LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2012 - Louis XIV's marital stomping grounds, puffins' Icelandic party pad, a former Prussian capital, Napoleon's birthplace, and the gateway to Norway's most scenic vistas are among seven European ports-of-call Crystal Cruises will be visiting for the first time this year. From Crystal Serenity's current trans-Atlantic voyage to Crystal Symphony's reverse pond crossing in September, guests will be among the first Crystal travelers to stop in quaint communities, centuries-old fishing villages, and trendy cosmopolitan centers in Lithuania, Norway, France, Iceland, and Spain.
Maiden calls include:
Klaipėda: The third-largest city in "hot" Lithuania, this historic east-west-south crossroads offers metropolitan architecture, as well as the natural beauty of the Curonian Spit right outside. Crystal Adventures: Birdwatch at the Ventė Cape ornithological station, learn about local fairytales at the Hill of Witches Sculpture Park, bike through Old Town, or step inside a former Soviet nuclear missile base.
Heimaey: Virtually destroyed in a 1973 volcanic eruption, this rebuilt island of 4,500 people serves as home to 8 million puffins per year. Crystal Adventures: Explore caves by RIB boat, motorboat past orcas and puffin colonies, or watch locals rope-swing over cliffs to collect bird eggs.
Saint-Jean-de-Luz: This Basque coastal gem, with narrow cobblestoned lanes leading past the Church of St. Jean Baptist, is where Louis XIV married Spain's Marie Thérèse in 1660. Crystal Adventures: Glimpse Balenciaga's haute couture, make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, sample Basque delicacies, or daytrip to San Sebastian, Biarritz, or Hemingway's Pamplona.
Leknes: The Lofoten archipelago's colorful Arctic trading/shopping center is ground zero for Norway's most stunning mountains and cliffs. Crystal Adventures: Safari for sea eagles, appreciate frozen art at an ice bar/gallery, or learn Scandinavian history at Borg's Viking Museum.
Bonifacio: French chicness and Napoleonic history are all crammed into this one medieval Corsican town, perched precariously on the edges of stunningly steep, limestone cliffs. Crystal Adventures: Canoe along the coast, ride a wheel train through the port, or trek cliffside hiking paths past wildlife and gorgeous views.
Palamós: This 800-year-old Costa Brava fishing village is famous for giant-sized prawns, water sports, and some of the best people-watching in Europe. Crystal Adventures: Segway around gothic Girona, taste Salvador Dalí via a visit to his home or a meal inspired by his favorite dishes, or daytrip to Barcelona for a behind-the-scenes tour of Barça Team's Football Club Stadium.
Akureyri: Iceland's second-largest city offers a robust cultural scene surrounded by snowcapped peaks and gardens. Crystal Adventures: Visit the "Waterfall of the Gods," flightsee over Eyjafjordur fjord to Grimsey Island, take a whale-watching expedition, soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths, or sample homemade ice cream, jam, and smoked lamb at local farms.
Until June 30, all-inclusive Book Now fares for the luxury European cruises featuring maiden calls start at $3,165/person, with optional air add-ons and savings for groups of six or more, combining cruises, and Crystal Society member-sponsored, new-to-Crystal guests.
Crystal Cruises' passion for creating unique luxury experiences both on land and at sea have helped earn the company top ratings from international travelers for two decades.
For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com