Art Tour Aboard Crystal Cruise Line’s Symphony

Michael Binkley led an art tour aboard the Symphony on its “Renaissance Reflections” Mediterranean cruise in May, 2005 which sailed from Lisbon, Portugal to Rome, Italy with several ports of call along the way.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada crystal cruise symphony renaissance reflections 2005

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada crystal cruise symphony renaissance reflections 2005

Sculptor Michael Binkley partnered with Crystal Cruise Lines and led a special tour to the Sagrada Famillia cathedral and Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain, to see Michelangelo’s “David” in Florence, Italy as well as teaching marble carving on deck to cruise passengers. Binkley pre-worked a marble seated mermaid with the Crystal Cruise logo of a seahorse on her lap and used it for the carving lessons. After the cruise, Binkley brought the piece back to his studio, finished it and a lucky tour participant won the sculpture in a raffle draw.

The cruise began in Lisbon, Portugal and the tour group visited the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum a day before boarding the Symphony. Heading south, the first port of call was Gibraltar to see the mighty Rock before moving on to Barcelona, Spain. Binkley introduced the group to the works of Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan artist and architect (1852 – 1926).

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada crystal cruise symphony renaissance reflections 2005

They visited the majestic Sagrada Familia cathedral that is still being constructed more than 100 years after its ground breaking. A that time, the nave ceiling was in place, but the transept  was still open to the skies. Then on to Casa Mila and Parc Guell, Guadi’s opus that overlooks Barcelona. They also toured the Picasso Museum.

The next stop was the city of Cannes, France, just before its annual International Film Festival. Hundreds of exotic yachts were already moored and being supplied with extravegant food and drink quay-side. Unfortunately, it was still to early to see any film celebrities.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada crystal cruise symphony renaissance reflections 2005

The Symphony then stopped at Monaco, and the group traveled up the mountain to St. Paul de Vence, France to see the Maeght Musem and the many private art galleries within this ancient walled town. The cruise then alighted in romantic Portofino, Italy and the group managed a lovely day hike north along the coast to the ancient Abbey of San Fruttuoso.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada crystal cruise symphony renaissance reflections 2005

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michael binkley sculptor sculpture vancouver canada crystal cruise symphony renaissance reflections 2005

The Symphony then docked at Livorno, Italy and the tour group bussed inland to Florence, Italy to see the work of Michelangelo. This particular part of the voyage held a special place in Binkley’s heart, as the Accademia di Belle Arti is where he had is epiphany to turn to stone sculpture in 1980 when he saw the the Master’s unfinished “Captives” sculptures for the first time. The group also toured the nearby Opera del Duomo Museum, where Michelangelo carved “David” from 1501 – 1504 in the atrium.

Finally, the tour ended in Civitavecchia and inland to Rome, Italy to see the Vatican, St. Peters Cathedral and the Colisseum.

It was a memorable journey, filled with six-star luxury and fabulous fine art.

Michael Binkley