What do Southampton, La Coruña, Lisbon, Valencia and Barcelona have in common? They are the ports that we will visit during the inaugural voyage on board MSC Bellissima! Yes that’s right, immediately after Bellissima’s naming ceremony in Southampton, we are joining MSC Cruises’ newest flagship for her journey to the sun.
On March 4 we are joining #BeautyAtSea for a journey that will take us from Southampton to La Coruña in Spain, Lisbon in Portugal and the Spanish cities of Valencia and Barcelona.
While Southampton is best known for being the UK’s number one cruise port, the thousand-year-old city has retained its medieval charm and reinvented itself as a twenty-first-century shopping center, with the gigantic West Quay of glass and steel as its highlight. The heart of the modern city is the Civic Center where the Southampton City Art Gallery exhibits works by contemporary British artists.
From Southampton it takes just over an hour by train to visit London’s famous landmarks.
After a relaxing day at sea, the port of La Coruña will have the honour of welcoming MSC Bellissima as she sails down South. La Coruña is located on a narrow peninsula bordering the northern coast of Spain, 64 km north of Santiago. The city itself is home to old stone alleys with delicious restaurants, tapas bars and exuberant nightlife. Praza de María Pita is situated between the old town and the modern atmosphere of the harbor and forms the beating heart of the city.
Santiago de Compostela, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, is located only 64 km North of La Coruña. The medieval center of Santiago is a wonderful mix of winding stone streets, stately squares and old churches.
THE BEAUTY OF FADO MUSIC
Spread over a series of hills facing the glistening waters of the wide Tagus Estuary, Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with a relatively small and easy to explore historic center. The oldest part of the city, the maze of streets that are part of the Alfama, is located under the spectacularly situated Moorish Castelo de São Jorge. The Bairro Alto or “upper city”, is famous for its bars, restaurants and lively nightlife. The valley between these hills forms the Baixa, or downtown.
The impressive Belém Tower, the iconic symbol of Lisbon, was built as a fortress to protect the mouth of the river Tagus. At the time of the opening in 1520 it was closer to the middle of the river – an earthquake in 1755 shifted the course of the river. Today, visitors can explore the different floors of the tower, including a terrace across from the river from which artillery would have been shot.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROMANS AND MOORS
Valencia’s location on the Mediterranean Sea offers enough reason to visit the city. The oldest part of Valencia is almost completely surrounded by a large loop of the Río Turia, which is now a landscaped park on the riverbed. In 1956, when a severe flood had destroyed the vast majority of the old town, the river was diverted. The old stone bridges remained, but the riverbed now houses bike paths, footpaths and football pitches, as well as the amazing Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias, Europe’s largest cultural complex.
BARCELONA, SUCH A BEAUTIFUL HORIZON
Barcelona, Spain’s second city and proud capital and port of Catalonia, is always bustling like no other. A walk to the city center is guaranteed to include world famous art museums, design restaurants, bars, galleries and shops. Antoni Gaudí’s masterly church, the Sagrada Família, and the world famous boulevard, the Rambla, are two of the must-do’s. Other highlights include the Barri Gòtic – medieval city, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, Parc Güell and the Mercat de la Boqueria.
For those looking to get away from the city, the mountain of Montserrat is only 40 km northwest of Barcelona. Here you can visit basilicas and monasteries that are located on an open square and enjoy breathtaking views from the terrace.