New religious shoreside options have been added to luxury specialist Crystal Cruises’ roster of meaningful and enriching experiences in Europe this year. With the expansion, the ultra-luxe line now offers more than 20 Crystal Adventures featuring private, after-hours access, centuries-old houses of worship, Jewish heritage tours, and sacred pilgrimage destinations in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Malta, France and other timeless locales on the Continent. Most of the new and exclusive adventures visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Outings include:
* Exclusive, after-hours access to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia church-turned-mosque provides an intimate opportunity to study the blend of Islamic and Christian designs inside, without the crowds.
* A half-day trip to Gaudí‘s Church at Colonia Guell—in a textile colony outside Barcelona—offers an off-the-beaten-path discovery of the architect’s spiritual whimsy.
* Valetta’s first church plus the many chapels of the Maltese countryside, dating back to Roman, Medieval and possibly prehistoric times, are all explored in one excursion.
* Wander Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica at night.
* Enter Rome’s Vatican Museum after closing.
* Attend a private Mass for Crystal guests at Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia.
* Listen to a special organ recital at Utstein Monastery near Stavanger, Norway.
* Learn how Copenhagen’s underground resistance movement helped 99% of Danish Jews survive the Holocaust.
* Visit Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum, Jewish quarter, and Anne Frank ‘s house.
* See a range of synagogues, dating from 1795, in Stockholm.
* Stroll through the Jewish Ghetto of Rome.
* Enjoy a local cantor performance, followed by tea with members of St. Petersburg’s Jewish community at their home.
* Observe activities of local Jewish organizations in Odessa.
* Explore Jewish Berlin, from a concentration camp deportation area to the largest Jewish museum in Europe.
SACRED PILGRIMAGE SITES:
* Journey to La Moreneta, one of Europe’s most hallowed pilgrimage destinations in Spain’s Montserrat.
“Many of our guests relish the opportunities to delve further into their own faiths and others that have shaped our varied cultures and history,” says John Stoll , vice president of port and land operations. “The spiritual focus of these excursions goes beyond practitioners of each faith toward greater understanding of the destinations.”
Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony sail throughout Europe from April to December 2013, on cruises ranging from five days to month-long combo cruises for extended vacations. All-inclusive fares start at $1,895/person, with additional savings if booked by April 30. Fares for the spiritual excursion series start at $73/person.
Crystal’s passion for creating exclusive, eye-opening luxury shore-side experiences are cornerstones of its Crystal Adventures program, earning the line top ratings for two decades.