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Legends of Asia, the Holy Land & Europe: A 106-Day Exploration from Hong Kong to London - 2021

Hong Kong • 96-night small ship cruise with Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Portugal, France • United Kingdom
  • DISCOVER THE WORLD ON THE INAUGURAL SEASON OF THE OCEAN EXPLORER, VANTAGE'S FIRST SMALL SHIP OCEAN-CRUISING EXPEDITION VESSEL
  • EXPLORE MUMBAI, THE FINANCIAL, COMMERCIAL, AND ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL OF INDIA, AS WELL AS ITS WEALTHIEST CITY
  • DISCOVER SIGIRIYA, AN ANCIENT SRI LANKAN ROCK FORTRESS OVER 200 METERS HIGH AND A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
  • EXPLORE THE LOST CITY OF PETRA IN JORDAN — A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
  • SEE THE EARLIEST GRECIAN SETTLEMENT AT MYCENAE, THE EARLY MEDICAL CITY OF EPIDAURUS, AND EXPLORE OLYMPIA, SITE OF THE FIRST OLYMPIC GAMES
  • FALL UNDER THE SPELL OF PROVENCE'S ANCIENT ROMAN VINEYARDS AND SUNNY BEAUTY
  • TOUR LISBON'S MONUMENTAL HIGHLIGHTS, INCLUDING ON A VISIT TO BELEM TOWER, THE CITY'S ICONIC GATEWAY AT THE MOUTH OF THE TAGUS RIVER
DATES & PRICES
STARTING FROM
$53,199
  • $511
    PER DAY
  • 104
    DAYS
  • 198
    TOURS
TRIP WITH AIR
106 DAYS FROM $53,199
Luxury
Extend Your journey (2 available)
Hong Kong & Macau

3 DAYS FROM $999

London, England

3 DAYS FROM $1,199

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It might take most people a lifetime to visit 23 countries, but you can do it on one seamless, relaxing, and wholly rewarding luxury cruise. You’ll begin in glittering Hong Kong, sailing southwards through the French-inflected nations of Indochina, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Stop in Singapore, the super spiffy, super green island-nation that is also a foodie’s delight. In Malaysia, you’ll be immersed in the multiculturalism of Malacca and George Town. Then, it’s on to the beaches of Thailand, the jungle redoubts of Sri Lanka, and the coastal capitals of the Indian subcontinent. In the Emirates, you’ll behold jaw-dropping wealth and modern architecture that seem to defy all laws of physics. Then, journey into antiquity to explore the pharaonic treasures of Luxor, Jordan’s Lost City of Petra, and the biblical marvels of Israel. Cyprus, Ephesus, and a bevy of Aegean isles beckon next, with a visit to Athens before you continue to beautiful Sicily and Corsica. Then, limn the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal before stepping off in England.

In between, you’ll enjoy some relaxing days at sea with ample time to relish all the deluxe amenities of your brand-new, 5-star luxury expedition ship. Look forward to fascinating guest lecturers, regional entertainment, cooking demonstrations by guest chefs, and more. Plus, included hotel stays allow you to discover the exquisite temples of Phnom Penh, enjoy jungle birdwatching and an elephant safari in Sri Lanka, and explore Egyptian Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes and its legendary pharaonic tombs. Hotel stays in Hong Kong and London provide the perfect bookends.

As icing on the cake, your cruise will feature many special events since it marks the Ocean Explorer’s maiden voyage!

Hong Kong to London

Pre-Trip Extension

Hong Kong & Macau

FROM: $999 PER PERSON | 3 DAYS | $333 PER DAY
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DAYS 1-2:

Fly to Hong Kong

Your journey begins today as you depart your gateway city and fly to Hong Kong. You’ll fly overnight and cross the International Date Line, arriving at your destination on Day 3.

Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Hong Kong and Macau, you will follow the pre-trip itinerary until Day 5, when you'll board the Ocean Explorer and join your fellow base travelers for the rest of the adventure. All activities and inclusions will be covered; please see the pre-trip extension itinerary for details.

DAY 3:

Welcome to Hong Kong

If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport in Hong Kong a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. You may arrive early in the morning, but we have arranged for an early check-in so you can get some rest. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. This evening, attend the Welcome Briefing and Dinner, where you'll be joined by pre-trip extension travelers. You will be reunited with these travelers again in time for embarkation on Day 5.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4:

The best of Hong Kong Island

After breakfast, get better acquainted with some of Hong Kong’s most iconic attractions on a half-day city tour.

Aberdeen was the original tiny village for which all of Hong Kong is now named. It was settled by the Tanka people, who speak their own dialect and have historically lived on fishing boats in floating villages. This is where locals came for the freshest seafood, and jostling next to the tiny traditional junk boats you’ll see famous, grand floating restaurants like the iconic Jumbo. A sampan ride through the harbor brings it all to you, up close. Then, for a totally different perspective, you’ll ride to the top of Victoria Peak by tram, and enjoy lunch atop Hong Kong’s highest hill.

Experience the dim sum tradition on an included lunch, where servers bring carts of small plate dishes to tempt you. Dim sum literally means “touch the heart,” and perhaps yours will be filled by some fluffy, pork-filled bao buns . . . mouthwatering siu mai dumplings . . . translucent shrimp cheung fan rolls . . . beef balls seasoned with coriander . . . and more.

Later in the afternoon, you’ll return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own.

Vantage Exclusive Feature:

  • Hong Kong island excursion with sampan tour of Aberdeen floating village

Cultural Discovery:

  • Traditional dim sum lunch

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 5:

Transfer to Lantau Island and embark the Ocean Explorer

This morning after breakfast you will check out of your hotel and embark on a half-day tour of Lantau Island, where Hong Kong comes to play.

Lantau is popular for its beaches, shopping outlets, and theme parks, but you will focus on its historic attractions and traditional culture. See the classic Po Lin Monastery, and just above it, on a hilltop, the Tian Tan Buddha, an 85-foot-high bronze statue. Then, where the mountains meet the sea, you will explore Tai-O, a 300-year-old fishing village of stilt houses, traditional boats, and more. Before leaving, you’ll get a bird's-eye view of it all when you ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to Tung Chung peak.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll transfer to the pier and embark the relaxed, yet refined Ocean Explorer. Tonight marks your first dinner onboard as you set sail to Vietnam.

Included Features:

  • Half-day tour of Lantau Island
  • Visit Po Lin Monastery

Inaugural Feature:

  • Welcome cocktail party and gala dinner on the Ocean Explorer

Cultural Discovery:

  • Visit the fishing village of Tai O

Scenic Sailing:

  • Enjoy a drink on the deck and soak in the views of Hong Kong’s skyline as we depart for our next port of call

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Cruising the South China Sea

Enjoy a full day at sea to relax and enjoy the luxurious amenities of the brand-new Ocean Explorer. Pamper your body with a relaxing massage, a facial, a swim in the infinity pool, or a soothing soak in the hot tub. Stimulate your mind with a lecture on Vietnamese culture, a movie, or a great book borrowed from our library. The choice is yours! You'll also meet the Ocean Explorer's captain and crew at a Welcome Reception, followed by a briefing and sumptuous dinner on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Cruise idyllic Halong Bay or explore the best of Hanoi

Good morning, Vietnam! Your ship will drop anchor in the port of Cai Lan, and after breakfast you have a choice of two exciting tours:

Behold the nearly 2,000 jutting limestone outcrops of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose mystique has inspired artists for centuries. Legend says that its emerald pinnacles are the humps of a sea-dragon’s back. Your tour takes place on board a small, private boat that will glide you through the silent channels and hidden lagoons. As you cruise, you’ll see an entire city on boats, including a bank, bar, shops and houseboats. Waving children, mothers hanging laundry, old men mending their fishing nets — here is where the everyday life of traditional Vietnam reveals itself. You’ll stop at the famous Hang Dau Go ("Grotto of the Wooden Stakes"), where stakes were driven into the mud in 1288 to skewer the boats of Kublai Khan's Mongol navy. There are also stairs to a commanding lookout point here. This tour includes a deluxe multi-course lunch featuring many fresh seafood specialties.

Alternatively, discover the capital city of Hanoi, an amalgam of French colonial mansions, tree-lined avenues, and traditional Vietnamese architecture that was known as the “Paris of the East.” Your tour begins with a visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university built in 1070, and dedicated to Confucius. Students still visit its elaborate altars to pray for good grades. A highlight will be your electric cart tour through the famed Old Quarter. It is known for its “36 streets of 36 wares” where 36 13th-century artisan guilds built their specialized workshops. You’ll wind through a maze of fascinating back streets lined with narrow houses known as “tunnel” or “tube” houses, built that way so owners could avoid paying taxes based on the width of their street frontage. Lunch is included at the Cau Go Vietnamese restaurant, located on the top floor of a building that offers amazing views of distant Hoan Kiem Lake.

Whether your explorations take you to Halong Bay or to the streets of Hanoi, you'll re-embark the ship after a full day of adventure and enjoy leisure time before another delicious dinner.

Included Feature:

  • Boat tour of Halong Bay or Hanoi sightseeing tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Experience local life in Vietnam

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Cruising the Gulf of Tonkin

Enjoy a day at leisure to relax and enjoy your ship’s resort amenities. Perhaps you’ll join a morning yoga class, read on your balcony, or catnap on the sun deck. Later you can join friends for cocktails in the multi-level lounge, browse the boutique, or attend a lecture by a local historian. Later in the day your Cruise Director will present a port talk.

Then, learn about the transformation of Vietnam when an expert historian presents a lecture on Vietnam, Past & Present.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Lecture on Vietnam, Past & Present

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

Nha Trang countryside tour or a day at the beach

Watch the sun rise during breakfast as the ship arrives in Nha Trang, then take your pick of two wonderful tours: Spend the day in the countryside learning about the culture from locals, or opt for a more relaxing alternative enjoying the picturesque beaches for which Nha Trang is renowned.

Travel beyond the beautiful beaches of Nha Trang, and get a true slice of Vietnamese life. It begins at Po Nagar Cham Towers, a beautiful Cham temple dating to 781 BC that is dedicated to the goddess of the countryside. From here you’ll walk along a tiny alley to a dock where you’ll begin a river cruise aboard a small boat. Drift through peaceful scenes of sleepy villages nestled under coconut shade, wooden bridges, and uniformed children walking to school. You’ll disembark at a village market, and get an eyeful of the colorful fruits, flowers, clothing and household implements. Then, drive to an ancient house to share a cup of tea and seasonal fruit. You’ll also visit a workshop where village elders weave mats from sedge, keeping alive an age-old tradition that is fast disappearing. Your tour includes lunch at a local restaurant.

Alternatively, Nha Trang is famous for its sandy beaches and you’ll enjoy one of its best on this easygoing excursion. Ride to a private beach club where you can swim, snorkel, or snooze beneath your own shaded canopy. The staff will be happy to serve you cool beverages or snacks by the sea, or explore the restaurant, spa, and other beachside facilities.

Afterward, you will arrive back mid-afternoon from the countryside or beach right in time for dinner on board as the ship sets off for Ho Chi Minh City.

Included Feature:

  • Nha Trang countryside tour or excursion to private beach club

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit a village market in Nha Trang
  • Sedge mat weaving demonstration at a local workshop

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Experience old Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City

Take your time over breakfast and relax as we sail into Nha Rong, the port for Ho Ch Minh City. Once known as Saigon, the city is Vietnam’s business and financial hub.

Upon arrival this afternoon, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a neo-Romanesque, red brick edifice with twin spires topped with iron. It was constructed around 1888 with materials imported from France. Across the way, the classic 1960s exterior of the Reunification Palace may seem familiar to you. It was here that the first Communist tanks rolled into town and the building was prominently on the news when South Vietnam fell in 1975. On the other side of the square admire the Central Post Office, completed in 1891. With its barrel-vaulted central hall and pale pink façade, it seems just too pretty to be relegated to mail! Also featured are the restored exteriors of the Saigon Opera House and the elegant City Hall (the former Hotel de Ville), two of Saigon’s most stunning French colonial monuments.

Dinner is on board this evening, followed by an evening at leisure.

Included Feature:

  • Tour of old Saigon

Cultural Discovery:

  • Live show in Ho Chi Minh City

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Explore more of Ho Chi Minh City

We’ve left this morning free so you can pursue your own interests here in Saigon. Perhaps you’ll nibble on exotic street food at the Ben Tranh Market, where your choices range from savory spring rolls to skewers of tarantulas and everything in between! Step back in time at the War Remnants Museum, or admire the masterworks at the Fine Arts Museum. Your onboard Vantage Concierge can assist with all your plans. You'll enjoy lunch on board before the Ocean Explorer departs Ho Chi Minh City, bound for Cambodia!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 12:

Cruising the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand

Enjoy a free day as your ship rounds southern Vietnam and continues towards Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Perhaps you’ll indulge in some spa treatments, do laps in the infinity pool, watch a movie under a canopy of stars on the sun deck, or meet friends for drinks in the lounge. But that’s just the start.

During your time on board, there will be an ongoing schedule of enrichment programs, and today you'll be joined by an expert lecturer who will walk you through the fascinating history of Cambodia, where you'll soon be. 

Cultural Discovery:
  • Lecture on the history of Cambodia

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Arrive in Sihanoukville; Phnom Penh overnight excursion

Today you’ll disembark ship and travel inland to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, staying overnight at an elegant 5-star hotel. Once known as the “Pearl of Asia,” Phnom Penh nestles on the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, and was renowned as one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina. After surviving the destructions of the Khmer Rouge regime, it is once again a vibrant, youthful capital.

Spend a sobering but important half day learning about the turbulent Khmer Rouge years as you visit sites related to the infamous “Killing Fields.” Tuol Sleng, a high school turned interrogation prison known as S-21, is now a genocide museum. You’ll also call at Cheung Ek, a large memorial commemorating the 17,000 victims who died there under the reign of Pol Pot. While disturbing, these somber relics also provide an appreciation for the courageous struggles that Cambodian people have faced.

This evening during dinner you’ll enjoy a traditional Apsara Dinner and Dance Show with beautifully costumed performers.

Included Feature:

  • Educational tour on the Cambodian genocide

Inaugural Feature:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: traditional Apsara dance show

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Phnom Penh historical tour, return to ship in Sihanoukville

After checking out of your hotel, you’ll transfer to Phnom Penh for some more city touring.

Explore hillside Wat Phnom with its big trees and mischievous monkeys, and hear about the legend of Lady Penh, the founder of the city. At the National Museum, you can admire a collection of Khmer art that includes more than 5,000 objects, including statues and other artifacts from Angkor Wat. Then, see the Royal Palace, home to the present King Norodom Sihamoni. It was opened in 1870, and now contains the Royal Residence, Throne Hall, Silver Pagoda, and other historic buildings. The Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat) is named for its more than 5,000 silver floor tiles. The building is a repository of cultural treasures, such as the famous Emerald Buddha, and a life-sized gold Buddha adorned with 2,086 diamonds. You’ll get around Phnom Penh as the locals do, riding past the elegant Post Office, Central Market, and Public Library on board a bicycle-powered carriage called a cyclo.

Back on board the Ocean Explorer, you’ll enjoy another memorable dining experience and a relaxing evening at leisure.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Cyclo ride around Phnom Penh

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

Koh Samui, Thailand’s romantic beach paradise

Relax on board as your ship plows through the turquoise waters around Koh Samui. After lunch, get ready for a cultural safari that will whisk you around the island! 

Your safari starts at Wat Khunaram, where the mummified body of a monk named Luang Phor Daeng sits in a meditative pose, looking very much alive. Stop for refreshments at the impressive Na Muang waterfall, which cascades 59 feet into a sparkling natural pool below. You’ll pass the unusual Grandma and Grandpa rock formations, then continue to Ladd Koh for panoramic views of famed Chaweng Beach. See the golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai, who sits on hill and is nearly 50 feet tall. Heading back to the ship you’ll pass many stands selling handicrafts such as batiks, and products made from seashells and coconuts. Time pending, you might stop at a local market in Nathon to browse the beachwear and other Koh Samui specialties. This evening, enjoy an onboard performance of traditional Thai dancing.

Included Feature:

  • Cultural safari around Koh Samui

Inaugural Feature:

  • Traditional Thai dance performance with dinner at a local pub

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

Free day in Koh Samui

Take advantage of your free time to savor another day in this seaside heaven. Koh Samui is a foodie favorite, so ask your onboard Vantage Concierge for recommendations. Perhaps you’ll just relax on a secluded beach, or indulge in a Thai massage.

Active Feature:

  • Swimming or snorkeling on the beaches of Koh Samui

Scenic Sailing:

  • Koh Samui’s emerald hills and golden beaches give way to the silken waters of the Gulf of Thailand, as you cruise on southward

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 17:

Cruising the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea

Another day to enjoy your ship’s deluxe facilities. Perhaps you’ll join a bridge group in the lounge, have a facial at the spa, or get in some cardio at the gym. Today a local historian will present a fascinating lecture. 

Cultural Discovery:

  • Lecture on Southeast Asia

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 18:

Discover Kuantan, Malaysia

Today you’ll enter Malaysia and explore the capital of its Pahang province, Kuantan. The city is popular for its excellent beaches, but our touring will concentrate on some of the more interesting cultural and historical attractions.

Your exploration begins in Sungai Lembing, an old tin mining town that was once known as the “El Dorado of the East” because of the wealth it generated. During their peak at the turn of the century, these were among the world’s longest and deepest mines, and you’ll have the chance to peer into them. You’ll also visit the Sungai Lembing Museum, which displays many old photographs and mining equipment. Back in Kuantan, you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, the see the main sights such as the imposing Masjid Sultan Ahmad Shah mosque, and Teluk Chempedak Beach.

Included Feature:

  • Historical tour of Sungai Lembing and Kuantan

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 19:

Celebrate the multiculturalism of Singapore

Today, set your sights for one of the hottest destinations in Asia. After a leisurely breakfast you’ll enjoy a city tour that showcases the historic Civic District, with its lovely parks, memorials, and government buildings. It was here that Sir Stamford Raffles first laid out the core of modern Singapore in 1822. Featured here are City Hall and the Parliament building, a modern take on the classic Greek Revival style, and the New and Old Supreme Court buildings. You’ll also see the Padang, an open playing field that is home to the prestigious Singapore Cricket Club. At Merlion Park, you’ll admire the half lion, half fish statue that is the symbol of Singapore, and stunning Marina Bay, with its futuristic skyline.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll see some of the city’s older landmarks. In Chinatown, visit Thian Hock Keng, the city’s oldest Hokkien temple; Little India; the Yong Gallery; and the Peranakan area, with its pastel-colored shop houses.

Enjoy a trishaw ride through colorful Bugis Street, a onetime red-light district that is now one of the biggest and most popular market districts in Singapore. Then, return to your ship for dinner on board as we set sail.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day Singapore city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Trishaw ride through Bugis Street

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 20:

Uncovering UNESCO-listed Malacca

Wake up in Malaysia today — perhaps catch the sunrise from the observation deck, or get in a morning workout at the gym, before a delicious breakfast on board. You'll explore Malacca today, and this compact Malaysian outpost was once a major Southeast Asia trade hub, with architecture exhibiting British, Dutch, and Portuguese influences from its one-time colonial rule. Explore its UNESCO-listed city center on a tour that also includes St. Paul’s Church, A Famosa Fortress, Christ Church, the Stadthuys (an old Dutch spelling meaning City Hall), and more.

Lunch is traditional Peranakan cuisine, which melds Chinese ingredients with spices and techniques original to the Malay and Indonesian communities. The result? Tangy, aromatic, and herbal flavors that offer just a palate preview of the exciting cuisine to come. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure exploring Malacca on your own, with complimentary shuttle service to and from the ship, or make use of the Ocean Explorer's many amenities, including the spa, gym, and more. Dinner is on board this evening.

Included Feature:

  • Tour Malacca city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with lunch of Peranakan cuisine

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 21:

Colorful George Town awaits

Enjoy a morning at leisure, with breakfast and lunch on board. This afternoon, you'll explore Penang island, beginning with its UNESCO-listed capital city, George Town.

On an island tour, you’ll visit the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, a museum dedicated to Penang’s Peranakan heritage — people from China’s southern provinces who immigrated to Malaysia between the 15th and 17th centuries. The museum is housed inside a mansion, which once served as the residence and office of a 19th-century Chinese industrial tycoon. You’ll also view Penang’s street art — some of which has even made international headlines! — and George Town’s Street of Harmony, which features monuments of all religions including Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, and more.

After dinner, head over to the lounge for cocktails. We've invited some local entertainers to come aboard for the first performance of many along this expedition.

Included Feature:

  • Tour of Penang Island and its UNESCO-listed capital, George Town

Cultural Discovery:

  • Evening onboard entertainment in the lounge

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 22:

A cultural tour of Penang and its temples

Spend the day immersing yourself in Penang’s culture and temples. On a tour to the dramatic Kek Lok Si Temple, you’ll discover sacred statues and a towering seven-story pagoda that blends Chinese, Thai, and Burmese architectural styles. Your private guide and interpreter will help unravel the fascinating artwork of each destination, including the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Temple and the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, which was built in 1803 and is the island’s oldest Burmese temple. Lunch is at a local restaurant, which will give you another taste of the diversity of Asian cuisines and flavors.

Then, enjoy an afternoon at leisure as the Ocean Explorer departs for Thailand. Head to the sun deck or observation lounge to take in the views.

Included Feature:

  • Private guided Penang temple and cultural tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 23:

Welcome to blissful Phuket

Today you’re in Thailand’s paradisiacal island of Phuket, known for its beaches, clear turquoise waters, and rugged karst islands. Disembark the Ocean Explorer for a half-day excursion that begins with a drive along the Phuket coastline past Karon Beach and Kata Beach to a viewpoint where you can see the island’s three most beautiful beaches.

You’ll continue to Promthep Cape at Phuket’s southernmost point for optimal viewpoints of the coastline, then drive by Rawai Beach and stop at a cashew nut factory to see how cashews are grown and processed. Then it’s on to Old Phuket, where you’ll view the charming Sino-Portuguese "shop houses" that reflect the architecture of people who arrived here years ago during the region’s tin mining boom.

After lunch on board, the afternoon is at your leisure to unwind on Phuket’s blissful beaches or work with the Concierge to plan something exciting — a speedboat exploration of nearby islands, perhaps, or even a relaxing game of golf.

Included Feature:

  • Phuket sightseeing excursion

Active Feature:

  • Swimming, snorkeling, or water sports on Phuket’s beaches

Scenic Sailing:

  • You’ll pass several sand-fringed islets on your way to Phuket, giving you a taste of what’s to come

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 24:

Relax on board with a day at sea

Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Explorer makes its way toward India. Visit the spa, get in a workout at the gym, lounge in the swimming pool, relax on the sun deck catching up with a great book, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine our chefs are offering.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 25:

Port Blair’s beauty and history

At the heart of the Andaman archipelago off India’s east coast is Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Situated in the Bay of Bengal, Port Blair may be a little town but one rich in history — and beauty. Not only was the town once home to a penal colony that housed the most dangerous convicts, as well as political prisoners, but it’s named in honor of Archibald Blair of East India Company, the prominent trading enterprise.

On a tour, you’ll explore Port Blair and visit the Samudrika Marine Museum. With its display of about 350 species of sea life and rare coral varieties, the museum reflects the colossal marine wealth submerged in the surrounding waters. A visit to the Anthropological Museum showcases the tribal life of the local islands and, over at the Cellular Jail, constructed by the British in 1906, you’ll hear about the stark history of this three-storied prison. Now a National Memorial, the jail houses a spectacular sound and light show, as well as a museum and art gallery. This sobering tour also reveals the small cells that once held captive 698 solitary prisoners, the gallows, the death house, and the different implements used by the British to torture inmates.

Afterward, visit the Aberdeen Bazaar for shopping, eating, and a glimpse of local life before lunch on board the Ocean Explorer.

Included Feature:

  • Port Blair highlights tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAYS 26-27:

Enjoy relaxing days at sea

As you set off for Sri Lanka, you’ll spend two days at sea. During this time, you’ll hear a lecture about Sri Lanka that will prepare you for your time on shore; you can also use this time to mingle with travelers, use the onboard amenities, write home to loved ones, deepen your tan at the pool, read, and more. Your days in Sri Lanka will be filled with discoveries, so think of these sea days as necessary downtime before the excitement ahead.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Lecture on Sri Lanka

Included Meals:

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

DAY 28:

An unforgettable day seeking Sri Lankan wildlife

After two days at sea, you’ll break from the Ocean Explorer for one night and head inland on a special excursion that will be a highlight of this expedition. We’ve designed these next few days to immerse you in Sri Lankan wildlife and culture — a true Vantage exclusive!

You’re in Trincomalee (“Trinco”), Sri Lanka, today — a city of unparalleled history and beauty. Trinco is thought to be an important sight in several Hindu texts, but its white sand beaches are a different kind of spiritual sight.

However, wildlife is the buzzword of the day with visits to two unforgettable national parks. Don’t forget your camera and your GoPro to document everything! You’ll first visit the Minneriya National Park, part of the region’s “elephant corridor,” home to the largest known meeting place of Asian elephants in the world. These gentle giants can be seen here year-round, as well as the purple-faced langur and toque macaque, the park’s endemic monkeys. After Minneriya, you'll have lunch in a local restaurant on the way to the second national park.

After lunch in a local restaurant, you'll spend the afternoon learning about Sri Lanka’s most famous export — Ceylon tea — at a local tea plantation. Amid endless tea fields, workers expertly handpick tea leaves before sending them to be processed into the fragrant, flavorful beverage drunk by millions around the world. You’ll get to sample a few brews during your tour and get a better understanding of different grades of tea.

After a rewarding day of safaris, you'll enjoy a much-deserved rest at your five-star resort, the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, which was built on a replica of the foundations of the nearby Ritigala ruins, an ancient palace-turned-monastery. Here, you’ll have the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner at the hotel tonight.

Vantage Exclusives:

  • Overnight inland adventure with elephant safari at Minneriya National Park
  • Visit a Ceylon tea plantation

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 29:

Sigiriya stone fortress, dazzling Sri Lanka show

After breakfast at the hotel, a morning excursion leads you to Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress that’s over 200 meters high and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it's one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning. During his rule from 473 to 495 AD, King Kasyapa built his royal palace at the top of Sigiriya, lavishly decorated with colorful frescoes. The palace went abandoned after his death, and was then used as a monastery until the 14th century.

You'll then transfer to Colombo, enjoying lunch at a local restaurant en route. Tonight, enjoy dinner back on board the Ocean Explorer. Enjoy some onboard entertainment tonight, when you attend a colorful Sri Lanka show.

Included Feature:

  • Visit Sigiriya rock fortress

Cultural Discovery:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: Sri Lanka show

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 30:

Panoramic Colombo

Embark on a panoramic tour of Colombo this morning. Often billed as a “mini Dubai,” Sri Lanka’s largest city is home to Dutch-influenced architecture and towering skyscrapers, temples and tuk tuks.

Join a lecture on south India and its colorful culture as the Ocean Explorer departs Colombo. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure and dinner on board.

Included Feature:

  • Panoramic tour of Colombo

Cultural Discovery:

  • Lecture on South Indian culture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 31:

Tour eclectic Cochin and marvel at a Kathakali dance performance

After breakfast and a morning at leisure, followed by lunch on board, you'll begin your discoveries of southern India, starting with Cochin. This city has a long history as a spice trading hub and became the heart of the Portuguese empire in India at the beginning of the 16th century, before it was subsequently conquered by the Dutch and British. Today, remnants of these empires remain, but Cochin still has a character all its own. You’ll discover this character on an afternoon city tour, which will take you to St. Francis Church as well as the Chinese fishing nets in Cochin Harbor. You'll return to the ship just in time for dinner.

After dinner, enjoy a traditional Kathakali traditional dance performance on board!

Included Feature:

  • Cochin city tour

Inaugural Feature:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: traditional Kathakali dance performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 32:

Discovering the Alleppey backwaters

The Kerala backwaters are practically de rigueur for any adventure in southern India, and you’ll understand why as you begin your discoveries today. You’ll travel to the Alleppey region and board one of Kerala’s world-famous houseboats, taking in the peaceful scenery as you float on a vessel built to ply these waters. A traditional Kerala lunch on the boat fuels the next leg of the adventure in Champakulum village, where you'll see firsthand what life is like on the rice farms and villages of the region. You’ll also visit St. Mary’s Church, one of the oldest Christian churches in India.

Late this afternoon, you’ll return to the ship for an afternoon at leisure as the Ocean Explorer leaves Cochin for Goa. We’ve prepared a special onboard party to celebrate Holi, the Festival of Colors, which marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated all across India during this time of year. Get ready to revel in the festive atmosphere!

Included Feature:

  • Houseboat cruise along the Alleppey backwaters

Inaugural Feature:

  • Holi party on board

Cultural Discovery:

  • Witness everyday life at a local village

Scenic Sailing:

  • Travel to the Alleppey region and board one of Kerala’s world-famous houseboats, taking in the peaceful scenery as you float on a vessel built to ply these waters

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 33:

Cruising to Mormugao, traditional Indian onboard entertainment

Enjoy a day at sea today as the Ocean Explorer nears Goa’s main port of Mormugao. Enjoy the weather on the sun deck, take a refreshing dip in the pool, or nap — these precious hours of downtime can be as luxuriously lazy as you like. Besides, once you reach Mormugao later this afternoon, you’ll enjoy dinner and a dazzling high-energy performance featuring traditional Goan music and dancing, or a Bollywood show. 

Inaugural Feature:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: local music and dance performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 34:

Your choice of tours in Goa

Goa is much more than its golden beaches that cater to everyone from backpackers to hippies to sun-seekers. Explore Goa’s offerings with your choice of tours today.

The first option is visiting Goa’s magical Hindu temples, including Shri Mangueshi, while learning about how their distinctive structural design, spaciousness, and tranquil environment are different from most Indian temples. You’ll also visit a rustic spice farm, receiving a traditional welcome with aarti, garlands, and a welcome drink.

Or, discover Goa’s colorful history, including the heavy Portuguese influence, as you visit local cathedrals including the UNESCO-listed Basilica of Bom Jesus, which holds the remains of the Catholic missionary St. Francis Xavier, as well as the Se Cathedral. Here, your guide will lead you to the church’s Golden Bell, one of the largest bells in the city.

Head back to the ship for lunch as the ships sets sail for Mumbai. Dinner is on board this evening.

Included Feature:

  • Goa Temples & Spices tour or Cathedrals of Goa tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 35:

Mumbai: India's modern metropolis

This morning you’ll head out to see the sights of Mumbai. Once known as Bombay, it is the financial, commercial, and entertainment capital of India, not to mention its wealthiest city.

Ride along Mumbai’s famous Marine Drive. Arcing along the Arabian Sea, this highway (nicknamed “the Queen’s Necklace”) is dotted with historic architecture and its Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll get a sense of everyday Mumbai life as you pass the Girgaum Chowpatty beach and the Dhobi Ghats, a 140-year-old, open-air facility where tons of laundry are washed in stone basins. Things get greener as you approach the exclusive Malabar Hill neighborhood, where you will see the terraced Hanging Gardens.

You’ll also visit the Gandhi Museum, where you’ll learn about the life and death of the man Indians call “Mahatma,” meaning “great soul.” It will be a wonderful prelude to your visit on Day 37 to Gandhi’s hometown, Porbandar. Lunch will be at a local restaurant, and then you’ll return to your ship for a relaxing afternoon.

Included Features:

  • Mumbai city tour
  • Visit the Gandhi Museum

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 36:

Cruising the Arabian Sea

Enjoy a full day to relax on board. Perhaps you’ll join a morning yoga class, read on the sun deck, or swim in the infinity pool. Later you can join friends for cocktails in the multilevel observation deck, or take a snooze while lounging by the pool. There are dozens of books you may borrow from our library, gifts to be purchased in our boutique, and fine art to admire in the gallery. Later in the day you will enjoy a port talk and a delectable dinner on board — our curated culinary program is sure to be yet another highlight of your expedition with Vantage.

In preparation for tomorrow’s call at Porbandar, an expert lecturer will provide a fascinating look at the life of Mahatma Gandhi and his impact on 20th-century Indian and world politics.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 37:

Coastal Porbandar, birthplace of Gandhi

Enjoy breakfast this morning as the ship docks in the coastal town of Porbandar in Gujarat state.

On a half-day city tour, you'll travel as the locals do aboard a small, three-wheeled tuk tuk taxi. You’ll ride from the pier gate into town, passing local residences and perhaps spotting some of the endemic and migratory birds that are prolific here.

Visit the birthplace of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi, and gain insights into the simple lifestyle of this coastal heritage town, once a thriving Mughal port. You will stop to see the only temple in India dedicated to Sudama, the childhood friend of Lord Krishna. Pilgrims walk the temple’s giant maze to be absolved of sins. Next, your tuk tuk proceeds to Kirti Mandir, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. It stands 79 feet high, one foot for each year of Gandhi’s life, and its design includes homages to six religions. Next door you’ll tour the home where Gandhi was born in 1869, and later lived with his wife. The adjoining building houses a prayer hall, a Gandhian library and an excellent museum. After a visit to the lively local market, where you can pick up the brightly colored textiles the region is famous for, continue to Bharat Mandir Hall. Admire the lovely gardens, huge marble map of India and colorful pillars decorated with bas reliefs of Hindu heroes.

Return to the ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon, featuring an onboard lecture that puts today's discoveries into perspective.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Porbandar tour with a visit to the home of Gandhi

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Porbandar city tour with tuk tuk ride
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 38:

Cruising the Arabian Sea

Another relaxing day at sea gives you plenty of time to enjoy the ship’s luxurious amenities and onboard enrichment activities. Perhaps you’ll learn some new cooking techniques when a guest chef conducts a culinary demonstration. Or indulge yourself with a soothing facial at the spa. Maybe you’ll meet friends for a poolside barbecue lunch, or watch a movie tonight under the stars at the outdoor theater space.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 39:

Begin your Emirates exploration with a Mystical Muscat tour

Another delicious breakfast awaits this morning, a perfect prelude to a truly magical day we have curated for you. 

This afternoon, you're welcomed to the nation of Oman, and its capital, Muscat, which has been an important port since the 1st century AD. Its history melds the influences of the indigenous Omani tribes as well as the Abassids, Portuguese, Ottomans, and Persians who once ruled Oman. Unlike the UAE capitals, which are all about glamour on a grand scale, Muscat is a gracious, whitewashed city wedged between the mountains and the sea, with few high rises. In fact, the Sultan Qaboos (Oman’s head since 1970) has forbidden the construction of anything over seven stories so as not to obscure the views. But that doesn’t mean Muscat lacks for impact, as you’ll see during this afternoon’s exploration.

We first head to the eye-popping Muttrah Souk, a sprawling labyrinth of shops and arcades beneath a timber roof. You’ll have time to ogle the dazzling gold jewelry, J-shaped khanjar daggers, white dishdasha robes, handmade slippers, silverware, Bedu jewelry, and precious oils, perfumes and ointments like frankincense and myrrh. More treasures await at the private Beit al Zubair Museum, whose collections include ethnographic artifacts, an exhibit of traditional Omani female attire, furniture, maps, and more. 

Before departing you’ll enjoy a nice walk around the Old Town area to get some photos of Fort Mirani, Fort Jalali, and the stately Al Alam Palace, a royal residence of Sultan Qaboos. 

After dinner, special guests come on board to engulf you in the culture of Oman. If you're wondering what it’s like to live here, you’ll hear about it firsthand from an Omani woman who will share her perspective on family life, native customs, and the changing role of women in contemporary Oman. Then, enjoy local Omani musicians and dancers who will come on board to provide some captivating folkloric entertainment.

Included Features:

  • Half-day Mystical Muscat tour
  • Explore the Old Town of Muscat

Inaugural Feature:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: Omani folk music and dance

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Tour of Muttrah Souk
  • Lecture by an Omani woman about life in contemporary Oman

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 40:

Experience traditional Omani culture in Seeb and Nakhal village 

To mark the 30th year of his reign, the Sultan Qaboos gave the nation a spectacular modern jewel of a gift: The Grand Mosque. This morning after breakfast, you'll visit Oman’s national mosque, which was completed in 2001, and explore its many marvels, including the giant prayer hall which can hold 6,500 worshippers (and is illuminated by the world’s largest chandelier). The stunning carpet on the main floor covers 46,750 square feet, weighs 21 tons, and boasts 28 colors in varying shades. Between the main prayer hall, additional chambers, and outdoor plazas, the Grand Mosque can hold some 20,000 worshippers.

We then ride west of Muscat to investigate some of Oman’s rural traditions, beginning in the fishermen’s village of Seeb. Set on the Arabian Sea along a broad, park-lined corniche, Seeb is a traditional fishing village where Omanis come to enjoy the wide beach promenade, and some of the freshest fish in the Arab world.

You’ll see where Omanis get their seafood at the Al Seeb Fish Market, set right on the ocean so fishermen can unload the daily catch right on the ground. Locals come to purchase red mullet crabs, squid, skate, swordfish, and more, often foregoing bags and just grabbing their fish by the tail and carting it off in their hands! 

From here you’ll loop back southwards to visit Nakhal village with its pre-Islamic Nakhal Fort, chiseled into a sheer rock. Nakhal Fort boasts imposing watchtowers and battlements, as well as the living quarters of the ruling wali, including many antique furnishings. Then, ride through date palm plantations watered by the Al Thowarah springs and an aflaj irrigation system. This ancient method uses gravity to channel water from underground — a system so ingenious, and so important to desert civilizations, that UNESCO has declared Oman’s aflaj a World Heritage Site. 

Before returning to your ship you’ll enjoy a lunch at an award-winning spa resort. The balance of the afternoon is free.

Included Features:

  • Excursion to Al Thowarah hot springs
  • Tour of an aflaj irrigation system

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
  • Visit a local fish market in Al Seeb
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 41:

Discover the tiny Emirate nation of Fujairah

Add another notch to your travel belt when you step ashore to explore a country that most travelers have never even heard of. Fujairah is one of the seven United Arab Emirate states, and the only one whose pretty coastline, called the Shamaliyah, does not lie on the Persian Gulf. Within its bounds lies the town of Kalba, an exclave of another Emirate nation, Sharjah. You’ll explore both on this morning’s included Fujairah Past and Present tour.

Disembarking in Fujairah, you’ll travel beyond the city to serene Kalba, and see Beit Al Sheikh Sayeed, a beautifully restored, 19th-century heritage house that is filled with traditional Islamic collectibles. The building nestles a beach and features barjeel wind towers and a lovely central courtyard. Continuing south you’ll reach Khor Kalba. Set in a beautiful tidal estuary, it is Arabia’s oldest and largest mangrove swamp and home to a variety of rare and migratory birds.

Returning to the city, visit the Fujairah Heritage Village. Surrounded by a wall and watchtowers, the site carefully re-creates 16th-century Arabian village life and features models of traditional homes, antique household items, and tools. Next is the Fujairah Museum, home to a magnificent collection of period weapons, traditional costumes, and artifacts excavated from sites around the eastern coast. You’ll make a photo stop at the renovated Old Fort of Fujairah, which boasts lovely views of the village below and surrounding date plantations.

After lunch on board the Ocean Explorer, you’ll set sail for the Persian Gulf and Abu Dhabi. Leaving Fujairah, you’ll circle Oman’s mountain-flanked Musandam Peninsula, with glorious views of Jebel al-Harim or “Mountain of Women,” its highest peak.

Another onboard lecture will offer more context into your discoveries in the United Arab Emirates.

Included Feature:

  • Excursion to Fujairah

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Demonstration of local traditions at Fujairah Heritage Village
  • Lecture about the United Arab Emirates

Scenic Sailing:

  • Departing Fujairah, circle Oman’s Musandam Peninsula and Jebel al-Harim

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 42:

Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s cultural mecca

Enjoy breakfast and lunch on board as the Ocean Explorer offers some magnificent views as it arrives into Abu Dhabi just after lunchtime. Head up to the multilevel lounge with your complimentary binoculars and your camera! Witness the beauty of expedition cruising at its finest as the city unfolds along the coast.

Opening its own branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim were just the capstones to the already solid foundation of art and culture that the Emirate nation of Abu Dhabi has built, and you'll discover this capital city more on a half-day city tour. First on today’s agenda is the majestic Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque, or the Grand Mosque, featuring its trademark bulbous domes. The mosque is said to “unite the world” because it purposefully incorporates materials and design motifs from scores of countries. The prayer hall boasts 96 marble columns inlaid with mother of pearl. There is a Qibla wall where the 99 names of God are written in elegant Kufic calligraphy, whose swirls and arabesques are highlighted by fiber-optic lighting. As you behold these jaw-dropping wonders, it’s easy to see why the mosque is considered one of the most important modern architectural treasures in the Arabic world.

You’ll also learn about another foundation of Emirati life: falconry. These royal birds are still revered for their grace and hunting prowess. You’ll visit the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, a unique avian veterinary center that treats about 6,000 of these prized raptors every year. You’ll learn about the falcon’s importance in Emirate culture, as well as the other veterinary programs offered here, including a shelter for the rare Saluki breed of dogs.

If you remain on the ship for dinner, you’ll enjoy a relaxing evening with entertainment.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Abu Dhabi city tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
  • Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
  • Evening onboard entertainment
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 43:

Explore traditional Emirates life

The modern glitter of Abu Dhabi notwithstanding, there is a concerted effort being made here to preserve traditional culture, as you’ll see on this morning’s tour.

Driving along the Corniche past the theme parks of Yas Island, you’ll come to the Emirates Heritage Village, a re-creation of an oasis town where locals demonstrate traditional crafts like tannery, pottery, glass-blowing and swordsmithing. You’ll see a barasti house, which captures the breeze via strategically placed palm fronds; goat hair tents; and a section where camels are traded. There is also a campfire area and workshops where traditional craftsmen demonstrate their skills.

Before leaving Abu Dhabi you’ll get a last, terrific look at it from the 74th-floor Observation Deck of the Etihad Towers. These five sleek, curved skyscrapers preside over Abu Dhabi with sweeping views of the islands and Arabian Gulf. The rest of your day is free for you to relax or explore on your own. Perhaps you’ll go for a stroll in the Umm al Emarat Park, a manicured botanical garden with its own mini petting zoo. Shop for designer duds at the Marina Mall. Or take high tea at the massive Emirati Palace, a luxury hotel that is one of the city’s most important architectural landmarks. 

Whichever you choose, return for dinner on board and a good night's sleep as you look forward to tomorrow's explorations of Qatar.

Included Feature:

  • Panoramic Abu Dhabi city tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Tour the Emirates Heritage Village
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 44:

Discover Qatar, the richest nation on Earth

One look at the skyline of Doha, Qatar’s capital, and you may wonder if you’ve arrived on another planet. There are buildings shaped like spires, ones that lean apart precariously, ones that look like fluttering lace or rising horseshoes, and the famous QIPCO Tower, which resembles a steel tornado. You’ll see the highlights of this striking city on this morning’s tour.

Start at the Pearl Qatar & Marina, a stunning man-made island of luxury homes, parks, and marinas. It resembles a string of pearls and has two perfectly circular bays that embrace two pearl-like islets. The Oyster & Pearl Fountain commemorates the traditional Qatari pearling industry that sustained the nation before the discovery of oil. At the Katara Cultural Village you’ll adore the sparkling facilities where many artistic and creative institutions have made new homes. There is an open-air theater, opera house, multipurpose cinema, conference halls, beaches and more. You’ll have time to take a few photos when we stop along the corniche near the Museum of Islamic Art. Designed by I.M. Pei, it is a stunning modern take on the ancient Islamic fortress based on striking geometric designs, and is set on its own man-made island.

Visit the popular Souq Waqif, a 100-year-old marketplace where you can buy anything from spices to scimitars, baubles to bridal gowns. You’ll also take a short guided walk through a section of the souk that is devoted entirely to falcons. Here, enthusiasts come to buy birds and accessories for them.

Enjoy lunch back on board, with the afternoon free for further exploration on your own. You’ll return to the ship this evening for dinner as we set off for Dubai. Keep an eye out for a postcard-perfect view of the evening sun outlining Doha’s futuristic skyline.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Doha city tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit the 100-year-old Souq Waqif
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 45:

Dubai, the miracle of the Emirates

Until the 1970s, Dubai was a small fishing and trading port. Today, it is a juggernaut of commerce and a city of superlatives where things are made to be the biggest, fastest, and best. You’ll get a feel for it during this morning’s panoramic tour.

Amazing architecture, blazing white beaches and clear turquoise lagoons and creeks make Dubai a delight for the eyes. Be sure to snap a few shots of Burj al Arab, a luxury hotel built in the shape of boat with billowing sails. Though impressive at a height of 1,000 feet, it’s not the tallest structure in Dubai: That would be Burj Khalifa. Spiraling 2,717 feet into the air like a giant twisting needle, it is the tallest building in the world. You’ll also see the Frame, a giant, picture-frame shaped structure, and some of the man-made luxury islands that float in the Persian Gulf, such as Palm Jumeirah, shaped like a palm tree. It’s studded with elegant villas, marinas, parks, and malls where you may stop to browse for interesting jewelry, artwork, Islamic calligraphy, and more.

On Dubai Creek you’ll take a traditional abra water taxi to the Gold Souk, where you won't believe your eyes; and the Spice Souk, where you won't believe your nose! You’ll have time to enjoy lunch here on your own with provided lunch money.

Back on the ship, the rest of the day is yours to relax. Tonight, head to the lounge for another riveting performance from local entertainers.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day panoramic Dubai city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Evening onboard entertainment in the lounge

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 46:

Dhow cruise to Oman’s Musandam Fjords and Telegraph Island

After breakfast you’ll disembark in Khasab, Oman, to see something you most likely have never imagined to find in this part of the world . . .

A wooden dhow awaits to take you along the Straits of Hormuz to a spectacular, fjord-fringed region that is known as the “Norway of Arabia.” The Musandam Peninsula is carved by a series of inlets called khors, lined by mountainous jebels and sheer cliffs that plummet into the turquoise waters below. You may have an escort of seabirds or dolphins as we sail into the awesome Khor Al Sham, heading towards Telegraph Island, so-called for the telegraph cables that the British laid here in 1864. Bring your bathing suit in case you want to go for a swim in the clear cool waters, or just sit back with an iced tea as you admire the backdrop of 2,000-foot Hajar Mountains rising in the distance.

You'll return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure as the Ocean Explorer sets sail — grab a book and head to the sun deck for the ultimate relaxation, or perhaps you'll get in a workout at the gym.

Later, head to the lounge for an illuminating talk from the onboard lecturer before dinner on board. 

Included Feature:

  • Dhow cruise to Musandam fjords and Telegraph Island

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • You may have an escort of seabirds or dolphins as we sail into the awesome Khor Al Sham towards Telegraph Island

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 47:

Discover Oman’s maritime heritage in Sur

Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as you sail to Sur, on the Gulf of Oman, arriving in the early afternoon. Join the onboard lecturer for another scintillating talk highlighting the culture and history of your destinations. 

After lunch, you will embark on a tour of ancient Sur, first stopping along the way to see hilltop Sunaysilah Fort, a square castle with round watchtowers that was constructed in 1648. It overlooks Sur below and the gulf to the east.

Chances are Sinbad the Sailor made most of his seven fantastical voyages on board a wooden dhow made right here in Sur, which has been a premier shipbuilding center for nearly 2,000 years. An example of the city’s shipbuilding prowess is the Fatah al Khair, a restored, 70-year-old dhow that weighs 220 tons and now stands on dry land as a monument. It was made by hand without nails, using handmade ropes to shore up the joints. Many dhows are still made this way and you will see several under construction as you tour the shipyard. Before heading back to the ship you’ll also enjoy a walk around the old fishing village of Al Ayjah, with its lighthouse, fort, and old merchant houses with intricately carved doors.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Sur city tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Lecture on Omani history and culture
  • Tour of a dhow-making shipyard in Sur

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 48:

Cruising the Arabian Sea

Enjoy a full day to relax on board. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a workout in the gym, followed by a swim in the infinity pool. Relax with a cocktail in the multilevel lounge, or take in the expansive sea views from your very own balcony. Feel like browsing? There are dozens of books you may borrow from our library, or get a massage or facial treatment at the spa. Later in the day you will enjoy a port talk and another eye-opening discussion with our guest lecturer.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 49:

In the Land of Frankincense: Khor Rori or the Frankincense Trail, your choice of included tours

Spend the morning sailing towards Salalah, enjoying breakfast on board. Another informative talk with the lecturer will contextualize your discoveries today. 

Salalah is the capital of Dhofar province and has been long associated with the production and trade of frankincense. This aromatic resin of the native boswellia sacra tree has been prized for centuries for its medicinal and fragrant properties. Several sites around Salalah were important to the incense trade that began flourishing between the Middle East, Mediterranean, India and China around the 4th century BC. For that reason, they are collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Land of Frankincense. After lunch on board you’ll have a choice of two included sightseeing tours showcasing different aspects of it. Both tours conclude at the Haffa souk, but begin as follows:

Khor Rori & East Salalah begins with a visit to the pretty white fishing village of Taqah, famous for the dried sardines produced here. Visit Taqah Castle, the former governor’s residence that is filled with art and household artifacts reflecting the traditional Omani way of life. From here you’ll visit the ancient ruins of Sumhuram, also known as Khor Rori, the name of the freshwater lagoon that was Sumhuram’s vital link to the sea. The ruins here include smooth limestone blocks that once lined the city’s gate, fort, well, and storage rooms.

The Frankincense Trail Tour begins with a visit to Nabi Ayoub. It is reputed to be the tomb of the biblical Job, who is considered a prophet in Islam and is also revered for his patience and devotion to God. It is set in the lush green mountains of the Salalah plains, a land of plantations. You’ll stop to taste a fresh coconut water drink at one of the fruit stalls lining the road. Also included is a visit to the Museum of the Frankincense Land at Al Baleed Archaeological Park. If you’re wondering what frankincense smells like, you’ll find out when your tour concludes with a visit to the old Haffa souk, the best and largest in town. The scent of frankincense fills the air as you wander among the many colorful shops selling different grades of the resin, essential oils, decorative burners, jewelry, handicrafts and more. Riding back to the ship you’ll have a photo stop at Salalah Sultan Qaboos Mosque, as well.

You'll return from your half-day tour in time to re-embark the ship for dinner as the ship departs Salalah.

Included Feature:

  • Excursion to East Salalah or The Frankincense Trail

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit Taqah Castle and a local souk
  • Sample fresh coconut water from a fruit stall
  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Prepare to be amazed as Oman’s dramatic, rocky coastline opens up to Salalah’s white sand beaches

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAYS 50-53:

Cruising the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea

Enjoy the next few days relaxing on board your floating resort at sea. This is the perfect opportunity to indulge in some spa treatments, do laps in the infinity pool, watch a movie under a canopy of stars on the sun deck, or meet friends for drinks in the lounge. But that’s just the start.

During your time on board there will be an ongoing schedule of enrichment programs featuring cooking classes with special guest chefs, expert lectures on a variety of topics relevant to your exploration, classes, games, and more. Your days ahead will be filled with plenty of discoveries, so think of these sea days as necessary downtime before the excitement to come. 

Vantage Onboard Enrichment:

  • Cooking classes with special guest chefs
  • Expert lectures on various topics
  • Activity classes and games

Included Meals:

4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners

DAY 54:

Arrive in the land of pharaohs

Today you will continue cruising through the Red Sea, arriving around dinner at Safaga, Egypt.

Prepare for your overnight journey tomorrow into Egypt’s pharaonic past as our expert lecturer delivers a fascinating talk on ancient Egyptian culture.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Lecture on ancient Egyptian culture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 55:

Stay overnight in Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes

You’ll get an early start as we ride across the desert to Luxor, the modern city that straddles the Nile and was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. Inhabited since about 3200 BC, it is still defined by its antique treasures, which include the temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the vast Necropolis of Thebes. Together, they comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will see them all today, with an expert Egyptologist to guide you.

As you approach Luxor you will enter the Necropolis and explore its most famous section, the Valley of the Kings. Here, for some 500 years, more than 60 pharaohs' temples and burial chambers were cut deep into imposing rock cliffs, decorated with elaborate hieroglyphics, and filled with treasures and royal household implements. You’ll enter some of these magnificent tombs, including those of the powerful King Ramses and the famous boy-king Tutankhamun. You’ll also visit the Valley of the Queens, where archaeologists have unearthed more than 90 tombs of pharaohs’ wives and children.

Perhaps the most beautiful monument of all is the elegant Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri. Carved directly into a rock cliff, it is flanked by symmetrical, colonnaded wings and entered via a long, terraced processional walkway. Hatshepsut was Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh, whose mostly peaceful rule was characterized by prosperity, prolific building, and the establishment of new trade routes. She is considered one of Egypt’s most successful rulers. Leaving the Necropolis you’ll stop at the famous Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic sandstone statues that served as sentries before the (now destroyed) tomb of Amenhotep III. Legend has ascribed oracular powers to them and they have been known to emit a curious whistling or moaning sound under certain conditions. After lunch, check into your hotel for a respite before dinner. Afterward, your tour continues in grand style. 

Achieve another travel milestone this evening when you explore the Temple of Karnak, the world’s second-largest religious structure. Built over 2,000 years, it is still being excavated and of its four known sections, only one is open to the public and that alone encompasses some 61 acres of temples, avenues, obelisks, pylons, sanctuaries, lakes and more. Among its highlights is the Great Hypostyle Hall, supported by a forest of 134 79-foot-high columns set in 16 rows.

Learn the history of Karnak, and the fascinating legends of the kings, queens, gods, and goddesses it was dedicated to, at tonight's spectacular Sound & Light show. You’ll wander among the beautifully illuminated temple grounds and then sit beside the sacred lake as the past comes alive through light, music, story and imagery.

Included Features:

  • Guided tour of the Valley of Kings and Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
  • Visit the Temple of Karnak

Inaugural Feature:

  • Karnak Sound & Light show

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 56:

Luxor Temple, travel overland to meet the Ocean Explorer

Check out of the hotel after breakfast this morning, and then head to the fascinating Luxor Temple.

More compact than Karnak, Luxor was mainly built by Amenhotep III and the great Ramses II, but also boasts shrines built by Tutankhamun and Greece’s Alexander the Great. Later it served as a Roman legionnaire fortress. Luxor was once connected to Karnak by a long, ceremonial avenue lined with sphinxes, many of which still stand.

After exploring the temple you’ll enjoy lunch en route while traveling overland back to our ship, which awaits in the seaside resort of Hurghada.  This evening you will be our dinner guest at the Alf Leila Wa Leila, and enjoy its popular Fantasia 1001 extravaganza. Set in a grand theater, this celebration of Egyptian culture covers thousands of years of history through elaborate costumes, music, dance, lights, waterworks, acrobatics and more. There’s even a display of whirling dervishes and Bedouin horsemanship!

Included Feature:

  • Tour of Luxor Temple

Cultural Discovery:

  • Dinner at Alf Leila Wa Leila with Fantasia 1001 Egyptian cultural show

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 57:

Eilat, Israel kibbutz experience or Dolphin Reef

Enjoy breakfast this morning as you sail through the Red Sea. Another interesting lecture precedes lunch on board today. 

Cruising into the Gulf of Aqaba, you’ll disembark at Eilat, the Israeli seaside resort known worldwide for its desert beauty, clear waters, and excellent diving and snorkeling. You’ll have the chance to enjoy the best of it with a choice of two afternoon sightseeing tours.

Your Kibbutz Yotvata & Hai-Bar Safari option takes you into the Negev Desert and the Arava Valley’s Yotvata Hai-Bar animal reserve. Here, endangered and regionally extinct species are being bred and reintroduced into their native habitat. You might see Arabian oryx, Nubian ibex, red-necked ostriches, wild ass, Arabian leopards, griffon vultures and more. Next, ride to Kibbutz Yotvata and experience a slice of life at one of the communal settlements that was vital to the formation of modern Israel. Its main industry is a dairy that is famous around Israel for its high-quality yogurt, milk, and ice cream, which you'll get to sample.

If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list, choose our Dolphin Reef option. You’ll ride to a secluded, horseshoe-shaped lagoon where bottlenose dolphins maintain their daily routine of hunting, playing, courting, and socializing. They are friendly and curious about humans and you can swim and snorkel with them, or watch their antics from various observation piers and platforms. Other denizens of this turquoise lagoon include angelfish, cuttlefish, butterflyfish, and blue- or black-spotted stingrays.

Included Feature:

  • Israel Kibbutz experience or swimming and snorkeling at Dolphin Reef


Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture


Scenic Sailing:

  • Morning sailing into the Gulf of Aqaba

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 58:

Arrive in Aqaba and discover the “Lost City” of Petra

Today you will accomplish yet another travel milestone. It begins as you enter Jordan in historic Aqaba, where T.E Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) led local Bedouin tribesmen in a historic revolt against their Turkish occupiers. Then, crossing the beautiful desert wadis, you will come to the town of Wadi Musa, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra that was built by the Nabataen civilization around 300 BC.

Imagine walking along the Siq, a winding, sandy pathway flanked by red rock walls so high and curvy they nearly block the sky. Suddenly, you approach a large, keyhole-shaped opening that reveals a broad plaza and Al Khazneh, the elaborately carved, tiered Treasury building hewn into a cliff wall. Like the other ruins you will see here in Petra, its color shifts from fiery red to soft coral to amber gold depending on the light.

Included Feature:

  • Guided tour of Petra

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 59:

Dramatic landscapes and religious heritage of Sharm El Sheikh

Catch the sunrise from the ship's multilevel observation lounge before enjoying breakfast on board as the Ocean Explorer arrives in Egypt. Situated near the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm El Sheikh is a seaside desert oasis for Egyptians and travelers alike. Its waters are renowned for their diverse marine life and crystalline visibility. Jacques Cousteau called it a “corridor of marvels” and, depending on conditions and timing, you may have time to take out one of the ship’s kayaks or snorkeling equipment and see this underwater world for yourself. But first, you can join an included morning tour. Visit the magnificent Mustafa Sheikh Mosque with its soaring minarets flanking an impressive dome and marble façade. Marvel at the biblical artwork of the Coptic Orthodox Church, spiritual home to the largest Christian denomination in Egypt. After a stop at Soho Square, Sharm’s modern entertainment and shopping complex, and a perusal of the vibrant, energetic market, return to the ship in time for lunch.

Your afternoon is at leisure in Sharm El Sheikh, or perhaps you'll explore the spectacular coral reef and colorful fish here. Back on board, attend the first of several interesting onboard lectures. A port talk lets you know what to expect during our upcoming crossing of the astonishing Suez Canal.

Included Feature:

  •   Guided tour of Sharm El Sheikh

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Enjoy the sight of the Red Sea lapping against shores of desert sand as you depart Sharm El Sheikh and circle the Sinai Peninsula

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAYS 60-61:

Crossing the Suez Canal

Prepare yourself for today's travel milestone, and settle in on the sun deck as you traverse the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea.

While at sea, an onboard lecturer will offer poignant lectures on the Suez Canal and the history of the region. You'll also enjoy some onboard entertainment, which has been curated to give you a glimpse of the region's art and culture.

These two days provide the perfect opportunity to savor the easy pace and camaraderie that small ship cruising affords. Your included binoculars will give you a closer view of the desert hills and sands unfolding all around while our inviting lounge area and elegant common spaces offer ideal settings to get to know your fellow adventurers. A port talk will give you a glimpse of what’s ahead once you reach the Mediterranean.

During your cruising, take advantage of your expedition ship’s many amenities, and see how days on board can be just as exciting as days offshore. Perhaps enjoy a spa treatment, relax by the infinity pool, curl up with a book on deck, or pop into the boutique for any items you may need. Your meals will bring a taste of Egypt and the Levant to your experience. Before you cruise into the Mediterranean, you briefly stop in Port Said so travelers can re-embark following the overnight Cairo excursion.

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Lecture on the Suez Canal
  • Lecture on the history of the Sinai Peninsula
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Scenic Sailing:

  • In between onboard lectures, join your fellow adventures at the inviting lounge areas and use your included binoculars to get a closer view of the desert hills and sands unfolding all around

Included Meals:

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

DAY 62:

Your choice of a full-day tour in Israel

Arrive in Ashdod, one of the oldest cities in the world, this morning. Then, choose your Israel experience during one of our included tours, ideal for travelers who have visited Israel before and may be looking for new opportunities. Join a full-day tour to Jerusalem, starting at the Mount of Olives so you can take in the ancient city from a breathtaking viewpoint. Proceed to the Gardens of Gethsemane, where Jesus and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixion and whose olive trees may date back as far as Christ. After stopping to see the Church of all Nations, enter the UNESCO-listed Old City for an unforgettable walking tour that includes the Western Wall. After lunch, browse the Arab Bazaar, then follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, site of Jesus’ tomb.

Alternately, choose to spend the day on a full-day tour to Masada and the Dead Sea, with an included lunch. Begin at the famed desert fortress where a band of Jewish rebels chose the ultimate act of resistance against a siege by Roman soldiers. A short cable car ride to the top will show you the full scope of the desert and Dead Sea below. Then, head down to its famously curative salt waters, where you can test how buoyant they really are. (Don’t forget your swimsuit!)

Enjoy a pre-dinner lecture about Israel on board. Then, a port talk fills you in on what’s happening tomorrow.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day excursion to Jerusalem or to Masada and the Dead Sea

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 63:

Uncover a biblical past from Haifa

Arrive in Haifa this morning, the picturesque northern Israeli port in the shadow of Mt. Carmel. Today’s full-day tour features many places from the life of Jesus. First, head to Nazareth, where Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph after his birth. Marvel at the mosaic-filled Basilica of the Annunciation. Next, view the Wedding Church where Jesus turned water to wine. In the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, see the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught. After a local St. Peter’s fish lunch, embark a boat to cross the legendary Sea of Galilee, believed to be where Jesus walked on water. Then, visit Tabgha, site of the miracle of the fishes, and the Mount of Beatitudes, topped by the stunning church with its octagonal dome representing the 8 Beatitudes.

This afternoon’s onboard lecture will illuminate some of what you have seen today. And today’s port talk prepares you for the next unforgettable stop, the fabled island of Cyprus.

Included Features:

  • Full-day Galilee excursion
  • Visit Tabgha and the Mount of the Beatitudes

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 64:

Witnessing the history and traditions of Cyprus with your choice of tours

Your morning is at leisure today, another ideal opportunity to take a swim, catch up on a book in the sun, or simply sleep late in preparation for a day of discovery. After an early lunch on the ship, you'll arrive in Cyprus. The people of this island country enjoy a warm Mediterranean climate, dramatic coastal vistas, the pine-wooded Troodos Mountains, and some of the finest ancient mosaics in the world. You will join them today as you choose from two included afternoon tours.

During a half-day tour to Paphos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural and cultural treasures, stop to view Aphrodite’s Rock, said to be the spot from which the goddess of love and beauty rose from the sea. Visit the Chrysopolitissa Church, built on the remains of a Byzantine basilica, and St. Paul’s Pillar. At the Paphos Archaeological Park, view the remarkably preserved floor mosaics at the Houses of Dionysos, Aion, and Theseus. Enjoy free time to take in the relaxed atmosphere at the Harbor of Paphos.

Or, you may choose a half-day tour to the UNESCO-listed traditional village of Choirokoitia, where our local friend Petros reveals the secrets behind making Halloumi and Anari cheeses at his home. Settle in for a visit and delightful tasting of farm-fresh cheeses with honey, olives, home-baked bread, and salad. Petros will also show you how he weaves the island’s distinctive baskets. After a walk around the village, enjoy a scenic coastal drive back to the ship.

This evening, learn more about this fascinating island during an onboard lecture. And after our port talk, some Cypriot performers join us on board for a lively folklore show.

Included Feature:

  •  Half-day tour of Phaphos or Choirokoitia

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment: Cypriot folklore show

Scenic Sailing:

  • Relax on the deck and enjoy the view as Limassol’s sun-kissed coast appears on the horizon

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 65:

Relax on board with a day at sea

Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Explorer makes its way into the fabled waters of the Aegean Sea. Visit the spa, get in a workout at the gym, lounge in the swimming pool, relax on the sun deck catching up with a great book, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine the chefs are offering. Today’s onboard lecture provides more fascinating context to this legendary part of the Mediterranean. And this evening’s port talk previews your next incredible destination: the remarkable island of Rhodes.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 66:

Rhodes, island of the Knights of St. John

Spend this morning exploring Rhodes, Europe’s largest inhabited medieval town. See the old port of Mandraki. Traverse the heights of Agios Stefanos, or Monte Smith, for sweeping views. In the Old Town, visit the vast Grand Masters Palace, home to the Knights of St. John crusaders, and stop by the Archaeological Museum, once the Knights’ hospital. If you wish, you may linger on your own to explore more of this remarkable enclave of medieval treasures, perhaps strolling the cobbled Street of the Knights.

Back on board, learn more about the rich history that has shaped the Aegean. And though nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking sights of our next destination, Ephesus, our port talk will try!

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Rhodes
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 67:

Step into the rich biblical past of Ephesus

Discover the historical country of Turkey today. Step into the ancient past during a half-day visit to Ephesus, once the most important trading center in the Aegean. These breathtaking ruins are steeped in biblical history, as you will learn during a guided stroll down the Arcadian Way, once lined with colonnaded buildings and adorned with mosaics. Pass the impressive amphitheater and marvel at the towering façade of the Library of Celsus. This third-largest library in the ancient world was built to house 12,000 parchment scrolls. You will also view the Temples of Hadrian and Diana before returning to the ship for lunch. 

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Kusadasi, which offers great walks, restaurants, and shops. Back on board, there’ll be ample opportunities to immerse yourself in Turkish culture. Get into the rhythms of traditional song and dance during a performance by locals. Gain more insight into the past when you sit in on a lecture. And savor the creations of a Turkish master chef, whom we have invited into the kitchen to prepare you dinner.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day historical tour of Ephesus

Inaugural Feature:

  • Dinner prepared by a Turkish master chef

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 68:

Breathtaking Mykonos

Mykonos is big on discovery and beauty, and is renowned for its pure-white houses, tidy churches with blue domes, charming windmills, and pristine beaches. See what captivated Jackie Onassis and other celebrity yachters during a driving tour to some of its most stunning beaches: Agios Ioannis, Ornos, Kalafatis, and Agia Anna. 

Then, visit the magnificent whitewashed village of Ano Mera. After stopping at its unique 1542 Panagia Tourliani Monastery, enjoy a tasty bite and a sip or two of ouzo in the square. A guided walking tour reveals the narrow passages and cobbled lanes of Mykonos before you return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure.

Your day is further enlightened by another onboard lecture this afternoon, followed this evening by some fun onboard entertainment. Today’s port talk prepares you for the wonders of Santorini, tomorrow’s beguiling destination.

Included Feature:

  •  Half-day Mykonos scenic drive & walking tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 69:

Be dazzled by Santorini

Santorini has been called the most magnificent of the Greek Isles. With its soaring cliffs tumbling into turquoise waters, you’re sure to agree. You will tender ashore and take a scenic drive to the ancient site of Akrotiri, a Minoan village frozen in time by the ash of a devastating volcanic eruption. This wonder has been compared to Pompeii both for its fate and for its incredible preservation. Explore its wonders with a guide, then continue to the beautiful clifftop village of Oia. This vision of whitewashed and pastel houses clinging to dark volcanic rock was once home to wealthy seafarers. Its narrow streets are a paradise for walkers, as you will experience firsthand. Then, move on to Fira, perched high over the Aegean on more cliffs. You may explore here on your own and return to the ship at leisure via a dramatic cable car ride and your waiting tender. 

This afternoon, an onboard lecturer adds more enlightenment to your knowledge of the Aegean. Later, a port talk fills you in on what you can expect from our visit to the Cradle of Civilization: Athens. Savor your dinner on board, with ample options of locally inspired cuisine.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Akrotiri and Oia

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Savor your final dinner on board, with ample options of locally inspired cuisine and a stunning last view of Santorini as we navigate past sheer cliffs and the volcanic island of Nea Kameni

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 70:

Arrive in Piraeus, behold the classical wonders of Athens

Arrive in Piraeus this morning and disembark for a thrilling tour of Athens, the sophisticated capital of Greece where mythology and ancient history come alive. You’ll visit the iconic Acropolis, where it was said that Poseidon and Athena fought over who would be patron of the city. This was the architectural pinnacle of Athens, crowned by its breathtaking Parthenon. You’ll also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House on Constitution Square, the Pan Athenian Stadium, and the Presidential Palace. Along the famed Panepistimiou Avenue, pass the Catholic Cathedral, Academy of Athens, the University of Athens, and the National Library. We'll provide you money in the local currency so you can enjoy lunch on your own, perhaps seeking out a restaurant in the charming Plaka district, nestled at the foot of Acropolis Hill. The balance of your day is free. 

Included Feature:

  • Athens sightseeing and walking tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 71:

Ancient treasures in and around Nafplion

This morning the ship arrives in Nafplion. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Arcadian Mountains, this ancient city enjoys a sheltered location below a rocky headland. Admire its impressive Venetian castle as you approach. Then, set out to discover two of Greece’s most renowned ancient sites. First, explore the ancient healing center of Epidaurus. UNESCO has described its Sanctuary of Asklepios as “one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture.” The sanctuary was dedicated to the god of medicine. You will also view its remarkably preserved amphitheater built into a mountain slope, still celebrated for its excellent acoustics. After, continue to the ruins of Mycenae, the Bronze Age capital of one of the first great empires of the ancient Mediterranean and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Look for the massive archway with the carved lions, the symbol of the ancient city-state.

Our onboard lecture today provides insight into the ancient Greeks.

Included Feature:

  •  Half-day excursion to Epidaurus and Mycenae

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 72:

The Rock of Monemvasia and a wine tasting

The small island of Monemvasia simply takes the breath away. The small size of our ship allows us to dock on its shores so you can explore this seldom-visited enclave. Called “The Rock" for its massive dominating rock, it is truly a unique and thrilling slice of the Aegean. Walk the charming narrow streets of its fortress, passing Byzantine churches and old houses with graceful archways. Visit the 13th-century Church of Christ Elkomenos, home to impressive old Byzantine icons. Continue to the Liotrivi Mansion, surrounded by vineyards whose grapes produce the famed Malvasia wine. The Byzantine-era setting provides the ideal atmosphere for a wine tasting. You are welcomed by the vintner, who leads you on a tour of the centuries-old property before popping open a bottle or two for your sampling. After lunch on board, you have the afternoon to stroll the atmospheric streets of Monemvasia on your own. 

Later today, a lecture illuminates more about this historic region. This evening, we welcome local entertainers on board for a lively cultural performance.

Included Feature:

  •  Half-day tour of Monemvasia Castle and Liotrivi

Cultural Discoveries

  • Wine tour and sampling at Liotrivi Mansion
  • Evening onboard entertainment: local cultural performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 73:

Gythion, Gateway to Byzantine Mystras

Arrive this morning in Gythion, with ties to the legendary Trojan War. From here, head inland on the Peloponnese Peninsula to Mystras, the last stronghold of the Byzantines. This stunning site atop Mount Taygetos was a Byzantine center of culture in the 14th and 15th centuries. Stroll the narrow lanes of the once-invincible fortress, viewing the stone-carved façades of the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios, where Constantine XII was coronated, the Church of Agia Sophia, the sprawling Palace of the Despots, and the Monastery of Pantanassa, with its brilliant frescoes.

This afternoon, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to enjoy Gythion or to take advantage of your ship’s amenities, perhaps swimming in the infinity pool or visiting the spa. Learn more about the day’s experience during today’s onboard lecture, before another evening of culinary delights.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day historical tour of Mystras

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 74:

The stunning preservations of Pylos

Uncover the rich Greek, Venetian and Ottoman past of the Peloponnese today during your visit to Pylos. A scenic drive takes you first to Methoni, an important port in the 13th century. Its stunning fortress, a shining example of Venetian, Ottoman and French military architecture, is surrounded on three sides by the sea and on the landward side by an old moat. Back in Pylos, explore the Ottoman castle of Neokastro, one of Greece’s best preserved. Continue to the newly restored Mycenaean Palace of Nestor, a compound of four buildings and 105 apartments.

Today’s onboard lecture reveals more about the sites of the storied Peloponnese Peninsula.

Included Features:

  • Scenic tour of Methoni
  • Tour of Neokastro and Palace of Nestor

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 75:

Visit Katakolon & the Birthplace of the Olympics

This morning, arrive among the low forested hills of Katakolon and its quaint fishing port. Then, head inland to Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics in 776 BC. Set in an idyllic valley, the sacredness of this site to the ancient Greeks predated the first Games. See the Temple of Zeus, the Gymnasium, the Palestra, Temple of Hera and the Philippeion. The stadium here once seated 45,000 spectators. A guided tour of the Museum of the Ancient Olympic Games illuminates the site for you. Continue for a fascinating visit to a local farm that produces wine and olive oil. During a tour, learn how to taste the elixir and enjoy samples of extra virgin and scented oils with a delicious lunch and some red wine, all while being regaled with cultural entertainment. Back on board, enjoy another enriching lecture.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day guided tour of Olympia

Inaugural Feature:

  • Tour of a local olive oil farm with lunch and entertainment

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • From Katakolon, enjoy a last glimpse of the Greek islands as you pass the southern coast of Zakynthos, its craggy rock formations and fine sand beaches tinting the sea with stunning hues

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 76:

Relax on board with a day at sea

Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Explorer makes its way into the heart of the Mediterranean. Visit the spa, get in a workout at the gym, lounge in the swimming pool, relax on the sun deck catching up with a great book, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine our chefs are offering. You'll enjoy another scintillating lecture to enrich your understanding of Mediterranean history. 

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 77:

Taormina's rich history and breathtaking setting

Arrive on the shores of Sicily today, the breathtaking island at the tip of Italy’s toe. From your anchor in Giardini Naxos, you head to Taormina, the historic city set on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. This chic resort town offers splendid views of Mount Etna in the distance and a charming medieval ambience. During your tour, admire the Moorish and Islamic influences in the exterior of the 15th-century Palazzo Carvaia. Continue to the fantastic Greek Theater, originally built in the 3rd century by Romans. You can marvel at its coastal vistas before heading to the Public Gardens, boasting some 200 species. Take time to sample a refreshing granita while here, then we provide you with the euros you’ll need to enjoy lunch at an inviting spot of your choosing. 

Another onboard lecture deepens your understanding of the region. This evening, get into the rhythms of the Triskele Band, named for the three-legged triskelion symbol on the Sicilian flag.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Taormina

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: performance by a Sicilian band
  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • As we depart, enjoy views of Taormina on the cliffs above – and get your camera ready to capture a postcard-perfect shot of the beach with Mount Etna in the background

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 78:

Lipari: Gem of the Aeolian Islands

It is only because of our small ship size that we can pause for a day to explore the Aeolian Islands, Italy’s archipelago northwest of Sicily. Drama greets you at every turn on these soaring, majestic volcanic islands. You anchor off the shore of Lipari and tender to Marina Corta, walking with your guide along the Via Garibaldi. At the Rock of the Castle, set high on a promontory, peer deep into the island’s past at an archaeological site and visit the Cathedral of Bartholomew, the island’s patron saint. Then, get a panoramic view of the island, visiting the villages of Quattrocchi and Quattropani. As you explore, enjoy splendid views of other Aeolian Islands, including Stromboli with its ever-active towering volcano. You will also stop to take in the vistas of Lipari Beach and observe the ubiquitous pumice stone deposited here by volcanic eruptions from millennia past. After lunch on board, enjoy leisure time in Lipari. 

This afternoon’s onboard lecture provides more fascinating context to this legendary part of the Mediterranean.

This evening, shipboard commentary accompanies our scenic cruising among the magnificent Aeolian Islands.

Included Features:

  • Half-day walking tour of Lipari
  • Panoramic coach tour around Lipari

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Cruise among the Aeolian Islands with shipboard commentary

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 79:

Uncovering the mysteries of Pompeii

Arrive this morning along the legendary Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where seaside villages and dizzying cliffs create a dreamy landscape. No visit here is complete without a tour of Pompeii, the ancient city buried by the ash of Vesuvius in 79 AD. A walking tour with a private guide helps you step back 2,000 years into a world of cobbled lanes worn by horse-drawn cart wheels, fascinating villas still adorned by colorful murals, Roman baths, the old forum, and more.

This afternoon, take part in something truly extraordinary — don't forget your camera! We've coordinated an afternoon lunch visit to a local farm, where you'll meet your hosts for a tour and a class in creating the perfect pizza, the famed dish of nearby Naples.

Back on board, learn more about local history and culture before another delectable dinner brings you even more flavors of this region.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Pompeii

Inaugural Feature:

  • Home-hosted lunch with pizza-making demonstration at a local farm

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • The Gulf of Naples is a sight to behold. Get an extraordinary sea view of Naples, fearsome Mount Vesuvius, and nearby Sorrento – a town that’s literally on another level, sitting atop sheer cliffs

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 80:

The cultural riches of coastal cliff-top Corsica

This morning, enjoy breakfast and an early lunch as the Ocean Explorer nears Corsica. This mountainous Mediterranean outpost offers a fascinating glimpse of France in the middle of the Mediterranean. With its chalk-white coastal cliffs and rugged vistas, it is one of the area’s most breathtaking islands — known to the French as “l’Île de Beauté.” Arriving midday, you set out to explore Bonifacio, its castle and pastel-hued Old Town perched on a cliff edge. Explore its Gothic church, the only one on the island, and climb if you wish the 189 steps of the Roy d’Aragon. Then, embark a small boat for a thrilling expedition to explore the Lavezzi Islands and their dramatic cliffs and sea caves carved by the surf over millennia.

An onboard lecture this afternoon reveals more about this seldom-visited corner of the Mediterranean.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Bonifacio city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Arriving at Corsica, sailboats dot the coast and apricot-hued buildings crown the forested hills of Porto-Vecchio, giving this harbor its fairytale charm

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 81:

Glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo

Arrive this morning in Monte Carlo, capital of the tiny independent principality of Monaco. Playground to well-heeled Europeans, this sovereign nation has been ruled by the Grimaldis since the 13th century. You will arrive via the world-famous Grand Prix track of Formula One fame. Then, marvel at the world-renowned Belle Époque Grand Casino, a vision of extravagance and wealth. See the lush gardens, too, before viewing the Hôtel de Paris, a 19th-century grand dame. In the historic quarter of Le Rocher (“The Rock”), admire stunning sea views 200 feet below while strolling past the Prince’s Palace, just in time to see the Changing of the Guard. Nearby, the Neo-Romanesque Monaco Cathedral is a vision in white; the Grimaldis, including Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, are entombed here. After seeing the Justice Palace, your tour ends at the Oceanographic Museum, another neoclassical gem.

An onboard lecture fills you in on more fascinating details about this glittering Mediterranean coastline.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Monte Carlo city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Savor your dinner with a resplendent view of Monte Carlo’s waterfront as we sail out towards Marseille

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 82:

Exploring the magic of the south of France

Steeped in history and boasting a newly revived waterfront, Marseille provides a beguiling glimpse of a French medieval port. From here, you have two ways to delve into the celebrated south of France today: a full-day tour to romantic Provence, or a full-day safari in Camargue National Park.

The first included tour takes you deeper into the heart of Provence. Begin at the Gordes Castle in its namesake town, a picture-postcard hilltop village climbing a slope from the Vaucluse plateau. After, continue to the red cliffs and ochre quarries of Roussillon. The emerald pine trees and vivid blue Provençal sky create a stunning canvas. We provide you some euros to have lunch at a restaurant of your choosing, then it’s on to a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence’s Old Town, strolling under the lovely plane trees of Cours Mirabeau past elegant mansions. If you wish, you may visit Paul Cézanne’s atelier during your free time.

Your second tour option is decidedly wilder. Head into Camargue National Park to explore the vast Rhône River Delta, a pristine region of swamps, river tendrils and ponds teeming with numerous bird species, including the pink flamingo. Throughout your safari, you will pause as opportunities arise to view the region’s wild Camargue horses and bulls grazing as manades, or free-roaming herds. You will visit a working farm to learn more about the horses and bulls and stop for lunch at a local restaurant.

After dinner, we have invited local performers to entertain you with dances and songs of their country.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day excursion to Provence or Camargue National Park

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment: local song and dance performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 83:

Historic and cultural wonders of French Occitanie

The seaside resort of Sète is your entrée to two historic treasures. Again today, you can select the tour that suits your interest: A full-day tour of Carcassonne, or a half-day tour to Montpellier and Château de Flaugergues.

If you choose the first option, you'll journey to UNESCO-listed Carcassonne, the largest and best preserved fortified medieval town in Europe. Step back in time within its massive walls, exploring narrow, cobbled streets, the breathtaking St. Nazaire Basilica, an 11th-century Romanesque church, the 12th-century Château Comtal and countless other treasures from the Middle Ages. After lunch at a local restaurant, tour the lovely Fontfroide Abbey, founded in 1093, with its hushed cloister and vaulted chapter house. 

Alternately, visit the historic and stylish city of Montpellier, capital of the Languedoc-Rousillon region. In the Old Town, admire elegant mansions and other stunning architecture that fuses the classical and the avant-garde. In the Place de la Comèdie, admire the Three Graces fountain. You will also see the fortress-like Cathedral St. Pierre and the Arc de Triomphe. Later, stop for a tour and wine tasting at the 18th-century Château de Flaugergues. Romans were the first to cultivate grapes on these grounds 2,000 years ago. After the tasting, you'll be back on board the Ocean Explorer for lunch and an afternoon at leisure in Sète.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day tour of Carcassonne or Half-day tour of Montpellier and Château de Flaugergues

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 84:

Barcelona, Catalonia’s vibrant cultural heart

Disembark this morning and get to know the sophisticated capital of Catalonia during a panoramic tour. This morning you'll get to know the sophisticated capital of Catalonia on a panoramic tour that includes the hugely successful revitalization project of Port Vell, the Olympic Village that hosted the 1992 Games. Then, ascend Montjuic for spectacular city views. Continue to the Plaza de España, adorned with Venetian towers and a towering fountain, and to La Sagrada Família cathedral, Antoni Gaudí’s famous masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which you'll be able to visit on your own. After seeing the architectural treasures along the tree-lined Passieg de Gràcia — including surreal buildings by Gaudí — there’ll be plenty of time to shop the city’s famous pedestrian-only Las Ramblas. The tour concludes at La Barceloneta Beach, where an included lunch awaits. Afterward, you may return to La Sagrada Família with individual tickets for entrance. Then, enjoy an afternoon at leisure on Las Ramblas, with dinner back onboard. 

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Barcelona city tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 85:

Mallorca: Jewel of Spain’s Balearic Islands

The ship arrives in in Palma de Mallorca this morning. Perhaps you'll catch the sunrise this morning from the Ocean Explorer's observation deck, or get in a morning workout at the gym before a delicious breakfast.

Ringed by pristine crescent beaches and cloaked in lush green forest, Mallorca is an island paradise for the Spanish and visitors alike. On a panoramic city tour, you'll explore the stunning circular Bellver Castle, built in the 14th century for the Kings of Mallorca. Later, step inside the massive, Gothic La Seu Cathedral. This honey-colored masterpiece boasts a cavernous interior designed by Antoni Gaudí and a 144-foot-high nave. Return to the ship for lunch before an afternoon at leisure in Palma de Mallorca.

Before dinner this evening, enjoy another lecture highlighting the historic and fascinating destinations visited on your expedition.

Included Feature:

  •   Tour of Palma de Mallorca

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Behold more breathtaking sights of the renowned beach destination as you sail out of Palma Bay by Ibiza and venture towards your next destination

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 86:

Exploring Cartagena's Roman flourishes

After breakfast on board the ship arrives in the natural harbor of Cartagena, in use since the city was established as a major naval center by the Carthaginians in 227 BC. You’ll get acquainted with its history at La Concepción Castle, which overlooks the old Roman Theatre, the second-largest in Iberia. Walking down the Calle Mayor, you’ll also see some of the Cartagena’s noteworthy art nouveau buildings, including the gleaming white façade of the Cervantes House and the elegant Grand Hotel, where you have time to explore on your own.

After returning to ship for lunch your afternoon is free. Perhaps you’ll relax by the infinity pool or take in some Spanish sunshine on deck. Before another gourmet dinner on the Ocean Explorer, yet another lecture illuminates more about this historic region.

Included Feature:

  • Walking tour of Cartagena

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Arrive in Cartagena, a strategically important harbor for centuries, and you can witness a diverse blend of architectural styles, such as Art Nouveau, and even remains from the Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine and Moorish eras

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 87:

Exploration of the storied city of Granada

From our berth in Almería you set out on a full-day excursion to fabled Granada, the last stronghold of the Spanish Moors. Set in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada boasts one of the world’s most spectacular fortified palace complexes, the legendary Alhambra. On a guided tour, you'll see its most famous attractions, including the renowned fountains and gardens of the Generalife. Then, transfer to Motril, where you will rejoin the ship.

Enjoy lunch in a typical Spanish restaurant and a passionate flamenco performance. You'll learn more about Andalusia during today’s onboard lecture as you set sail for Málaga late this evening.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day excursion to Granada

Cultural Discovery:

  • Spanish flamenco performance
  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Cruise into Málaga, where two Moorish citadels crest over the hilltop

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 88:

Beauty and history in seaside Málaga

Wake up in Málaga, the provincial capital and birthplace of Pablo Picasso that recently remade itself into a popular cultural hub with a restored historic center. Your city tour reveals Málaga's wide boulevards lined with turn-of-the-century apartments; the Gothic Cathedral and Gibralfaro Castle, an 11th-century Moorish fortification; and the adjacent Alcazaba, the old Moorish palace. You will also visit the Picasso Museum, home to almost 300 of the artist’s works. 

After lunch on board you’ll have the afternoon to relax on the spacious sun deck or explore Málaga on your own, perhaps seeking out tapas in some of Málaga’s liveliest bars that serve up the famous bite-sized delicacies, or visit the Museo del Vidrio, renowned for its collection of antique and ancient glassware inside a lovely old home from the 1700s. You'll overnight in Málaga to fully experience all this town has to offer.

This evening, enjoy another informative lecture before another sumptuous dinner on the Ocean Explorer.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Malaga sightseeing tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Bid farewell to Málaga and enjoy incredible views as you sail out of the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) region of Andalusia

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 89:

Posh Puerto Banús and the stunning Ronda gorge

After breakfast we drop anchor in Puerto Banús, a luxury marina on the Costa del Sol. Head inland to the heights of the sierras and Ronda, first settled by the Celts. A procession of Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans, Moors, Berbers, Visigoths, and other Europeans have since left their cultural mark in the town’s distinctive white stucco neighborhoods. You’ll see the old Roman Bridge spanning the deep El Tajo Gorge below, the stately Casa de Don Bosco, and Mondragon Palace. Then, visit the Plaza de Toros — the oldest bullring in Spain. Here, a docent will provide an informative talk on the history of Spanish bullfighting.

After lunch back on board, you might enjoy a dip off our ship’s swim deck, take a paddle in one of our kayaks, or roam the posh streets of Puerto Banús. Another onboard lecture illuminates more of the region’s culture and history, and after dinner we welcome some local entertainers on board for a lively cultural performance.

Included Feature:

  • Tour of Ronda

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit the Plaza de Toros, with a talk on Spanish bullfighting
  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment: local cultural performance

Scenic Sailing:

  • Arrive in Puerto Banús and admire its beautiful coastal marina

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 90:

A taste of Britain at the tip of Spain

Step ashore in Gibraltar, known as “The Rock” for its most famous and dominant geographic feature. Throughout the day, you will have expansive views of both Europe and Africa. Our tour includes a funicular ride to the Castle of Gibraltar. Keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready in case you catch a glimpse of the famed Barbary apes (macaques) that live on the rock. British-flavored Gibraltar is a great spot for pub-hopping and duty-free shopping before we return to ship for lunch. You have the afternoon free to wander Gibraltar’s streets, perhaps coming up on a red Victorian post box or a fish-and-chips shop. Our afternoon lecture sheds light on your discoveries and you have the evening to admire the imposing Rock of Gibraltar as you sip a cocktail on the sun deck.

Included Feature:

  • Excursion to Gibraltar

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Captivating moments are yours as you cruise out of Gibraltar, with the Rock of Gibraltar behind you, and through the Strait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 91:

Give in to the seductions of Seville, home-hosted dinner on a family-owned bull farm

After breakfast you’ll tour Andalusia’s storied capital, Seville, including the Real Alcázar, a monumental complex of fortifications, palaces, and gardens spanning the Arabic period through the 19th century. Stop at the old University of Seville, whose main building is housed in the former Royal Tobacco Factory where Bizet set the famous opening scene of his opera Carmen

At the Plaza de España, constructed for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, admire an elegant canvas of tiled fountains, bridges, and arcades. You may also step inside the Seville Cathedral — where Ferdinand, Isabella, and Christopher Columbus are entombed — and have the opportunity to climb to the top of its soaring La Giralda Tower.

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Seville to shop and explore. Later, you'll set out into the countryside to a local family’s bull farm, where you will enjoy a tour, a delicious home-hosted dinner of Spanish fare, and a rich cultural exchange.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Seville city tour

Inaugural Feature:

  • Home-hosted meal at a local family’s bull farm

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 92:

Uncover the treasures of Seville and Guadalquivir River sailing

Start the day after breakfast with a lecture about the riches of Andalusia. Then, today is full of possibilities as you have the day at leisure to explore the Andalusian capital on your own.

If you remain in Seville, our included shuttle service will whisk you into town. Take in city views from atop the Metropol Parasol, a remarkable wooden structure of 100-foot pillars topped by a wavy roof traversed by a winding walkway. Or visit the excellent Fine Arts Museum.

This afternoon, we depart Seville and cruise along the historic Guadalquivir River through Doñana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important habitat for waterfowl. Commentary from the bridge gives you insight into this pristine wilderness, and birders should take advantage of this opportunity to get a good look at some of the birds, including Thekla's lark and the western olivaceous warbler. If you've brought a telephoto lens for your camera, try to get some images from the deck.

Included Feature:

  • Cruise along the Guadalquivir River, with commentary

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Set sail on the iconic Guadalquivir River, forever synonymous with Ferdinand Magellan who sailed this river as he began his historic voyage around the world

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 93:

Portimão, gateway to the vistas and villages of the Algarve

Cruise along Portugal’s scenic Algarve region this morning before mooring in Portimão, a former center of fishing and shipbuilding. Journey to the historic town of Silves, surrounded by orange and lemon groves, to visit its red sandstone Moorish Castle and 13th-century cathedral constructed by Alfonso X of Castile. There’ll be time to peruse the fascinating exhibits of the Archaeological Museum before continuing to the market town of Monchique, a delightful mountain enclave of cobbled streets where small decorative doorways lead into artisan workshops where folding wooden chairs are still handmade as they were in Roman times. There is also a 17th-century Franciscan monastery renowned for its splendid views of the Old Town where you could admire the traditional azulejo tiles adorning the 16th-century parish church.

We'll head back to the Ocean Explorer for a late lunch. Before dinner, don't miss another lecture that elucidates the history and culture of this captivating region.

Included Feature:

  •  Excursion to Silves and Monchique

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Sail out of Portimão and enjoy panoramic views around Cape St. Vincent, the southwesternmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 94:

Lisbon: Monumental city with an epic past

Arrive in Lisbon this morning and set out to explore its historic highlights. First is the Belém Tower, the city’s iconic gateway at the mouth of the Tagus River. Ships laden with treasures from Portugal’s far-flung empire would stop to be assessed here. Nearby, marvel at the ornate Hieronymites Monastery, an exquisite example of Portugal’s Manueline architecture. Unique to Portugal, this baroque style of ornamentation blends religious and nautical symbols with fanciful interpretations of the flora, fauna, and people of the New World.

Enjoy lunch on your own with provided money in the local currency. You’ll also enjoy a taste of Pastéis de Belém, a buttery custard confection based on an old recipe from the monks. It’s not only Portugal’s favorite pastry, but a trendy treat for foodies around the world.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Lisbon city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Local pastry tasting during Lisbon walking tour

Scenic Sailing:

  • When cruising into Lisbon, find overwhelmingly gorgeous views of one of the most celebrated cities in the world

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 95:

Inside Porto, the “Unvanquished City”

Enjoy breakfast as the ship arrives in Leixoes. Then, disembark and transfer to Porto, known as the “Unvanquished City” because the Romans or Moors never overtook it. According to 15th-century legend, the people of Porto donated all their meat to a military fleet departing for battle — leaving themselves with nothing but offal (tripas). Considering the sacrifice an ancestral badge of honor, Porto residents still proudly call themselves Tripeiros.

Embark on a panoramic drive through Portugal’s second-largest city, which includes its UNESCO-listed city center and a visit to a local market. Return to the ship for lunch, with an afternoon at leisure to explore Porto on your own. Don’t miss a visit to one of the top bookstores in the world, Livraria Lello (which inspired J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter library), where you can peruse the shelves and admire the décor of this one-of-a-kind gem. 

Later this afternoon, hear an onboard lecture about local history. Dinner is on board, with overnight sailing to Spain.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Porto city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 96:

Exploring UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela

Your expedition brings you to Vigo, Spain, and the country's westernmost corners today, where you’ll experience a full-day exploration of the UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela, one of the most sacred places in the world for Christian pilgrims. It’s believed that Saint James was buried here in the first century, but the location was forgotten over the years until a ninth-century hermit saw a shining light over a spot in a wooded field, sparking an ensuing investigation that revealed what was believed to be the lost tomb of Saint James. A church was constructed, and it quickly became one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations of medieval times. It remains so today, with more than 200,000 people walking the nearly 500-mile path (called the Way of Saint James) annually. You’ll get a chance to see both the church and the route that millions have taken to get there. Vantage will provide you money in the local currency to explore on your own and get some lunch, including tapas in numerous local restaurants.

Afterward, transfer to A Coruña, stopping for photos at the Tower of Hercules — the world’s oldest working lighthouse and a UNESCO World Heritage Site — along the way. Re-embark ship in A Coruña and enjoy a special show tonight — we've curated your first onboard performance with fado, traditional Portuguese music that’s typically melancholic and features two 12-string guitars.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day tour of Santiago de Compostela
  • Visit the UNESCO-listed Tower of Hercules

Cultural Discovery:

  • Evening onboard entertainment: Portuguese fado music performance

Scenic Sailing:

  • Be treated to panoramic views of the splendid architecture of A Coruña while you sail out of port

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 97:

Oviedo, Spain’s cosmopolitan northern capital

Discover Oviedo, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s northern coast and home to some impressive churches including Cathedral of San Salvador, which is where the original Way of St. James began. Soak in the old-world beauty of this town and its collectively listed UNESCO monuments before returning to the ship for lunch.

Then, spend an afternoon at leisure in Gijón, a city of beautiful beaches and a rich history situated on the shimmering Bay of Biscay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return to the ship this evening for dinner on board and another scintillating talk by a guest lecturer.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day historical tour of Oviedo

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Admire the lovely landscape of Gijón before traveling to explore the medieval treasures of Oviedo

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 98:

Seaside splendor in the resort town of San Sebastián

Wake up in San Sebastián today, one of Spain’s most alluring resort towns renowned for its beaches and its food. A morning tour of the city’s historical gems includes the Parte Vieja (Old Town), the twin-towered Santa Maria Church, and Good Shepherd Cathedral, but merely strolling the streets of this coastal treasure — or watching the waves break over La Concha beach — is a pleasure all its own. 

Enhance your walking tour discoveries when you give biking a try and cover more ground. Your Concierge or Cruise Director can help you reserve two wheels and suggest a few paths.

Before dinner this evening, enjoy a local tuna band. The Ocean Explorer will cruise to France overnight.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day San Sebastián city tour

Cultural Discovery: 

  • Evening onboard entertainment: local tuna band performance

Active Feature: 

  • Opportunity to explore San Sebastián by bicycle

Scenic Sailing:

  • Arrive at one of the world’s most breathtaking coastal cities today; be sure to soak up all of San Sebastián’s romantic views upon arrival and departure

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 99:

Bordeaux, the Port of the Moon

Today the agile Ocean Explorer makes its way down the Garonne River and into Bordeaux, France — one of the smaller ports most vessels can’t reach! 

As you cruise there this morning, spend some time in the boutique, soaking up sun in the swimming pool, or sightseeing from the deck. Join your guest lecturer for another talk that prepares you for the exciting explorations we've planned: two days exploring UNESCO-listed Bordeaux, known as the “Port of the Moon” because of its crescent-shaped docks along the river. 

Often overlooked by the glamorous outposts of Paris and Marseille, Bordeaux is arguably the wine capital of the world, and home to La Cité du Vin wine museum, which you’ll visit on an afternoon city tour that includes a wine tasting, too.

Enjoy an evening at leisure in Bordeaux, with dinner on the Ocean Explorer. You'll overnight in Bordeaux, so take advantage of the extra time by heading into town for an after-dinner cocktail or glass of wine, or simply stroll around town.

Included Features:

  • Half-day Bordeaux city tour
  • Visit La Cité du Vin wine museum

Inaugural Feature:

  • Wine tasting at La Cité du Vin wine museum

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • This morning, cruise from the Gironde Estuary into the Garonne River and sail towards the vineyard-laced hills of Bordeaux, one of France’s most picturesque cities

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 100:

Leisure time to experience Bordeaux as you please

Enjoy an entire day at leisure in Bordeaux. Alongside its wine, the city is also renowned for its food, including oysters, lamb, and duck — as well as porcini mushrooms, which celebrated French chef Joel Robuchon calls “the best in France.” Make a request to your Concierge ahead of time if you’d like to secure Michelin-starred restaurant reservations — these book well in advance!

Enhance your Bordeaux discoveries by bicycle — your Concierge or Cruise Director can help you reserve two wheels and suggest a few paths.

Hear another talk from the guest lecturer before a delicious dinner as the ship sails overnight to Belle-Île.

Active Feature:

  • Explore Bordeaux by bicycle

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Bid adieu to the vineyards and elegant châteaux of Bordeaux as you sail back through the Garonne River to the Gironde Estuary, taking pictures along the way

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 101:

Brittany’s Belle-Île

Belle-Île, a sandy and secluded isle off France’s Brittany coastline, is yours to explore today. Most people arrive to the island via ferry from the mainland, or not at all — this is another oft-overlooked outpost that the versatile Ocean Explorer can reach.

On a morning tour, discover the stunning pastel-hued harbor and its homes, the star-shaped citadel in capital Le Palais, and charming inland villages like the commune of Sauzon — once the muse for Monet, who spent several months here during the climax of his career. This island is a favorite among celebrities who love its laid-back charm and rich history of arts and crafts. Don’t miss the regional seafood when you enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to the port of Le Palais for an afternoon at leisure.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day scenic tour of Belle-Île

Scenic Sailing:

  • You’re sure to understand why the French chose to name this island Belle Île, or beautiful isle, while you marvel at its stunning coastline and popular beaches upon arrival and departure

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 102:

The best of Brest

Once destroyed by Allied air attacks in World War II, today’s rebuilt Brest is a major French hub, and the site of your explorations today. Depart on a city tour via coach and walking, including a visit to the Château de Brest, a strategic military outpost and the oldest functioning castle in the world. After a lunch aboard ship, enjoy an afternoon at leisure in town, perhaps touring the Musée des Beaux-Arts or the stunning Brest National Botanical Garden, which features one of the largest collections of endangered plant species in the world. Another enlightening lecture takes place before dinner on board.

Included Feature:

  • Coach and walking tour of Brest

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture: France Today

Scenic Sailing:

  • Sail into Brest, one of France’s most beautiful natural harbors that’s captivated sailors and travelers for centuries

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 103:

Saint-Malo and Mont Saint-Michel

You’ll be transported back to medieval times when you arrive in Saint-Malo, France, today. This walled city has a long seafaring history and is the birthplace of Jacques Cartier, the first European man to discover Canada. Inside its walls, Saint-Malo’s streets overflow with cafés and restaurants — the modern mixing with the medieval.

A full-day tour unveils a true gem of France: Mont Saint-Michel. You'll transfer to this Benedictine abbey, which is dramatically situated on a hulking granite island surrounded by granite walls. It is so iconic that UNESCO deemed it a World Heritage Site. On a guided tour, learn about the history of this legendary place while wandering the tangle of lanes within. Afterward, seek out a classic French meal at a nearby brasserie with provided lunch money. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to shop and explore Saint-Malo.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day guided tour of Mont Saint-Michel

Scenic Sailing:

  • This morning, cruise into Saint-Malo and be charmed by its blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles before heading to Mont-Saint-Michel

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 104:

Exploring Windsor Castle

Today you'll say goodbye to the Ocean Explorer when you disembark in Poole — we hope you enjoyed your expedition on Vantage's first small ship oceangoing expedition vessel! Today, en route to London, you’ll set off on a tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Queen Elizabeth spends most of her private weekends at the castle, which has housed 39 monarchs since its founding by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.

Afterward, enjoy lunch on your own, then transfer to London where you’ll check into your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own. Your hotel is very centrally located, and you'll have a bevy of dining options to choose from. 

Included Feature:

  • Tour of Windsor Castle

Included Meals:

Breakfast

DAY 105:

From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace: Exploring London’s landmarks

Today you’ll discover this great metropolis on a half-day guided city tour that introduces you to London’s landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (UNESCO), Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and much more. You’ll also enjoy a fascinating visit to the Imperial War Museum, which explores conflict from WWI to the present day. This afternoon, discover more of the English capital on your own, before a Farewell Dinner at the hotel reunites you with your fellow expeditioners, as you toast your adventure one last time.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day London city tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 106:

Return home, or stay longer in London

Transfer to London’s airport this morning for your return flight home, or spend an optional extra few days in London with a post-trip extension.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

Post-Trip Extension

London, England

FROM: $1199 PER PERSON | 3 DAYS | $400 PER DAY

Please note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew.

Important: Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.

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