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Saga Cruises

Christmas in the Mediterranean

Saga Pearl II departing Southampton

from £4,183 22 2
Including optional travel insurance or a discount of £98 if not required
  • Full Board Full board
  • Chauffeur service Chauffeur service
  • No fly No fly

For the ultimate relaxing Christmas…

Celebrate Christmas and the New Year in style on this wonderful cruise around the Iberian Peninsula and Italy. Experience the traditional atmosphere of historic Cadiz on Christmas Eve, rejoice in all the Christmas Day festivities aboard Saga Pearl II and see in the New Year while admiring Valletta's dazzling fireworks.

Saga price includes...

  • All meals on board, including 24-hour room service
  • A choice of wines at lunch and dinner
  • All on-board gratuities
  • Optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights, or a reduction if not required
  • Entertainment and activities
  • Welcome cocktail party and Captain’s dinner
  • All port taxes and visas
  • UK mainland travel service to and from Southampton
save up to 30%
Book today and and save upto 30% of full fare. How our discounts work


View Full Itinerary

Southampton

Embark Saga PearI II. Depart 1600.

Lying near the head of Southampton Water, a peninsula between the estuaries of the Rivers Test and Itchen, Southampton is Britain’s largest cruise port. It has been one of England’s major ports since the Middle Ages, when it exported wool and hides from the hinterland and imported wine from Bordeaux. The city suffered heavy damage during World War Two and as a result the centre has been extensively rebuilt, but there are still some interesting medieval buildings including the Bargate, one of the finest city gatehouses in England.

FactFile

Population 253,651 (estimate)
Language English
Currency British Pounds Sterling
Time Difference N/A
Climate Southampton experiences an oceanic climate, with cool winters and mild to warm summers. Its sheltered location makes it one of the UK's sunniest cities.
Ship berths at Southampton Cruise Terminal
Distance from Centre 300 yards
Distance from gangway to coach Motor vehicles can pick up and drop off passengers immediately outside the Terminal Building.

Useful Information

Shopping The city's main shopping mall is the West Quay Shopping Centre, but there are many other shopping streets in the town centre.
Shopping Opening Hours The West Quay Shopping Centre is open Monday to Friday 0900-2000, Saturday 0900-1900 and Sunday 1100-1700.
Post Office The main Post Office is at 32-34 Above Bar Street.
Tourist Office There are Tourist Information Points at the Novotel Hotel on 1 West Quay Road, and also at the SeaCity Museum.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial the full STD code followed by the subscriber's number.
Emergency Services Dial 999.
Banks All main UK banks have branches in the city centre, with 24-hour ATMs.

Day at sea.

La Coruña

Arrive 0900. Depart 1800.

The busy port of La Coruña (A Coruña in the Galician language) is located in the far north-west corner of Spain and is the capital of the rugged region of Galicia. Boasting a rich maritime heritage, the city is famous for being the departure point for Felipe II’s doomed Armada, which was defeated by the English in 1588. British military historians also know it as the location of the Battle of Corunna that took place in 1809, when Napoleon’s troops attacked a division of the British Army led by General Sir John Moore, who lost his life in the battle and is buried in the city. In keeping with its seafaring tradition, La Coruña is also famous for the Tower of Hercules, Europe’s oldest functioning lighthouse, which dates back to Roman times and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The town itself is well worth exploring, with its handsome squares, Romanesque churches and interesting archaeological museum. It is particularly noted for its long seafront promenade lined with elegant apartment buildings with fully-glazed balconies: these have given La Coruña the nickname of 'The Crystal City'.

FactFile

Population 280,000 (approximate)
Language Spanish
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK+1
Climate Warm, dry summers and mild winters
Ship berths at Puerto de Transatlanticos
Distance from Centre Approximately 330 yards
Distance from gangway to coach About 165 yards

Useful Information

Shopping There are some shops located 500 yards from the port area. There is also a shopping centre at El Corte Ingles, Cuatro Caminos.
Shopping Opening Hours Shopping centres usually open from 1000-2200, while smaller shops tend to open between 1000-1400 and 1630-2030.
Post Office The main Post Office is on Calle del Alcalde Manuel Casas and is open Monday to Friday from 0830-2030, and on Saturdays from 0930-1300. Stamps for postcards are also sold at 'Estancos' (tobacconists' kiosks).
Tourist Office Opposite the pier, open daily between 1000-1400 and 1630-2000.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Dial 112.
Banks There are numerous banks in the city centre, open from 0900-1400 on weekdays. 24-hour ATMs are widespread.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

Your stop in La Coruña gives you a wonderful opportunity to visit the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela with its charming old quarter and magnificent cathedral that dominates Obradoiro Square. The Cathedral has become the most popular site of Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome, and on your visit you will see the beautiful Jubilee Door, the traditional tomb of St James and the 12th-century ‘Portico da Gloria’, considered one of the world’s most important medieval works of sculpture. Since guiding inside the Cathedral is not permitted, your guide will provide a complete and comprehensive talk when you arrive at Obradoiro Square. After your visit inside the Cathedral you have the opportunity to climb the 84 steps to access the roof for spectacular views of Santiago. From here your tour takes you to the Hotel de los Reyes Catolicos; built as a hostel for pilgrims in the 15th century, enjoy a Tapas lunch with wine and water served in one of the courtyards and accompanied by a performance of a typical group of choral singers. Following lunch you will have some free time to explore the city of Santiago, maybe browse the local shops for souvenirs before heading back to La Coruña and the ship.

You should expect to walk approximately 2½ miles, much of it over cobbled streets, with about 15 steps in Santiago. The cathedral roof is accessed by a flight of 84 steps, although this part of the tour can be omitted if you prefer. You should wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared for changeable weather. The journey to and from Santiago takes approximately one hour, 15 minutes each way. Large bags and backpacks should not be taken inside the cathedral, and guiding inside the cathedral is not permitted: your guide will describe its history and architecture from the outside and will give detailed explanations of what to see inside. Access to the interior may occasionally be restricted if a religious service is taking place. Santiago's wonderful Portico da Gloria

The tour starts with a panoramic coach tour of the city of La Coruna. On leaving the port, you head first to the promenade that runs along the coast. Along the way, see the large numbers of houses with glazed balconies or ‘galleries’ that give La Coruña the nickname of ‘The Crystal City’. Formerly the sea was nearer the city and these windows reflected the sunlight on top of the surface of the sea. On the seaside promenade, which is the longest in Europe, you pass the Castle of San Anton, which stands on an island and is connected to the shore by a causeway. This former fortress is now home to an archaeological museum. You next arrive at the Torre de Hercules. This lighthouse was originally built by the Romans and is believed to be the only one from this period that is still in use. The most distinctive monument of La Coruña, it appears on the city’s coat-of-arms, together with a skull and crossbones: the latter does not refer to piracy, but represents the bones of Gerión, a giant killed by Hercules who is said to be buried under the lighthouse. Leaving the Torre de Hercules, follow the coastal road to the foot of Mount San Pedro, where you stop for photos of a different view of the city. The coach will drop you near the Town Hall, from where you continue your tour on foot, visiting Maria Pita Square, named after a local woman who led the fight against Sir Francis Drake when he tried to invade the city in 1587. You have free time to explore the city centre, with its shops, bars and market, before re-joining your coach by the Town Hall and returning to the ship.

You should expect to walk around 500 yards, mostly over level ground. However, you may remain on the coach at the various stops if you prefer. The walking tour of the town centre lasts about 20 minutes, and is optional. The Torre de Hercules - the World's oldest working lighthouse

Leave the ship with your guide and set off on a walking tour of the historic city of La Coruña. This walk will take you mostly past buildings that date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, showing the influence of modernism and the art of Picasso. You can also see how the great increase in the city’s population at this time resulted in the urban area developing its unusual and rather bulgy ground plan. Your walk takes you to a local market, where you can see all sorts of fresh produce on sale, ranging from fruit to fish. During the course of your walk you stop for a typical Spanish snack - a cup of hot chocolate served with 'churros' - long, thin pastry 'fritters' that are traditionally dipped in the chocolate. This is a favourite breakfast for many Spaniards! Afterwards, you may return directly to the ship in the company of your guide, or remain in the city centre and make your own way back later.

All sightseeing is on foot, and you should expect to walk approximately two miles, mainly over level ground. You must also be prepared to spend considerable periods of time standing while your guide gives a commentary. Plaza Maria Pita

Travel by coach from the port to Lugo, one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. Dating from Roman times, the walls were built between 260 and 310 AD to defend what was then the city of Lucus Augusti. They are over one-and-a-quarter miles long and enclose an area of 85 acres, and vary in height from 26 to 39 feet. Originally they had 85 round turrets, of which 70 still stand. The old district of Lugo, entirely surrounded by the walls, can be reached through ten gates: only four of which are Roman in origin. The walls were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2000. On arrival in Lugo, your guide will take you up the steps to the top of the wall, and you will walk along it for about 400 yards. Coming down from the wall, visit the Romanesque Cathedral, the earliest parts of which date back to 1129, although it has been extended, modified and restored over the years. A stop will be made for a snack of tapas before you head back to La Coruña. Tapas are small appetisers that emphasise local ingredients, flavours and specialities: the result is fresh, seasonal and mouth-watering!

You should expect to walk a total distance of approximately 1½ miles, partly over uneven ground, with flights of stone steps up and down the wall. Comfortable shoes are recommended, and you should be prepared for changeable weather. The coach journeys to and from Lugo should take approximately 1¼ hours each way. As you will be visiting Lugo off-season, some shops, cafés and other businesses may be closed. The Roman Walls of Lugo

Your stop in La Coruña gives you a wonderful opportunity to visit Santiago. Leaving the port, your guide will tell you about the city, named after the Apostle James the Great, and prepare you for the sights that await you. Walking to Obradoiro Square, your guide will point out the Cathedral, the City Hall and the College of San Jerónimo. Santiago’s cathedral has become the most popular site of Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome, and you will see the beautiful Jubilee Door, the traditional tomb of St James and the 12th-century ‘Portico da Gloria’, considered one of the world’s most important medieval works of sculpture. After your visit to the Cathedral, you have some free time to explore the historic city centre before heading to the Parador de los Reyes Catolicós for a tapas-style lunch. Originally built in 1499 as a hostel for pilgrims, this elegant hotel is a magnificent piece of architecture. At the Parador you will be entertained by the ‘Tuna’, a group of local singers and musicians from the University. Suitably refreshed, your guide will lead you back to the coach for your return drive to La Coruña.

This excursion requires extensive walking of up to 2½ miles, much of it over cobbled streets, with around 25 steps. Coaches are unable to access the cathedral area – there is a walk of approximately 800 yards to reach it. The journey to Santiago de Compostela should take around one hour each way, depending on traffic. Large bags and backpacks should not be taken inside the cathedral, and guiding inside the cathedral is not permitted: your guide will describe its history and architecture from the outside and will give detailed explanations of what to see inside. Access to the interior may occasionally be restricted if a religious service is taking place. Modest dress should be worn inside the cathedral: off-the-shoulder dresses, and shorts or skirts above the knee are inappropriate. View of Santiago de Compostela

Experience the scenic surroundings of Galicia on this tour, which begins with a panoramic sightseeing tour of La Coruña from the comfort of your coach. Drive along the famous seafront promenade lined with houses and their many windows, which have given the city its informal title of the 'Crystal City’. You then pass the island fortress of San Antón, before pausing for photos at the famous Tower of Hercules. Built by the Romans, this is the only lighthouse of its kind still in use today, and since 2009 it has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Leaving La Coruña, you travel to the old fishing village of Pontedeume to view its most prominent landmark, the 14th-century Tower of Andrade. Formerly part of a larger fortress, the tower is 38 feet high and has walls over 6 feet thick. On the façade is a magnificent coat-of-arms showing the 18 flags that Count Fernán Pérez de Andrade won from the French in the Battle of Seminara in 1503. After pausing for a photo stop just outside the village, you conclude your tour with a visit to a local restaurant, where you have the opportunity to enjoy refreshments before returning to your ship in La Coruña.

On this tour you will be required to walk approximately 550 yards, sometimes over cobblestones. There are also five steps at Pontedeume and three at the restaurant. Charming Puentedeume

Visit Santiago de Compostela on foot, just like a pilgrim! Leaving the port, travel by coach to your starting-point along the Way of St James, where you collect your walking stick and scallop shell - symbols of the camino - before you begin your stroll alongside meadows, farms and eucalyptus groves towards Santiago. This walk will be long enough to give you a good impression of what it is like to walk the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain. Arriving in Santiago - the end of the Way and the goal of any pilgrim - your guide will give a brief explanation about the Cathedral and other places associated with the pilgrimage. A snack is included in the most famous of all Spanish Paradors, the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. Said to be the oldest hotel in the world, its magnificent façade occupies one side of the beautiful Praça do Obradoiro, adjacent to the cathedral. Founded by Ferdinand and Isabel of Spain as an inn for pilgrims in 1499, the Parador has been tastefully modernised without sacrificing the beauty of its original design. Inside are a chapel and four arcaded courtyards with fountains and flowerbeds. The famous façade, with a magnificent central doorway, was rebuilt in the Plateresque style in 1678. Suitably refreshed, you have time to discover this historic city at your leisure before returning to the port.

This excursion involves a walk of approximately four miles, partly along cobbled streets and partly along a long-distance footpath: the surface of this may be uneven, dusty or muddy depending on the season and the weather. Comfortable, supportive walking shoes are essential, and you should be prepared for changeable weather. Sticks are provided. Entrance to the Cathedral is not included in the cost of this excursion. Follow the Camino de Santiago!

Explore Santiago at your own pace on this day transfer. Depart your ship by coach to visit the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela with its charming old quarter and beautiful cathedral which dominates Obradoiro Square. The cathedral has become the most popular site of Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome, and, on your visit, you can see the beautiful Jubilee Door (only opened each Jubilee Year), the traditional tomb of St James and the 12th-century ‘Pórtico da Gloria’, considered one of the world’s most important medieval sculptures.

Walking on this excursion is at your own discretion. On this excursion your guide travels with you on the coach only, and on arrival you have all your time at leisure to explore independently. Since coaches are unable to access the cathedral area, there is a walk of approximately 800 yards to reach it. The journey to Santiago de Compostela should take around one hour, 15 minutes each way, depending on traffic. Large bags and backpacks are not permitted inside the cathedral. Access to the interior may occasionally be restricted if a religious service is taking place. Modest dress should be worn if going inside the cathedral: off-the-shoulder dresses, and shorts or skirts above the knee are inappropriate. See Santiago as a Pilgrim

Day at sea.

Lisbon

Arrive 0800. Depart 2200.

Set on seven hills on the banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon has been the capital of Portugal since the 13th century. It is a city famous for its majestic architecture, old wooden trams, Moorish features and more than twenty centuries of history. Following disastrous earthquakes in the 18th century, Lisbon was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal who created an elegant city with wide boulevards and a great riverfront and square, Praça do Comércio. Today there are distinct modern and ancient sections, combining great shopping with culture and sightseeing in the Old Town, built on the city's terraced hillsides. The distance between the ship and your tour vehicle may vary. This distance is not included in the excursion grades.

FactFile

Population 536,000 (approximate)
Language Portuguese
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK
Climate Hot summers and mild winters
Ship berths at Santa Apolonia, Jardim do Tabaco or Alcantara Docks
Distance from Centre Up to four miles
Distance from gangway to coach You may expect to walk a minimum of 300 yards. However, this can vary according to the berth allocated, and could be up to half-a-mile. The port may be busy with other cruise ships and the terminal is often very crowded.

Useful Information

Shopping Some shops are available in the terminals, but the main shopping area is in the city centre.
Shopping Opening Hours Most shops in the city centre open weekdays from 0900-1900; some may close on Saturday afternoons. Shopping centres are open every day, usually from 1000 onwards.
Post Office The main Post Office is at Praça dos Restauradores in the city centre, and is open Monday to Saturday from 0800-2000.
Tourist Office Located at 15 Rua do Arsenal and open most days from 0900-1900.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, but omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Dial 112
Banks There are numerous banks in the city centre, open weekdays only from 0830-1500. 24-hour ATMs are widespread.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

Enjoy an informative commentary from your guide during a relaxing drive through Lisbon and its environs, stopping to take photographs at famous landmarks and places of interest. See the Monument to the Discoveries and Belém Tower before stopping for refreshments. Afterwards, continue your tour past notable sights including Jerónimos Monastery and the Parliament buildings. Before returning to your ship, you also stop at the top of Eduardo VII Park to take in a panorama of the whole city, and cross the suspension bridge to view the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

There is a walk of approximately 300 yards at the refreshment stop, and you will need to cross a busy road. There will also be photo-stops where you may get off the coach if you wish to take photographs: walking at such stops will be at your discretion. The striking Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon

This excursion takes you to the lesser-explored area south of Lisbon – Arrabida. Leaving the port behind, cross the 25th April Bridge and enjoy stunning views of the capital before heading towards Cabo Espichel, where you can see some of the beautiful beaches located on the south bank of the River Tagus. Arriving at Cabo Espichel, pause and hear about some of the mysterious legends that are told of this remarkable place. The Romans are said to have considered the Cape to be sacred, believing that the gods met here at night. In the Middle Ages a cult grew up around an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Nossa Sehora da Cabo, which is said to have saved a vessel from shipwreck. Your journey continues to Sesimbra, an old fishing village of traditional whitewashed houses. Stop to view the exterior of Sesimbra’s Moorish castle and to admire a panoramic view of the village below. Your tour then takes you into the Arrábida Natural Park where you have the chance to admire this area's beauty and richness. Stop at a local café in Azeitão for some well-deserved refreshments, including local bread, cheese, pastry and a glass of the famous Muscatel wine - or, if you prefer, a cup of tea or coffee. Your final stop is at a local winery, where you enjoy a guided tour, including a wine-tasting, before heading back across the Tagus to Lisbon.

Most of the walking is at your discretion, although there is an unavoidable walk of around 160 yards plus 40 steps inside the wine cellar. There are uneven and cobbled streets at Sesimbra. Closed-top four-wheel drive vehicles are used: window seats are not guaranteed and there may be limited legroom. The terrain may be bumpy, and those suffering from vertigo, motion sickness or back and neck problems should take this into consideration. A certain amount of dexterity is required to get in and out of the vehicles. Vineyards in the Arrábida region

Enjoy an informative commentary during a relaxing drive through Lisbon and its environs, stopping to take photographs at landmarks and places of interest. See the Monument to the Discoveries and the Belém Tower, Jeronimos Monastery and the Parliament buildings, with views from Rossio Square up to St George’s Castle. Take in the atmosphere and ambience of the new and old towns within the city, and visit the very special site of Estufa Fria, an authentic living museum and one of the most important green spaces in Lisbon. Estufa Fria literally means ‘cold greenhouse’, and gets its name from the fact that no imported heat source is used at this site. The area is divided into three zones: Hot, Cold and Sweet. The Cold Zone, the largest of the three, is covered with slats of wood which is a natural way to control the temperature and light inside: this glasshouse contains azaleas and camellias from various parts of the globe. The Hot Zone hosts tropical species, such as mango and coffee. The Sweet Zone is home to species belonging to the cactus family, and plants such as aloe. This is an unusual and extremely peaceful place with areas enhanced by pools, waterfalls and statues. After visiting this beguiling and charming place, stop for refreshments at Belém.

There will be between 550 and 700 yards of necessary walking on the flat, with approximately 10 steps in the Cold Zone and a further 10 steps to reach the toilet facilities. Walking in the Hot and Sweet Zones will be entirely at your discretion and not suitable for passengers with mobility problems due to the high number of steps involved to reach these areas. We recommend an umbrella and/or waterproof jacket if the weather is inclement, as the roof of the Cold Zone is constructed of wooden slats and will not totally prevent the rain getting through, and could also make the steps slippery and more difficult to negotiate. View of Lisbon

If you want to take in the sights, absorb the atmosphere of Lisbon at a relaxed pace and taste the local tipple, then this tour is for you! Lisbon’s vintage trams are among the city’s icons, and this tour includes a ride on one of these historic vehicles. A coach will take you into the heart of the city where you board a traditional wooden-bodied tram for a picturesque one-hour journey through Alfama and Bairro Alto, two of the oldest districts of the city which are characterised by winding alleyways and whitewashed houses with flowers on their balconies. Following your tram journey you will then visit a local establishment and be served a glass of white port accompanied with white chocolate, and a glass of ten-year old Tawny port with a miniature ‘Pastel de Nata’ cake. The tour would not be complete without a relaxing panoramic coach ride through the City, viewing some of Lisbon’s famous landmarks such as the Monument to the Discoveries, Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, the far end of the Edward VII Park, the Rossio district and St George’s Castle.

The trams are authentic historic vehicles and are accessed by a fight of three steps. Please note that there is no commentary during the tram ride, but your guide will describe the journey before you board. The trams are exclusive to Saga passengers. You will need to walk approximately 250 yards from the tram to the port tasting venue, which, due to the topography of Lisbon, may be up a slight incline, with the possibility of cobblestones and a few steps. One of Lisbon's iconic old trams

Discover a traditional Portuguese village on this excursion. Journey northwards to the picturesque walled village of Óbidos, where the cobbled streets and whitewashed houses are adorned with colourful blooms. King Dinis of Portugal presented Óbidos as a wedding gift to his wife Isabella, a custom repeated for successive Portuguese queens until 1833. The old fortress has been converted into a Pousada - a luxury, state-owned inn - which affords wonderful views of the village and its surroundings. After an orientation tour by your local guide, you will have some free time to explore at leisure this beautiful village before returning to the ship.

You need to walk approximately 500 yards from the coach park to the entrance of the walls, and another 750 yards inside the village, with some cobblestones and steps to be negotiated. Any other walking is at your discretion. Picturesque Obidos

Discover a trio of traditional Portuguese towns on this excursion. First, journey northwards to the picturesque walled town of Óbidos, where the cobbled streets and whitewashed houses are adorned with colourful blooms. King Dinis of Portugal presented the town as a wedding gift to his wife Isabella, a custom which was repeated for successive Portuguese queens until 1833. The old fortress has been converted into a pousada, which affords wonderful views of the town and its surroundings. Continue to Nazaré, the most colourful of Portuguese fishing villages. According to legend, the fishermen here are descendants of the Phoenicians, and old prints show that they once had to pull boats onto the beach with oxen. Your next stop is at Sitio, set on the clifftops above Nazare. After lunch travel to Alcobaça, which was Portugal’s spiritual centre until the 18th century. Visit the 12th-century monastery, where the Baroque façade conceals an early Gothic interior, before heading back to Lisbon.

This excursion requires a walk of approximately 750 yards from the coach to the monastery, with around 30 steps inside. Suitable clothing must be worn, so please avoid shorts, low necklines or sleeveless blouses. Any other walking is at your own discretion, but please be aware that this tour will involve quite a bit of standing and the majority of the walking be will be on cobbled streets. Dietary requests must be advised to the Shore Excursion Manager on board ship at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Alcobaça Monastery

Start your tour with a pleasant drive through the Portuguese capital, allowing you to view many of its attractions such as Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries and the 16th-century Belém Tower, which was the starting point for many voyages of discovery. You also view the Parliament buildings, Rossio Square, St George’s Castle and the Edward VII Park on a panoramic tour of city. Then you visit the Ajuda National Palace, a neo-Classical building dating from the first half of the 19th century, which was the residence of the Portuguese royal family from the reign of King Luís I until the abolition of the Monarchy in 1910. The Royal Family was exiled after the proclamation of the Republic, and the palace was closed. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1968 and today is the only Palace in Lisbon which faithfully preserves the original arrangement and decoration of the rooms in the style of the 19th century. Enjoy included refreshments at Belém before returning to your ship.

Approximately 1,000 yards' walking is necessary, and there are approximately 20 steps, up and down, to negotiate, plus a further ten steps to access the wc facilities. The majority of time at the venue will be spent standing, with any additional walking at your discretion. The sumptuous Palace of Ajuda © José Paulo Ruas PNA/DGPC

This half-day adventure takes you away from the bustle of Lisbon, on board a four-wheel-drive vehicle operated by a skilled driver. The first stop is at Cascais, one of Portugal’s most popular seaside resorts. Continuing along the coastline, pass the beach at Guincho, a favourite spot for windsurfers and kite-surfers. You drive past the charming Malveira da Serra, located in the heart of the Cascais-Sintra Park, and stop at the Alto da Memória viewpoint for a breathtaking panorama of the land, sea and the fairytale Peña Palace on the opposite side of the hill. Travelling along dusty roads, you reach the Sintra mountain range with its beautiful trees, some of which are 100 years old. Your tour continues with a drive past picturesque villages such as Eugaria and Galamares until you reach Cabo da Roca, the place where the land ends and the sea begins. This is the westernmost point of mainland Europe and a very popular tourist attraction. Before returning to the pier, stop in the romantic town of Sintra, where you enjoy a break for refreshments, followed by some free time to relax or stroll around the narrow, cobbled streets.

Minimal walking is involved, but you must be able to climb in and out of the vehicle unaided. The four-wheel drive ride is unsuitable for people with neck, back, hip or knee problems owing to the very bumpy terrain, and these vehicles have no handrails or space to store wheelchairs. The standard of vehicle may vary by make and model, some having steep access steps and no seat belts. Prior to our port call, the Shore Excursion Manager will request a meeting of all participants booked on this tour. The charming town of Sintra

Drive to the charming town of Sintra, where you can admire many stunning buildings and works of art. The whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its 19th-century Romantic architecture. Upon arrival you first visit Sintra National Palace, also known as Palácio da Vila, famous for its magnificent painted ceilings. The palace is the only survivor of the country's Royal Halls, dating from the Middle Ages. One of the highlights is its kitchen complete with huge 110-feet high conical chimneys, so large they can be seen from the exterior of the building. After your visit to the palace, stop for refreshments, and then have free time to explore on your own. The town still retains much of its medieval layout, with labyrinthine streets, flights of steps and arcaded buildings. On your return journey to the ship you will follow a section of the scenic ocean road, and pass the Belém district with its famous tower.

This excursion involves a considerable amount of walking at the palace – up to two miles, and the guided tour usually takes around one hour. Some of the walking will be over cobblestones, and inside there are approximately 120 steps and a spiral staircase. Explore Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Day at sea.

Cadiz

Arrive 0800 on December 23. Depart 2000 on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, the best decorated cabin door will be judged and in the evening, you can enjoy midnight Mass and a special carol performance by the crew’s choir.

Believed to be the oldest town on the Iberian Peninsula, the Andalusian port of Cádiz enjoys a stunning location at the edge of a six-mile promontory. The town itself, with 3,000 years of history, is characterised by pretty white houses with balconies often adorned with colourful flowers. As you wander around be sure to take a stroll through the sizeable Plaza de Espãna, with its large monument dedicated to the first Spanish constitution, which was signed here in 1812. Cádiz has two pleasant seafront promenades which boast fine views of the Atlantic Ocean, and has a lovely park, the Parque Genoves, located close to the sea with an open-air theatre and attractive palm garden. Also notable is the neo-Classical cathedral, capped by a golden dome.

FactFile

Population 130,000 (approximate)
Language Spanish
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK+1
Climate Hot summers and mild winters
Ship berths at Muelle Ciudad
Distance from Centre Between 100-1,000 yards, depending on the berth.
Distance from gangway to coach The coaches park directly by the ship's gangway.

Useful Information

Shopping The main shopping area is near the harbour, within the Old Town. The Corte Ingles is a well-known department store, located opposite the Old Town.
Shopping Opening Hours Between 0930-1330 and 1730-2030 weekdays and 0930-1330 on Saturdays. Shops close on Sundays.
Post Office The main Post Office is located in the heart of the Old Town, near the Plaza de las Flores.
Tourist Office There is a small tourist information centre on Paseo de Canalejas, by the Cruise Terminal. The main Tourist Office is located in the city centre on Avenida Ramón de Carranza.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, but omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Dial 112.
Banks There are several banks opposite the harbour which open from 0800-1400 on weekdays – most have 24-hour ATMs.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

Discover the historic and beautiful Andalusian city of Seville on this full-day excursion, which starts with a panoramic sightseeing tour. See the Plaza de España and nearby Maria Luisa Park, the Paseo de las Palmeras and Expo 92, now a cultural area featuring many museums. You then arrive at the Gothic Cathedral where you explore the magnificent interior with its 138-feet-high central nave, the tomb of Christopher Columbus, and the Giraldo, a 12th-century bell tower that was formerly a minaret from an old mosque. You will then make the short walk to the 14th-century Alcázar, built as a royal residence and still used by the royal family. Explore its gardens, jewel-like interior and Mudéjar decor before walking through the Barrio de Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was originally the old Jewish quarter of the city, characterised by its maze of narrow streets, whitewashed houses and picturesque patios. Enjoy some free time here before pausing for lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, return to Cádiz and your ship.

This excursion packs in a great deal of sightseeing and involves walking approximately two miles over flat ground and cobblestones, with a number of steps. The journeys to and from Seville take approximately 1½ hours each way, and you should be aware that the first comfort stop will not be made until you reach the cathedral, around 2¼ hours after leaving the ship. To make it easier to hear your guide, headsets will be provided in Seville. Dietary requests must be advised to the Shore Excursion Manager on board ship at least 72 hours prior to arrival. The Plaza de España in Seville

Leave the port and travel by coach via Puerto Réal and Puerto de Santa María to Jerez de la Frontera, the Andalusian city that has given its name to sherry. Although it is less than 20 miles from the Portuguese frontier, the town’s name refers to the border that existed until 1492 between Christian Spain and the Muslim Kingdom of Granada. The countryside around Jerez may appear barren and inhospitable during the long, hot summer, but local conditions are ideal for cultivating the grapes that produce the three main varieties of sherry. On arrival, visit the Bodega Williams & Humbert, founded in 1870 by Sir Alexander Williams, an enterprising young Englishman. Here you watch an exciting equestrian performance in the winery's own magnificent exhibition ring. After this introduction to the world of horses, enjoy a tour of what is probably Europe’s largest wine cellar, and learn about the history, production and ageing of wines, concluding with a tasting of three different types of sherry. Leaving Jerez, head back to Cádiz, where your coach will take you on a short panoramic city tour, passing the 17th-century Puerta de la Tierra, Caleta Beach, the Plaza de España and the tree-lined Alameda Apodaca, before returning to the port.

The visit to Williams Bodega involves walking approximately 500 yards at a reasonably leisurely pace, with some periods of standing. Seats are provided at the equestrian show. All sightseeing in Cádiz is from the coach. Watch an Equestrian Performance in Jerez

This tour starts with a panoramic drive around Cádiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain. The historic town centre is still surrounded by fortifications, dating mainly from the 18th century, and inside the walls it has changed little over the past 300 years: few buildings are more than three or four stories high, and the Cathedral dome and the 17th-century Tavira Tower still dominate the city. Following your tour, proceed to a local ‘tablao’- an Andalusian tavern - for an authentic flamenco performance. Flamenco originated as the music of Spanish gypsies, incorporating both Western European and North African influences. Sit back and enjoy a traditional performance of its staccato, balletic dances, haunting ballads and fiery guitar music. While enjoying the music and dancing, you will be served wine and local ‘tapas’ - small plates of Serrano ham, cheese and Spanish omelettes. You can even try some flamenco dancing for yourself! Following this cultural and gastronomic experience, your coach will take you back to the port.

You will need to walk about 200 yards from the coach stop on the Plaza de España to the flamenco venue, and the same distance back again. This is partly over cobbled streets, so comfortable, flat-soled shoes are recommended. No visit to Andalusia is complete without a flamenco show

Andalusia has a rich cultural heritage that encompasses the production of sherry, flamenco music, and a varied landscape of lush valleys, barren plains, forests, mountains, marshland and coast. On this panoramic tour through the countryside you can catch a glimpse of this unique land. Leaving the pier, you travel south past the town of Chiclana, now a popular golf centre and beach resort, and then head inland to Medina Sidonia, a very ancient hill town that was home to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, one of the leaders of the Spanish Armada. Your journey takes you along part of the Ruta del Toro (Route of the Bull), and in the fields you will see some of the area’s famous bulls, bred for fighting in the arena. As you go deeper into the countryside, passing olive groves and villages of whitewashed houses, your guide will tell you about local agriculture and the history of bull fighting. After a scenic drive lasting about one-and-a-half hours, you reach Jerez de la Frontera, famous as the home of sherry, flamenco dancing and purebred Andalusian horses. Stop here for a short walk in the town centre followed by refreshments, before returning via the direct road to Cádiz. Here, your coach will take you on a short panoramic drive around the city centre, viewing the old city walls and the dome of the Cathedral, before returning to your ship.

You will need to walk approximately 200 yards in Jerez de la Frontera, over level, paved ground. All other sightseeing is from the coach. A Glimpse of Old Cádiz

Day at sea.

Look forward to a festive day on the ship, including brunch with champagne and mimosas, afternoon tea, evening cocktails with a special appearance from Santa Claus and, of course, Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Afterwards sit back and enjoy a performance of ‘White Christmas’.

Cartagena

Arrive 0800. Depart 1800.

A Mediterranean city and naval station located in the Region of Murcia, southeastern Spain, Cartagena’s sheltered bay has attracted sailors for centuries. The Carthaginians founded the city in 223BC and named it Cartago Nova; it later became a prosperous Roman colony, and a Byzantine trading centre. The city has been the main Spanish Mediterranean naval base since the reign of King Philip II, and is still surrounded by walls built during this period. Cartagena’s importance grew with the arrival of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century, when the Navidad Fortress was constructed to protect the harbour. In recent years, traces of the city’s fascinating past have been brought to light: a well-preserved Roman Theatre was discovered in 1988, and this has now been restored and opened to the public. During your free time, you may like to take a mini-cruise around Cartagena's historic harbour: these operate several times a day, take approximately 40 minutes and do not need to be booked in advance. Full details will be available at the port.

FactFile

Population 217,340
Language Spanish
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK+1
Climate A warm, semi-arid climate with an average temperature of 20°C
Ship berths at Cartagena Pier
Distance from Centre ¼-mile
Distance from gangway to coach The coaches park right by the gangway.

Useful Information

Shopping The main shopping area is approximately ¼-mile from the port, along the main street (Calle Mayor).
Shopping Opening Hours 0930-1330 and 1630-1930 Mondays to Fridays. On Saturday afternoons and Sundays most shops are closed.
Post Office Postcards and stamps can be purchased in the Town Hall Square from the 'Estanco' (tobacconist's kiosk).
Tourist Office The Tourist Office is located in the town hall.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, but omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Diall 112.
Banks Banks are located in the town centre and are open from 0830 - 1400 Monday to Friday.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

Discover the highlights of Cartagena by boarding a rubber-tyred ‘trolley train’ that takes you through the city’s streets. Originally settled in 223 BC, Cartagena flourished under Roman, Muslim and Arab rule, and today offers the visitor a variety of sights that reflect more than 3,000 years of history. Leaving the port area, you enter the historic city centre, where you can admire one of the city’s most surprising archaeological discoveries from the exterior: the Roman Theatre. Discovered only in 1988, this great structure shows how important Cartagena was in Roman Spain, and its complete excavation and restoration has been a driving force for the regeneration of what was formerly a run-down area of the city. Your trolley train also takes you up to Parque Serrano, where you can see the exterior of the Castillo de la Concepción, a medieval castle that appears on the city’s coat-of-arms. Returning to the city centre, pass the Naval Museum and the18th-century Arsenal Building before pausing for refreshments in the Town Hall Square, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Relax and admire the splendid neo-Classical façade of the Town Hall and the fine Modernist buildings on the square, before taking the trolley train back to the port.

You will need to walk approximately 200 yards at the Town Hall Square, over level ground. Any further walking at photo-stops is at your discretion. Take a trip on the Trolley Train

This tour takes you to the town of Elche, known in the local Valenciano language as 'Elx', famous throughout Spain for its ancient palm forest. Home to more than 300,000 trees, the forest is said to have been planted by the Phoenicians in 300BC and part of it is now an enclosed private garden. Discover the delightful Huerto del Cura or Priest’s Garden, home to an abundant variety of plants and cacti. The trees are not purely aesthetic as they are still the town’s chief industry - they produce dates, and the fronds are in demand all over the country for Palm Sunday processions. You will also see the Imperial Palm, a tree with a trunk divided into eight branches. From here, continue to the blue-domed Baroque Basilica of St Mary, which was built between 1672 and 1784 on the site of a former mosque. The richly-decorated main doorway is the work of Nicolás de Bussy, a sculptor born in Strasbourg in 1651 who spent most of his life in Spain. This magnificent church is the setting for the most important event in the town’s religious calendar - the 'Mystery of Elche’ passion play. Performed every year on August 14 and 15, the play is recognised by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Before leaving Elche, spend some time in the Municipal Park, bequeathed to the city in 1661 by landowner Nicolás Caro. This beautiful park is dotted with fountains and ponds, and, in addition to the inevitable date palms, includes bougainvillea, rosewood, magnolias, poplars, fig and banana trees, and even a rare tulip tree from Gabon.

You should be prepared to walk just over one mile over reasonably level ground. There are five steps at the entrance to the Basilica. Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. The coach journeys between Cartagena and Elche take approximately 1¼ hours each way. Cacti and date palms in Elche

This tour starts with an exploration of the coastline of Cartagena, visiting La Manga del Mar Menor. Literally meaning ‘The Sleeve’, La Manga is an unusual geographical phenomenon: a thin strip of land about 15 miles long and 450 yards wide that separates the Mediterranean from the saltwater lake known as the Mar Menor or ‘Little Sea’. Stop for photos at the fishing village of Cabo de Palos, situated at the south end of La Manga. Of particular interest is the lighthouse, which is built of grey stone and is 265 feet high. Standing on a rocky headland, it took two years to build and was first lit on January 31, 1865. Continuing by coach along the peninsula of La Manga, you will see the beach, which extends for 13 miles and is very popular with holidaymakers and sunbathers. They refer to La Manga as the ‘Paradise Between Two Seas’, and consider the Mar Menor to be the world’s largest swimming pool. Since the 1960s numerous hotels and apartment complexes have been built along this narrow strip of land. Returning to Cartagena, stop for a short walking tour of the city, which is located on a fine natural harbour. Stroll past the monument of the Heroes of Cavite, dedicated to Spanish sailors who died in the 1898 Spanish-American War, and walk along the pedestrianised main street, while listening to the commentary from your guide. Pause to enjoy a drink of hot chocolate in a café by the impressive City Hall, which was built in 1900 and is listed as a Spanish National Monument.

The tour of La Manga is panoramic: any walking at photo-stops is at your discretion. There is an optional walk of about 150 yards to the lighthouse, with five steps. The city sightseeing in Cartagena is entirely on foot and covers approximately 400 yards, almost all of which is over level paved ground. Comfortable shoes and sun protection are recommended. Cartagena's imposing City Hall

Enjoy a drive through the countryside of the Murcia region to see the natural wonder of the Mar Menor. This inland sea was formed after an accumulation of sediment created a barrier of sand between the land and the Mediterranean. Stop at Cabo de Palos to see the tall, impressive lighthouse: its light has warned sailors of the dangers of this treacherous shore since 1865. Continue to the coastal resort of La Manga, which has boomed since the 1970s with the construction of numerous hotels and apartments. Enjoy a little free time here to take in the views of the Mar Menor on one side and of the Mediterranean on the other. Your next stop is at the Bodega Serrano. This family-run winery is tucked away from the normal tourist trail in the small town of Pozo Estrecho. Here you will be shown how wines are produced, before enjoying a tasting session, accompanied by some typical regional tapas. You may also purchase wine if you wish to take home a bottle or two. Suitably refreshed, return by coach to your ship in Cartagena.

You will need to walk approximately 550 yards at the winery, over level paved ground or hard-packed sand, with four steps to negotiate. There is an optional walk of about 150 yards to the lighthouse, with five steps; further walking at Cabo de Palos and in La Manga is at your discretion. Comfortable shoes and sun protection are recommended. Cabo de Palos Lighthouse

Depart Cartagena by coach for a journey through the foothills of the Sierra Carrascoy. Your destination is the city of Murcia, capital of the province of the same name. Settled by the Moors in the 9th century and conquered by the Christians in the 13th century, this bustling city offers an array of architectural delights. Your first stop is the Monastery of the Virgin of Fuensanta, the Patroness of Murcia. From here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Murcian orchards, which produce more fruit and vegetables than any others in the Mediterranean. Continuing to the city, you stop to visit the Cathedral in the main square. This comprises work in three different architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Next to the Cathedral you can view the exterior of the Bishop’s Palace. From here you continue to another of Murcia’s historic buildings, the Royal Casino. Located in the city centre not far from the cathedral, the Casino dates from 1847 and is in a mixture of different architectural styles, with interiors modeled on Roman and Moorish buildings. Declared a National Historic Building in 1983, it was completely refurbished between 2006 and 2009, when all the original decorative features were restored. Leaving the Casino, you pass through the Squares of Santo Domingo and Romea, and have some free time for a stroll on your own before returning by coach to Cartagena.

This tour involves walking slightly over one mile along mostly level ground, with 25 steps at the shrine and inside the cathedral. Comfortable shoes and sun protection are recommended. The Baroque façade of Murcia Cathedral

Discover the highlights of Cartagena, originally settled in 223 BC. The city has flourished under Roman, Muslim and Arab rule, and today offers a vast cultural legacy. Your walking tour begins at the pier. Walk along the sea wall to reach the Town Hall Square and the main avenue, admiring interesting modernist buildings from the beginning of the 20th century. You then continue to the Roman Theatre, the most important archaeological site in the region. The theatre is in the heart of Cartagena, but was lost for more than 1,500 years: it dates back some 2,000 years to the heyday of Cartagena's period as an important Roman city. Built on one of the highest hills in the city, its tiered rows of seats were dug out of the rock so that 6,000 spectators had a view of the stage. After seeing the theatre, you have the choice of returning to your ship with your guide or staying in the town centre to explore on your own.

This excursion is entirely on foot and covers approximately one mile, almost entirely over level paved ground, although there are some cobblestones and uneven surfaces when you reach the Roman Theatre. An escalator provides access to the Roman Theatre. Comfortable shoes and sun protection are recommended. Cartagena's well-preserved Roman Theatre

Day at sea.

Ajaccio

Arrive 0800. Depart 1700.

Located on the west coast of Corsica, Ajaccio has an evocative old town, stylish new district, vibrant markets of fragrant food stalls, and bayside restaurants serving mouth-watering Italian and French cuisine. Stroll through the atmospheric lanes dotted with fascinating shops and enjoy sun-blushed wines in elegant plazas. There is an abundance of museums and monuments, plus, for lovers of art, the Fesch Museum is home to a number of Italian masterpieces. As the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Ajaccio houses the Bonaparte Museum, formerly the residence where he was born - you can also see the impressive Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Miséricorde where he was baptised in 1771.

FactFile

Population Approximately 65.000
Language French
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK+1
Climate Hot summers and moderate, dry winters
Ship berths at Port of Ajaccio
Distance from Centre Up to 750 yards
Distance from gangway to coach Up to 550 yards

Useful Information

Shopping The main shopping area is located in the town centre.
Shopping Opening Hours Open Monday-Saturday between 0900-1230 and 1400-1800.
Post Office The main Post Office is located on Cours Napoleon.
Tourist Office Located on 3 Boulevard Roi Jérôme, close to the market place, open between 0900-1230 and 1500-1700.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services For all emergencies dial 112.
Banks There are several banks on the Cours Napoleon and on Place Foch – most have ATMs. There is no Bureau de Change in Ajaccio and no banks offer this service.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

This walking tour shows you Ajaccio’s old town, starting with a stroll around the narrow streets north and south of Place Foch, on the seafront. Here stands a statue of Napoleon, dressed as a Roman Consul and surrounded by four lions. View the façade of Ajaccio’s modest Cathedral, completed in 1593, where Napoleon was christened in 1771. A walk along Rue St Charles brings you to his birthplace, Maison Bonaparte. A good example of an 18th-century townhouse, it has been enlarged and refurbished several times since it was built. Inside you can see rooms used by the family during Napoleon’s childhood, including the room where he was born and a trap-door through which he is said to have escaped to reach the port on October 6, 1799. On the nearby Place du Diamant you can see a statue of Napoleon on horseback, with his four brothers. Your walking tour takes you next along the delightful Rue Fesch, reserved for pedestrians. Stop here to visit the Fesch Museum, which has a fine collection of works of art, including works by artists such as Titian, Veronese and Boticelli. The collection was assembled by Cardinal Joseph Fesch, Napoleon’s uncle, and includes a section devoted to the Emperor. After touring the museum, your guide will accompany you back to the port, or you may choose to remain in the city and make your own way back to the ship.

This excursion involves walking about two miles, and all sightseeing is on foot. There are occasional steps although both museums have lifts. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. Photography is not permitted inside either Napoleon’s Birthplace or the Fesch Museum, and bulky items must be left in the cloakrooms when visiting. The Imperial Chapel at the Fesch Musuem may be closed for restoration, and access to the Cathedral may be restricted in the event of our visit coinciding with a religious service. Monument to Napoleon in Place Foch

Enjoy a panoramic drive from Ajaccio to the San Bastiano Pass, where you can admire stunning views of the Gulf of Ajaccio. You continue along this coastal route, passing seaside resorts along the Gulf of Sagone and ascending the Monte Cinto mountain range, which reaches its peak at 8,860 feet above sea level. Stop at Cargèse, an old village that was settled by 730 Greeks from the Peloponnese who landed in Corsica in 1676. Here you explore two local churches before continuing to the breath-taking rock formations known as Les Calanches or 'The Creeks'. Classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, these spectacular pink and orange granite cliffs have been eroded over the millennia by wind and rain, and plunge dramatically to the sea below. The road takes you right through these dramatic rock formations, some of which bear a resemblance to human figures or animals. After exploring this area your coach takes you to nearby Porto for lunch. After your meal, re-join your coach and pause to admire the view from the Sevi Pass, overlooking the Gulf of Porto before commencing your return journey to Ajaccio.

This tour involves relatively little walking, but any terrain at photo-stops is likely to be rocky and uneven. We have classified this excursion as 'Moderate' as participants will spend a comparatively long time on the coach, travelling along steep, winding mountain roads, sometimes with a sheer drop on one side. We do not recommend this tour to anyone suffering from vertigo. The drives to and from Ajaccio normally use the same road. The dramatic red rocks of Piana Calanche

This tour takes you along some of Corsica’s most beautiful roads, leaving Ajaccio and passing the pleasant village of Cauro before entering a rural landscape with small vineyards, cultivated fields and woodlands. The road then climbs through the Pineta Forest with its pine, chestnut and beech trees to reach the Col de Cricheto, 2,378 feet above sea level. Surrounded by the Corsican maquis or ‘macchia’ - dense vegetation that includes aromatic shrubs, colourful flowers and a variety of bushes, your guide will tell you about Corsican history, geography and traditions while your coach passes through the unspoilt countryside. The road twists and turns when you enter the gorges of the Prunelli River. Deep red granite cliffs plunge down into one of the two major rivers in the Ajaccio district. At the end of the gorges, you will get a glimpse of Tolla Lake and its dam. Built to give Ajaccio hydro-electricity, it also supplies many of Corsica’s inhabitants with drinking water, and is a popular base for water sports in the summer. Your coach drives past the village of Tolla, strung out along a ridge overlooking the lake, and reaches the Col de Mercujo, where high rocks and jagged pinnacles emerge from the greenery. On a clear day, you can view the whole valley from here. A stop will be made in this area where you will be able to purchase refreshments. Your journey carries on, via the austere granite hamlet of Ocana to the farming village of Bastelicaccia, set on a wide, fertile plain. From here you return to the Imperial City of Ajaccio.

Depending on the stop chosen by the driver for optional refreshments, there may be a slight incline or a flight of up to 30 steps. Comfortable shoes and a jacket are recommended. Vertigo sufferers should note that the coach travels along narrow, winding roads, often with a sheer drop to one side. The coaches are not equipped with toilets and the only public conveniences are at the refreshment stop. The Prunelli Gorges

Civitavecchia

Arrive 0800. Depart 2000.

Barely 50 miles from Rome, Civitavecchia has been the city’s chief seaport for two millennia. Some of its fortifications and piers date back to the reign of Emperor Trajan, making it one of the world’s oldest harbours: the massive Michelangelo Fort was added in 1535 by Pope Julius II. About three miles away are the ruins of the Taurine Baths, built from 123 to 136AD. Civitavecchia’s location makes it an ideal base for visiting Rome, and, with so much to see, our excursions are the ideal way to get the most out of your visit. Please note: Coaches are not allowed to stop while travelling through the capital. Many streets are narrow, and tour coaches are restricted to a few main arteries through the centre. Some famous sights like the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Spanish Steps are not accessible by coach and can only be seen on foot. Restoration work may be in progress at various sites.

FactFile

Population 52,000 (approximate)
Language Italian
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK+1
Climate Hot summers and mild winters
Ship berths at Piers 10, 11, 12 or 25.
Distance from Centre Between 1,000-2,200 yards depending on berth.
Distance from gangway to coach Coaches park directly in front of the ship.

Useful Information

Shopping Throughout the town centre.
Shopping Opening Hours Most shops are open on weekdays between 0900-1300 and 1600-1930.
Post Office At 11, Via Giordano Bruno, in the town centre. Open weekdays from 0900-1800 and Saturdays 0900-1200. Closed on Sundays.
Tourist Office There is an information booth at the shuttle-bus stop. The main office at 42 Viale Garibaldi is open weekdays 0830 - 1330 and 1600 - 1900.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, but omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Dial 113 (police) or 118 (ambulance).
Banks Open weekdays between 0900-1300 and 1445-1545. 24-hour ATMs are available.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

If you would prefer to tour the city independently and visit the places that interest you most, then this escorted coach transfer is for you. On the drive to Rome, a tour escort will provide you with general information about this remarkable city and can direct you to the main attractions on arrival. Rome is packed with monuments, plazas, churches and artistic wonders. Be enthralled by the magnificent architecture, such as the Colosseum and the selection of museums filled with fascinating works of art. You may request a packed lunch from your ship (free of charge) and perhaps enjoy it in one of the city's splendid parks, or purchase some local food from a café or restaurant. As the evening approaches, meet back at the coach for the return transfer to Civitavecchia.

Walking in Rome is entirely at your discretion: we have graded this excursion as ‘Moderate’ as you are likely to cover a considerable distance on foot, depending on which places you wish to see. The cost of this excursion includes return transport by coach, with the services of an escort on board: no guiding is provided once you arrive in the city, and onward transport in Rome, admission to places of interest and refreshments are not included. You may purchase your own food and drink in Rome, or bring a packed lunch from the ship. If you wish to go inside any churches, please dress modestly: anyone wearing shorts and sleeveless tops may be denied admission. Your tour escort will advise you of the coach drop-off and pick-up points on the day. The dome of St Peter's Basilica

Discover the monuments that made Rome known as the Eternal City, starting with a panoramic drive past the Circus Maximus, the Aventine Hill and the Roman Forum, the centre of everyday life 2,000 years ago. You can then view the Colosseum and admire its incredible architecture. From here a short drive takes you to the city centre for a walk along some of Rome’s lovely streets with their unique atmosphere. Start by the world-famous Spanish Steps, a distinctive Baroque staircase that has been a popular meeting place for almost 300 years. In front of the steps, in the narrow Via Condotti, are some of Rome’s finest shops. The next stop is at the glorious Trevi Fountain: admire Nicola Salvi’s wonderful sculptures and maybe toss a coin into its waters. Continue from here along the Via del Corso to the best-preserved Roman temple, the Pantheon, rebuilt around 120AD and converted to a church 500 years later. Its massive masonry dome is 142 feet in diameter, and 16 solid granite columns support the impressive portico. From here, stroll to the beautiful Piazza Navona, with its magnificent Fountain of the Four Rivers. After a light lunch in a nearby restaurant, you have free time before rejoining your coach. Drive past St Peter’s Basilica and the vast Piazza San Pedro before returning to Civitavecchia.

Sightseeing is almost entirely on foot, and therefore we regret that this tour is not suited to wheelchair users or those with walking difficulties. Comfortable, supportive walking shoes or trainers are recommended as many of Rome's streets are cobbled. Some roadside kerbs are quite high. Those wearing shorts or short-sleeved shirts or blouses may be denied admission to churches. Dietary requests must be advised to the Shore Excursion Manager on board ship at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Cosmopolitan Rome

Trace Rome’s fascinating past on this panoramic coach tour encompassing some of the city’s most impressive sights. Your drive will first take you past the Baths of Caracalla and the site of the Circus Maximus. Take in the views from the Palatine Hill, where the Roman Emperors had their palaces, and then drive on past the well-preserved circular Temple of Hercules and the nearby rectangular Temple of Portunus. You can then see the spectacular Colosseum, a vast amphitheatre thought to have been built between 75 and 80AD. Pause for refreshments at a local café, and then see the Castel Sant’Angelo, a massive fortress built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, which was converted into a castle in the sixth century. It is linked by an underground tunnel to the Vatican City. Your final sight before heading back to your ship will be St Peter’s Basilica, the most important of all Catholic churches.

This coach-based tour allows you to see the sights of Rome with a minimum of walking. There is however a walk of up to 20 minutes to reach the café, depending on where the coach can park: this may involve negotiating broken and uneven paving slabs and a flight of stone steps. Any further walking at the refreshment stop is at your own discretion. The drive to Rome normally takes between 1½ and 2 hours, depending on traffic. Due to traffic restrictions, the coach will be unable to pass directly in front of St Peter's Basilica. Photographs have to be taken from the coach as it is unable to stop in the centre of Rome - there is one photo-stop only. Depending on traffic, sights may be seen in a different order. The majestic Colosseum

Avoid the traffic - and any anxiety about using public transport - and arrive right in the heart of Rome with this exclusive train transfer! Ideal for the independent traveller, this excursion allows you to explore this fascinating city on your own. Let your instinct guide you and decide which of Rome’s beautiful historic monuments you wish to visit. After a short transfer to the station, you leave Civitavecchia on board the air-conditioned Roma Express, a private, comfortable, fast and luxurious train, exclusively reserved for cruise ship passengers. The journey to Rome takes about 50 minutes, and takes you through the Lazio countryside on one of the first railways to be built in Italy. This 45-mile line was opened in 1859 and was originally named after Pope Pius IX, who gave the railway company permission to build through what was then Papal territory: the original rails were imported from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. An escort on the train will provide maps of Rome and will be able to answer your queries. You leave the train at Stazione San Pietro, which is in the city centre roughly 500 yards south of the Vatican. You then have about seven hours to explore the city on your own, on foot, by taxi or by using the comprehensive public transport network. You must ensure that you are back at San Pietro station in time for the return Roma Express to Civitavecchia in the evening!

Walking in Rome is at your discretion: we have graded this excursion as ‘Strenuous’ as you are likely to cover a considerable distance on foot. The excursion includes the return fare in an exclusive carriage on the train, with the services of an escort on board: there is no local guide, and onward transport in Rome, admission to places of interest and refreshments are not included. You may purchase your own food and drink in Rome, or bring a packed lunch from the ship. Travel to Rome in comfort on the Roma Express

Enjoy a full-day trip to the majestic ‘Eternal City’, with its museums, historic buildings and amazing works of art. On arrival in the Vatican City, first walk to the fascinating museum, home to ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian relics, before visiting the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo’s most famous work ‘Creation’, can be seen on the ceiling. The walls are adorned with magnificent frescoes and paintings, including works by Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Luca Signorelli. Next, follow your guide and visit Christendom’s largest church, St Peter’s Basilica. Here you can feast your eyes upon the fascinating architecture and artistic works such as Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’ and Arnolfo di Cambio’s famous statue of St Peter. At the end of your tour, enjoy free time to explore St Peter's Square. Re-join your tour escort and head to a nearby restaurant for a light lunch, after which you enjoy a panoramic drive along the Via Veneto, passing Piazza Barberini and Santa Maria Maggiore, the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, before returning to Civitavecchia.

This tour must be pre-booked. You should expect about 2½ miles' walking altogether, with several steps; therefore it is unsuitable for those with walking difficulties. The drive to Rome takes up to two hours, depending on traffic. Modest clothing must be worn, so please avoid shorts, tank tops, low necklines and sleeveless blouses. In addition, large bags are not permitted inside the Vatican - you can check these in when you arrive and collect them later. Photography inside the Sistine Chapel is prohibited. Dense crowds and queues are likely. Guides at the Vatican are not permitted to wait for their group to assemble before beginning their commentary about each work of art, and all group members must make continual and steady progress in order to avoid congestion. Parts of the Vatican may occasionally be closed for restoration or for other reasons, and access to St Peter's Basilica may be restricted if a service or special event is in progress: in such cases, your guide will give a commentary outside. Dietary requests must be advised to the Shore Excursion Manager on board ship at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Discover the treasures of The Vatican

Leaving Civitavecchia by coach, head off through the rolling countryside on the outskirts of Rome to reach the historic hill-town of Tivoli, one of the favourite destinations for weekend getaways from Rome. Tivoli's popularity goes back to the time of the ancient Romans: the Emperor Hadrian built a sumptuous villa outside the town as his retirement home, and there are still two Roman temples in the town centre, one of which, the Temple of Vesta, inspired the architect Sir John Soane when he designed the Bank of England. On arrival in Tivoli, proceed to the Villa D'Este, where you can become enveloped in the evocative and relaxing atmosphere of the magnificent Renaissance-style gardens, which were laid out between 1550 and 1572 by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este. They were among the first gardens in Europe to use Roman techniques of hydraulic engineering to supply water to fountains, and they influenced many other parks and gardens from Portugal to Poland. With their rows of fountains, statues of nymphs, grottoes and pools, and the eternal play of sunlight through the foliage, it is no surprise that they are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Leaving the Villa D'Este, continue to a local restaurant and enjoy a typical Italian lunch, after which you have free time to explore historic Tivoli on your own. Finally, re-join your coach for the return journey to Civitavecchia and your ship.

Please note that this tour involves walking approximately 1¼ miles over uneven surfaces and sloping ground, with approximately 100 steps in the gardens at the Villa D'Este, some of which may be wet and slippery. Comfortable shoes, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. Dietary requests must be advised to the Shore Excursion Manager on board ship at least 72 hours prior to arrival. The beautiful gardens of the Villa D'Este

Day at sea.

Valletta

Arrive 0800 on New Year's Eve. Depart 0100 on New Year's Day.

There will be an early evening Captain’s cocktail party followed by a ‘Black & White’ dinner. You can then ring in the New Year while watching a colourful firework display over the Grand Harbour – you'll have a great view from on board Saga Pearl II. Plus you can savour a glass of champagne during a traditional bagpipe rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. On New Year’s Day, enjoy a late brunch with Buck’s Fizz while in the evening, the officers and staff will perform a memorable pantomime.

Malta’s capital city was built by the Knights of St John in 1565 and named after the French Grand Master of the Order, La Vallette. It is a great place to explore on foot as it is full of historical sights and many shops, cafés and restaurants. St John’s Co-Cathedral is certainly worth a visit, its resplendent interior making it one of Malta’s most important treasures. The city itself is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture with narrow streets leading to pretty courtyards, and with fountains and statues dotted throughout, including Republic Square’s monument to Queen Victoria, an echo of British Imperial influence on the island. The Grand Harbour, one of the world’s deepest natural harbours, adds to Valletta’s charm and mystique. Please note:The ship’s berth is at the bottom of a steep hill, so you will need to walk uphill or take a taxi into the centre of Valletta. Current regulations prohibit tour vehicles from re-entering the port following the excursions, resulting in a walk of up to 500 yards back to the ship.

FactFile

Population 403,500 (approximate)
Language English and Maltese (Malti)
Currency Euro
Time Difference UK+1
Climate Hot summers and mild winters
Ship berths at Pinto Wharf or Deep Water Quay
Distance from Centre Two-thirds of a mile, up a steep hill
Distance from gangway to coach 100 yards (approximate)

Useful Information

Shopping There is shopping at Valletta Waterfront, but the main shopping area is in the city centre.
Shopping Opening Hours Most open weekdays between 0900-1230 and 1600-1900, and Saturday from 0900-1300. They are usually closed on Sundays.
Post Office The main Post Office is located opposite Auberge de Castille and opens weekdays from 0815-1545, and Saturdays 0815-1230.
Tourist Office There is a Tourist Information Office within the cruise terminal.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, but omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Dial 112.
Banks There are two ATMs along the Valletta Waterfront. In the city centre there are several banks, open weekdays from 0830-1400.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

The second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago, Gozo is situated less than four miles from the Maltese mainland. It has been inhabited since the fifth millennium BC, and its history is closely tied with that of neighbouring Malta. Your tour starts with a coach drive to Cirkewwa, to board a public ferry for the 20-minute crossing. Reaching Gozo, the difference between the two islands becomes immediately apparent: many visitors feel that Gozo is greener and more picturesque than Malta. During your time here, you visit the magnificent Citadel, first fortified during the Bronze Age and developed into a complex fortress by Roman times. It is the main sight of the island’s capital, Rabat, which was renamed ‘Victoria’ in honour of the British Queen in 1887. You also see St George’s Basilica, the prehistoric Ggantija Temples - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and the modern interpretation centre that gives an insight into Gozo’s prehistoric past. You have a little free time to pick up a souvenir from your day out: the island is renowned for its woollen goods and hand-made lace.

We recommend comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen. This tour involves walking approximately three-quarters-of-a-mile over partly uneven ground, with the possibility of several steps throughout the day, although it may be possible to remain by the coach and omit some of the visits. The ferry is not exclusive to SAGA and may be crowded. Owing to religious services, it may not always be possible to access the interior of churches. Dietary requests must be advised to the Shore Excursion Manager on board ship at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Gozo

Board a boat and set off to visit the ports of Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour. These natural creeks make Valletta one of the most beautiful ports in Europe. The views of the fortifications from the seaward side are unique and a treasure for photographers. The harbour mouth faces north-east and is bounded to the north by St Elmo's Point and to the south by Ricasoli Point. Its north-west shore is formed by the Scebarras Peninsula, which is largely occupied by the city of Valletta and its suburb Floriana. This peninsula separates Grand Harbour from Marsamxett Harbour. A detailed commentary will tell you the history of Valletta and the Three Cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua, with particular emphasis on the two Great Sieges of 1565 and 1942, and you will hear about other places of interest including the historic forts, battlements and creeks that can only be admired from the sea. These include Fort St Angelo, which withstood the Turks during the Great Siege of Malta, and Fort Ricasoli, built by the Knights of Malta between 1670 and 1693, which occupies a promontory known as Gallows Point. You will also see Manoel Island with its fort, in Marsamxett Harbour, as well as the city walls that surround Valletta.

You will need to walk approximately 150 yards to board the boat, and there may be a few steps up or down from the quayside. In the event of rough weather, this excursion may be cancelled at short notice. We recommend that you bring a light coat or jacket. See historic Valletta from your boat

Choose this tour if you would like to see some 'off the beaten track' scenic island sights. Firstly, your driver sets off heading towards the north of Malta and an area called Mellieha. Here, you will see the Red Tower built by the Knights and can enjoy panoramic views over the Maltese Islands. Have a look at Popeye Village where the original movie was shot, and Golden Bay, recently made famous by Brad Pitt in the shooting of the film Troy. Next, proceed on to Fomm ir-Rih and Dingli Cliffs, where sloping terrain, dotted with tiny cultivated plots, ends sharply on the edge of steep cliffs that drop straight into the sea.

We recommend flat comfortable shoes, a warm jacket and sunscreen. Due to vehicle capacity and configuration, there may be some separation of guests in larger groups as each jeep can accommodate five passengers. As the roads and tracks used are bumpy, we do not recommend this tour for passengers who may have neck or back problems. This tour involves minimal walking, but those getting off the jeep to take photos are likely to encounter rocky and uneven terrain. Go off the beaten track in Malta!

Take the scenic route to Malta's old capital, Mdina, which is one of the world's finest examples of a living medieval city. Stroll through the narrow streets and let your guide introduce you its history and provide an orientation to the town itself. From the bastions, enjoy a fantastic view over the valley and the surrounding areas. After your walking tour, take advantage of a little free time, during which you may visit either the cathedral, if it is open, or another historical site pointed out by your guide. There is also the option of going shopping for souvenirs. Leaving Mdina, travel by coach to Valletta, the present-day capital. Walk to St John's Co-Cathedral and view this lovely building from the outside, and also see the exterior of the Grand Master's Palace, which now houses the Maltese Parliament and the President's Office. Use your free time either to visit St John's Co-Cathedral, go shopping, relax or maybe purchase a drink at one of the pavement cafés and watch the world go by, Malta-style. After resuming your walk, passing the Auberge de Castille - office of the Maltese Prime Minister - your last stop is at the Barrakka Gardens, located on the highest point of the 16th-century walls that the Knights of St John built to protect their city. From the gardens you can enjoy splendid views of Fort Ricasoli and the Three Cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua.

We recommend comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen. This tour involves walking approximately one mile over uneven ground with occasional steps and high kerbs to negotiate. Valletta, especially, is a hilly city and walking here involves negotiating steep cobbled streets. Access to Mdina Cathedral and St John's Co-Cathedral may be restricted if our tour coincides with a religious service. Barrakka Gardens in Valletta

Enjoy a scenic ride from Valletta through the pretty towns and villages of Malta to Mdina. Known as the ‘Silent City’, it is the former capital of Malta and one of the finest ancient walled cities in the world. Walk through part of it and see the many handsome buildings and narrow streets, palaces and museums. Take time to visit the Baroque Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, rebuilt at the end of the 17th century, and then continue to the bastions for a panoramic view of the island, before stopping for refreshments. After some free time for shopping, travel to Mosta Square, admiring the Mosta Dome which crowns the Church of the Assumption. During World War II, a shell penetrated the dome but landed unexploded on the church floor. Spend some time here and see a replica of the bomb, which is housed inside, before returning to the ship.

This tour involves approximately 750 yards of walking, much of it over cobblestones, with around 20 steps. Owing to religious services it may not always be possible to access the interior of churches. The old hilltop city of M'dina

Your tour begins with a short drive to the National War Museum, which located in Fort Saint Elmo in Valletta, and is one of the most popular museums in Malta. From 1975 to 2014, its collection mainly focused on the First and Second World Wars. Following refurbishment in 2015, its collections now include objects from the Bronze Age to 2004. Among its most famous exhibits is 'Faith', one of the Gloster Gladiator biplanes that defended the island during the Siege of 1940. You can also see the George Cross that was awarded to the people of Malta by King George VI in 1942. Leaving Valletta, take a panoramic drive towards Mgarr to visit the World War II Shelter. Only recently opened to the general public, this shelter is one of the largest underground structures of its kind in Malta. Dug entirely by hand, it is about 40 feet deep and over 700 feet long. Descending into the depths of this underground maze gives you an idea of what life was like for people of Mgarr during the Second World War, when this was their place of refuge during the wrath of the enemy blitz. Here families spent long hours and many children learnt their first and toughest lessons about life and the world in which they would grow up. Refreshments are served after your visit to the shelter, and then you head to Malta's old capital, Mdina, which is one of the world's finest examples of a living medieval city. On a stroll through the city's narrow streets, your guide will introduce you to Mdina's history and provide an orientation to the town. From the bastions, enjoy wonderful view over the valley and the surrounding areas. After your walking tour, you have free time to visit the Cathedral or other historic buildings before returning by coach to Valletta.

You should expect to walk about 700 yards overall. There are five steps at the War Museum and about 30 in Mgarr Shelter. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Gloster Gladiator biplane 'Faith'

Visit Palazzo Parisio, a unique 18th-century palace in the very heart of the ancient village of Naxxar - the ultimate memorial of the ambitions, aspirations and pretentions of a Maltese noble family, Malta's very own Rothschilds. Taking a tour of this grand house offers a great insight into how they lived. Visit the great ballroom, the richly decorated family chapel, the fabulous walled gardens and the orangery. Enjoy Prosecco, which will be served, weather permitting, in the magnificent gardens, and spend some time looking at the Mediterranean trees and flowers. On your return journey to the port, stop to take pictures at the neo-Classical Mosta Church, dedicated to St Mary, whose style was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, and has the third-largest unsupported dome in the world. The church even has its own miracle - during World War II a shell penetrated the dome but failed to explode and landed harmlessly on the church floor. The dome is visible from almost any vantage point in Malta. After your photostop, you will reboard your coach for the return drive to your waiting ship.

We recommend comfortable walking shoes. This tour involves walking a distance of approximately 500 yards over mainly flat ground with around 30 steps to negotiate, but a lift is available at the palace. Access to Mosta church interior may be restricted in the unlikely event of our visit clashing with a religious service. Inside Palazzo Parisio

This scenic tour reveals some of Malta’s finest attractions and is ideal for those who prefer to see the sights with little walking. Set off by coach heading north, through rural and agricultural areas, past Mdina, Malta’s old capital. Pass through Xemxija Bay, continuing along this coastal road, where just a short distance offshore you can see the islands where St Paul is said to have been shipwrecked in AD60, which is when the islanders converted to Christianity. Proceed on your way, heading south-east, before stopping at the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, where Napoleon is said to have landed. Nowadays, it is famous for its quaint harbour, with its colourful ‘Luzzu’ fishing boats. Whilst here, you will stop at a 19th-century home: designed as a villa with spacious interiors and gardens, it is set amidst an orchard of fruit trees and here you will be offered refreshments. Finally, take a drive to Zurrieq, where you will be able to view the Blue Grotto from a belvedere. Admire the tiny rock island of Filfla, home to migrating birds: it cannot be visited but forms part of a breath-taking panorama. Following this, sit back and relax during your return journey to the port.

This tour involves approximately 220 yards of walking, with up to ten steps. Visit picturesque Marsaxlokk

Enjoy a scenic tour of the highlights of Malta, starting with a drive through the countryside to reach Marsaxlokk, one of the island’s largest natural harbours. Stop to explore this enchanting fishing village with its colourful fishing boats, known locally as ‘luzzu’. Afterwards, continue along the coastal road to Zurrieq where you can see the Blue Grotto and the eerie rocky islet of Filfla. Roughly the size of two football pitches, Filfla is now a sanctuary for numerous migrating birds, but was once used as a training ground by the British army. Heading inland, drive to the outskirts of the old capital, Mdina, where you enjoy views of this historic medieval walled town. You next pass through Mosta, where you pass Mosta Church: its unsupported dome is the third-largest in the world, and survived a direct hit by a bomb in 1942. Keep your camera at the ready, for a photo-stop overlooking St Paul’s Island, believed to be the place where St Paul was shipwrecked while on his way to Rome to face charges. Returning to the capital, drive around the massive defensive walls of Valletta, admire the stunning views of the harbour from the high vantage point of these extensive fortifications. Before returning to the ship, you also see the Great Siege Bell, which commemorates over 7,000 servicemen, merchant sailors and civilians who died while defending Malta during World War II. Cast in Loughborough, this ten-ton bronze bell was unveiled in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth II and George Abela, President of Malta. It is rung daily at midday.

This excursion involves minimal walking as almost all sightseeing is from the coach. You may expect to walk up to 200 yards if you wish to explore Marsaxlokk; walking at any other photo-stops is at your discretion and entirely optional. The beautiful Blue Grotto

Day at sea.

Day at sea.

Gibraltar port

Arrive 0800. Depart 2200.

Tagged on to the end of Iberia, the intriguing British outpost of Gibraltar is dominated by a sandy peninsula and the stunning 1,400-feet-high limestone Rock. Although small, Gibraltar has always been seen as having great strategic importance on account of its advantageous position where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, just 12 miles from the coast of Africa. Ever popular with British holidaymakers, Gibraltar is very much a home from home, boasting excellent duty-free shopping in many familiar British high street shops. Please note: Gibraltar’s small size and narrow winding roads mean that excursions are operated by 22-seater mini-buses, accompanied by a driver/guide. Local health and safety regulations prohibit the carriage of walking aids and collapsible wheelchairs on these vehicles. If you do wish to bring a mobility aid, we can arrange the Rock Tour by taxi, which has extra space. If this suits your requirements, please advise the Tours and Travel office when you join the ship, as numbers are limited.

FactFile

Population 30,000 (approximate)
Language English
Currency British Pounds Sterling
Time Difference UK+1
Climate Generally mild with winter temperatures averaging 12ºC
Ship berths at Western Arm, North Mole
Distance from Centre Approximately one mile
Distance from gangway to coach Approximately 275 yards

Useful Information

Shopping The main shopping area starts at Casemates Square.
Shopping Opening Hours Most shops are open Monday to Saturday from 0930-1800.
Post Office The main Post Office is located on Main Street; there is a postbox outside the cruise terminal and stamps can be purchased from the terminal café.
Tourist Office Located within the cruise terminal.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial 00 44 followed by the full STD number, but omitting the first zero.
Emergency Services Dial 190/199
Banks There are several banks on Main Street and 24-hour ATMs are also available.

Shore excursions you may be able to enjoy:

Stroll around the beautiful Alameda Gardens before capturing some fantastic views of the Rock on an exciting cable car ride. Delight in the wonderful collection of plants at Alameda Gardens, which are an important conservation project and house a collection of plants from around the world, as well as, displays of local flora. Join your guide who will point out the various plants, sights and wildlife whilst also describing its fascinating history. Gibraltar’s cable car is the island’s only purpose-built tourist attraction and you have the chance to ride up to the very top of the Rock to marvel at the breath-taking views. Enjoy free time to wander around the many terraces and enjoy the splendid views of the city of Gibraltar to the west, the coastline of Africa to the south, the Spanish mainland to the north and the blue waters of the Mediterranean to the east. After your tour a shuttle service will take you straight back to the ship, or you may prefer to be dropped off in the Irish Town pedestrian area to explore the many shops. Alternatively, relax in a pub or café, before making your own way back to the ship.

There is approximately 1,100 yards of walking over mainly flat ground, but with some cobblestones and up to 50 steps altogether. This excursion operates by mini-bus, cable car and on foot. The ground at the Gardens is generally paved with steps and some steep gradients. Please expect queues and crowds at the cable car, and be aware that if the weather is inclement the cable car may not operate. Passengers are reminded that Gibraltar’s apes may be encountered on this excursion and should not be touched or fed as they may bite. Views will depend on the weather. Take in the views from the top of the Rock

Go in search of dolphins and other fascinating marine life on this interesting boat trip. Gibraltar’s bay boasts three species of dolphin and seven species of whale, as well as sunfish, flying fish and turtles. After departing from your ship, take the short drive to the ‘Dolphin World’ pleasure cruiser. Then, after setting off into the bay, learn about the history of this tiny colony, and you will be given an insight into the marine life of the bay with a fascinating commentary from your guide. Refreshments can be purchased on board, if you wish. After landing, return transport will be available back to the ship, or if time permits, you can choose to walk into town for shopping and a little independent exploration.

We recommend that you take some warm clothing for the boat ride. This excursion involves minimal walking. If you wish to remain in the town after the main tour, any additional walking is at your discretion. Sightings of dolphins cannot be guaranteed. Look out for dolphins

This laid-back excursion shows you the highlights of Gibraltar by coach, and is followed by English High Tea at The Rock Hotel. From the quayside you travel north across the island’s unique airport runway and pass the border with Spain. You can view the Spanish mainland beyond from the coach, before continuing east below the east face of the Rock. You then drive along the outskirts of town, seeing the American War Memorial and Trafalgar Cemetery before arriving at Europa Point, the most southerly point in all of Europe. Here you can admire unrivalled views across the Straits, where a lighthouse has been guiding ships since 1841. It offers the perfect opportunity for photographs. You then head to the elegant Art Deco style Rock Hotel, opened in 1932, where you enjoy tea before heading back to the harbour.

The only walking on this tour is at Europa Point and the hotel, which should not exceed 400 yards in total. There are six steps in the hotel lobby. Walking at Europa Point is at your discretion. The lighthouse at Europa Point

Discover the iconic Rock of Gibraltar on this excursion. Leaving the port you first drive across the unique runway, built using stones dug from the Rock itself by the British Army during the two World Wars. Passing the frontier with Spain, you then see the American War Memorial, British Naval Base and Trafalgar Cemetery before arriving at Europa Point and the only Trinity Lighthouse outside Great Britain. From this vantage point the African continent can often be glimpsed in the distance. Next, continue to the upper Rock area and St Michael’s Cave, where you can wonder at the mass of stalagmites and stalactites. Your coach then takes you to King Charles V Wall where you may see the famous Barbary apes. Moving on, head for the Upper Town, where you can enjoy some free time to shop for duty-free goods, before returning to the port.

There are 75 steps at St Michael’s Cave, but many can be avoided depending on your choice of route, about 20 steps being the minimum. There are a further five steps to access the restrooms. The cave is dimly lit and can be cold, damp and slippery underfoot. Please also note that the Barbary apes are known to snatch bags, cameras, hats, spectacles and food, so you should guard these items carefully. See amazing formations inside The Rock

Day at sea.

Day at sea.

Day at sea.

Southampton

Arrive 0800. Disembark Saga Pearl II after breakfast.

Lying near the head of Southampton Water, a peninsula between the estuaries of the Rivers Test and Itchen, Southampton is Britain’s largest cruise port. It has been one of England’s major ports since the Middle Ages, when it exported wool and hides from the hinterland and imported wine from Bordeaux. The city suffered heavy damage during World War Two and as a result the centre has been extensively rebuilt, but there are still some interesting medieval buildings including the Bargate, one of the finest city gatehouses in England.

FactFile

Population 253,651 (estimate)
Language English
Currency British Pounds Sterling
Time Difference N/A
Climate Southampton experiences an oceanic climate, with cool winters and mild to warm summers. Its sheltered location makes it one of the UK's sunniest cities.
Ship berths at Southampton Cruise Terminal
Distance from Centre 300 yards
Distance from gangway to coach Motor vehicles can pick up and drop off passengers immediately outside the Terminal Building.

Useful Information

Shopping The city's main shopping mall is the West Quay Shopping Centre, but there are many other shopping streets in the town centre.
Shopping Opening Hours The West Quay Shopping Centre is open Monday to Friday 0900-2000, Saturday 0900-1900 and Sunday 1100-1700.
Post Office The main Post Office is at 32-34 Above Bar Street.
Tourist Office There are Tourist Information Points at the Novotel Hotel on 1 West Quay Road, and also at the SeaCity Museum.
How to Phone Home For the UK dial the full STD code followed by the subscriber's number.
Emergency Services Dial 999.
Banks All main UK banks have branches in the city centre, with 24-hour ATMs.

Please note

All excursions mentioned are optional, at an additional cost, and are subject to availability and change. Some of the highlights detailed may only be seen on optional excursions or by exploring independently.


Christmas in the Mediterranean

Saga Pearl II departing Southampton

from £4,183 22 2
Including optional travel insurance or a discount of £98 if not required