Cruising: why choose Marseille?

Are you planning a Mediterranean cruise? Marseille, France's leading cruise port, has a number of assets that make it the perfect place to embark, disembark or stop over. Cultural, seaside and authentic, it has a lot to offer and is easy to discover, according to passengers' desires. From a few hours' stopover to a stay before or after the cruise, here are (at least) 8 good reasons to choose Marseille when you set sail...

A wide choice of boats and atmospheres

It is not a coincidence that MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, the two primary cruise lines based in France, have selected Marseille as their main port for embarking and disembarking on a Mediterranean cruise from France. They are not the only ones. Several cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Aida, and Oceania Cruises, choose to dock their ships at the Marseille cruise terminal (External link) . Additionally, Ponant, a French company, offers an alternative to the larger cruise ships with its maxi yachts. The numerous cruise lines based in Marseille, whether as the head of a line or as a stopover, offer a wide range of options to choose from. You can select the cruise that suits your preferences, whether you prefer a lively or tranquil atmosphere, a large liner or a smaller ship, or a sober or opulent setting. Additionally, you can even opt for a day cruise off the calanques.

An ultra-modern cruise terminal

The port of Marseille has modern cruise terminals located near the city, including the Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal (MPCT). Six terminals are available to accommodate large liners, with areas ranging from 200 to 6,000 m2 dedicated to baggage rooms, boarding lounges, and check-in areas. Outside, large car parks provide easy access by car. In addition, the Marseille cruise terminal is conveniently linked to the Marseille Provence International Airport (External link) , the TGV station, and the motorway network. This ensures a hassle-free embarkation and disembarkation process.

Taking in the sights at Notre-Dame de la Garde

This is the place to discover "La Bonne Mère", the city's emblematic figure, watches over the sailors, fishermen and all the people of Marseille. Notre Dame de la Garde offers a unique view of the Old Port, the Panier district, the Frioul islands, the north of the city, the beach areas and the hills that surround Marseille.

Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille (External link)

Visit the Mucem

The Mucem project was the flagship architectural project of Marseille European Capital of Culture 2013, and it has been a success. The project combines the restoration of the old Fort Saint-Jean, which overlooks the entrance to the city, with the construction of an ultra-modern building designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti. The Mucem looks out to sea and serves as a link between civilizations on different shores of the Mediterranean. When architecture and art converge on the Mediterranean coast, it's an experience that should not be missed!

Mucem in Marseille (External link)

Exploring the Panier area

It's here, in the Panier district in the centre of Marseille, that the history of the city begins and the true spirit of the Cité Phocéenne can be found. Le Panier sits on a hillock in the centre of Marseille and takes on the feel of an authentic, lively Provencal village. The facades are colourful, the alleyways full of flowers and the walls popular with street artists. A must-see, starting with La Vieille Charité.

Marseille Tourisme (External link)

A trip to the beach

Few towns are lucky enough to be real seaside resorts. Marseille has that privilege! The city has many beaches, the largest of which is the Prado beach. Before or after your cruise, enjoy a swim in the sea along more than 3 kilometres of golden sand just a stone's throw from the city centre. Marseillais love to go there whenever the weather permits... and in Marseille it often does!

The beaches of Marseille (External link)

Setting sail from the Frioul islands

Head for the Vieux Port (not to be missed either, of course) to set course for the Frioul Islands. A thirty-minute crossing reveals an incredible limestone archipelago made up of 4 islands: Pomègues, Ratonneau, If and Tiboulen. On the menu: wild landscapes, beaches and sandy coves. Fans of the adventures of the Count of Monte Cristo will not want to miss a visit to the Château d'If.

Walk to the Frioul Islands (External link)

Dive into the Calanques

Look out for the picture postcard scenery! En Vau, Sormiou, Port-Pin, Port Miou, Morgiou... All these calanques are an invitation to get away from it all, with their steep cliffs, white sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and exceptional seabed. Access is restricted and you may need to allow a good hour's walk to reach them, but what a treat!

Walk in the Calanques and towards the Iles du Frioul (External link)

Take the tour as far as Arles

From the port of Marseille, it takes passengers just an hour to reach the city of Arles, so why deprive yourself if you've got a bit of time on your hands? Discover the incredible historical and cultural heritage of this corner of Provence, from the Roman amphitheatre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the cathedral of Saint-Trophime, a masterpiece of Provençal Romanesque architecture. Van Gogh, seduced by the city's light, was not mistaken. He moved here in 1888, and it was here that he found the inspiration for his most famous paintings. Between two visits, there is no shortage of gourmet addresses, such as La Chassagnette by chef Armand Arnal.

Arles Tourisme (External link)

Recommendations and advice
Looking for more environmentally-friendly cruises? Some cruise lines are increasingly committed to reducing their carbon footprint and protecting the marine ecosystem. Thanks to a range of innovative technologies, cruise ships are succeeding in reducing their consumption of fossil fuels, in particular by using renewable energies (solar or wind power) to power on-board electrical equipment. As for fuel, many companies are replacing their conventional fuel with alternative fuels such as LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) to limit CO2 emissions. Initiatives are also being taken to treat waste and waste water on board. In the Mediterranean, a Sustainable Cruise Charter was drawn up in 2022 and ratified by the shipowners operating on this sea, members of CLIA, and all the French Mediterranean ports, including of course the Euro-Mediterranean port of Marseille Fos. Many cruise operators have accelerated their transition to offer zero-emission cruises by 2050. Enjoy your stopover in Marseille and your Mediterranean cruise!


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Getting to Marseille in Provence