Welcome to the final leg of the Ultimate World Cruise Itinerary series. This blog post looks at the wish list port destinations nominated by our resident owners aboard MV Narrative for Western Europe. If you are new to the series, you can read our previous posts in the series through the links below:
- Eastern Mediterranean
- North Africa & The Middle East
- Southern Africa & Indian Ocean
- Southeast Asia
- The South Pacific
- North America
- South America
- UK & Ireland
We have reached the final leg of our first circumnavigation, but Storylines continuously circumnavigates the globe, so our residents will always get to vote on new destinations for the next trip around the world. Let's wrap up our first circumnavigation with this Europe travel guide.
Western Europe and the Mediterranean Sea
As you can imagine, there were many requested destinations from our resident owners for Western Europe and the Mediterranean:
- The Netherlands (Holland and Amsterdam)
- Andalusia, Spain
- Southern France (not Nice or Marseille - smaller ports)
- Italy (including Venice)
We will explore the ports, offer Europe trip itinerary ideas for this incredible continent, and suggest a few spots to anchor off islands in the Mediterranean. Bon voyage!
Holland and Amsterdam were requested by our community of residents onboard MV Narrative. Besides Amsterdam, other potential port stops include The Hague and Rotterdam. However, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on the requested iconic city of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is one of those cities that makes it onto many travelers' bucket list destinations. With sustainability at the core of Storylines' resident community and culture, it's no surprise that Amsterdam makes the list. A recent study by British Business Energy ranked Amsterdam as the fifth most eco-friendly city to live and work in the world. A significant contributor to this is the city's world-famous bike culture. As the saying goes, when in Rome, we recommend using one of the ship's bikes for a meandering wander or participating in a guided cycling tour to explore this picturesque city.
Ships dock at the Passenger Terminal located at Piet Heinkade, in the Eastern Docklands. Amsterdam is one of the most popular cities in Europe for cruises, so it could be busy. Hopefully, we can dock for a few nights, as this city requires more than a day's visit. The Netherlands' capital city is known for its beautiful canals, fascinating heritage, narrow houses and world-class museums. Luckily for you, the port is central, and it will only take you approximately 15 minutes to walk to the city center.
Amsterdam must-see attractions:
- Van Gogh Museum: Discover the life and works of this tragically tortured artist at his world-famous museum.
- Anne Frank House: Another national treasure. You must visit Anne's hiding place from the Nazis where she wrote her now world-famous diary The Secret Annex.
- Canal Cruise: Sit back and take in the city while cruising the canals.
- The Rijksmuseum: Learn about the history of Holland and the Dutch people at the National Museum of the Netherlands.
- The Coffee Shops: The "coffee" shops are famous cafes where you can legally purchase and smoke marijuana. When in Rome!
- The Red Light District: No community participation is required here; you can just stroll around and window shop in the world-famous red-light district.
- Oude Kerk: Amsterdam's oldest building and most exemplary architecture. The church is conveniently located in the red light district, so you can readily confess your sins.
- The Begijnhof: A old inner court of beautiful historic buildings dating back to the middle ages.
While Portugal was listed as the destination, we will look specifically at the two main ports, Lisbon Cruise Terminal and Porto Leixões Cruise Terminal, and feature some overland highlights. These two ports offer a great opportunity to do an epic coastal road trip or train journey between ports as the coastline extends between them. The idea is to rendezvous with MV Narrative at the next port.
You can get from Porto Leixões Cruise Terminal to the city center by either subway, bus, taxi or rideshare. Uber is available in Porto. You will love exploring this old city with its rich history of world heritage sites, ancient churches, famous port cellars, cobbled streets and baroque, Gothic and modernist architecture. If, by now, you are a fan of the Hop on Hop off bus tours, guess what? Yes, Porto has one. It will take you to all the main tourist attractions, some of which are listed below.
Porto must-see attractions
- Torre dos Clérigos: You can climb this tower for the best views over Porto.
- Porto Bridge Climb: You can also climb their famous bridge for equally stunning views of the river and the city.
- Crystal Palace Gardens: Beautiful and tranquil manicured gardens looking over the park and towards Porto Bridge.
- Porto Wine Cellars: Go on a Porto wine-tasting tour. Beware, they are not shy with your tastings.
- Porto Cathedral: The most important religious building in the city and a national monument.
- Igreja de São Francisco: Dating back to 1245, this is Porto's most prominent example of Gothic and baroque architecture.
- Foz: Stroll along one of the most beautiful areas in Porto with a promenade and beach that stretches along the river opening to the Atlantic ocean.
- Cais da Ribeira: Another riverfront promenade closer to the city where buskers charm the crowds and the restaurants and taverns in the old arcades are abuzz.
- Marés Swimming Pool: If you require a dip, swim in these stunning rock pools on the Atlantic ocean.
Lisbon is a fantastic city recently named the top city in the world for digital nomads. It also has a modern and impressive port, the Lisbon Passenger Cruise Terminal, which is the work of a renowned local architect, Carrilho da Graça. Completed in 2017, it won the Valmor and Municipal Architecture Award. It should be a welcome visit to Lisbon, Portugal's capital city. Like Porto, you can catch a tuk-tuk into the city center, roughly 3km away. Uber is another option if you prefer to go by car.
There is so much that this incredible city has to offer so we suggest taking your time. You must visit the Palácio Príncipe Real hotel. Dating back to 1877, the former palace has recently transformed into Lisbon's most exclusive and unique hotel. Even if just popping in there for a drink or a meal, it needs to be experienced.
Lisbon has many must-see attractions, including Casa dos Bicos and the labyrinthine sloping streets of Alfama, the 1000-year-old Castelo Sao Jorge castle, and the Torre de Belém tower, which served as part of the city's defenses in the 16th century. If you like history, you must catch the train or arrange a tour to Sintra to visit the National Palace of Pena (pictured) before we head through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Lisbon must-see attractions:
- Lisboa Story Center: A great starting point; before you explore the city, you can take a journey through time to discover the complete history of Lisbon.
- Casa dos Bicos: This historic house is an architectural wonder: nicknamed the House of Spikes. It has an unusual facade of diamond-shaped stones.
- Streets of Alfama: Take a stroll through Lisbon's oldest neighborhood and its narrow, winding cobblestone streets.
- Castelo São Jorge Castle: One of the city's most iconic symbols, the castle sits on the peak of São Jorge hill, offering magnificent views over Lisbon. You can also tour the castle.
- Torre de Belém tower: A UNESCO World Heritage Site; this tower was built in 1520 to defend the city and includes a fascinating tour.
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimos monastery: The monastery is an essential piece of late Portuguese Gothic architecture.
- Museu Calouste Gulbenkian: Houses some of the world's most important private art collections from Ancient Egypt to French impressionism.
- Campo Porqueno: The home of Portuguese bullfighting. Unlike their Spanish neighbors, the Portugese do not kill the bull, making it more enjoyable to watch. The enormous and colorful North African influenced building is worth seeing itself.
- Elevador de Santa Justa: This 19th century industrial age lift transports you up seven floors (45 meters).
- Day Trip to Sintra: Organize a day trip to this picturesque town of ancient ruins, castles, palaces and spectacular scenery.
- Day trip to Praia do Norte, Nazare: If the swell is right, you can watch crazy surfers ride one of the most giant waves in the world.
Casablanca and Morocco were both requested by our resident owners. While they are technically a part of North Africa, it would make sense to visit here before passing through the Strait of Gibraltar. This could also possibly give the benefit of resetting any European Schengen visas residents have, allowing you to extend your stay in EU countries.
Casablanca is a coastal port and Morocco’s largest city, made famous by the classic Humprey Bogart Hollywood film of the same name. Look out for the marvelous Hassan II mosque when approaching Casablanca cruise port, one of the largest manmade ports in the world. The city center is roughly 1km (0.63 miles), so you can easily walk into town. The town streets are steep and paved with cobblestones, so wear appropriate footwear. Alternatively, there is a shuttle bus for 15 euros.
We highly recommend a shore excursion through the desert to Marrakech, an 11th-century city famous for its palaces, desert oasis gardens, and one of the best marketplaces in the world, the Souks of Marrakech. In due respect to Casablanca, Marrakech is much more enjoyable. We suggest organizing a tour from Casablanca to Marrakech.
Casablanca and Morocco must-see attractions:
- Le Cabestan: This high-end restaurant has ocean views and serves up some seriously top-notch Moroccan cuisine.
- Mosque Hassan II: Yes, that impressive-looking mosque you saw on your way into port offers tours on the inside, something most Westerners never do, and the interior is even more extraordinary.
- Old Medina: Visit Old Medina to understand Casablanca pre-French Colonial rule.
- Marrakech: We highly recommend taking a day or multi-day tour to Marrakech.
- Jemaa el-Fnaa Square: This square is the heart of Marrakesh, where you can soak up the culture and taste local delicacies while listening to musicians performing, or even get your fortune told.
- The souks of Marrakech: It can be overwhelming at first with all of your senses activated, but just dive in, get lost and enjoy.
- Horse-drawn carriage ride: Take the ride from Jemaa el-Fnaa to Palm Grove and take in the stunning Moroccan architecture along the way.
After passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, we reach Spain, a prominent stop and one of the most popular countries in the world for tourism. Spain hosted Storylines at CITCA Suncruise 2021 and also our Founders Circle Curated Trip to Andalusia, which the following itinerary is based on.
It’s important to note that innovative ports such Cadiz and Malaga will take precedence for their green initiatives. This means that not only can MV Narrative connect to shore power, but potentially renewable energy sources, which is in line with our sustainable travel goals. Hopefully, by the time we set sail, there will be plentiful green ports around the world, enabling us to be powered by LNG at sea, and renewable energy in some ports.
Cadiz is an ancient port in Southern Spain on the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Conveniently, cruise ships dock in the center of town which can be covered on foot. This ancient medieval island fortress dates back to 1000BC making it one of Europe's oldest cities. Enjoy wandering around the maze of narrow streets and squares as you listen to the flamenco sounds while being introduced to the beautiful Moorish architecture unique to the Andalusian region.
This is an excellent opportunity to do an overland expedition, visiting all the off the beaten track cities that our brand ambassadors experienced and linking back up with the ship at Malaga.
- Cádiz Cathedral Bell Tower: Besides the remarkable architecture, you can climb Cádiz Cathedral Bell Tower for some of the best views over the city.
- Museum of Fine Arts and the Archaeological Museum: Both of these museums are located in the Museo of Cádiz and both are worth visiting.
- Plaza de San Juan de Dios: The beating heart of Cádiz, Plaza de San Juan de Dios buzzes with cafes, tapas bars, and features the beautiful Cádiz City Hall.
- Roman Theater: Incredibly, this theater was lost for centuries and only uncovered in 1890. The theater belonged to Lucius Cornelius Balbus, a personal friend of Julius Caesar.
- Castillo de Santa Catalina: A classic Spanish fortress built on a rocky outcrop looking over the Cádiz Harbor to protect it from invaders from the 17th Century.
- Parque Genovés: This lovely park is a green oasis that sits inside the ancient stone walls of Cádiz. It features immaculately manicured gardens, flower beds and tall Mediterranean palms.
- Peña Folklorica at Perla de Cádiz: Get a taste of the local flamenco culture by heading to this bar next to the Atlantic Ocean and soak up the dancing, clapping and singing of local flamenco talent.
- La Caleta Beach: The beach is located in the historical center of the city and is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Seville is the largest city and capital of Andalusia, situated on the lower reaches of the River Guadalquivir. It is famous for its flamenco dancing, the architecture of Moorish influences, and the world’s biggest Gothic cathedral. Like most of these historic European cities, you are best to head straight to the historic city center and explore on foot from there. Remember to try the Spanish tapas!
Seville must-see attractions:
The historical center: Wander through the maze of narrow streets and terraces and explore several of the main attractions of Seville listed below.
Plaza de España: The largest and most famous square in Seville was created to symbolize peace towards the former colonies. It features 52 benches with Andalusian tiles representing all the Spanish provinces.
Seville Cathedral: One of the largest cathedrals in the world, it was built over the remnants of a Moorish mosque. You can climb the Giralda Tower for a magnificent view over Seville.
Alcazar of Seville: The Alcazar Palace is a must-see attraction that features the most exquisite Moorish architecture and manicured gardens. Due to its popularity and the limited number of visitors, you must book your Alcazar tour tickets in advance.
Torre del Oro: This stunning tower from the 12th Century sits on the Guadalquivir River and once was used for storing gold and a prison. Today, it houses the small Maritime Museum.
Maria Luisa Park: This green oasis is Seville’s most famous and features lush gardens, lakes, and pavilions. A great place to cool down in the summer months.
The Museo del Baile Flamenco: Get a dose of Andalusian culture by watching a one-hour flamenco show at the Museum of Flamenco Dance.
Bodega Santa Cruz: There are so many excellent tapas bars in Seville, but if you head to only one, make it in Bodega. Located in the heart of old town, it is a lively entertainment hotspot.
Córdoba is another incredible city visited by our brand ambassadors. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Make sure you take the time to stroll around and admire the old aesthetic architecture influenced by several cultures. The multicultural heritage and history of Córdoba are extraordinary. The town was an important Roman center and in the 10th century, was the greatest capital city of Europe, surpassing Rome and Paris.
It was also once under Islamic rule in the Middle Ages, as was much of Portugal, Spain, and Southern France. In fact, the main highlight of the city is La Mezquita de Córdoba (the Great Mosque). It still stands from the period of Moorish rule. It is up there with Istanbul’s Blue Mosque as one of the most magnificent Islamic structures worldwide.
- Old town: Walk around the UNESCO historical center and admire the unique blend of Roman, Moorish and Spanish influences and architecture.
- La Mezquita: The Great Mosque is a must-see attraction, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, and is considered one the most important monuments of Moorish Spain. Be sure to walk all the way through to the Patio of Oranges, a serene courtyard of orange trees and palms.
- Iglesia de San Lorenzo: You will spot the tower of this 13th-century church a mile away. It was converted from a mosque and is one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Córdoba.
- Juderia: The Jewish Quarter is one of the most pleasant areas of Cordoba. The narrow cobblestone lanes and whitewashed homes with potted-flowered patios give the area a delightful atmosphere.
- Puente Romano: The Roman Bridge is essential to Córdoba’s UNESCO Heritage. It features distinctly Roman architecture, including 16 arches over the Río Guadalquivir.
- Torre de la Calahorra: At the end of the Roman Bridge is the medieval Calahorra Tower, a former fortress and now Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus. Inside, you can learn about the historical, religious and cultural elements that make up Córdoba’s identity.
- The Alcázar: To further explore Córdoba’s multicultural heritage, head to the Alcázar over the Puente Romano bridge. The site includes Roman and Visigoth ruins, fine examples of Andalusian architecture, ancient Roman mosaics and beautiful Arabian-style gardens.
- Alcázar Viejo district: Every May, the town hosts the Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba where residents compete for the most beautiful patio. For the best experience, wander around the Alcázar Viejo district to view these courtyards that feature colorful potted flowers, flowing fountains, bougainvillea and ornate Moorish architecture.
- Jardín Botánico de Córdoba: This botanical garden in the middle of the city is the perfect nature escape and includes Mediterranean vegetation, beautiful fountains and spacious squares.
- Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba: The museum features the most historic Spanish artifacts in the world; over 30,000 prehistoric, ancient Roman, Iberian and Moorish items.
Granada is another impossibly beautiful village sitting at the foothills of the high mountains of Sierra Nevada. It was the final stop for our brand ambassadors and is also known for its medieval architecture with Moorish influences. The most famous is the Palais Nasrides Del’ Alhambra, which features Moorish-style courtyards, gardens and royal quarters, which should not be missed.
Granada must-see attractions:
- The Alhambra: If you only visit one place in Granada, make it the Alhambra. This large fortress complex is one of the most famous examples of Islamic architecture combined with Spanish Renaissance architecture.
- Generalife: While this former palace of the Nasrid rulers has unique and exquisite architecture to marvel at, the lush, manicured gardens steal the show.
- Palacios Nazaries: Also located inside the Alhambra, take your time to wander around these rooms that are a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.
- Alcazaba: The oldest part of the Alhambra, Alcazbra is the military citadel dating back to the 13th Century. Along with the ancient buildings, it offers the best views over Granada..
- Palace of Charles V: You can also experience Roman influence inside the Palace of Charles V, who commissioned the building to tribute his grandparents who ended Moorish rule.
- Mirador de San Nicolas: to get incredible views looking back at the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountain range as a magnificent backdrop, walk up the 45-minute hike to Mirador de San Nicolas viewpoint.
- Basilica San Juan de Dios: However impressive the exterior of this building, you need to see the gold-coated interior. The sheer wealth on display, if a bit over the top, is extraordinary.
- Albayzin: Wander around the tiny winding streets of this Arab village, full of old buildings and quaint restaurants, cafes and shops.
- Carrera del Darro: Walk along the prettiest street in Granada that winds its way along the Darro River on one side and Renaissance and Moorish buildings on the other.
- Tabernas Desert: Our brand ambassadors were lucky enough to escape to nature in the Tabernas Desert, about a 1.5-hour drive from Granada. It is known as Europe’s wild west and has been the filming location for many films.
Spain volunteer opportunities:
For those looking to give back, Storylines has partnered with Fundación Harena. This local organization supports the elderly community in overcoming loneliness. Even just one hour of your time makes a difference for these people, many of whom are widowed. It doesn’t matter if you do not speak Spanish; that’s where the Google Translate app helps!
The Málaga Cruise Terminal is new and impressive. It has all the amenities you need, including an ATM, an exchange office and free WiFi. It is located a pleasant 15-minute walk from the city center, Calle Puerto de Mar and Plaza de la Constitución. However, if you are keen on some beach time, look out for a lighthouse and walk 200m towards it to find a pleasant sandy beach.
Málaga’s City Sightseeing will take you to all the top attractions. However, most of the city’s main attractions can be reached on foot if you prefer to walk while discovering a new city. Must-see attractions include the cathedral, Gibralfaro Castle, and the Picasso Museum for art lovers.
Málaga must-see attractions:
- Alcazaba: This is where the sightseeing bus may come in handy as the climb to the top to see the ruins of the ancient Moorish fortress is brutal (but well worth it). There is also an insightful military museum, and the views over Malaga are the best you’ll get.
- Roman Theater: Just beyond the walls of Alcazaba is one of the city’s best monuments, the ancient Roman Theater. For a theater that was in use up to the 200s, it’s still in decent condition (pictured)
- Catedral de Malaga: Fans of architecture will love this iconic cathedral, which is so huge it could easily pass for a castle.
- Gibralfaro Castle: This one was built by the Moors for defensive purposes and offers some of the most spectacular views of Málaga.
- Parque de Málaga: Malaga park is unique for its combination of renaissance and baroque sculptures interspersed with sub-tropical trees and plants.
- Casa Natal & Picasso Museum: Head first to Picasso’s birthplace at Plaza de la Merced, where you can see a small collection of his artwork and artifacts from his youth. A few minutes away, you can see a more extensive collection of his artwork at the Picasso Museum.
- Beaches: La Malagueta is the city’s main beach but can get crowded in summer. For more tranquil beaches get a taxi or Uber to Torremolinos, La Misericordia or Los Alamos.
- Golf: For our resident golfers, Costa del Sol offers world-class golf courses. We recommend heading to Parador de Málaga, one of the oldest courses in Spain.
- Caminito del Rey: About an hour’s drive inland from Malaga is an excellent walk our brand ambassadors were lucky enough to partake in. The boardwalk is attached to the sides of cliffs, offering spectacular scenery through the gorge.
Due to Storylines’ brand ambassadors curating our experiences here in Andalusia Spain, MV Narrative will likely stay in the region long enough to allow our residents to visit all these unique places including the inland destinations.
Ronda, about a 1.5-hour drive west of Malaga, is one of the most beautiful villages in Andalusia. The 15th-century village is set atop a deep gorge with a gorgeous sandstone bridge, Puente Nuevo, connecting the old town to the new over the 100m deep El Tajo Canyon. Just wander around this picturesque village, admire the magnificent panoramas and attempt to capture its grandeur in photos.
Ronda must-see attractions:
- Ronda Arena: Ronda is famous for being the birthplace of bullfighting, and the Ronda Arena is one of the oldest in Spain, dating back to 1785.
- Ronda Viewpoint: Head here to scare yourself on the footbridge and get spectacular views of the valley below and the perched village of Ronda.
- Mondragon Palace: Built in 1314, this palace’s mix of Moorish and Renaissance architecture and is now the Ronda Municipal Museum.
- St Mary Major Church: Architecture lovers should visit this church to admire the Renaissance and Gothic styles that took over 200 years to complete.
- Puerta de Almocabar: This ancient former city gate and high walls were built during the Islamic period and made Ronda one of the most impenetrable cities of Andalusia.
- The Bandit Museum: Learn about the history of the region’s most famous bandits.
- La Casa del Rey Moro: Stroll around the magnificent terraced gardens that feature beautifully manicured gardens, fountains, and canals down the side of the cliff.
- Arab Baths: Dating back to the 13th century, this ancient Roman bath style still has the hydraulic heating system intact.
- Chinchilla Bodegas and the Descalzos Viejos Bodegas wineries: Head to these small bodegas hidden in nature, offering wine tastings of increasingly appreciated wines nationally and internationally.
Southern France (smaller ports)
After cruising through the Strait of Gibraltar, visiting Southern Spain and over the Alboran Sea, we head up the Balearic Sea and to southern France. Could easily drop anchor in a secluded bay of Ibiza along the way.
Smaller ports in the south of France were requested (specifically "not Marseille or Nice"). Thus, we have extensive research on a more minor yet significant route through this region. Smaller ports generally don't take larger passenger ships. But the beauty of MV Narrative is our onboard waters-edge marina, so we can drop anchor in a beautiful bay or beach and swim, paddle, or jetski from the ship. Additionally, our zodiacs can take you deep into national park waters such as the incredible Calanques, pictured above.
Once a humble fishing village, Saint Tropez has become a playground for the rich and famous. After director Roger Vadim's movie And God Created Women starring Bridget Bardot was filmed here, Saint Tropez suddenly was put on the map. Located at the end of its own exclusive peninsula, Saint Tropez became the talk of the jet set and famous for its glitz, glamour and decadence.
MV Narrative can anchor off Saint Tropez and tenders can access Nouveau Port, from which you can walk straight into town. While St. Tropez is best known for its high-end fashion and over-the-top partying, there is also a laid-back beach vibe, plenty of history & culture, and spectacular scenic walks. Many of the locations below are featured in the movie.
Saint Tropez must-see:
- Pampelonne Beach: St. Tropez's most famous beach, where you will find beach clubs, A-listers and superyachts anchored in the bay.
- Citadel and Museum of Maritime History: Recently renovated, this fascinating museum is located in the citadel's dungeon and takes you through St. Tropez's last 500 years of history.
- Walk the Coastal Path: A great loop track that will take you by beautiful coves, stunning homes and even some wildlife.
- Cap Camarat: The lighthouse is a much loved local monument and offers a pleasant walk and spectacular view over the Mediterranean.
- La Ponche: This is a must-visit ancient fishing tavern beside the quiet harbor in the heart of St. Tropez that has drawn in the likes of Picasso and Jack Nicholson.
- Notre Dame de l'Assomption: This Italian baroque church with a bell tower dates from 1784.
- Musée de l'Annonciade: Displays some of the greatest French artists' work dating 1890 - 1950.
- Musée de la Gendarmerie et du Cinéma: Learn about the history of cinema in Saint Tropez.
The second small French port we have selected is Corsica, an island in the Ligurian Sea off the French Riviera. Although a part of France, Corsica has a culture more in line with Italy. The geographical diversity of this island is truly astounding. This island is easy to fall in love with, from spectacular mountain scenery to hidden little coves, gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, deep valleys, dense forests and even desert. Then there are the stunning coastal, hilltop villages.
Ajaccio Cruise Port is located on the island's west coast and is a tender port. We could find a pristine bay to anchor in and dive off the back of the marina into the azure-blue waters. Zodiacs can be tendered ashore to explore.
Ajaccio is the largest city on the island but can be explored easily on foot. The city centre is only half a kilometre (0.3 miles) from the port. The harbor is one of the finest in the world so you should enjoy the walk. Ajaccio is also the famous birthplace of Napoleon. Be sure to visit the National Museum of Bonaparte Residence. We have broken up highlights into Ajaccio and the rest of the island for overland tours.
- The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence: Napoleon's birthplace and family home is now a museum dedicated to the Bonaparte family in Corsica.
- The Imperial Chapel: Visit the resting place of Napoleon's parents and other relatives.
- The Fesch Palace: The museum of fine arts named after a cardinal and patron of the arts who donated over 1000 works of art.
- Bonaparte’s cave and Place d’Austerlitz: A statue to Corsica's greatest son: you guessed it, Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Ajaccio market: If you're a fan of the best markets worldwide you'll love Ajaccio market, especially if you're a foodie.
- Foreigners' district and the Grand Hotel: Even if you don't stay here, you must visit this former palace from the 19th century, now the Grand Hotel. Just the surrounding gardens and private beach are worth it.
- Saint-François beach: Conveniently located at the foot of the Citadel, this is a wide sandy beach perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
- Marinella Beach: Hands down, the best beach in Corsica. It is quiet with white sand, crystal clear waters and surrounded by nature.
- The beach of Terre Sacrée: Another beautiful beach with several private sandy coves bordered by small rocky outcrops.
- Réserve Naturelle de Scandola: A UNESCO World Heritage Site only accessible by boat tour from Porto or Calvi.
- Gulf of Girolata: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this nature reserve has beautiful scrubland, porphyritic rock mass and clear waters hosting rich marine life.
- Polyphonic Song Festival. Attend the famous a cappella festival if we are lucky enough to be here during late summer. This cultural festival happens in various locations in the Citadel of Calvi.
- Prehistoric site of Filitosa: Discover this prehistoric site in Southern Corsica of 8000 years of human history.
- Clifftop villages of Balagne: Take a walking tour around this breathtaking hilltop village surrounded by high mountains and smaller seas.
- Désert des Agriates: Discover the only desert in Europe and two of the most beautiful beaches in Northern Corsica.
Another hugely popular cruise destination, Italy boasts many excellent port cities dating back to the Roman Empire. While Storylines will most likely visit several Italian ports, we will focus on the two requested destinations of Venice and Sardinia.
There will also be opportunities for railway journeys on Europe trains to places such as Lake Como, pictured above.
The next stop is the island of Sardinia, conveniently located just south of Corsica. However, Sardinia is a territory of Italy, so it's time to drop the "Bonjour" and take up the "Ciao!" A hugely popular summer vacation destination, the second-largest island of the Mediterranean is famous for its dry summers and clear, pristine turquoise waters surrounded by rocky outcrops.
Like Corsica, Sardinia offers countless coves and bays to anchor in and enjoy the crystal-clear azure waters from MV Narrative’s onboard marina. Additionally, we can zodiac into secluded and remote beaches to have all to yourselves.
If you do dock, the Port of Cagliari is the main cruise terminal in Sardinia. The town center is a short 15-minute walk away from the dock; however, ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes as the town is hilly. Otherwise, the Port Authority of Cagliari offers a free shuttle bus to Piazza Matteotti.
- Walk Piazza della Costituzione to Bastione San Remy: A beautiful walk from the heart of the old city to the majestic building of Saint Remy Bastion.
- Costa Sud: Beautiful nature trails will lead you to one of the best beaches on Sardinia.
- Porticciolo Beach: Another beautiful and secluded beach reached by walking trails.
- Maddalena Islands: Known as the secret islands of Sardinia, book a tour to the deserted archipelago of La Maddalena to discover turquoise lagoons and heavenly, unspoiled beaches.
- Costa Smeralda: Considered by many to be the most beautiful part of the Mediterranean, this exclusive destination has plenty of beaches and hidden coves and luxury resorts and golf courses.
- Golfo di Orosei: Take a 40-minute hike from Cali Fulli to one of Sardinia's most beautiful and best attractions.
- Tour Nuraghe Su Nuraxi: You will be captured by the mystery of the most famous nuraghe in Sardinia.
- Arzachena Prehistoric Sites: Discover fascinating tombs from the Arzachena culture from the late Neolithic age in ancient times.
- Flamingo migration: If you are lucky enough to be here in June, you’ll witness this incredible event.
Cruising across the Tyrrhenian Sea and around the Ionian Sea, the deepest recorded point of the Mediterranean, will be a spectacular in itself. Eventually, you will come to the Adriatic Sea and arguably one of the most famous tourist destinations globally, the city of Venice. So popular is Venice that it was suffering from over-tourism. Thankfully, the local government is implementing new rules to control the number of tourists visiting at any given time.
Additionally, Venice Cruise Terminal became so congested that in 2021, Italy permanently banned large cruise ships from entering Venice Lagoon. Alternatively, some ships are directed to another port with shuttle buses taking passengers into town, while others anchor and tender to shore.
The best way to do Venice is by foot and the canals. The aesthetic city impresses wherever you look. From classical antiquity to smaller water bodies and impressive architecture, it all looks like a Perugino painting. Sadly, Venice may not exist one day due to climate change, so enjoy it while you can!
- Piazza San Marco: aka St. Mark's Square - the central public square in Venice.
- St. Mark's Basilica: Venice's most important religious temple and world-famous for its captivating architecture.
- The Doges Palace: Another main landmark of Venice built in Gothic-style architecture.
- The Grand Canal: The main waterway of Venice. You can't miss it.
- Gondola ride: Gentleman, time to get your romance on. Grab a bottle of bubbly and take your missus for a paddle down the canals.
- Rialto Bridge: The oldest of the four romantic bridges crossing the Grand Canal.
- Burano Island: Enjoy the many colors of the buildings reflecting into the green waters of the channels.
- Lido di Venezia is a famous long thin island and beach that shelters Venice from the Adriatic sea.
We hope you have enjoyed this epic Europe itinerary exploring our resident requested destinations in Western Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Be sure to read the entire Itinerary series in the Storylines Blog.
Storylines is a luxury lifestyle ship with a like-minded community of globally-conscious citizens traveling the world. We seek unique experiences, cultural events, and community participation while practicing and promoting sustainable travel. To learn more, visit our website.
Disclaimer: The ultimate world cruise itinerary blog post series explores some of the requested destinations of our community of global citizens on board Storylines MV Narrative. It is for inspiration only at this time and the final itinerary has not yet been set. Further information is in our FAQ.