Open Mon-Fri 9am to 5:30pm
Saturday 10am to 5pm
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Price based on lowest available cruise only fare for double occupancy. Subject to change at any time.
MSC Virtuosa's namesake comes from the word virtuoso, meaning someone highly skilled in any field of activity, and so MSC Virtuosa was named to pay homage to the skill and expertise of the MSC Cruises architects and shipyard partners at Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique who designed and built this innovative class of ships. This new cruise ship is one of the two largest in MSC Cruises' fleet, along with her sister ship MSC Grandiosa, boasting an impressive array of guest features all coming together in perfect harmony to deliver the ultimate cruise holiday experience.
MSC Starship Club
This futuristic venue is much more than just a bar. It's an immersive entertainment experience. Featuring Rob, the first ever humanoid robotic bartender at sea, the MSC Starship Club will transport our guests to a different world.
As you sip your cosmic cocktail and gaze out of the portholes across the space, Rob and his human colleagues will take you to an exciting journey to discover new galactic destinations.
SERVICE CHARGES / GRATUITIES
Service Charge / Gratuities are included in the cruise fare.
MSC Cruises does not recommend tipping individual members of staff.
|30 October 2023||07:00||€1,764||Call us to book|
* Price based on lowest available cruise only fare for double occupancy. Subject to change at any time.
Day 1 Bilbao, Spain
Time in Bilbao (Bilbo, in Euskera) may be recorded as BG or AG (Before Guggenheim or After Guggenheim). Never has a single monument of art and architecture so radically changed a city. Frank Gehry's stunning museum, Norman Foster's sleek subway system, the Santiago Calatrava glass footbridge and airport, the leafy César Pelli Abandoibarra park and commercial complex next to the Guggenheim, and the Philippe Starck AlhóndigaBilbao cultural center have contributed to an unprecedented cultural revolution in what was once the industry capital of the Basque Country.Greater Bilbao contains almost 1 million inhabitants, nearly half the total population of the Basque Country. Founded in 1300 by Vizcayan noble Diego López de Haro, Bilbao became an industrial center in the mid-19th century, largely because of the abundance of minerals in the surrounding hills. An affluent industrial class grew up here, as did the working class in suburbs that line the Margen Izquierda (Left Bank) of the Nervión estuary.Bilbao's new attractions get more press, but the city's old treasures still quietly line the banks of the rust-color Nervión River. The Casco Viejo (Old Quarter)—also known as Siete Calles (Seven Streets)—is a charming jumble of shops, bars, and restaurants on the river's Right Bank, near the Puente del Arenal bridge. This elegant proto-Bilbao nucleus was carefully restored after devastating floods in 1983. Throughout the Casco Viejo are ancient mansions emblazoned with family coats of arms, wooden doors, and fine ironwork balconies. The most interesting square is the 64-arch Plaza Nueva, where an outdoor market is pitched every Sunday morning.Walking the banks of the Nervión is a satisfying jaunt. After all, this was how—while out on a morning jog—Guggenheim director Thomas Krens first discovered the perfect spot for his project, nearly opposite the right bank's Deusto University. From the Palacio de Euskalduna upstream to the colossal Mercado de la Ribera, parks and green zones line the river. César Pelli's Abandoibarra project fills in the half mile between the Guggenheim and the Euskalduna bridge with a series of parks, the Deusto University library, the Meliá Bilbao Hotel, and a major shopping center.On the left bank, the wide, late-19th-century boulevards of the Ensanche neighborhood, such as Gran Vía (the main shopping artery) and Alameda de Mazarredo, are the city's more formal face. Bilbao's cultural institutions include, along with the Guggenheim, a major museum of fine arts (the Museo de Bellas Artes) and an opera society (Asociación Bilbaína de Amigos de la Ópera, or ABAO) with 7,000 members from Spain and southern France. In addition, epicureans have long ranked Bilbao's culinary offerings among the best in Spain. Don't miss a chance to ride the trolley line, the Euskotram, for a trip along the river from Atxuri Station to Basurto's San Mamés soccer stadium, reverently dubbed "la Catedral del Fútbol" (the Cathedral of Football).
Day 2 La Coruña, Spain
La Coruña, the largest city in Spain's Galicia region, is among the country's busiest ports. The remote Galicia area is tucked into the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula, surprising visitors with its green and misty countryside that is so much unlike other parts of Spain. The name "Galicia" is Celtic in origin, for it was the Celts who occupied the region around the 6th-century BC and erected fortifications. La Coruña was already considered an important port under the Romans. They were followed by an invasion of Suevians, Visigoths and, much later in 730, the Moors. It was after Galicia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Asturias that the epic saga of the Pilgrimage to Santiago (St. James) began. From the 15th century, overseas trade developed rapidly; in 1720, La Coruña was granted the privilege of trading with America - a right previously only held by Cadiz and Seville. This was the great era when adventurous men voyaged to the colonies and returned with vast riches. Today, the city's significant expansion is evident in three distinct quarters: the town centre located along the isthmus; the business and commercial centre with wide avenues and shopping streets; and the "Ensanche" to the south, occupied by warehouses and factories. Many of the buildings in the old section feature the characteristic glazed façades that have earned La Coruña the name "City of Crystal." Plaza Maria Pita, the beautiful main square, is named after the local heroine who saved the town in 1589 when she seized the English standard from the beacon and gave the alarm, warning her fellow townsmen of the English attack.
Day 3 Cruising
Day 4 Cádiz, Spain
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.
Day 5 Cruising
Day 6 Barcelona, Spain
The infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!)—one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafés and markets, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudí's majestic Sagrada Famíliaand his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Spain's second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night, when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.
Day 7 Cruising
Day 8 Civitavecchia, Italy
Italy's vibrant capital lives in the present, but no other city on earth evokes its past so powerfully. For over 2,500 years, emperors, popes, artists, and common citizens have left their mark here. Archaeological remains from ancient Rome, art-stuffed churches, and the treasures of Vatican City vie for your attention, but Rome is also a wonderful place to practice the Italian-perfected il dolce far niente, the sweet art of idleness. Your most memorable experiences may include sitting at a caffè in the Campo de' Fiori or strolling in a beguiling piazza.
Day 9 Naples, Italy
Naples, in the Campania region, is Italy's third largest city. Its claim to fame is the spectacular location along one of the world's most splendid bays, backed by the perfect cone of Mount Vesuvius. In addition to its beautiful setting, Naples' surprises with other outstanding attractions such as the Royal Palace, San Carlos Opera House, the impressive National Archaeological Museum and the Castel Nuovo, dating from the 13th-century. The city's central area is best explored on foot. Chaotic traffic conditions make driving around the city a very frustrating experience. Naples provides a convenient starting point for trips to such favored destinations as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius. The Isle of Capri can be reached via a 45-minute hydrofoil service. The region of Campania was home to Greeks settlers some 300 years before Rome was founded. Pompeii, too, was a Greek town before being conquered by the Romans during the 5th century BC. It was under the Romans that Pompeii flourished and grew prosperous. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the population of 20,000 was wiped out, but dozens of buildings were preserved under layers of cinder more than 20 feet deep. The most important finds from Pompeii are displayed in Naples' National Archaeological Museum. A visit here will no doubt enhance a visit to ancient Pompeii.
Day 10 Cruising
Day 11 Piraeus, Greece
It's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens—Athína in Greek—fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Locals depend on humor and flexibility to deal with the chaos; you should do the same. The rewards are immense. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse "the glory that was Greece" in the form of the Acropolis looming above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel the impact of the ancient settlement. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two craggy hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum illuminate the history of particular regions or periods. Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki, the bazaar area near the foot of the Acropolis. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka (if possible by moonlight), an area of tranquil streets lined with renovated mansions, to get the flavor of the 19th-century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika, a section of Plaka, thread past tiny churches and small, color-washed houses with wooden upper stories, recalling a Cycladic island village. In this maze of winding streets, vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas; dank cellars filled with wine vats; occasionally a court or diminutive garden, enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees and the flaming trumpet-shaped flowers of hibiscus bushes. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Thission, Gazi and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleia (similar to tapas bars), are now in the process of gentrification, although they still retain much of their original charm, as does the colorful produce and meat market on Athinas. The area around Syntagma Square, the tourist hub, and Omonia Square, the commercial heart of the city about 1 km (½ mi) northwest, is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otho, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet). Each of Athens's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: in the north is wealthy, tree-lined Kifissia, once a summer resort for aristocratic Athenians, and in the south and southeast lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife. Just beyond the city's southern fringes is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic Gulf views.
Day 12 Heraklion (Iraklion), Crete, Greece
Having been controlled by Arabic, Venetian and Ottoman empires over the years - it's no surprise that Heraklion is a diverse patchwork of exotic cultures and historical treasures. Celebrated as the birthplace of the Spanish Renaissance artist, El Greco, you can visit to explore the storied ruins of the Minoan empire's capital, and unearth the rich cultural treasures that Crete's bustling modern capital has to offer.
Days 13-14 Cruising
Day 15 Safaga, Egypt
Port Safago has been undergoing a transformation, slowly metamorphosing into a holiday rsort. Like other cities on the Red Sea, the commercial port town sits close to great offshore dive sites. Unlike others, however, tourist development hasn't taken off in a meaningful way. But if the mass tourism in Hurghada is a turnoff, Safaga offers a small-scale and much more low-key alternative, though the best dive sites can still be seen on a day trip from Hurghada. Safaga is also the closest beach resort to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, which lies 200 km (124 mi) to the southwest; when cruise ships offer land excursions to Luxor, they often do so through Safaga.
Day 16 'Aqaba, Jordan
The resort town of Aqaba, on the Red Sea at the southern end of Jordan, is a popular spot for divers with some of the best coral reefs in the world. Snorkeling and other water sports are popular, and it's easy to hire a boat for a day or half-day, including lunch.Aqaba has become quite a bustling destination, with several large luxury hotels and a large shopping area. There are many jewelry stores selling pearls, gem stones, and gold and silver jewelry. It's worth noting that although it's an international beach resort, Aqaba is quite conservative—certainly much more so than Amman—and North Americans tend to be more comfortable at the private hotel beaches.
Days 17-21 Cruising
Day 22 Muscat, Oman
Oman's capital city is hemmed in on one side by spectacular jagged-peaked mountains and on the other by royal blue sea. The architecture is a traditional, sophisticated arabesque blend of white-washed, low-rise buildings surrounded by manicured palms, intricately designed domes set atop the minarets of the mosques, sand-colored villas, a surprising blend of modern art installations, like a giant incense burner that towers over the Corniche, and ancient forts set in the rocky hills. Though tradition abounds, from distinct, local cuisine to the widely worn national dress, the dishdasha, Muscat is a completely modern city, featuring opulent luxury hotels, international restaurants, excellent cellular and data service, sprawling shopping malls, pristine beaches, lively nightlife, world-class performing arts, and a highly educated population, most of whom speak English, Arabic, and often Hindi. Muscat is the ideal base for exploring other areas of the country since many of the most desirable destinations are within a few hours' drive.
Day 23 Cruising
Day 24 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai sits on a golden sandy coastline in the Arabian Gulf, where the warm azure waves of the sea meet the desert. A high-rise oasis, this city is a pleasure-dome surrounded by dunes; one of the most fashionable on the planet thanks to its ability to satisfy the needs of legions of demanding vacationers. Dubai is about having fun—and it's one big adult playground.Nature plays her part here, with year-round sunshine, gorgeous beaches, dramatic arid landscapes, and warm waters, but it's the man-made attractions that make Dubai so alluring. You can launch yourself into high-adrenaline desert adventures, diving and water sports, and some of the world's best golf courses. The 5-, 6-, and 7-star hotels offer the ultimate in luxury, and the party scene is hot. Shopping malls are the biggest in the world and are packed full of high-class merchandise. And with hundreds of restaurants with cuisine from around the world, you can munch your way from Mexico to Malaysia.Dubai is an Arab country with a long history as a trading port. Traces of its traditional life, customs, and architecture can still be seen and explored, but today and tomorrow are much more important than yesterday. Almost every building in this metropolis is less than 20 years old and the most dramatic developments—groundbreaking megaprojects—have just been completed or are still under construction.The city is certainly unique. Islam is its anchor, but it has opened its doors to the rest of the world and has invited them in to work, rest, and play, which creates a truly international atmosphere. Unashamedly modern and materialistic, life here takes place at breakneck speed. The landscape is stark, the confidence is sky high, the can-do spirit is palpable, and the bling is in your face. Dubai produces strong reactions in people, but one thing is certain—love it or loathe it—you will not forget it. It is without a doubt, one of the world's true must-see destinations.Shisha: Smoke Without Fire. Emirati men love socializing, but as they don't drink alcohol they get together over coffee and shisha instead of a drink at the bar after work. The shisha, or hookah, is a smoking device, usually made of glass, that filters smoke through water before it reaches the smoker's mouth. Shisha tobaccos are aromatic and are often mixed with apple, cinnamon, or cherry, so their taste isn't as strong as other tobaccos. Smoking shisha is said to induce relaxation—but you'll have to decide if it's for you!
The Department of Foreign Affairs has up-to-date advice for Irish citizens on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more security, local laws, health, passport and visa information see https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/ and follow dfatravelwise