Cruise Diva Goes
Ashore in Europe:
to see & things to do
strategic location in the Mediterranean has been a blessing and a
curse through history. Until stability was established under the
Knights of the Order of St. John in the 16th century, the
Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Berbers, Turks, and British invaded this
small island nation. Malti is the official language, but English is
widely spoken and many merchants accept American dollars.
and picturesque horse-drawn carriages meet cruise ships and offer
transportation for touring. However,
a walking tour of Malta’s capital, Valletta is the only way to
explore the narrow streets. Climb
the steps to the city where the main Tourist Information Arcade is
located just inside the walled city gates.
Stop at the Upper Barracca Gardens for an impressive view of
the Grand Harbor. Make your way past the sad, bombed-out remains of
the Royal Opera House and into the narrow streets of the city.
Follow Republic Street through the center of the city to St.
John's Co-Cathedral to see the display of tapestries and silver
treasures. For a small
admission fee, Casa Rocca Piccola affords the opportunity to visit a
historic home still occupied by Maltese nobility.
Palace of the Grand Masters, now home to the Maltese Parliament,
houses period furnishings, the Grand Masters’ portraits, unique
tapestries, and a fresco depicting the Great Siege.
A short distance away is Republic Square where a statue of
Queen Victoria watches over sidewalk cafes in the tree lined park.
For a walk on the wild side, peek down exceptionally narrow
Strait Street, once Valletta’s notorious red-light district, and
then make your way to the city’s ramparts where you’ll find the
Lower Barracca Gardens with splendid harbor views.
At the extreme end of the promontory is Fort St. Elmo where
only the National War Museum is open to the public.
back to medieval times with a visit to Mdina.
The island’s epicenter of culture before the arrival of the
Knights, it is located on a rocky outcrop above the central plains
of Malta. With spectacular
views, the “Old Town” is a walled city with peaceful cobblestone
streets and is known for Mdina Cathedral and its fine collection of
painting and woodcarvings.
Dragonara Palace Casino, located in an ornate classical mansion on
Dragonara Point, is an elegant setting for gambling.
There is an entrance fee and dress code—jackets and ties
Malta is noted for
traditional handicrafts such as delicate silver filigree, lace,
blown glass, pottery, and brass doorknockers.
Valletta’s main shopping areas are along Republic and
Merchant Streets and Mdina has small shops selling local crafts.
Many tours include stops at the Mdina Glass Blowing Factory
and Handicrafts Village, the island’s largest craft market where
prices tend to be cheaper than in Valletta.
At the harbor, vendors set up tables selling t-shirts and
incredibly beautiful wool sweaters hand-knit by local women at very
reasonable prices. Directly
across from the pier are duty-free shops, often with low prices for
liquor and a variety of local wines and spirits.
clear blue waters are some of the cleanest in the Mediterranean.
Unfortunately, sandy beaches are scarce and often crowded.
The most popular are Mellieha Bay in the northern part of the
island and Ghajn Tuffieha on the western coast.
Neither is far from Valletta but summer traffic can be a
severe hazard, especially if your ship is sailing early.
The closer tourist resort at Sliema is more accessible and
has abundant facilities.
Ports of Call