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Europe’s Coastal Pearls & the Kiel Canal: Spain, Portugal, France, and Beyond - 2021

Barcelona • 30-night small ship cruise with Palma de Mallorca, Cartagena, Almería/Motril, Málaga, Puerto Banús, Gibraltar, Seville, Portimão, Lisbon, Porto, Vigo / A Coruña, Gijón, San Sebastián, Bordeaux, Belle-Île, Brest, Saint-Malo, Poole, Honfleur, Bruges, Amsterdam, Delfzijl, Hamburg, Kolding • Copenhagen
  • CRUISE ON THE OCEAN EXPLORER — AN AGILE, STATE-OF-THE-ART EXPEDITION VESSEL THAT CAN NAVIGATE TO PLACES LARGER SHIPS CAN’T
  • FROM THE POSTCARD-PRETTY ALGARVE TO HISTORIC PORTO TO THE CAPITAL OF LISBON, DISCOVER THE BEST OF SOUTHERN PORTUGAL
  • SEE THE DRAMATIC MONT-SAINT-MICHEL CONTRASTED AGAINST SEA AND SKY, THEN TOUR THE TOWN'S COBBLESTONE STREETS
  • DISCOVER MYSTERIOUS STONEHENGE IN THE LUSH, GREEN FIELDS OF THE BRITISH COUNTRYSIDE
  • TOUR HAMBURG, GERMANY'S "GATEWAY TO THE WORLD" AND A CULTURAL AND NIGHTLIFE HOTSPOT
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$17,999
  • $514
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  • 35
    DAYS
  • 71
    TOURS
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Barcelona, Spain

3 DAYS FROM $999

Copenhagen, Denmark

3 DAYS FROM $999

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Let's set sail aboard the Ocean Explorer on its inaugural season! During this special cruisetour, you'll enjoy a combination of three amazing cruises through Europe to get a wide-ranging view into what the Old Continent has to offer. Experience the grandeur of Moorish Spain in Andalucía, admire France's storied Mont Saint-Michel and sail through the UNESCO canals of Amsterdam — which is only a taste of the wonders you'll see up close.

Begin in colorful Barcelona to see Gaudí's masterpieces up close, then venture along Spain's coastline to reach the rock of Gibraltar (and its monkeys!) in the south. Back up the Atlantic side is where you'll enjoy Portugal's food and fun, then onto the UK and France for ancient wonders and charming towns. Hop through Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany for more treats, lore and history, then end in Denmark to explore the fjords in Kolding and Copenhagen’s chic architectural innovations.

These highlights and so much more are yours to indulge — in fact, you'll have the chance to experience 71 included features and Cultural Discoveries on this adventure, including folkloric performances, delicious culinary demonstrations, and 17 UNESCO sites!

In-between thrilling ports of call, you'll be among the first to experience the 5-star Ocean Explorer, equipped with all the latest amenities and the ULSTEIN X-BOW® technology to ensure a wonderfully smooth sail. Lounge by the infinity pool, book a session at the spa, and delight in dining at two onboard restaurants with sweeping sea views. Alongside these features, have access to an onboard Concierge to help customize your trip and a great crew-to-passenger ratio for excellent service. Join pre- and post-trip extensions to Barcelona and Copenhagen to round out this incredible voyage across Europe.

Barcelona to Copenhagen

Pre-Trip Extension

Barcelona, Spain

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

Board an overnight flight to Barcelona, Spain

Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Barcelona.

Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Barcelona, 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.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Barcelona

Arrive in Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your hotel. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the hotel with your fellow expeditioners, including those on the Barcelona pre-trip extension.

Included Meals:

Dinner

DAY 3:

Explore Catalonia’s vibrant cultural heart

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 evening at leisure with dinner on your own. And after that, prepare yourself for a passionate flamenco performance at a local tablao. This is an experience you won't soon forget!

Included Feature:

  • Full-day Barcelona city tour

Cultural Discovery:
  • Flamenco performance at a local tablao

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 4:

Follow your own whims and desires in Barcelona, then embark the Ocean Explorer

During this free day in Barcelona, you might set your sights on the city’s atmospheric Gothic Quarter, the Barrio Gótico adjacent to Las Ramblas. It is pure delight to follow its labyrinthine streets into intimate squares, or plaças, stopping along the way for a café crema or a lunch of traditional tapas and Rioja wine. See the old Roman and medieval walls, visit the magnificent neo-Gothic Barcelona Cathedral, or stroll the Portal de l’Àngel, called the most expensive street in Spain. You’ll also want to peruse the colorful food stalls of the Mercat de la Boqueria or El Nacional Market, a foodie’s paradise for its some artisanal cheeses, smoked meats, chocolate truffles, and so much more.

Afterwards, you'll be welcomed aboard the luxurious Ocean Explorer. Get settled in your cabin, then explore the many amenities, including the sun deck, swimming pool, and fitness center. See your Concierge to reserve an appointment at the onboard spa. After, gather for the first of your daily port talks to hear about tomorrow’s exciting destination. In the elegant dining room, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner. We get underway later in the evening.

Scenic Sailing:

  • Bid adios to Barcelona, enjoying sublime views of the city skyline, including Montjuïc

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

See 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, you'll hear the first in a lecture series that will highlight 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 6:

Explore Cartagena's Roman flourishes

After breakfast on board, you’ll arrive in the natural harbor of Cartagena. Established as a major naval center by the Carthaginians in 227 BC, this port has been in use ever since. Get acquainted with its history at La Concepción Castle, Here, you’ll overlook the old Roman Theatre, the second largest in Iberia. Walking down the Calle Mayor, witness some of Cartagena’s countless noteworthy art nouveau buildings. These include the Cervantes House’s gleaming white façade 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 culturally layered region.

Included Feature:

  • Walking tour of Cartagena's historic center

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 7:

Venture to 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 adjacent Generalife.

Enjoy lunch in a typical Spanish restaurant. 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:
  • Onboard lecture

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

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Admire beauty and history in seaside Málaga

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

After lunch on board, the afternoon is yours to relax on the spacious sun deck or explore Málaga on your own. Perhaps you’ll sample tapas — Spain’s famous, bite-sized delicacies — in some of Málaga’s liveliest bars. Another option is visiting the Museo del Vidrio, a lovely 16th century home, renowned for its collection of antique and ancient glassware.

This evening, enjoy another informative lecture before another sumptuous dinner on the Ocean Explorer. You'll stay overnight in Málaga to fully experience all this town has to offer.

Included Feature:

  • Málaga morning sightseeing with Picasso Museum visit

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 9:

Tour 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 10:

Have a taste of Britain at the tip of Spain

Step ashore in Gibraltar, known as “The Rock,” due to its most renowned, 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 watch for the famed Barbary apes, or macaques, that inhabit the rock. British-flavored Gibraltar is a great spot for pub-hopping and duty-free shopping; take advantage before we return to ship for lunch.

Your afternoon is free to wander Gibraltar’s streets, perhaps encountering a red Victorian post box or a fish-and-chips shop. Today’s lecture sheds light on your discoveries in Gibraltar. In the evening, sip a cocktail on the sun deck while admiring your last views of the magnificent Rock of Gibraltar.

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 11:

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

After a sumptuous breakfast this morning, tour Andalusia’s storied capital, Seville. Destinations include 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. This is 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. Step inside the Seville Cathedral — where Ferdinand, Isabella, and Christopher Columbus are entombed — and, if you wish, climb to the top of its soaring La Giralda Tower.

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Seville to shop and explore. Later, set out into the countryside to visit a local family’s bull farm. Enjoy a tour of the farm; a delicious, home-hosted Spanish dinner; and — above all — an unparalleled cultural exchange.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Seville tour

Cultural Discovery:
  • Home-hosted dinner at local family’s bull farm

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 12:

Uncover the treasures of Seville and sail the Guadalquivir River

This morning after breakfast, learn about the riches of Andalusia during a special lecture. The rest of the day is filled with possibilities! With the day at leisure, explore the Andalusian capital on your own.

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

We’ll depart Seville this afternoon and cruise along the historic Guadalquivir River through Doñana National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an important habitat for waterfowl. Commentary from the bridge will provide insight about this pristine wilderness. Animal lovers can take advantage of the provided binoculars 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, the deck may provide your best opportunity to capture some great images.

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 13:

Discover Portimão, gateway to the vistas and villages of The Algarve

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

We'll head back to the Ocean Explorer for a late lunch with an evening at leisure. Before dinner, don't miss the lecture elucidating the history and culture of the Algarve.

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 14:

Delve into Lisbon: A monumental city with an epic past

Arrive in Lisbon this morning to explore its historic highlights. First is the Belém Tower, the city’s iconic structure 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 paradigm of Portugal’s Manueline architecture. Unique to Portugal, this baroque style blends religious and nautical symbols with fanciful interpretations of the New World’s flora, fauna, and people.

Enjoy lunch on your own with provided money. Enjoy a taste of Pastéis de Belém, a buttery custard confection based on ancient monks’ recipes. It’s not only Portugal’s favorite pastry, but a trendy treat for foodies around the world.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Lisbon

Cultural Discovery:
  • Tasting of local Pastéis de Belém pastry

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 15:

Go inside Porto, the “Unvanquished City”

Enjoy breakfast as the ship arrives in Porto. It is known as the “Unvanquished City” because the Romans and 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, known locally as 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, including its UNESCO-listed city center and a visit to a local market.

After returning to the ship for lunch, you’ll have time to explore Porto on your own. Don’t miss a visit to one of the top bookstores in the world, Livraria Lello – the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter library. Peruse the shelves and admire the décor of this one-of-a-kind bibliophiles’ paradise.

Later this afternoon, hear an onboard lecture about local history. Dinner will be savored onboard while sailing overnight back to Spain.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Porto city tour

Cultural Discovery:
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

Explore UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela

Today, your expedition brings you to Vigo, Spain, and the country's westernmost corners. Here, you’ll experience a full-day exploration of the UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela, one of Christian pilgrims’ most sacred places in the world. It’s believed that Saint James was buried here in the first century, but the location was forgotten over the years. In the 9th century, a hermit saw a shining light over a spot in a wooded field, sparking an ensuing investigation that revealed the purportedly lost tomb of Saint James. A church was thereby constructed, quickly becoming one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations of medieval times.

It remains so today, with more than 200,000 people annually walking the nearly 500-mile path, called the Way of Saint James. You’ll see both the church and the route that millions have taken to get there. Vantage will provide euros for you to explore on your own and get some lunch. Local restaurants specialize in a variety of tapas.

Afterward, transfer to La Coruña, stopping along the way for photos at the Tower of Hercules — the world’s oldest working lighthouse and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Embark the Ocean Explorer again in La Coruña for a special performance tonight. Onboard, you’ll enjoy a curated fado show. This traditional, melancholic Portuguese music features two 12-string guitars and is absolutely soul-stirring.

Included Features:

  • Full-day tour of Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo stop at the Tower of Hercules lighthouse

Cultural Discovery:
  • Evening onboard entertainment: Portuguese fado music performance

Scenic Sailing:
  • Be treated to panoramic views of the splendid architecture of La Coruña while you sail out of port

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 17:

Visit Oviedo, Spain’s cosmopolitan northern capital

Discover Oviedo, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s northern coast. Home to impressive churches, it features Catedral de San Salvador — where the original Way of St. James began. Soak in this town’s old-world beauty and its collectively listed UNESCO monuments before returning to the ship for lunch.

Spend the afternoon at leisure in Gijón, situated on the shimmering Bay of Biscay. This city of magnificent beaches and abundant history is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Return to the ship this evening for dinner. We've invited a guest lecturer on board to present another scintillating talk.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day visit to Oviedo, Old town, and Catedral de San Salvador

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 18:

Adore seaside splendor in the resort town of San Sebastián

Wake up in San Sebastián, one of Spain’s most alluring resort towns renowned for its beaches. A morning tour of the city’s historical landmarks includes the Parte Vieja (Old Town), the twin-towered Santa Maria Church, and Good Shepherd Cathedral. 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 by using a bicycle and covering more ground. Ask your Concierge or Cruise Director to help you reserve a bike 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 19:

Delight in 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

Cultural Discoveries:
  • Onboard lecture
  • Wine tasting during your city tour

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 20:

Have 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 called “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!

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 21:

Journey through 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, as well as the star-shaped citadel in the capital Le Palais. Wander through charming inland villages like the commune of Sauzon — once the inspiration for Monet, who spent several months here during the climax of his career. A favorite among celebrities, this island is beloved for its laid-back charm and artistic proclivity. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, savoring the regional seafood, before returning to the port of Le Palais.

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 22:

Experience the best of Brest

Once destroyed by Allied air attacks in World War II, today’s rebuilt Brest is a major French hub. Depart on a city tour today, which will be on foot and via coach. Destinations include the Château de Brest, a strategic military outpost and the oldest functioning castle in the world.

After lunch aboard the ship, enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Perhaps you’ll visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts or the stunning Brest National Botanical Garden, featuring one of the world’s largest collections of endangered plant species.

An enlightening lecture about France Today 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 23:

Visit 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 24:

Tour mysterious Stonehenge and Bath

This morning, you’ll lay eyes upon one of England’s most mysterious wonders — Stonehenge. Join the tradition of pilgrims that have ventured to this mystical site for the past 5,000 years to gaze upon these staggering ceremonial stones. Later, head for Bath, where you’ll visit the circa 79 AD grand complex for socialization and some of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world, the eponymous Roman Baths (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Continue on with a guided walking tour and admire 18th-century Georgian architecture. There are several art galleries and two universities. Discover the city’s fascinating culture with free time on your own for lunch.

Included Features:

  • Stonehenge tour
  • Bath city tour with lunch

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 25:

Touring (and sampling) the delights of Honfleur

You might’ve fallen asleep in Britain but today you’ll wake up in France! Enjoy a delicious breakfast on board this morning, perhaps catching the sunrise from the observation deck, before today's explorations. 

Charming Honfleur is the focus today 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. One of the beauties of the Normandy region is undoubtedly the seafood, and you’ll get a sampling during a delightful oyster tasting session! Normandy is responsible for 25 percent of all oyster production in France, but the region is also renowned for its cheese and wines, too. 

Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy an afternoon at leisure to wander Honfleur on your own.

Back on the ship, enjoy a lecture on Impressionism and an evening of jazz, courtesy of a local group who will join you on board after dinner.

Vantage Exclusive:

  • Walking tour of Honfleur with oyster tasting

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Lecture on the Impressionists
  • Evening onboard entertainment: local jazz performance

Scenic Sailing:

  • This morning, as you arrive in Honfleur, you’ll see why Impressionist painters flocked to this stunning port town

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 26:

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 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. Attend a fascinating lecture on the culture of the area before another memorable dining experience on board.  

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Normandy

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 27:

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, you'll embark a motorcoach for a short ride to picturesque Bruges, one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, experience Bruges 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. Later, attend a lecture that will contextualize your discoveries in Bruges today. Dinner is on board tonight, with overnight sailing to Amsterdam.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Bruges city tour

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Admire the changing scenery as you sail from Belgium towards the Netherlands

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 28:

Amsterdam highlight, a lecture on Dutch Royals, and leisure time to explore the city

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. Perhaps you’ve had the Concierge reserve advance tickets to the Van Gogh Museum. 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!

Hear a lecture on the Dutch Royals tonight before dinner. After, we've invited more local entertainment on board to entertain you!

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Amsterdam city tour

Cultural Discoveries: 

  • Lecture on the Dutch Royals
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Scenic Sailing:

  • This morning, you arrive in one of the world’s most beautiful and architecturally distinctive cities in the world

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 29:

Take an Amsterdam canal cruise, meeting the Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum

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. 

You'll have a late lunch back on board, and later this afternoon, enjoy panoramic sailing out of Amsterdam en route to Delfzijl. Another scintillating lecture adds more dimension to your discoveries before our culinary team presents another wonderful dinner on board. 

Included Features:

  • Amsterdam canal cruise
  • Visit to Rijksmuseum

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • As you sail out of Amsterdam, enjoy the spectacular sight of the unique step and spout gable homes and buildings that are so synonymous with the city

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 30:

Arrive in Delfzijl, the Netherlands, and see how an ocean liner is built in nearby Papenburg, Germany

This morning's breakfast on board precedes another lecture that will offer insights into the unique experience that awaits today. 

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 (unlike the intimate experience you’re enjoying on this expedition cruise). Return to the ship for a late lunch on board, and enjoy time at leisure in Delfzijl before dinner on board this evening.

Included Feature:

  • Tour of Papenburg with a visit to the Meyer Werft shipyard

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Cruise into Delfzijl, a quaint Dutch harbor city, and enjoy panoramic views

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 31:

Try Highlights of Hamburg, nightlife on your own

Enjoy breakfast and an early lunch on board as the ship arrives in Hamburg today. Then, set 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. You'll have leisure time in Hamburg to shop and explore before dinner on board.

This evening, we'll set out for a “City of Lights” tour by motorcoach. Nightlife seekers will find St. Pauli ideal, with its myriad nightclubs and cocktail bars. The Reeperbahn district is another neighborhood famous for its nightlife, where you'll find more bars and clubs that once hosted the Beatles in their younger years. As John Lennon once said, "I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg." You'll see exactly what he meant tonight.


Included Feature:
  • Coach and walking tour of Hamburg

Cultural Discovery:
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Scenic Sailing:
  • This morning, cruise up the Elbe River and arrive into the glittering metropolis of Hamburg, where you’ll be captivated by a stunning blend of both Old and New World architecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 32:

Enjoy the scenic Kiel Canal crossing, with live commentary

You’ll have the morning at your leisure today. Perhaps take this opportunity to relax on deck or mingle with your fellow travelers in the lounge.

Later, a special treat awaits you today — a scenic daylight cruise through the Kiel Canal, a historic waterway connecting the North and Baltic seas. The 59-mile-long feat was completed in the late 19th-century and is currently the busiest artificial waterway in the world. Gain more insight into the history of this waterway during a lecture that narrates your entire canal crossing! What’s more, the cruise will showcase the beautiful scenery along the way. 

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture and commentary during your Kiel Canal crossing

Scenic Sailing:

  • Depart Hamburg Harbor and sail along the Elbe River towards the Kiel Canal and enjoy an afternoon onboard admiring the charming villages as you pass by

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 33:

Marvel at the 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 independent exploration.

Tonight's onboard lecture helps you put the region into perspective before a dinner that heralds your arrival into Scandinavia.

Included Features:

  • Historical tour of Jelling Monuments
  • Guided tour of Christiansfeld

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Bid adieu to Kolding and take in the Danish town’s enduring charm once more as you travel between its neighboring islands en route to your next destination

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 34:

Arrive in Copenhagen and disembark the Ocean Explorer

The ship arrives to Copenhagen this morning and after your final breakfast on board, you'll disembark the Ocean Explorer — we hope you enjoyed your time on Vantage's first small ship ocean-cruising expedition vessel!

Today's panoramic tour of charming, friendly Copenhagen features the famed Little Mermaid statue on her watery perch, the Nyhavn canal district, towered and turreted Rosenborg Castle, and the 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.

From renowned Noma restaurant to an up-cropping 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. Lunch is on your own here, too, among more than 60 stalls selling everything from tacos to tapas, sushi to salad. 

After, check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own in one of this city's numerous celebrated restaurants. 

Included Feature:

  • Copenhagen city tour

Cultural Discovery: 

  • Visit a local food market

Included Meals:

Breakfast

DAY 35:

A leisurely day in Copenhagen on your own

You have today to uncover the delights of Copenhagen on your own. 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. Later, celebrate your journey with your fellow expeditioners at a Farewell Drink and Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 36:

Fly home from Copenhagen, or spend more time here with a post-trip extension

After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’re joining the post-trip extension right here in Copenhagen, you’ll stay on for three more nights!

Included Meals:

Breakfast

Post-Trip Extension

Copenhagen, Denmark

FROM: $999 PER PERSON | 3 DAYS | $333 PER DAY

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

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Europe’s Coastal Pearls & the Kiel Canal: Spain, Portugal, France, and Beyond - 2021

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