Flying DIRECT from Manchester or Birmingham to Barbados returning from Paphos
A hypnotic calypso isle, Barbados is the ultimate Caribbean dream. And at just 21 miles by 14 miles, the island really is your oyster. Of course, it’s most famous for its palm-fringed beaches, but there’s more than talcum powder sands here. We’re talking a duty-free shopping scene and sights that are second to none. In a coconut shell, it’s the small island with a big fan base.
Take a tram ride through a labyrinth of underground caverns at Harrison’s Cave in St Thomas. A natural phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed, it’s all sparkling streams, playful waterfalls and stalactites and stalagmites that shimmer in shady tunnels.
Go snorkelling in search of hawksbill and green turtles. Once endangered because of over-fishing, these creatures are now protected and monitored throughout the island.
Take it easy on Carlisle Beach, one of the island’s best stretches of sand. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, slip on a pair of flippers and propel your way past the underwater shipwrecks just off the shore.
The Atlantis Submarine lets you scuba dive without getting wet. As this underwater ship descends into the ocean, you can look out the portholes for tropical fish and sea turtles.
St Lucia’s skyline is high rise. But it’s not the hotels that make this island look serrated against the sky, it’s the mountains. The Pitons are 2 of the biggest. Both their summits tower at least 2,000 feet above sea level and their slopes are coiffured with a mane of dense green rainforest. At their feet, meanwhile, banana plantations give way to syrup-coloured beaches and some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean.
Pick up a bargain in the Castries market, an amazing swirl of crafts, fruits and the hum of Creole conversation. For a more upmarket, but still good value, shopping experience, try Pointe Seraphine, a duty-free shopping centre next to the harbour.
Get a bird’s eye view of St Lucia’s rainforests at the Treetop Adventure Park in Dennery. You’ll whiz your way through the canopy using a series of zip lines, and look down on the giant ferns and wild orchids that grow here.
One of the British Leeward Islands, St Kitts is one of the Caribbean’s pearls. Once an illustrious sugar colony, it now focuses its efforts on being a tropical paradise. And it excels in every sense, with its seductive blend of blonde sands and duck-egg blue seas. Away from the shores though, you’ll find plenty of historic sights to tick off your checklist. Or why not pop across to the neighbouring island of Nevis, which is just three kilometres over The Narrows channel?
Hop on a train at the Needsmust Station, and St Kitts Railway will take you on a tour of the island’s best bits. You’ll chug over ravines 300-feet-deep, circle Mount Liamuiga volcano and take a sneak peek at the island’s black-sand beaches.
Soak up the jaw-dropping views over lush sugarcane fields from the 17th-century Brimstone Hill Fortress. Once known as the Gibraltar of the West Indies, this major British garrison was abandoned in 1850. Now, it’s been restored back to its grand former self, with cannons, swords and the like all on display.
Sunbathe your way through the day on one of St Kitts’ beaches. There’s a selection of white sand spots like Turtle Beach and black sand spaces like Pump Bay. Alternatively, see if the grass is greener on the other side of The Narrows Channel. This is where St Kitts’ tropical sister island, Nevis, simmers in the sea.
If you’re a big fan of the beach, prepare to lose your heart to this place. Antiguans like to boast they have a different one for every day of the year. Without doubt, porcelain, palm-fringed sands and still turquoise waters are the star of this island show. But that’s not all Antigua’s got to boast about. Get ready for towns in a rainbow riot of colours. Quiet countryside that slumbers in the sunshine. And cuisine as sublime as those moon-white shores.
Get up close to the stingrays at the Stingray City Antigua. More than 30 rays call this place home, and you'll be able to climb into the water to touch, feed and play with the animals.
Head out to Great Bird Island - it's great snorkelling territory. In particular, keep an eye out for the starfish and stingrays.
Sink your toes into soft sand and wade through waters too blue to be true. A good place to head is Runway Beach, where you'll find a long list of watersports and a lively beach bar.
Hit the shops in St John’s, Antigua’s bright and breezy capital. Plump for island crafts or up the spending in the duty-free complexes.
Sweeter than wine, Madeira’s a fine excuse to binge on beautiful scenery to your heart’s content. Funchal is the island’s capital, a bewitching collection of cobbled streets, quaint museums and buzzing café and restaurant life.
Get to know Funchal. This spellbinding city is a portion of Portugal sprinkled with a dash of Garden of Eden and Edwardian Britain. The whole place seems to be smothered in vivid bougainvillea, jasmine and other exotic blooms. Don’t miss the covered market, a dizzying montage of exotic fruit stalls and flower-sellers wearing traditional costume. And take a look at the city’s impressive Sé cathedral with its ornate ceiling and artworks.
If you’re really into blooms, meander around Funchal’s tranquil Botanical Gardens, admiring their dazzling displays of orchids, cacti and Madeira’s iconic dragon trees.
Take a cable car up to the mountain village of Monte and hurtle back down the cobbles towards Funchal in a wicker toboggan.
Gaze in awe at the colossal Cabo Girao, one of the world’s largest coastal cliffs. Then take in the simple charms of the quaint fishing village, Camara de Lobos, one of Winston Churchill’s favourite retreats.
Sign up for a jeep tour to explore parts of the island that are usually off limits.
Affectionately known as Gib or The Rock, Gibraltar is a little slice of Britain in the Mediterranean. And, just like the motherland, it’s a small stretch of land with a lot to offer. The history here is largely military-related – you’ll find Nelson’s anchorage where the body of Nelson was brought back to land after the Battle of Trafalgar, and the Parson’s Lodge Battery that dates back to 1875. Elsewhere, wildlife steals the show. Check out the cheeky Barbary apes or go whale-watching in the Strait.
Explore the Rock’s famous attractions like the Moorish Castle and the fascinating Gibraltar Museum, where you can learn about the island’s role in the World Wars as well as its prehistory.
Inside the Rock, you’ll find more miles of road than on the outside. Check out the Great Siege Tunnels and St Michael’s Cave.
Palma. Think leafy boulevards that echo with the stilettos of stylish shoppers. Tiny tapas bars tucked down narrow sidestreets. Architectural gold hidden in the historic quarter. With its trademark cathedral dominating the skyline, cosmopolitan Palma never fails to impress.
Spend some time exploring the city, clicking snaps of the 14th-century Bellver Castle, browsing the boutiques and tasting tapas in the authentic bars that barnacle the backstreets
Love to shop? Then make a beeline for Inca, the island’s biggest street market, which opens every Thursday.
Don’t miss out on one last amazing view when you leave the city. When the ship departs after dark, make sure you’re out on deck to enjoy the unforgettable sight of Palma Cathedral magically lit up.
As your ship cruises into Valletta, a magical skyline of soaring steeples and bulbous church domes rises to greet you. This is Malta's quintessential capital, a captivating city steeped in history.
Stroll the colourful streets of Valletta, taking in sights like the Grandmaster's Palace, the House of Parliament and Castille Palace.
Visit Mdina, the island's old capital. It's an impressive walled city dripping in Medieval and Baroque architecture. They call it the Silent City because cars are forbidden. Carriage-laden horses trotting through the streets and the gentle chatter of Mdina's inhabitants are the only sounds likely to pierce the sleepy calm.
Take a boat ride to the spellbinding Blue Grotto, an impressive 50 metre-deep cave.
Sit back and relax on a boat trip around Valletta’s two natural harbours. The waters here have seen their fair share of naval action, standing by as both Napoleon and Nelson staked their claims to them.
Old shakes hands with new in Crete’s capital. The city’s taken on a vibrant, cosmopolitan air and brims with pavement cafés, bars and sleek boutiques. But peek into the backstreets and traditional life drifts gently by.
Take a trip to Knossos Palace. After the Acropolis in Athens, it’s the second most visited place in the whole of Greece
Sink into a sofa in one of the ice cream parlours by Lake Voulismeni and ponder the local legend that the lake is bottomless.
Basking in more hours of sunshine than any other Greek island, Rhodes is loved for its fascinating past, not to mention its glittering sandy beaches.
Wander your way around the pretty village of Lindos. The architecture here is a fusion of Gothic, Byzantine, Greek and Middle Eastern, and the most famous monument is probably the ancient acropolis.
Spend some time getting to know Rhodes Town. Go yacht-spotting in Mandraki harbour and venture inside the ancient walls of the citadel to discover the Medieval city left behind by the Knights of St John.
Take your pick from banana boat rides, parasailing and jet-skiing on the lively Falaraki Beach. Alternatively, just enjoy the music coming from the beachside bars as you laze the day away.
Get snapping at Filerimos Hill. Just 12 kilometres outside Rhodes Town, this elevated area of land offers up great views of the countryside and a selection of historical buildings, including a Byzantine Church.
Set on Akrotiri Bay, Limassol is the island’s biggest seaside town with plenty to offer its visitors. Whether you’ve come here in search of age-old sights or bubbling bars, the town’s a mixed bag of delights that never fails to impress.
Head to Paphos to tick off some of Cyprus’ most famous sights. First off, there’s the Petra tou Romious – also known as Aphrodites Rock – where the goddess of love is said to have risen from the sea. The Odeion amphitheatre is well worth a look, too. It was made entirely from limestone and dates back to the 2nd century. Nowadays, it’s used for theatre and music performances.
Head for Curium, a major archaeological site that was one of the old kingdoms of Cyprus. Sights to capture on film include a Greek temple and an impressive cliff-top theatre.
Experience the old and new faces of Limassol. Stand in the shadow of the Medieval castle, then head for the modern Yermasoyia quarter and sample a few of the bars and restaurants.
At a glance....
This is one of the smaller ships in the Marella fleet, and, with its sophisticated à la carte restaurants and indulgent spa, it really spoils you.
Plus, because it's now part of the Platinum range, you can expect cabins and public areas with a smart, contemporary edge.
3 restaurants, 5 bars, 2 lounges, nightclub, casino, whirlpools, 2 swimming pools, wading pool, cinema, card/reading room, beauty salon, boutiques, health club, sports deck, sauna and massage, library, medical centre, internet access, 4 self service laundries, air-conditioned throughout, stabilised, worldwide satellite telephone, telex and fax
|Beam (width)||27.26 m|
|Crew and staff||520|
|Electrical current||110/120v AC|