Marella Discovery 2
Flights available from Manchester, East Midlands, Doncaster Sheffield or Birmingham to Palma returning from Malaga
Palma, Majorca • Ajaccio, Corsica • Monaco • Toulon (for Cote d'Azur), France • Barcelona, Spain • Valencia, Spain • Cartagena, Spain • Malaga, Spain
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.
Rugged peaks, emerald countryside, twinkling blue waters – Corsica’s been plucked from the prettiest postcard. Rising up from one of the most beautiful gulfs in the world is Ajaccio, a town oozing charm. An impressive place in its own right, it’s also your gateway to the sensational scenery and sleepy little towns that this sun-soaked isle is famous for. One word of advice – take plenty of spare batteries for your camera. Get back to nature in the countryside that surrounds the city. Taking a coach and train trip, you can explore the maquis, the rich green hillside that’s unique to Corsica, and the Prunelli Gorge, a deep ravine that was carved by a small river. For something a bit different head for Cupulatta Park, Europe’s only tortoise protection centre. From babies measuring just a few centimetres to wizened old grandfathers decades old, you’ll find them all here.
Monaco, despite being the most densely populated country in the world, is just a fraction of the size of the Isle of Wight. You’ll find this pint-sized nation in a prime spot on the French Riviera, just a stone’s throw from the Italian border. Million-pound yachts try to outdo one another in the harbour, which is flanked by contemporary apartments and a scattering of Art Nouveau-style buildings. Shopping malls and casinos are jumbled up with pretty boutiques and churches in the maze-like Monaco-Ville neighbourhood. And just along the waterfront in Monte Carlo, palatial mansions and lavish hotels face up to the Mediterranean Sea.
You can take a break from Monaco’s lively centre by visiting Plage du Larvotto – an M-shaped beach in one of the swankiest neighbourhoods. The water’s got an inviting turquoise tint, and there’s a bank of sunloungers backed by a throng of coffee shops and restaurants. Just behind the waterfront, you’ll also find one of the world’s most expensive streets – Avenue Princess Grace.
The Prince of Monaco’s home is as grand as you’d expect. It’s a 12th-century Genoese fort called the Palais Princier, with a Renaissance-style exterior and castle-like turrets on top. You can tour the state apartments during the summer months, and if you arrive at midday, you’ll see the changing of the guard at the palace gates.
As far as races go, the Monaco Grand Prix is at the very top of the tree. Unlike most Formula 1 events, there isn’t a dedicated track for the annual event – instead, the drivers follow a twisting and turning course along the narrow city streets.
Fusing French Riviera glam with the feel of a traditional old town, Toulon is your gorgeous gateway to the Côte d’Azur.
Follow the sound of popping corks and clinking champagne flutes to über-stylish St-Tropez, a long-time glitterati favourite. Venture into Aix en Provence and find out about its dual identity. This place is known as the Town of Water thanks to its fountains and the Town of Art because of its many museums. See for yourself if there’s any truth in French poet Frédéric Mistral’s famous words ‘He who has seen Paris and not Cassis has seen nothing!’. Little changed by time, Cassis is still much the same little fishing port that first attracted artists like Signac and Derain, eager to capture its serene charm. Venture into the breathtaking Provence countryside and stumble upon sleepy French villages. This enchanting region has inspired many a great master, including Van Gogh and Cézanne.
Barcelona is up there with the most famous cities in the world, and for good reason. Sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Serra de Collserola hills, this Spanish titan promises cutting-edge architecture, trend-setting fashion and art that breaks the mould. It’s a place where boutique-lined boulevards and intimate espresso bars give way to authentic tapas joints and narrow cobbled streets.
Stroll down the iconic promenade of Las Ramblas, stopping for coffee at a pavement café or pausing to throw a couple of euros in the street entertainers’ upturned hats. Wander down the winding streets of the Gothic quarter, taking your pick of traditional tapas bars. Among them is Els Quatre Gats, Picasso’s old hangout. Call in at the world-famous Nou Camp, home of Barcelona Football Club since 1957.
Valencia is an expert in marrying up the old and the new. Ancient Arabian architecture and Gothic churches are given a run for their money by new icons like the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. Beyond the city borders, Albufera National Park follows the coast south. The massive lake here is home to 250 species of birds, including flamingos.
Valencia Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece framed by flying buttresses and intricately-carved arches. The chalice here is said to have been used by Christ during the Last Supper. Fallas Museum collects memorabilia from the La Fallas festivals, when hundreds of effigies are burned on bonfires. The best creations are rescued and displayed on the museum’s shelves. The aquarium at the City of Arts and Sciences is made up of space-age buildings and a 70-metre viewing tunnel – the longest in Europe. Residents include sharks, whales and dolphins.
Tucked in a deep bay guarded by two cliff-top fortresses, this Spanish gem is steeped in history. In the 18th century it became a major Spanish naval base and reminders of its seafaring past can be seen down in the port, where you’ll find a prototype submarine.
Take a wide-eyed walk through the city, which flaunts splendid reminders of its golden age. Don’t miss the city’s castle, Castillo de la Concepcion, which offers up great views over Cartagena. Head for Murcia, the regional capital city and an open-air museum whose centrepiece is a beautiful cathedral. It’s particularly famous for its two ornate side chapels – the Gothic Capilla de los Velez and the Renaissance Capilla del Junteron. Simply breathtaking. See the famous La Manga Strip, a strip of land which separates the Mediterranean Sea from Mar Menor, Europe’s largest lagoon.
At a glance....
Marella Discovery 2 joined the Marella Cruises fleet in May 2017. Marella Discovery 2 is the sister ship to Marella Discovery so their onboard set up is very similar. Having two ships means you’ll be able to pair a wider choice of itineraries with the exciting features offered by this larger, more contemporary style of vessel. These include an outdoor cinema, a rock climbing wall, a minigolf course, an indoor pool and a glossy atrium. Not to mention the range of bars, excellent dining scene and night-time shows enhanced by up-to-the-minute technology. Just like Marella Discovery, Marella Discovery 2 will be All Inclusive as standard. So, drinks, including prosecco and cider, meals in a selection of restaurants and most onboard activities are included in the cruise price. Flights and tips are both part of the package, too.