One of the most idyllic locations in Italy, ‘Lake Garda’ conjures up images of perfectly blue, peaceful waters, beautiful dominating mountain scenes, and quaint streets with pastel coloured buildings. It’s a fabulous destination to simply relax and breathe deeply, enjoying a glass of wine and some wonderful Italian food with amazing views at every turn. In addition to the picturesque tranquillity, the Lake Garda area also boasts some interesting sites to go and explore. These include the Roman ruins, ‘Grotte di Catullo’, and Castello Scaligero.
Train - Desenzano Del Garda to Rome Termini:
Sirmione and Castello Scaligeri
The beautiful Comune of Sirmione has had a varied and interesting history, in part due to its strategic position at the south of Lake Garda. One of the main landmarks in the area is the Castello Scaligero, whose history is widely disputed. People have claimed that the castle was built as far back as the late BC years however other historians have rebuffed this. What is known is that the noble Scaliger family of Verona were owners by the mid-13th century, and they made renovations to turn it into a fortress to protect the commune.
Grotte di Catullo: ruins of Roman Villa
To the south of Lake Garda is Grotte di Catullo – sometimes referred to as the Catullus Caves. These are the remains of an ancient Roman villa, which date back to around the first century BC into the first century AD. The complex has been named after the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 BC) of Verona, because his poem – Carmen 31 – is believed to be a reflection on Sirmione, where the ruins are situated. Today visitors can explore the museum and find other Roman relics in the close by museum.
Desenzano del Garda
This pretty town on the south coast of Lake Garda has been a popular spot for visitors for centuries. In fact it is believed that the wealthy families of Verona holidayed here as early as the first century AD, when many Romans had mansions in the area. As well as stunning scenery, things to see here include a medieval castle, Roman ruins, and a wonderful antique market.
Riva del Garda
A beautiful town found on Lake Garda’s northern coast, Riva del Garda is sometime called the ‘Jewel of Lake Garda’. The place offers some incredible views, not only of the lake but also of the Gruppo di Brenta mountain range. Explore the intricate network of streets, and see sights including the Torre Apponale – a 13th century clock tower which was once connected by an underground tunnel to the historic Rocca di Riva fortress.
DAY 9 - 04 Aug 2023
One of the most famous cities in the world, Rome has been an epicentre of politics, art, architecture, and food for thousands of years. It is home to some of the most well-known historic sites such as the Colosseum, the pantheon, and Vatican City. It’s easy to spend a day in a hundred different ways in Rome, whether you’re looking to sip on incredible wine and people-watch, indulge in decadent pasta, pizza, risotto, and gelato, or if you’re eager to wander around the streets soaking in all the history you can. Rome is one capital city which will always leave you wanting more.
Things to do in Rome (Civitavecchia):
Found in the heart of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in Europe at just 0.44km² with a population of 1,000 people. It acts as headquarters to the Roman Catholic Church and is home to The Apostolic Palace - the Pope’s residence –the Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.
St Peter's Basilica
Within Vatican City is one of the biggest churches in the world; St. Peter’s Basilica. Accommodating up to 20,000 people, this is where the Pope delivers services. Its 136 metre high dome was designed by Michelangelo, and was completed in 1614.
The colosseum was opened in 80 A.D. with 100 days of exciting games. It was mostly used for gladiatorial combat and fights with animals until around the 6th century when it began to fall into disrepair. It was then used to store building materials until the 18th century, when the papacy decided it should be preserved. As it stands now, however, more than two-thirds of the structure has been destroyed.
Known the world-over for its elaborate, 15th century artwork courtesy of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Luca, and Perugino, the Sistine Chapel is where new Popes are elected and ordained. It is located within Vatican City, inside The Apostolic Palace.
This Michelangelo sculpture is located inside St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It depicts the body of Jesus after he has been crucified, being held by the Virgin Mary. The statue was originally commissioned by Jean de Billheres – a French cardinal – as a memorial for his tomb.
This is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome. There are myths surrounding the building of the original Pantheon, but the structure we see today was built in 120 A.D. by Emperor Hadrian. It was created as a Pagan temple to “honour all Gods” – which is the translation of “Pantheon”. In the year 609 it was converted to a Christian church, although it is still widely known as the Pantheon.
This popular public square is located where the (now fallen) Stadium of Domitian once stood, in 86 A.D. Since then it has been developed into a social gathering spot, adorned by three magnificent fountains that were commissioned in the 16 and 17th centuries. These are Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro, and Fontana del Nettuno.
DAY 11 - 06 Aug 2023
After diverting its flood-prone river to the outskirts of the city and converting the remaining riverbed into a flourishing park, Valencia has quickly become a tourist hotspot in Spain. Ever the innovative, it combines traditional Spanish charm with futuristic buildings and districts, such as the City of the Arts and Sciences. Whether you’re here to immerse yourself in the culture or for the sun, sand and sea, you’ll love Valencia.
Things to do in Valencia:
The perfect place to take a romantic evening walk or find fantastic hidden gems, Valencia’s Old Town is made up of numerous cultural influences and historic architecture. Here, you’ll find the Central Market, many tapas bars and a number of tourist hotspots.
City of Arts & Sciences
Dedicated to the science and culture of the world, The City of the Arts and Sciences is home to five main attractions: the Hemisfèric, the Umbracle, the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the Oceanográfico and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.
Rising above the rooftops of the city’s old town is Valencia’s bell tower. Its striking exterior design has become a famous symbol, while the interior can be explored via 207 steps to the top, where you’ll find a gorgeous bird’s eye view of the landscape.
Jardin del Turia
After diverting the river Turia to prevent flooding, Jardín del Turia was created in the riverbed. It has been developed over many years to become one of the largest urban parks in Spain. Here you’ll find Gulliver kids’ park, Exposition Bridge and Zoo Valencia.
La Lonja de la Seda
Built between 1482 and 1548, La Lonja de la Seda is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the Valencia Silk Exchange and is now a stunning landmark to explore, with intricate carvings, sculptures and twisting columns.
As the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 species, the Oceanográfico has no shortage of marine life to discover. With aquariums dedicated to numerous ecosystems as well as a dolphin habitat and an underwater restaurant, the Oceanográfico is a must!
At the heart of Valencia is the cathedral, an iconic landmark showcasing a variety of architectural styles including Baroque, Romanesque and Gothic. Visitors receive an audio guide to discover the history of this stunning cathedral while they explore.
DAY 13 - 08 Aug 2023
The largest and capital city of Portugal, and one of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon is an idyllic cruise holiday destination, offering attractions to suit all interests. From ancient forts to artistic neighbourhoods and the breath-taking Jerónimos Monastery, this port of call has plenty to explore. Families will love to discover the many species at the Oceanarium, while couples will love an escape to the charming town of Sintra to explore the castle.
Things to do in Lisbon:
One of the oldest and most vibrant districts of Lisbon, Alfama is the place to be for artisan eateries, quirky boutiques and Fado bars. It’s best explored on foot or by the tram to experience as many of the attractions and highlights as possible.
One of the most visited sites in Lisbon, the Jerónimos Monastery was completed in the seventeenth century. In 1983 UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site and it’s certainly a must visit to admire the beautiful architecture both inside and out.
Here visitors will discover over 450 different species of marine life, including sharks, rays, penguins and otters. Cruisers of all ages will love following the route around the central aquarium to learn about the major ecosystems of the ocean.
Torre de Belem
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, Torre de Belém was built to protect Lisbon from attackers from the sea. Despite its role, the fort was decorated with lavish carvings and details, which are best viewed from the banks of the Rio Tejo.
Tram 28 is the classic Lisbon mode of transportation – rattling around the narrow streets in a bright yellow tram that dates back to the 1930’s. Hop on and take one of the best tours of Lisbon, passing highlights and attractions along the way.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural landscape, Sintra is a romantic destination to escape to for the day. Featuring enchanting palaces and rolling hills, this town is easily accessible from Lisbon via a regular train service.
St George's Castle
Established in 200 BC, Castelo de Sao Jorge is one of the biggest highlights of Lisbon. Get to know the city’s unique and fascinating history, explore the imposing walls, wander the shady gardens and admire the vast views from the Observation Terrace.
DAY 16 - 11 Aug 2023
The UK’s largest cruise port and where many will begin their cruise holiday, Southampton has no shortage of maritime and historical attractions. Discover local landmarks on a walking tour including 30 ancient monuments, learn about the tragic story of the Titanic and escape to the great outdoors at the New Forest National Park. With numerous options for seafood dining and even a free art gallery, Southampton is an undoubtedly great destination for a pre- or post cruise stay.
Things to do in Southampton:
Dedicated to the tragedy of the Titanic, SeaCity Museum excellently portrays the aftermath through interactive exhibits. Featuring a 1:25 scale model of the ship, visitors learn about life onboard as well as the disaster that deeply affected Southampton in 1912.
Solent Sky Museum
Home to over 20 aircraft that were integral to the war effort, Solent Sky Museum is dedicated to the history of the RAF. Southampton itself played a large role in producing Supermarine Spitfires, which you’ll learn all about here.
The New Forest
If you’re looking to escape the busy port city, the New Forest National Park is just a short distance away with native New Forest ponies and lush heathland. Visitors can also catch events, activities and workshops throughout the year.
Tudor House and Garden
As Southampton’s most important historic building, this restored home holds over 800 years of history after having numerous owners. Now a museum, it showcases many artefacts once belonging to past residents of Southampton, as well as a Tudor House Café.
Southampton City Art Gallery
Since opening in 1939, this free art gallery has showcased exhibitions of sculptures, photography and traditional paintings. Thanks to an ever-changing programme of activities, you’ll find something here that the whole family will enjoy.
DAY 23 - 18 Aug 2023
There are simply too many places to mention when it comes to the Big Apple but highlights have to be: the Statue of liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, the Natural History Museum and the Met art museum- not to mention all the cool sights of downtown Brooklyn, swanky Manhattan and the classic skyline from Rhode Island. New York is a bucket-list destination that just cannot be missed.
Things to do in New York:
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is an essential part of any trip to New York, providing fascinating insights into the history of this vibrant city. Given to the US from France in 1886, Lady Liberty is situated on Liberty Island, a short and scenic ferry ride from Battery Park, New York.
Located in Manhattan, New York, Central Park is a classic part of the city’s history after first being approved in 1853. There’s no shortage of sightseeing and events to do all the family will love, from Central Park Zoo to the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.
Rockefeller Center has a plethora of attractions and events to discover that will suit all ages. Explore NBC Studios where entertainment and news come together and soak up the fantastic performances of The Music Hall featuring The Radio City Rockettes.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
As the third most visited art museum in the world, the Met is a must for lovers of art, history and culture. Featuring works from early Europe, ancient Egypt and modern art, this museum also contains vast collections of clothing and weaponry.
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a quintessential landmark of New York City and provides an immersive insight into the history of this stunning building. Visitors can marvel at the views from the observation deck, before enjoying exhibits, shopping and dining.
Renovated in 2016, what began as a small square in the 1880s has flourished into an iconic tourist destination filled with fantastic eateries, dazzling musical theatre and designer shopping, not to mention the famous advertising board.
As the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge is a fantastic feat of the hard-work carried out in the late 1880s. A walk along this bridge takes approximately 25 minutes and is particularly stunning at sunset and sunrise.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
After first opening its doors in 1879, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral sees over five million visitors each year. The classic Gothic architecture is truly magnificent and features an organ with 9,000 pipes, over 4,000 stained-glass panels and beautiful sculptures.
Located in Manhattan, Fifth Avenue boasts Museum Mile where visitors find the African Art Museum, Guggenheim Museum, the Met and more, while other landmarks include the Empire State building, the Rockefeller Observation Deck and Flatiron Building.
National September 11 Memorial and Museum
Located at the World Trade Centre site, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum commemorates the lives lost during the terrorist attacks in 1993 and 2001. The memorial consists of two reflecting pools, while the museum offers tours, exhibitions and multimedia displays.
New York Public Library
With nearly 6 million items (including books, e-books, audiobooks, music and films), the New York Public Library has no shortage of fascinating materials to discover. The main branch itself in Manhattan is a stunning New York landmark and a perfect photo opportunity.
The Finger Lakes are an area of tranquil natural beauty famous for its vineyards and being the home of prestigious Cornell University. The eleven lakes which bear this region’s name present fantastic hiking locations in pleasant weather regularly throughout the year.
DAY 23-24 -
Customer reviews for Queen Mary 2
Based on 239 reviews
Value for money
It was a lovely holiday & we couldn't fault the ship or the staff.
We thoroughly enjoyed it!
2-5 cruisesBalcony (Obstructed View)
7 Dec 2022
Queen Mary 2 is a stunning cruise ship that's beautifully furnished with great spaces, dining and on board activities.
2-5 cruisesBalcony (Obstructed View)
1 Nov 2022
We really enjoyed our cruise on the Queen Mary 2. The ship, service, dining and entertainment was great.
10+ cruisesStandard Inside
21 Oct 2022
In my opinion the Queen Mary 2 is best suited for cross Atlantic cruises. To explore Europe I find it preferable to use a cruise ship and not a liner. The food served in the Queens Grill was of a high standard as was the service. Our room was very spacious but the carpet could have done with a good clean. Enjoyed our excursion although a little expensive for a four hour trip. My overall opinion is that a lot of corners have been cut, I realise that business are trying to make up for the monies lost during Covid, but that’s their problem not ours.
All offers and prices are subject to change and availability at time of enquiry. Prices are based on two passengers sharing unless otherwise stated and are subject to the Tour Operator's terms and conditions. Cabin and Flight supplements may apply. Other supplements may apply in addition to the price shown above. Flight details, timings and routing may be subject to alteration. Other tour operator charges may also apply. Any Onboard Spending money or drinks package value shown will be per cabin, again based on two sharing.
Note: On 13 January 2018, new European legislation is being adopted in the UK which as result will mean that we may change our required method of payment at our discretion, irrespective of how any deposit or prior payment was made.