After hundreds of years of attracting tourists, Venice is still one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Walking between its squares or taking to its canals leaves you awestruck by its stunning architecture and fascinated by its bustling life centred on the water.
Leaving by cruise ship must also rank as one of the greatest starting points for a voyage, we thought, as we gently sailed away on Viking Cruises’ new ship Viking Sea on a 13-day Mediterranean epic that would take in the Dalmatian coast, Tuscany and the French Riviera before arriving in that other great city of Barcelona.
Our first stop was Split in Croatia, where we took an excursion to the Krka waterfalls, part of a serene and inspiring national park.
Next was Dubrovnik, a walled city still showing the scars and bearing the memories of the war in the 1990s. It’s hard to believe now, taking a cable car up to admire the views, or strolling around the picturesque streets, that this was a scene of such bloody conflict in recent years.
An overnight sailing took us to the Greek island of Corfu, most recently seen on British television in The Durrells. After a trip to see Mouse Island (in the slideshow below) there was plenty of time to relax and enjoy a feta pie.
We returned to Italy for Naples – and where better to enjoy one of its greatest culinary creations, a pizza?
The advantage of a small ship like Viking Sea is to enter ports such as Monte Carlo, where it sits neatly beside the mega-yachts of the rich. The scrupulously clean principality of Monaco, known for its gambling and Formula 1 race, is so small that its borders can be seen from the royal palace.
This tiny country, second smallest in the world to only Vatican City, came to international fame in the 1950s with the marriage of American actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier. Their son, Albert, who’s now in charge, can often be seen being driven in a police escort around his realm.
The slideshow below shows Monte Carlo by day and night, as seen from our ship.
Below: A slideshow of sights in Monaco including Princess Grace’s gravestone.
It’s not far from Monaco to Toulon in France, where we took a boat trip to see the Calanques near Cassis, a series of inlets with steep limestone cliffs and isolated beaches.
Finally, we arrived in Barcelona where we took an open-top bus tour to remind us of the sights, such as Gaudi’s towering Segrada Familia. Also on the trip we stopped at Livorno and Civitavecchia but, as we had previously seen Florence, Pisa and Rome on shore excursions, we decided instead to stay on board and explore the ship.
For my photo tour of Viking Sea, please click here
All photos by author. Copyright Dave Monk/Shipmonk 2016