Marseille is the second largest city in France, with Vieux-Port (Old Port) at the heart of the city. This quieter center of the city is where your cruise will take you. However, the cruise port is some distance away and requires travelers to take transportation. This Marseille cruise port guide will help you get to town without having to pay out an unnecessary amount.
Cruise staff (from two different cruise lines) have told us there is no other option to get to the city other than the paid shuttles (about 23 euros per person round trip), and taxis but that those are rare. This is not true, there seemed to be plenty of taxi options, and often there is a free shuttle.
For the free shuttle, when you get off the ship, most people will be herded into a line to purchase tickets, but you will notice a few people continuing further down the pier. Follow the green line. For us it was literally around the corner, they run about every 20-30 minutes, and there is a large sign. In high cruise season they will run Friday-Monday, and some Tuesdays. Be prepared for long lines, especially if there are multiple cruise ships, or go early. The drive is about 20-30 minutes. We have included a printable map to help you find your way.
While not the most scenic or charming of locations, there are some sights to be seen without traveling too far. The harbor is quiet, with the fisherman’s market (you can smell some distance away), restaurants, and shops around it. Your shuttle will drop you off near the beginning of the harbor, close to a fort/museum. Remember your pick up point.
As you walk around it you will see the mini train stop. This is only 7 Euros per person and is a pleasant ride up to the top of the hill (which you can see from the harbor) to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. Along the way they will point out the sights and history, though it is hard to understand through the speakers.
At the church, it is beautiful to look around, or even to enjoy the best views of the city. You can line up to take any of the trains back down with your same ticket, or as we did, have a casual walk back down the hill. Have a look first where the harbor is and it is pretty easy to make your way back.
If you take the train you will notice there was a small beach before you ascend the hill. Excursion staff have told us there are no beaches, but this one looks accessible by walking from the harbor. Just continue on the road that wraps around the harbor towards the sea where it wraps to the left.