Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Experience the Wonders of the Mediterranean
With its dazzling blue seas, sun-drenched beaches, and ancient ruins, the Mediterranean has captivated travelers for centuries. An MSC cruise offers the perfect way to experience the wonders of this storied region. From Barcelona's Gaudi architecture to the cliffside villages of the Italian coast, prepare to be dazzled.
One of the top attractions is the Greek islands. Santorini's whitewashed buildings and volcanic cliffs are instantly recognizable, while Rhodes boasts medieval castles and archeological wonders. Wander the charming streets of Mykonos, relax on the pink sands of Crete, or take in the pastel-hued houses of Paros. With stops at multiple islands, you can get a taste of what makes each one unique.
No Mediterranean cruise would be complete without visiting Italy. From Rome's iconic Colosseum to the canals of Venice, Italy overflows with art, culture, food and la dolce vita. Don't miss walking tours of history-steeped cities like Naples, Livorno and Messina. Save time for their local markets too, bursting with fresh produce, cheeses and other specialties.
The French Riviera, with its elegant resort towns dotted along the Côte d'Azur, has long attracted the rich and famous. Experience the harbor at Monaco, designer boutiques in Cannes, or Matisse's legacy in Nice. Consider a shore excursion to Grasse, the perfume capital, for a behind-the-scenes look at this fragrant industry.
History buffs will appreciate calls along Croatia's Dalmatian Coast that allow you to explore Roman ruins and medieval fortified towns. In Kotor, Montenegro, imposing fortress walls snake up the mountainside. Malta abounds with prehistoric temples and Baroque cathedrals.
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- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Experience the Wonders of the Mediterranean
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Marvel at Alaska's Glaciers and Wildlife
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Soak in the Tropical Sun of the Caribbean
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Explore the Ancient Ruins of the Middle East
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - See the Diverse Islands of Southeast Asia
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Encounter South America's Vibrant Cities
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Be Awed by the Natural Beauty of Southern Africa
- Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Discover the Charm of Northern Europe's Port Cities
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Marvel at Alaska's Glaciers and Wildlife
Alaska's immense glaciers slowly carve their way through mountains, crashing into the sea in a dazzling display of ice and water. At Glacier Bay National Park, towers of blue ice rise from the water, calves of ice breaking off in thunderous splashes. See glaciers like Margerie and Grand Pacific up close from your ship's deck. Join a kayaking or Zodiac tour for an even more intimate glacier experience. Guides explain the science while you take in nature's majesty.
Just outside Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier is North America's largest tidewater glacier. Watching its massive face advance into the ocean is humbling, the scale almost beyond comprehension. Listen for cracks and booms as chunks of ice sheer off. With luck, you may witness minor tsunamis caused by large calvings, a remarkable tidal event.
Alaska is also prime territory for spotting marine wildlife. Orcas swim alongside ships, their tall dorsal fins slicing through the water. Scan for humpback whales too - you may catch one breaching, flopping down in a huge, graceful splash. Sea lions laze on rocks and puffins flutter overhead. With so many creatures gathered, a whale watching excursion often yields multiple sightings.
On land, bears are the stars. Kodiak Island offers some of the best bear viewing, its lush forests and streams home to thousands of bears. Safely observe them snoozing on the beach, clamming at low tide, or ambling along the shoreline. Seeing these immense creatures in their natural habitat is an unforgettable privilege.
For those who want a more in-depth wilderness experience, consider a multi-night land extension. With extra time, you can kayak among icebergs, hike through remote forests, or mountain bike along scenic ridges. Endless photo opportunities await in Denali National Park, home to North America's highest peak. Expert guides ensure you get close to the natural wonders safely.
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Soak in the Tropical Sun of the Caribbean
With its palm-fringed beaches and turquoise waters, the Caribbean epitomizes tropical paradise. An MSC cruise lets you experience multiple islands and immerse yourself in the region's laidback vibes. From zipping across waves on a catamaran to swaying to reggae beats, you'll find plenty of ways to soak up the sun and sea.
First-time cruisers are often drawn to stops like the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Cozumel for their familiar names and idyllic imagery. And they live up to the hype. Nassau and Freeport provide easy access to private beaches like Paradise Island, where you can recline in a cabana and have attendants cater to your every whim. Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica offers the quintessential Caribbean experience, climbing up rocky tiers as water cascades down. Cozumel's clear waters make it one of the best spots for snorkeling with neon fish and sea turtles.
Venture beyond the well-known ports though, and you'll be richly rewarded. The southern Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, and Barbados may sound more exotic, but they're just as enjoyable. Learn to scuba dive off Curacao, one of the top spots for beginners. Hike through rainforests to hidden beaches on St. Lucia. Check out shipwrecks off Aruba. And sip rum punch on uber-chill Barbados.
The unique Cuban flair of Havana also shouldn't be missed. Stroll the evocative streets of Old Havana, lined with vintage American cars and Spanish colonial buildings. Listen to live music and savor a mojito at Ernest Hemingway's favorite watering holes. Engage with locals to learn about this fascinating country in transition. But come with an open mind, recognizing the complexities and limitations of tourism's influence.
Wherever you travel in the region, don't be surprised if the carefree lifestyle starts to rub off. Take your time wandering quaint seaside villages and open-air markets. Chat with the artisans as they carve masks and weave straw. Splurge on duty-free perfumes and liquor. Back on board, continue relaxing with spa treatments, rum tastings, and steel pan music. Formal nights and stage shows add variety but the atmosphere stays festive and fun.
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Explore the Ancient Ruins of the Middle East
Step back in time thousands of years with visits to the Middle East’s most magnificent ancient sites. As the cradle of early civilization, this region overflows with remnants of powerful empires that shaped the course of human history. An MSC itinerary offers the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the ancients and glimpse the grandeur of days past.
In Egypt, the Great Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx have captivated humanity since they were built over 4,500 years ago. Standing beneath these immense limestone monuments, you’ll be awed by the astronomical precision and engineering genius required to construct them. Nearby, the Egyptian Museum displays the golden treasures of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, practically untouched since their discovery in 1922. A cruise down the Nile River takes you past millennia-old temples at sites like Karnak, Luxor and Edfu, adorned with hieroglyphics and colossal statues of pharaohs.
The ancient city of Petra, carved out of pink sandstone cliffs in southern Jordan, is an unforgettable, almost extraterrestrial place. Walk through the narrow Siq gorge to reveal the iconic façade of the Treasury, over two thousand years old. Continue exploring the temples, tombs and amphitheaters of this vast archeological park, once a thriving crossroads of trade between Arabia, Egypt and Syria.
In Israel, Masada is a mountaintop fortress built by King Herod that was the last holdout of Jewish rebels against the Romans. Climbing to the top, you’ll find remarkably intact palace ruins and sweeping Dead Sea views. The excavated port cities of Caesarea and Akko showcase Roman aqueducts, amphitheaters, bathhouses and crusader-era walls and fortifications.
For those with more time, multi-night stays unlock even more epic sites. Wander through the rock-cut city of Petra by candlelight when all other tourists have left. Camp in the desert outside Wadi Rum, gazing up at the same stars that guided nomadic Bedouins crossing the Arabian sands. Stand before the immense carved heads of Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Persian empire. Observe sunrise from a hot air balloon over otherworldly, terraced landscapes.
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - See the Diverse Islands of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia dazzles with over 20,000 islands sprinkled across warm, azure waters. An MSC cruise is the perfect way to experience the diversity of cultures, landscapes, and histories spanning this region. With stops at major hubs like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, as well as hidden island gems, you'll be awed by the variety within easy reach.
Thailand remains a perennial favorite, especially for first-timers. Bangkok blends sacred temples and chaotic street life, while Phuket and Koh Samui entice with palm-lined beaches. Hop a ferry to picture-perfect Phi Phi Island, where you can snorkel through neon reefs or relax on bamboo-shaded loungers. Further south, Koh Lanta and Krabi draw travelers craving a more laidback vibe. Lose yourself in the lush jungle interiors and waterfalls of Khao Sok National Park. With its friendly locals, outstanding food, and gorgeous scenery, Thailand delivers on its "land of smiles" nickname.
Meanwhile, Vietnam seduces with its blend of urban energy and tranquil shores. Ho Chi Minh City pulsates with scooters and markets, while rural areas around the Mekong Delta provide an intimate look at traditional river life. North of the mainland, Halong Bay's jagged limestone peaks rising from the emerald sea form an unearthly seascape. For history buffs, Danang offers easy access to the imperial ruins of Hue and the ancient port of Hoi An. With delectable cuisine and affordable luxuries, Vietnam repeatedly wins over visitors.
Myanmar (Burma) is Southeast Asia's up-and-coming treasure, with an opening to tourism occurring only over the past decade. The awe-inspiring temples of Bagan feature over 2,000 sacred spires, and golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon glitters with gems and etchings. Interacting with the warm locals offers meaningful cultural exchange. Cruise ships help spread tourist dollars beyond the well-trod major sites, benefiting rural villages eager to welcome responsible travelers.
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Encounter South America's Vibrant Cities
From the samba rhythms of Rio to the tango haunts of Buenos Aires, South America bursts with vibrant, beguiling cities that tempt you to linger. An MSC cruise offers the chance to experience the highlights without hassle, packing in urban energy between visits to idyllic beaches and exotic jungles.
Rio de Janeiro truly earns its nickname as the "Marvellous City." Its stunning setting between granite peaks and white-sand beaches wows from the start. Ride a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views or hike through lush Tijuca Forest. Of course, no visit is complete without mingling with the free-spirited cariocas on Copacabana Beach and seeing the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue up close. At night, samba through the lively Lapa neighborhood, known for its music clubs and street parties. Rio seduces with its easygoing carioca lifestyle.
Elegant Buenos Aires captivates with its grand architecture, passionate tango culture, and mouthwatering steak and wine. Stroll the Plaza de Mayo surrounded by pink Casa Rosada and the Metropolitan Cathedral, then wander pedestrian-friendly Calle Florida for upscale shops and cafes. At night, enjoy a tango show in a converted warehouse or dance alongside locals in a gritty, authentic milonga hall - either way, you'll be swept away by the melancholic music and dramatic moves. Fodor's traveler V43392 reminds us that with its "sexy atmosphere, beautiful people, great food, and unique culture," BA remains her favorite city in South America.
The remote Chilean city of Valparaiso charms with its hillside location, brightly colored houses, and bohemian vibe. Ride antique funiculars up the steep slopes, weaving through a maze of cobbled lanes and hidden staircases. Street art and poetry are everywhere here - around every corner you'll find something creative and inspiring. Outdoor cafes perched on terraced hillsides offer sea views and a relaxing place to take it all in. Add in proximity to Chile's famed wine country, and Valparaiso emerges as an artsy, offbeat highlight.
In Peru, the history and mystique of Cusco and Machu Picchu lure travelers inland from Lima's beaches. As the ancient Incan capital, Cusco displays imposing walls and cathedrals built atop original Inca foundations. Nearby, the Sacred Valley beckons with markets and ruins like Ollantaytambo, Pisac and Moray. But the real showstopper is Machu Picchu, an awe-inspiring lost city rediscovered in 1911 after being abandoned five centuries earlier. As A. Huff on CruiseCritic noted, "I will forever cherish watching the sunrise over those magnificent mountains, bringing the ruins to life with a golden glow. Truly an experience of a lifetime!"
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Be Awed by the Natural Beauty of Southern Africa
From the wild game roaming the Serengeti to the towering cascade of Victoria Falls, southern Africa brims with phenomenal natural beauty. An MSC cruise offers a stellar way to experience this incredibly diverse region. Prepare to be awed by thundering waterfalls, exotic wildlife, and stunning landscapes as you journey through these bucket-list destinations.
Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the best places on the planet to safari, its sprawling savanna home to the "Big Five" and over 500 species of birds. Hop in an open-air 4x4 and spend the day searching for leopards, elephants, rhinos and more against a backdrop of flat-topped acacia trees. Kruger expert V43992 raves, "Nothing beats rounding a corner and coming face-to-face with a massive herd of buffalo or pride of lions lounging under a tree - just incredible!" For an even more immersive experience, stay overnight in one of Kruger's wilderness camps - you may awake to hyenas calling or elephants grazing outside your door.
Up the coast, Cape Town woos visitors with imposing Table Mountain, pristine beaches, and a chance to meet African penguins on Boulders Beach. Take the rotating cableway to the top of Table Mountain for sweeping city views or hike there along trails that wind through indigenous fynbos vegetation. Traveler A52 notes, "I could have sat looking out over Cape Town and the sparkling Atlantic from Table Mountain for hours - absolutely breathtaking!" Nearby, the Cape of Good Hope offers more spectacular seascapes, its rugged cliffs battered by swirling waves.
For many travelers, Victoria Falls is the crown jewel of southern Africa's natural wonders. Here the mighty Zambezi River plunges over a 1.7-kilometer-wide cliff, sending up a towering spray. Take in the thundering cascades from multiple angles - through the mist on foot, gazing out from Lookout Point, or swooping overhead in a helicopter. At night, the Falls are illuminated by spotlights, moonbows forming in the spray. Fodor's writer K. Lee confirms, "Seeing Victoria Falls was a humbling and magical experience - photos can't capture its immense power and glory!"
You can also experience the Zambezi far upstream on safari drives through Chobe National Park in Botswana. Packed with elephants, hippos, crocodiles and more exotic species, it's one of the best places to see animals at the water's edge. P72281 enthuses, "Watching hundreds of elephants swimming across the river with tiny babies between them was an incredible sight." Chobe is also renowned for its remarkable sunsets, the perfect end to a day of awe-inspiring wildlife sightings.
Sail Away to Spectacular Scenery: The Top 5 Destinations to Visit on an MSC Cruise - Discover the Charm of Northern Europe's Port Cities
Beyond spectacular fjords and historic castles, Northern Europe entices with vibrant port cities full of maritime charm. An MSC cruise offers the perfect opportunity to explore these culturally-rich destinations while only needing to unpack once. From buzzing capitals like Copenhagen and Oslo to smaller gems like Warnemünde and Alesund, you'll find plenty to enchant you.
Copenhagen blends winding cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings, world-class restaurants spotlighting Nordic cuisine, and one of Europe's longest pedestrian streets for leisurely strolling. Don't miss seeing the iconic Little Mermaid statue overlooking the harbor. Travel blogger S. Lee recommends, "Grab a table at a canal-side cafe and watch the boats glide by while snacking on open-faced smorrebrod sandwiches - the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Copenhagen!"
Over in Norway, Oslo impresses with its striking blend of medieval, Victorian, and modern architecture. Climb the hill for stunning views from the historic Akershus Fortress then visit the remarkable Viking Ship Museum to see vessels from over 1,000 years ago. Vacationer R443 extols, "Wandering around the redeveloped harbor area was a highlight with its exceptional restaurants, abundant public art, and the stunning new opera house that seems to rise straight from the sea."
The remote towns of Norway accessed primarily by cruise ship hold particular magic. Picturesque Alesund boasts Art Nouveau buildings and a mountaintop viewpoint perfect for capturing the harbor's beauty. Rugged Narvik offers insights into World War 2 history at museums focused on the naval battles fought off its shores. And Olden provides a gateway to two of Norway's highest waterfalls, hidden gems far from the typical tourist track.
Over in Sweden, postcard-perfect Visby on the island of Gotland appeals with its well-preserved medieval walls and twisting cobblestone lanes lined with gabled merchants' houses adorned with roses. Fodor's writer T. Dunn urges, "Be sure to browse the many shops selling locally made ceramics, glass art, and jewelry - I found so many perfect mementos of my Baltic cruise."
Denmark's second city Aarhus tends to fly under the radar but delivers big on Nordic charm. Its pedestrianized Latin Quarter beckons with cozy cafes and boutiques, while the hilltop Frederiksbjerg neighborhood tempts with antique shops and bakeries. Local P33229 declares, "I loved biking along the waterfront, passing outdoor art displays and stopping at the weekend markets. Such a great little city!"
No Northern Europe cruise would be complete without the Baltic capitals of Stockholm, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg. Stockholm stuns with its deep blue harbor waters set against colorful medieval Gamla Stan and modern high-rises. In Helsinki, the bustling Market Square provides an ideal spot to sample Finnish delicacies before exploring monumental Lutheran Cathedral. And in St. Petersburg, you can delve into the opulent palaces of Russia's tsars, home to some of the world's greatest art collections.