Why go to Marseille?
Marseille is a large city with lots to see and do, including cultural and historic attractions, and plentiful shops
The cruise terminal is far from the center of town, and time can be something of an issue
Plan your visit to Marseille well to avoid not having enough time to see everything on your list
Marseille Cruise Port Facilities?
Most passengers board a shuttle bus to Le Vieux Port and start exploring right away, but shopaholics will find an expanding range of retail outlets along the waterfront which links the cruise terminal to Le Vieux Port. It's best to head into the lovely, lively Le Vieux Port as quickly as you can, and leave closer-to-ship browsing for later, if you have time before returning to your vessel.
Good to Know?
Watch out for dogs. The French are very fond of little pooches, who run around at ankle-height and sometimes leave deposits on the sidewalk; remember to look where you're walking. Also beware of heavy traffic in the port area, and be sure to check hours of operation for any sights you're hoping to visit. Museums and most major attractions are closed on Mondays, and many local restaurants only serve lunch from noon to 2 p.m.
By Taxi: The ship's shuttle is probably the best option for reaching the Le Vieux Port, but taxis are also available at the cruise terminal. Costs vary, depending on how far out your ship has docked.
On Foot: Once you're in Le Vieux Port, you're within walking distance of the major sights. If you want to go further afield, you can use the subway, which is safe, straightforward and accessible from Le Vieux Port station.
By Train: Like most French tourist towns, Marseille has a "petit train" which rides past the main sights for a few euros. The journey will give you a good overview of the local charms if you're strapped for time. It operates roughly every half hour from Le Vieux Port's Quai des Belges; tours take about one hour.
Note: It may be worth investing in a 24-hour city pass (available from the Tourist Office). It costs around 25 euro per adult and allows free use of the city's public transport system, free entrance to most of its museums, 10 percent discounts at certain stores, and other perks including free rides on the petit train and on the ferry which runs from Le Vieux Port to the Isle of Chateau d'If.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The official currency is the euro; for the latest exchange rate, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. You'll find ATMs around the cruise terminal and Le Vieux Port.
English is widely spoken and understood in Marseille, particularly in restaurants. But don't assume that everyone speaks it. Win favor with the locals with a few basic phrases, including "merci beaucoup" (thanks very much) and "l'addition, s'il vous plait" (the bill, please).
Where You're Docked?
Cruise ships dock to the north of Le Vieux Port, in a large industrial zone which is rapidly being updated to appeal to ever-increasing numbers of cruise passengers.
At present, this vast docklands -- which accommodates dry docks; ferries to Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria and Tunisia; and freight vessels as well as cruise ships -- is sprawling and far from pretty, and its cruise berths are set quite far apart.
The Joliette Terminal -- which lies closest to the center of town -- currently has two berths for small to medium-sized ships, while larger vessels have to dock further out at a jetty, approximately six miles to the north of Le Vieux Port at the Marseille-Provence Cruise Terminal. The bad news is that passengers here have a longer journey into the heart of the action; the good is that parts of the terminal were renovated in 2014.