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Fly to Denmark
Your European expedition is underway — today you’ll fly overnight to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Copenhagen, you will follow the pre-trip itinerary until Day 4, when you'll board the Ocean Explorer and join your fellow base travelers for the rest of the expedition. All activities and inclusions will be covered; please see the pre-trip extension itinerary for details.
You’ll land in Copenhagen today. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Enjoy a short orientation walk near your hotel, then enjoy a Welcome Dinner and briefing. Enjoy the balance of the day free until this evening’s Welcome briefing and dinner at our elegant hotel. You will be joined by fellow travelers who arrived a few days early and are still enjoying their pre-trip extension. They will rejoin you on Day 4.
Panoramic Copenhagen: Castles, cuisine, and more!
Why do Danes consistently rank as “the happiest people in the world,” according to the UN’s World Happiness Report? Your panoramic tour of charming, friendly Copenhagen may give you a clue, as you view the famed Little Mermaid statue on her watery perch, visit the Nyhavn canal district, swing by towered and turreted Rosenborg Castle, and contrast that with the more-dignified Amalienborg Castle where Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II resides today. Part of your tour includes a scenic canal boat ride, and you’ll see how Copenhagen’s residents make use of these historic channels.
Cultural Discovery: From renowned Noma restaurant to an upcropping of other Michelin-starred gems, food has become Copenhagen’s main attraction! On a visit to a local food market, you’ll see what the locals are cooking up, while tasting the freshest fare and interacting with the people who live here, shop here, and grow the items sold here. Lunch is on your own here, too, and you can browse some 60 stalls for everything from tacos to tapas, sushi to salad. After, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own so you can experience more of what this gastronomical capital is doing.
A leisurely day in Copenhagen on your own, embarking the Ocean Explorer
You have today to uncover the delights of Copenhagen on your own, perhaps marveling at the castles of North Zealand on an optional tour that takes you inside the historic halls of Kronborg Castle. If you opt to explore on your own, don't miss a stroll down the city’s famed Strøget, one of the longest pedestrian streets in the world, or rent a bicycle and join the many locals who use two wheels to get around.
Afterward, embark the Ocean Explorer. Get settled in your cabin, then take some time to explore its amenities, including the onboard boutique, spa, pool, and gym. Stop by the Concierge desk to perhaps even reserve a spa appointment. Later, gather for a port talk to learn about what’s happening tomorrow. In the elegant dining room, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner. The ship departs for Kolding this evening.
Spiritual touchstones of Denmark
As you’re enjoying breakfast this morning, the Ocean Explorer will approach the Danish port of Kolding via its long fjord. Often overlooked by tourists, Kolding is home to the 13th-century Koldinghus Castle and the celebrated Trapholt Art Museum, dedicated to the modernist furniture for which Denmark is renowned.
After breakfast, you’ll set out to explore two of Southern Denmark’s most remarkable religious landmarks, both of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First, view the 10th-century Jelling Monuments, Viking-era runestones with etchings tied to the conversion of Danes to Christianity. Then, visit Christiansfeld’s planned Moravian Church Settlement, dating to 1773. A walking tour reveals its fascinating rise and fall.
This afternoon, get to know more of Kolding with an optional tour that includes a guided walking tour of Kolding’s Old Town, along with the Jelling Monuments and Christiansfeld, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Or, explore more of Kolding on your own. Cultural Discovery: Tonight's lecture helps you put the region into perspective before dinner on board.
A scenic Kiel Canal crossing with live commentary, and Hamburg's hot spots
Today, you’ll enjoy a special treat: a scenic daylight cruise through the Kiel Canal, a historic waterway connecting the North and Baltic seas. Scenic Sailing: The 59-mile-long canal was completed in the late 19th-century and is currently the busiest artificial waterway in the world. Cultural Discovery: Gain some insight into the history of this waterway during a lecture that narrates your entire canal crossing! In addition, your cruise will showcase the beautiful scenery that surrounds the canal.
The Ocean Explorer will arrive to Hamburg after dinner tonight. If you're ready to start exploring Hamburg and can't wait until tomorrow, you'll have some free time tonight. Nightlife lovers will find no better place to be than St. Pauli, which is home to myriad nightclubs and cocktail bars. Over in the Reeperbahn district, another neighborhood famous for its nightlife, you'll find more bars and clubs, including a few that once hosted the Beatles before they made it big as a band. As John Lennon once said, "I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg." You'll see exactly what he means tonight.
Highlights of Hamburg
Enjoy breakfast on board before setting off on a coach and walking tour of the city known as Germany’s “Gateway to the World.” After the destruction of WWII, Hamburg was notable in moving Germany's economic livelihood forward, as its ports and location on the water have made it an indispensable hub for trade. It's also modern-day Germany's hub for media, publishing, and advertising. Your tour will include seeing the Elbphilharmonie, Town Hall, the UNESCO-listed Speicherstadt and Kontorhous districts, and more.
After lunch back on board, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to relax or explore more on your own. Or head off the beaten path in Hamburg on an optional tour that takes you to the city’s upscale Eppendorf district, home to Europe’s longest farmers’ market (with nearly 200 stalls!), and the chic Winterhude neighborhood, rich in varied architectural styles.
Cultural Discovery: Take in another lecture this evening before the Ocean Explorer's culinary team presents another delectable dinner.
Arrive in Delfzijl, the Netherlands, and see how an ocean liner is built in nearby Papenburg, Germany
On a morning tour to Papenburg, Germany, you'll visit the shipyard of Meyer Werft to see firsthand how massive ocean liners are built and learn about the history of the organization — how the company started from much simpler ships in 1795 to the gigantic vessels cruising on the oceans today (and unlike the intimate experience you’re enjoying on this expedition cruise). Return to the ship for lunch on board, and enjoy time at leisure in Delfzijl before dinner on board this evening.
Cultural Discovery: Learn more about the region's history and culture during a lecture this evening.
You’ll get a chance to explore the Dutch capital today on a morning sightseeing tour before lunch back on the Ocean Explorer.
We've given you the afternoon at leisure to pursue your own interests in this city, with shuttle service from the ship into the city center. You may be interested in our optional Jewish Cultural Quarter Tour, which highlights the powerful history of World War II in Amsterdam. Or, perhaps you had the Concierge reserve advance tickets to the Anne Frank House or the Van Gogh Museum — but whatever your whim, Amsterdam is home to more than 1,200 bridges, 1,500 bars and cafés, 165 canals, and limitless charm, so there’s plenty to discover!
Head to the lounge this evening for another Cultural Discovery — this time, a lecture on the Dutch Royals. Dinner is on the ship this evening, with a shuttle back to Amsterdam’s center for shopping, nightlife, and more. Cultural Discovery: Later, some local entertainers will join us on the ship for a memorable performance!
During centuries of persecution in Europe, Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews fled to Amsterdam in order to live and worship in peace. That changed during World War II, when the Nazis invaded Holland and turned a theater in the Jodenbuurt Quarter into a deportation center and this once-prosperous area into the infamous Jewish Ghetto. On this tour, you’ll visit this theater as well as the rest of the Jewish Cultural Quarter, which includes the Portuguese Synagogue and other monuments in this historic section of the city. Join us on this tour that highlights the powerful story of this unique part of Amsterdam.
Please note: On Saturdays, the synagogue is not available for visits and will be replaced by the Jewish Historical Museum.
Amsterdam canal cruise, meeting the Dutch masters
Unforgettable Moment: Today you'll embark on a lovely canal cruise along the city’s 17th-century canal ring, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don't forget your camera or GoPro to photograph Amsterdam's charming houses, as well as the canals!
Next, visit the recently renovated Rijksmuseum, home of Amsterdam’s premier art collection, including works by such Dutch masters as Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Scenic Sailing: Lunch is back on board, and later this afternoon, enjoy panoramic sailing out of Amsterdam en route to Belgium.
Cultural Discovery: Another scintillating lecture adds more dimension to your discoveries before our culinary team presents another wonderful dinner on board.
Fall under the spell of Bruges, a storybook city and UNESCO World Heritage Site
Enjoy breakfast this morning as the Ocean Explorer nears Belgium. After docking in Ostend, embark a coach for an included excursion to picturesque Bruges, one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover this city on a walking tour with ancient cobbles under your feet and fairy-tale turrets overhead. Stop inside the Church of Our Lady to study Madonna of Bruges — a small but remarkable marble sculpture by Michelangelo and one of his only works found outside of Italy.
Lunch is back on board, and you’ll enjoy an afternoon at leisure with shuttle service into Bruges’ center for further exploration. Or you may journey to Ostend to explore this seaside city and visit its World War II-era Atlantic Wall, constructed by the Nazis. Cultural Discovery: Attend another fascinating lecture that will offer more dimension to your expedition. Dinner is on board tonight, with overnight sailing to France.
Tasting and touring the delights of Honfleur
You might’ve fallen asleep in Belgium but today you'll arrive in France! After another mouthwatering breakfast on board, enjoy another Cultural Discovery: a lecture on the Impressionists of Honfleur.
Honfleur will be your focus this morning as you set off on a guided walking tour of this picturesque town — birthplace of the early Impressionist painter Eugene Boudin and a favorite of Monet, Courbet, and other artists who maintained studios near the harbor.
Taste of Normandy tour, Étretat’s iconic cliffs
Your second day in Honfleur deliciously unravels with an included half-day Taste of Normandy tour. You’ll board motorcoaches bound for the Fécamp Benedictine monastery where you’ll see how the famous Benedictine liqueur — with its secret blend of 27 herbs and spices — is produced. Afterward, a scenic drive along Normandy’s limestone sea cliffs brings you to Étretat for a visit. This scenic coastal village inspired artists ranging from Claude Monet to the novelist and poet Victor Hugo. You’ll have plenty of time to breathe in the sea air and admire the striking shapes of Étretat’s iconic cliffs.
Another delectable lunch awaits you back on the Ocean Explorer, followed by an afternoon at leisure on board. Get in a workout at the fitness center, enjoy the weather and a good book on the sun deck, or simply relax in your room. Cultural Discovery: Attend a fascinating lecture on the culture of the area before another memorable dining experience on board.
Exploring Windsor Castle
The ship arrives to England just as you're enjoying breakfast this morning. You'll disembark in Poole, and we hope you enjoyed your time on Vantage's first small ship oceangoing expedition vessel!
En route to London, you’ll set off on a guided tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Today, 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 before transferring to London where you’ll check into your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure in London, with dinner on your own. Do as the locals do and head to the local pub!
London’s landmarks, Farewell Dinner
Today’s half-day guided city tour by coach and by foot includes some of London’s most notable landmarks: Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and more! You’ll also be delighted by a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, the underground nerve center where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Second World War. Lunch is on your own; tonight, reunite with your fellow expeditioners for one last toast at the Farewell Drink and Dinner at the hotel.
You’ll head to London’s airport today for your return flight back to the U.S. Or, if you’re extending your journey in London, you’ll stay on for a few more days.
Important Note: 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.
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.