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Cruises to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Monaco (Monte Carlo) (Photo:ostill/Shutterstock)
Monaco (Monte Carlo) (Photo:ostill/Shutterstock)

About Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Arriving by ship into the Monte Carlo harbor is an amazing experience. If your docking time is before dawn, you'll see the lights of the principality twinkling throughout the mountains that surround the harbor and the beautifully lit Grand Casino at center stage. If you arrive during daylight hours, you are faced with the sight of one magnificent yacht after another vying for space in the little harbor.

Monaco is a self-governed sovereign nation under the protection of France. It has been ruled by the Grimaldi family for the past 700 years (with a slight diversion during the French Revolution), and its 1918 treaty with France decreed that if the prince -- any Grimaldi prince -- failed to produce a son, the territory would be ceded back to France upon his death. This was changed in 2002. If Albert II, the current prince, fails to produce a male heir, the throne will be passed to his sister Caroline.

Monaco, which comprises a miniscule 485 acres in total, and is Europe's smallest state after the Vatican, is barely west of the Italian border and surrounded by France on all sides except for the 2.5 miles of coastline. If you are looking at Monaco from your ship in the harbor, you can't tell where the principality ends and France begins. (Hint: Somewhere around the Middle Corniche.) As tiny as it is, it contains five sectors, of which Monte Carlo is the best-known. The principality, which is home to the most millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world, has no natural resources; its national economy is based on tourism and banking.

The two go hand in hand in this idyllic slice of the Cote d'Azur. The wealthy Europeans who do their banking here expect -- no, demand -- the best, and cost be damned. This makes it harder for workaday folks to enjoy a stay (rooms go for an average of $700 a night in a nice hotel), but coming in on a cruise ship for the day gives one a sense of James Bond cool.

If you're lucky enough to be in Monaco during the third week in May, you can actually see part of the Grand Prix Formula One race from the comfort of your cruise ship. We were surprised to see that the track is actually in the middle of the city and goes under an overpass within direct view of the cruise ship dock.

However, whenever you are fortunate enough to visit Monaco and the dazzling district of Monte Carlo, you'll find plenty to do. In fact, these 485 acres offer so much, you'll need to come back to explore again.

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DAY 1: Barcelona

7 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Marseille, Monaco ...
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Cruise Line:
Virgin Voyages
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DAY 1: Miami

117 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Antigua, St. Lucia ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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DAY 1: Venice

10 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Venice
Visiting:
Split, Kotor ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Rome

18 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Monaco, Florence ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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9 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Marseille, Villefranche ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Lisbon
Visiting:
Seville, Barcelona ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Lisbon
Visiting:
Madeira, La Palma ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Venice
Visiting:
Koper, Dubrovnik ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Marseille, Monaco ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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111 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Tuscany, La Spezia ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Florence, Monaco ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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27 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Ponta Delgada, Seville ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Valencia, Minorca ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Venice
Visiting:
Split, Korcula ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Valencia, Minorca ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Palma de Mallorca, Marseille ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
King's Wharf, Lisbon ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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111 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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111 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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22 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Florence, Portofino ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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26 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
King's Wharf, Ponta Delgada ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Athens
Visiting:
Mykonos, Kusadasi ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

50 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Cape Town
Visiting:
Luderitz, Walvis Bay ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Monaco (Monte Carlo)

Leaving:
Barcelona
Visiting:
Saint-Tropez, Monaco ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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Why go to Monaco (Monte Carlo)?

Pros:

Landmarks such as the Monte Carlo Casino and Prince's Palace are all within walking distance

Cons:

The city is expensive, and its posh, affluent vibe might come across as pretentious to some

Bottom Line:

You don't need to book a shore excursion to see most of the city's major attractions

Monaco (Monte Carlo) Cruise Port Facilities?

There's very little at the pier itself. When you get to the gate at the end of the pier, you can walk along the seawall adjacent to the yacht harbor to get into the center of Monte Carlo (about a mile from the ship) or take an elevator and stairs (about 500 yards) to Old Town (Monaco-Ville) where you will find the Palais Princier and the Oceanographic Museum.

Good to Know?

Streets are steep, nearly vertical in some places. However, several elevators and "travelators" are available to help negotiate the inclines in the following areas:

Between the Place des Moulins and the beaches; between the Princess Grace Hospital Centre and the Exotic Garden; between the harbor and the Avenue de la Costa; between the Place St. Devote and the area of Moneghetti; between the terraces of the casino, the Congress Centre Auditorium and the Boulevard Louis II; between the Avenue des Citronniers and the Avenue Grande-Bretagne between the highway and the Larvotto Boulevard.

Getting Around?

Taxis come to the end of the pier (just outside the gates) until approximately 6 p.m. Buses stop at 7 p.m. near the dock but run until 9 p.m. in the principality -- except on weekends when they have a less frequent schedule. The bus system is extensive, but it's quite a long walk to the bus stop from the ship docks. The Monaco bus company, CAM, operates a network of six routes that cover all the main attractions. There are 142 bus stops around the principality, so you never have to walk far to find one. The conductor onboard the bus sells tickets, but you need exact change. Fares are shown at the bus stops.

If you are staying overnight, or have plenty of time in port, the number 100 Rapide Cote D'Azur (RCA) connects Monaco with the chic French Riviera resort of Nice. The journey takes around half an hour and follows a very scenic route along the coast. Halfway between Monaco and Nice is the pretty medieval village of Eze, which can be reached on buses operated by Ligne d'Azur.

A fun way to cross the harbor is on the electric water bus, which runs between the cruise terminal and the city center, near the casino, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

If you're physically fit, you can walk around the principality, but be warned: It's steep, almost everywhere. However, the good news is that you never need worry about safety because Monaco has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The currency in Monaco is the euro. There is a bank (and ATM) on nearly every corner. For updated currency-conversion figures, visit oanda.com or xe.com. Traveler's checks must be exchanged at banks or at one of the two bureaux de change -- Compagnie Monegasque de Change (Parking des Pecheurs, Avenue de la Quarantaine) or Monafinances (17 Avenue des Spelugues) -- because most businesses will not accept them. Banks are generally open from 9 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., with some staying open during lunchtime. Credit Foncier de Monaco, located near the casino, is open daily -- including Sundays and holidays -- from noon to 11 p.m.

Language?

The official language of Monaco is French, but because of the international nature of the place, and its proximity to Italy, Italian, English and Spanish are all widely spoken and understood. There is also a Monegasque dialect, derived from Italian and spoken by around 20 percent of the population.

Where You're Docked?

Opened in 2003, the modern cruise ship pier (Nouvelle Digue de Monaco) is located next to the yacht harbor in the Port of Monaco (Hercules Port), just east of the Palais Princier, the home of Prince Albert, and just below the sector of Monte Carlo. Although the 352 meter dock can accommodate several ships in port, there will be the odd occasion where it's booked up and tenders will need to be utilized.


Monaco (Monte Carlo) Cruise Reviews

blackbr
Sail Date: Sep 2019
We disembarked in Monte Carlo and hired a driver to show us around Monaco for two hours in a Tesla. Then she drove us to Eze where we spent the day and evening before flying home from Nice the following day. Eze... Read More
cs9314
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Nice view, but.....given how little time we had to spend at Monte Carlo itself, this part could have been omitted and time better spent. The Palace itself is bland and not very note worthy.... Read More
Viking Jupiter
SydneySan
Sail Date: Mar 2019
This was an included tour to the Rock & Palace. We left the tour halfway because the guide was incredibly boring. We wandered back down to Monte Carlo and up to the Casino on our own. Fantastic day.... Read More
YandD
Sail Date: Sep 2019
Plans changed because of rough sea and ship docked at Villefranch(?) Bus still took us to Monte Carlo, which we found clean, quaint and boring. Viking refunded the charge for the excursion. Cheque arrived by... Read More
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