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Join the inaugural season of the new Ocean Explorer and unlock the mysteries of 12 nations on this epic cultural expedition cruise. Embark the 5-star Ocean Explorer beginning in London and end your journey in tidy, cosmopolitan, and cutting-edge Stockholm. Even better: You’ll explore the region in the summertime, indulging in the freshest seasonal cuisine and experiencing the true soul of the Baltics — after the thaw.
Among the highlights of cruising on the Ocean Explorer? It’s navigability to the smaller, more intimate ports overlooked by most cruise lines. But now you can uncover Viking marvels in Kolding, Denmark; taste fresh-harvested oysters in Honfleur, France; discover the medieval port of Visby and charming Rønne, gateway to the seldom-visited “Gourmet Island” of Bornholm, which may dethrone Copenhagen as Scandinavia’s gastronomical capital. You’ll be the judge on a tour and tasting of what this compact Baltic Sea isle is producing.
From the Hanseatic League to the Singing Revolution, a robust roster of talks — curated by expert onboard lecturers — provides historical context into every destination. Plus, with 48 included sightseeing excursions and Cultural Discoveries, you’ll enjoy an authentic and culturally immersive itinerary that will have you following in the footsteps of Catherine the Great at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and exploring Amsterdam’s UNESCO-listed canals on a leisurely cruise.
And when you’re not exploring the beauty of these regions, indulge in numerous amenities on board the Ocean Explorer. Treat yourself to a massage or a soak at the onboard spa, relax in the infinity pool, get energized in the gym, or sip a cocktail on the panoramic sun deck. Whatever you do, don’t miss this expedition of Scandinavian cultural capitals and hidden gems of the Baltics and Northern Europe.
From its start around 1000 AD as a Viking trading hub and its heyday as a Northern Renaissance maritime power, to its current position as Sweden’s cultural and political capital, beautiful Stockholm is the place to go for anyone wishing to understand Scandinavia. It’s also a clean, safe, modern and delightful haven that is easy to explore, thanks to its design-forward infrastructure, cosmopolitan cuisine, and friendly people. Your centrally located hotel is the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful capital built on 14 small islands filled with parks, medieval squares, picturesque footbridges, and more. An included Swedish cultural tour and a food tour give you a jump-start on getting oriented to the Nordic world. This is the perfect way to enhance your Baltic experience, and a tremendous value in a region known to be costly to visit.
Fly to London
Your European expedition launches with an overnight flight to London, England.
Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Dublin, you will follow the pre-trip itinerary until Day 2, when you'll board the Ocean Explorer and join your fellow base travelers for the rest of the expedition. Please see the pre-trip extension itinerary for details.
Land in London
Land in London this morning. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located and elegant hotel. Enjoy a day at leisure, then return to the hotel for this evening’s Welcome Briefing and Dinner, getting to know your fellow travelers.
Today’s half-day guided city tour by coach and by foot includes some of London’s most notable landmarks — Trafalgar Square, UNESCO-listed 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 and dinner are on your own — perhaps you'll do as the locals do and head to the nearby pub!
Inside Windsor Castle, embarking the Ocean Explorer
From the bustling heart of London, you’ll transfer to Poole and embark the Ocean Explorer. Along the way, take a guided tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Even now, Queen Elizabeth spends most of her private weekends at the castle. This legendary structure has housed 39 monarchs since its founding, by William the Conqueror, in the 11th century. Enjoy free time and lunch on your own.
After embarking the Ocean Explorer later this afternoon, take some time to explore its amenities, including the onboard boutique, spa, pool, and gym. Stop by the Concierge desk to reserve a spa appointment. Later, join the Captain and crew for an onboard Welcome Briefing, followed by a Captain's Welcome Dinner.
Tour and sample the delights of Honfleur
You might’ve fallen asleep in Britain but today you’ll return to 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.
Taste of Normandy tour, Étretat’s iconic cliffs
Your second day in Honfleur deliciously unravels with an included half-day Taste of Normandy tour. At the Fécamp Benedictine monastery, 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. This scenic coastal village inspired many incredible artists, from the painter Claude Monet to the novelist/poet Victor Hugo. Absorb the moment, breathing in the sea air and admiring Étretat’s striking 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 a good book on the sun deck, or simply relax in your room.
Attend a fascinating lecture on Normandy’s culture before another memorable dining experience 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, take a short motor coach ride to picturesque Bruges, one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities. Experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site on a walking tour — with ancient cobbles under your feet and fairy-tale towers overhead. Step inside the Church of Our Lady to admire Madonna of Bruges — a small, yet remarkable marble sculpture by Michelangelo. This is one of his only works found outside of Italy.
After lunch on board, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to further explore Bruges’ center. Shuttle service is provided.
Later, attend a lecture to contextualize today’s discoveries in Bruges. Enjoy dinner on board tonight while sailing the evening away to Amsterdam.
View highlights of Amsterdam on an enriching walking tour
Set out into 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 Amsterdam, with shuttle service from the ship into the city center. Ask the Concierge to reserve advance tickets if you wish to see the Anne Frank House or the Van Gogh Museum. With more than 1,200 bridges, 1,500 bars and cafés, 165 canals, and limitless charm, there’s plenty to discover in the city – no matter your whim!
Hear a lecture on the Dutch Royals tonight. After dinner, delight in local entertainment on board.
Cruise through Amsterdam’s canals, then witness Rijksmuseum’s Dutch masters
Embark on a lovely canal cruise today along the city’s 17th-century canal ring. This UNESCO-designated site brings the perfect opportunity to photograph Amsterdam's charming houses and unique waterways. After your cruise, visit the renovated Rijksmuseum. Home to Amsterdam’s premier art collection, it features works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer.
You'll have a late lunch back on board, then enjoy panoramic sailing out of Amsterdam en route to the Netherlands. A scintillating lecture will add dimension to your Dutch encounters. Enjoy dinner on board with another presentation by our talented culinary team.
Witness how an ocean liner is built in Papenburg, Germany and explore Delfzijl, the Netherlands
On a morning tour to Papenburg, Germany, you'll visit the shipyard of Meyer Werft to see firsthand how massive ocean liners are built. Learn about the organization’s history, from the company’s humble beginnings in 1795 to today. You’ll see how they transitioned from much simpler ships to the gigantic vessels that currently voyage the oceans.
Return to the ship, noticing how distinct our intimate vessel is from those you saw at Meyer Weft. Enjoy a late lunch on board and take advantage of your leisure time to explore Delfzijl, Netherlands.
Attend an on board lecture this evening before dinner.
Enjoy Hamburg's UNESCO highlights and more
Enjoy breakfast and lunch on board as the ship arrives in the “Gateway to the World.” After the destruction of WWII, the city of Hamburg propelled the country's economic livelihood forward, as its port made it an indispensable trading hub. It's also central for modern-day Germany's media, publishing, and advertising. Your tour includes the Elbphilharmonie, Town Hall, as well as the UNESCO-listed Speicherstadt and Kontorhous districts.
Dinner will be served on board, with the rest of your evening at leisure. If a night out appeals to you, St. Pauli is 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.
Ask your Concierge if you need any suggestions!
Cruise through the scenic Kiel Canal with live commentary
Enjoy a morning in Hamburg before we set sail today. Perhaps you'll visit the city's upscale Eppendorf district, home to Europe’s longest farmers’ market, with nearly 200 stalls! Another fantastic option is the chic Winterhude neighborhood, rich in varied architectural styles.
Later, a scenic daylight cruise awaits you — cross through the Kiel Canal, a historic waterway connecting the North and Baltic seas. Completed in the late 19th-century, this 59-mile-long feat is currently the busiest artificial river in the world. You’ll gain fantastic insight, as a live lecture narrates the entire canal crossing.
Experience Denmark’s spiritual touchstones
Over 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 as well as the celebrated Trapholt Art Museum. The latter is dedicated to the modernist furniture for which Denmark is renowned.
Afterward, set out to explore two of southern Denmark’s most remarkable religious landmarks – both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First, view the 10th-century Jelling Monuments, Viking-era runestones with etchings depicting the Danes’ conversion to Christianity. Then, visit Christiansfeld’s planned Moravian Church Settlement, dating to 1773. A walking tour reveals its fascinating rise and fall. Get to know more of Kolding and its Old Town this afternoon by exploring on your own. If you prefer time to unwind, take advantage of the Ocean Explorer's countless amenities.
Tonight's onboard lecture delves into local culture before a dinner that heralds your arrival into Scandinavia.
Discover marvelous Copenhagen
According to the UN’s World Happiness Report, Danes consistently rank among the “the happiest people in the world.” Your panoramic tour of charming, friendly Copenhagen will give you a glimpse as to why.
At once cozy and elegant, tidy and colorful, hip and historic, Copenhagen is a multi-faceted city. Keep your camera handy on today’s tour, as you’ll see the famous Little Mermaid statue on her watery perch. Then, visit the Nyhavn canal district, where you will take a scenic boat ride, learning how Copenhagen’s residents make use of these historic channels. Pass by the towered and turreted Rosenborg Castle, juxtaposed by the dignified Amalienborg Castle. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II resides at the latter, where you might catch the Changing of the Guards. You’ll also see Christiansborg Palace, home to the Danish Parliament; the popular pedestrian shopping street of Strøget; and Tivoli’s amusement park area.
From the renowned Noma restaurant to a bevy of Michelin-starred locales, food has quickly become Copenhagen’s main attraction. You’ll visit the Torvehallerne Food Market to see provisioners who keep local fare fresh and on trend. See what the Danes are cooking up, while savoring the freshest cuisine and interacting with the people who make the city’s gastronomy possible. With provided money for lunch, you can sample from among more than 60 stalls – selling everything from Danish smørrebrød sandwiches and sushi to cappuccino and quesadillas.
Encounter Bornholm’s cliff-top castles and Danish gastronomy
Explore Bornholm Island this morning, where the open fields and granite headlands get more days of sunshine than anywhere else in Denmark. Summer tourists are drawn in by more than the sandy beaches. On your island tour, stop for photos at the dramatic cliff-top ruins of Hammershus, a medieval castle. Stop in the quaint fishing village of Svaneke, one of the best-preserved market towns on the island, and visit a fascinating, round 12th-century church to admire its architecture.
Taste the island’s burgeoning reputation as a food destination firsthand. Not only is its climate ideal for growing a common fig, known as the Bornholm Diamond, but the island also showcases the products grown on its own farms. You'll sample dishes at the Garden, a food and cultural house that reveals Bornholm’s exciting flavors.
After lunch onboard, relax in the evening with a fascinating lecture. Enjoy dinner and attend a port talk to learn about tomorrow’s explorations of Gdansk, Poland.
Follow the Solidarity Route through historic Gdansk, Poland
This morning, the Ocean Explorer arrives in Gdansk. A powerful member of the Hanseatic League – the maritime organization that controlled much of medieval trade in the area –
the city’s prosperous legacy has been lovingly restored. On a morning tour, set out to explore the naval magic of Gdansk, whose shipyards served as the incubator in 1980 for the legendary Solidarity movement. This was the first crack in what would ultimately be the crumbling of the entire Soviet Union. Follow the Solidarity Route through this historic seaport, including Old Town and the massive St. Mary’s Church, one of the largest brick churches in the world. A visit to the European Solidarity Centre reveals this history in impressive detail. Enjoy an English-language audio tour through the captivating exhibits.
Return to the ship for lunch, then utilize the shuttle service from the ship back to Gdansk's Old Town. Stroll down Long Street, also known as the Royal Route for the kingly processions it once hosted, to witness reconstructions of its beautiful 17th-century buildings.
Learn about “The Liberation of Poland” during a captivating lecture. Savor a gourmet dinner on board, as well as a port talk about your next destination.
Roam the Hanseatic town of Visby, Sweden
Enjoy breakfast as the ship drifts into Visby, a charming seaside town located on the large Swedish island of Gotland. Rightfully declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the extraordinarily preserved medieval, Visby was a key part of the powerful Hanseatic League. On your walking tour of the Old Town’s winding streets, wander through Almedalen Park, the Powder Tower, Fish Alley, and Visby Cathedral.
After lunch back on board, enjoy leisure time to return to favorite spots on your own. Perhaps you’ll admire the cathedral’s lovely stained glass and ornate altarpiece. If you wish, stay on the ship to use its amenities —reserve a massage, hit the gym, or shop in the boutique.
Listen to fascinating lecture, followed by a port talk on tomorrow's adventures. Savor dinner this evening as you cruise to your next destination — Riga, the cosmopolitan capital of Latvia.
Enjoy the cobbled streets of Riga with an included organ concert and a special inaugural dinner
When you awake this morning, you’ll be sailing in the Gulf of Riga, headed for the Latvian capital of the same name. After lunch on board, set out into the largest city of the Baltic States for a rewarding tour by coach and by foot. Begin on the eastern bank of the Daugava River, where Vecriga, or Old Riga, is punctuated by the three spires of St. Peter’s, the Dome Cathedral and St. Jacob’s. These streets are dripping with charm and beauty, much of it embodied in graceful art nouveau architecture. After exploring, pause at St. John’s Church for an included concert on the church’s splendid organ that’s sure to inspire.
Tonight's dinner is a special one and takes you off the ship. Head to a celebrated local restaurant for a special inaugural dinner where you'll get a taste of traditional Latvian foods and watch a festive performance of traditional Rigan organ music and dancing.
You will overnight on board in Riga. Take some time to attend this evening’s port talk to learn how you may further explore this charming city tomorrow.
See Riga at leisure
Today is free for you to explore as you please, and you can take advantage of complimentary shuttle service between the ship and Riga’s Old Town for your convenience. You may also check with our Concierge to plan a unique and exciting excursion: perhaps you’d like to visit one of the beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Riga or explore the atmospheric Vecriga on two wheels using our shipboard bicycles. Or, perhaps your Concierge can arrange a spa treatment or special dining experience onboard. After, participate in an insightful lecture on the Singing Revolution of the Baltic states. Our port talk previews our next exciting destination before another delicious dinner on board as the ship begins its overnight sail to Estonia.
Admire Tallinn’s medieval splendors
Tallinn, one of the Hanseatic League’s trading centers, was been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After breakfast, attend a lecture that will offer some insight into your day’s exploration.
After an early lunch on board, set off on a panoramic tour of the city. Two-levelled Tallinn has an enchantment all its own. Discover its charm from the winding streets of the Lower Town to the fortified Upper Town on Toompea Hill, with sweeping vistas from the Patkuli viewing platform. Visit the Dome Church and Opera House before heading to the Song Festival Grounds. Here, you’ll see where locals once raised their voices, singing in protest to banish the Soviets during the “Singing Revolution.”
Tallinn also boasts a thriving high-tech economy, earning it the reputation as Europe’s Silicon Valley. The young, entrepreneurial population supports a lively cultural and dining scene.
Back on board this evening, enjoy a fascinating lecture about Russia before dinner.
Indulge in the opulent St. Petersburg and Peterhof
Enjoy breakfast this morning as the ship arrives in St. Petersburg. Peter the Great broke ground for his gilded capital city in 1703, intending to emulate and surpass the best of Western Europe. He was quite successful; no matter how often you’ve been, you simply cannot get enough of this magnificent city.
Today’s full day of travel first takes you on a panoramic tour. Visit the palaces, canals, and churches in the heart of the city, followed by lunch in a local restaurant. Later, head to Peterhof, the spectacular “Russian Versailles.” Peter designed and built this place on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, with emphasis on its lush gardens and the Grand Cascade of fountains.
After tonight's sumptuous dinner, Russian entertainers will join you on board for a lively performance. Enjoy the region’s prolific, colorful tradition of music and dance as you’re docked for the night in St. Petersburg. Learn about tomorrow’s discoveries during a port talk.
Discover Hermitage’s wondrous art exhibits
This morning, enjoy an early, “pre-rush” visit to what is widely considered the world’s most comprehensive collection of Western European art. The lavish Hermitage Museum was founded by Catherine the Great, expanded under subsequent tsars, then grew exponentially as the Soviets seized scores of private collections. Immerse yourself in the masterpieces in a relaxed setting. Admire the vast collection as you wind through the spectacular exhibition halls of the gilded Winter Palace.
After a lunch of local specialties at a nearby restaurant, tour the magnificent St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Completed in 1858 as a Russian Orthodox church, today the cathedral operates as a fascinating museum.
The ship departs for Estonia later this afternoon. Hear another talk in the lounge; then, a port talk will detail all that awaits in Finland.
Admire Helsinki’s grand squares and sacred cathedral
Arrive in Helsinki while enjoying breakfast. Today you will take both walking and panoramic tours of the city. Whether you’re viewing Helsinki’s 1852 cathedral, crossing one of its many parks or squares, or pondering your reflection in the glass of a modern building, you'll find that there’s an appealing orderliness and grace to this northern capital. The panoramic city tour includes the bustling waterside Market Square, locally known as the Kauppatori, and Old Market Hall.
As you admire the stately government buildings of Senate Square, the impressive green domes of the Helsinki Cathedral tower over you. This neoclassical wonder — completed in 1852 as a tribute to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, the Grand Duke of Finland at the time — crowns the cityscape like a jewel. Today, it is the worship house for the city’s Evangelical Lutherans. Its rooftop statues of the Twelve Apostles and high perch remind Helsinki’s pious citizens of their ever-present devotion.
Pass the Sibelius Monument, sculpted in tribute to the famed Finnish composer, and the remarkable Temppeliaukio Church, built into solid rock.
Before another gourmet dining experience this evening, you'll hear another lecture that contextualizes tomorrow's explorations of Stockholm.
Disembark the Ocean Explorer and enjoy a panoramic city tour of Stockholm, including the Vasa Museum
Arrive this morning in Stockholm, Sweden’s sophisticated capital, and say goodbye to the ship after breakfast. We hope you enjoyed your time on the Ocean Explorer, Vantage's first small ship ocean-cruising expedition vessel!
Get acquainted with the irresistible charms and remarkable history of Stockholm, spread across 14 islands knit together by some 57 bridges. On your cultural tour of this “Venice of the North,” you’ll walk through the narrow streets of the delightful Gamla Stan, or Old Town, and enjoy views of Stockholm City Hall and the city’s equally attractive newer sections.
On an included tour, visit the fascinating Vasa Museum, where you’ll see the amazing “ghost ship” of the same name — the world’s only fully intact 17th-century warship. The massive vessel sank just offshore on its maiden voyage in 1628. It lay preserved in the mud for three centuries, before being recovered and displayed in its full glory. Lunch and dinner are both on your own today. If you'd like to try some Swedish specialties, your Concierge can point you in the right direction and suggest a few dishes, too.
Explore Stockholm on your own
You have the entire day to take in the sophisticated pleasures of Stockholm at your leisure.
Start your day with a lussekatt (a saffron bun), then set out to stroll the endless waterways of the archipelago on which the strikingly beautiful and compact city is built. Head to the cobbled lanes of the Gamla Stan, the Old Town, or visit the renowned Skansen Museum, an open-air recreation of history’s traditional Swedish houses.
Celebrate your Baltic journey this evening with a Farewell Drink and Dinner with your fellow expeditioners.
After breakfast, transfer to the Stockholm airport for your return flight home, or stay in Stockholm for your post-trip extension.
Please note: Arrive to your destination rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.
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.