhabela along the mainland-facing shore, the beaches are small, but pleasant enough, the calm waters are popular with windsurfers, and bars and restaurants dot the roadside as far as Perequê, the island’s second-biggest town, about halfway south along the island and the location of the port. There are more attractive beaches on the further-flung coasts of the island, most of which can be reached by schooner and/or jeep.
Arrive: Sun 19 December 2021 at 07:00 / Depart: Sun 19 December 2021
Santos, one of Portugal’s first New World settlements, was founded in 1535. Today your MSC ship will be docking in Latin America’s largest port, through which passes a large proportion of the world’s coffee, sugar and oranges. The city stands partly on São Vicente island, its docking facilities and old town facing landwards, with ships approaching by a narrow, but deep, channel. Its compact centre retains a certain charm that’s massively popular with local tourists, and there is a good deal of historical and maritime interest around the city. On an MSC South America cruise excursion to the city centre you’ll find the ruins of some of Santos’s most distinguished buildings along Rua do Comércio. Although sometimes only the facades remain, some of the nineteenth-century former merchants’ houses that line the street are gradually being restored, the elaborate tiling and wrought-iron balconies offering a hint of the old town’s lost grandeur. MSC South America cruises also offer excursions to the local Santos Futebol Clube. It’s best known as the club for which the great Pelé played for most of his professional life (from 1956 to 1974); their stadium, the Vila Belmiro, is open to the public when there’s no game on. In addition to honouring Pelé at the club’s small museum, you can take an hour-long guided tour including the players’ bar and dressing rooms. Santos’s beaches are across town from Centro on the south side of the island. The beaches are huge, stretching around the Atlantic-facing Baía de Santos, and popular in summer.
M Lewis / June 2021
Mr Steve McQuade / June 2021
Toni / June 2021
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