I am always on the lookout for new and interesting cruise itineraries, particularly ones that involve Canadian ports of call.
This time, an upcoming voyage this summer from ultra-luxury line Crystal Cruises caught my eye: an unusual 13-day transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to Quebec City.
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Departing August 30, 2020 aboard the gracious Crystal Serenity, this voyage includes a great mix of sea days and port calls. After leaving Barcelona, the ship sails to Malaga, Spain before heading out into the Atlantic for a stop in Ponta Delgada in the Portuguese Azores.
After that, Crystal Serenity spends one more day in the Azores, stopping in Praia da Vitoria, a picturesque municipality known for its windsurfing and its unique style of bullfighting (the bulls are released, not killed).
Then, four days are spent crossing the Atlantic Ocean en-route to St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’ve been to St. John’s many times and it never fails to deliver one of the friendliest welcomes you can expect in any port of call.
Crystal Serenity also doubles-down on the Newfoundland appeal by calling on Saint-Anthony, a small town of just a few thousand people nestled on the rugged northern end of the Great Northern Peninsula. It also serves as the gateway to L’Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized as an early Norse settlement.
Finally, Crystal sends Crystal Serenity to the friendly town of Saguenay, Quebec (a real hidden gem in La Belle Province) before coming to a conclusion in Quebec City.
Transatlantic cruises that end anywhere in Canada — let alone Quebec City — are a pretty rare commodity. For Canadians, this is a great way to take an amazing cruise and arrive home rested and ready for a domestic flight without the hassles of customs at overly-crowded airports.
Crystal Serenity is also a worthy destination in its own right. Built in 2003, Crystal has continually invested in the ship over the intervening years, substantially renovating and upgrading the vessel’s public areas and suites. The result: a ship that looks and feels every bit as new as it did when it first set sail.
One of the ship’s best features — in my opinion anyway — is the ship’s open, spacious promenade deck. You might walk around it at first and wonder what is missing, and why it feels so open and uncrowded. The answer is technical: unlike most ships that have their lifeboats positioned above the promenade deck, the life-saving equipment is one deck under the promenade, cleverly inset into the ship’s hull.
Crystal Serenity also has the advantage of being a bigger ship than most other luxury vessels. That allows for more public rooms and “big ship” amenities like multiple dining venues and a wider variety of entertainment choices.
Of course, in keeping with the Crystal ethos all fares include gratuities, unlimited Wi-Fi internet access, and fine wines, champagnes, premium spirits, and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
For those who have never crossed an ocean before, itineraries like this one aboard Crystal Serenity are a great first choice. They offer a good mix of ports and sea days and generally only go three or four days without a port of call.
However, sea days can be the ultimate indulgence on a transatlantic voyage, and particularly so on Crystal — a line that encourages guests to discover their own interests as they sail aboard their oceangoing sanctuary through wellness options, informative lectures and classes, and entertainment options that range from live music to Broadway-style production numbers held in the ship’s spacious theatre.
This is one voyage “back home” you don’t want to miss.
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