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MSC Splendida Western Mediterranean Cruise

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Marseille, France
View of the Marseille Harbor from the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde

View of the Marseille Harbor from the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde

Marseille (c) Linda Garrison

The MSC Splendida docked about 8 am in Marseille, and Juanda and I took a a morning tour of the city. Many of our fellow passengers chose to go to either Avignon or Aix-en-Provence for full day tours. Both sounded excellent, but we really enjoyed seeing a small part of the city of Marseille.

We rode mostly on the bus, riding along the Corniche road that hugs the cliff and follows the coastline. We did stop for photos of the islands looming in the harbor near the city. One of the islands, Chateau d'If, has a large fortress built in the 16th century. It is the setting Alexander Dumas chose for the prison in the famous book, the "Count of Monte Cristo".

We also stopped at the Basilica Our Lady of the Guard (Notre Dame de la Garde), which sits on a hill overlooking this second largest city of France. The bus had quite a time navigating the narrow, winding road that wound its way to the top of the hill. After we stepped off the bus, we still had 130+ steps to the elevator and then three levels up in it, so we got our workout and had great views of the city. The site has been used as a place of worship since 1214 and the cathedral was built in 1864. The inside of the church is filled with beautiful mosaics. The church still has bullet holes left over from World War II attacks.

Leaving the Cathedral, we rode through the old town and did a short photo stop at Longchamp Palace, which was built to celebrate the connection of the Provence Canal to Marseille. It's quite a waterworks.

Our last stop was at the handicraft market along the harbor. Although it was Sunday, the market was open and had lots of souvenirs available. We both enjoyed the city tour, returning just in time for lunch.

That afternoon and evening we packed and enjoyed our last evening on the ship.

So many times disembarkation is rushed and frustrating as passengers "hurry up and wait" to go ashore. However, the next morning, our butler and his assistant escorted us and our luggage off the ship in Barcelona to a waiting taxi. We didn't even have to put the luggage outside the cabin the night before. It couldn't have been easier, and was a happy ending to a marvelous cruise of the western Mediterranean on the MSC Splendida. A big plus for the cruise was staying in the MSC Yacht Club -- it was fabulous.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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