Learn more about our Travel Heath Advisory Update and 2020 Oberammergau.
3 DAYS FROM $999
3 DAYS FROM $1,099
There is no region quite so rich in cultural sophistication as Europe. From Moorish fortresses to Medieval Castles and Druid ruins, you could spend your lifetime here in pursuit of gorgeous, storied creations. Thankfully, we have put together an exemplary journey together so that you can enjoy the finest Northern experiences without spending a second on research. Join Vantage in 2021 for Europe’s Cultural Capitals & Coastal Marvels, where you’ll traverse Europe from west to east, visiting Russia and Scandinavia along the way.
On this 46-day expedition, you’ll visit 14 nations across the European continent. Sip French wine, witness WWII relics in Germany, savor Danish cuisine, visit the hometowns of Picasso and Monet, stroll through St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, and much more! This trip elegantly meshes art, culture, cuisine, and history for a luxuriously enlightening journey. You’ll enjoy 91 included features and Cultural Discoveries, maximizing your encounters as well as your leisure time.
Come aboard our new, five-star Ocean Explorer for its inaugural season. The opulence continues onboard, where you’ll find luxurious accommodations with state-of-the-art amenities. After walking through Stonehenge, treat yourself to a massage at the spa. Head to the observation deck as you cruise the Kiel Canal, listening to live commentary. Retreat to the library to learn more about Spanish traditions. Ponder Estonia’s architecture and wrap up your day with an evening cocktail and onboard entertainment. On this cultural journey, you truly can have it all.
Proud capital of Spain’s Catalonia province, Barcelona offers an unrivaled blend of historic treasures, cosmopolitan culture, and architectural showpieces, all underlined by a spectacular culinary scene. This is the city of Antoni Gaudí, the modernisme architect whose surreal style changed the cityscape with works like La Sagrada Família Cathedral. This is a famously gracious city where wide, tree-lined boulevards were made for strolling, intimate tapas and wine bars were made for lingering, and richly historic quarters and artistic institutions were made for deep exploring. Immerse yourself in Barcelona and find out what Catalonians are so passionate about.
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.
Land 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.
Let Barcelona, Catalonia’s vibrant cultural hub, capture your 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 Passeig 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!
Follow your whims in Barcelona and embark the Ocean Explorer
After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy your day at leisure in Barcelona. After lunch on your own, 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.
Bask in 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.
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.
Stroll through Granada’s storied city
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.
Soak in seaside Málaga’s beauty and history
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. 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.
Discover posh Puerto Banús and the stunning Ronda gorge
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.
Enjoy 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.
Give in to the seductions of Seville and enjoy a home-hosted farm dinner
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. Another UNESCO site featured today is the Archivo General de Indias, a Renaissance building housing priceless historic records of the Spanish Empire. You may also step inside the Seville Cathedral — where Ferdinand, Isabella, and Christopher Columbus are entombed — take the opportunity to climb to the top of its soaring La Giralda Tower.
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 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, try to get some images from the deck.
Arrive in Portimão, the Algarve’s gateway to villages and vistas
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. You will visit the 17th-century Franciscan monastery for splendid views of the Old Town and admire 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 another lecture that elucidates the history and culture of this captivating region.
Delve into Lisbon: A monumental city with an epic past
Arrive in Lisbon this morning, center of the Age of Discovery and a living history of Portugal’s past. You'll disembark the Ocean Explorer — we hope you enjoyed your expedition on Vantage's newest small ship ocean vessel!
On a panoramic and walking tour of Lisbon, you'll visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Belém Tower, the city’s iconic gateway at the mouth of the Tagus River. Nearby, marvel at the ornate Hieronymites Monastery, an exquisite example of Portugal’s superb Manueline architecture. While here you’ll also enjoy a taste of Pastéis de Belém, a buttery custard confection based on an old recipe from the monks and still Portugal’s favorite pastry. After a panoramic tour of this remarkable city, you'll have the rest of the day free, with provided lunch money for a meal on your own before returning to the ship.
Travel inside Porto, the “Unvanquished City”
Enjoy breakfast as the ship arrives 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 back to Spain.
Explore 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 La 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 La Coruña and enjoy a special show tonight — we've curated your first onboard performance with fado, a traditional Portuguese music that’s typically melancholic and features two 12-string guitars.
Visit 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 lecture on board.
Let coastal San Sebastián enthrall you
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Discover renovated 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.
Experience Medieval times in 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.
Arrive in Poole, England, for Stonehenge and Bath excursions
Welcome to England! This morning you’ll visit one of the globe’s most enigmatic places: Stonehenge. This ancient site — now a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is part of vast complex of prehistoric burial mounds, earthworks, and avenues. To this day, it attracts modern druids for summer and winter solstice celebrations.
After lunch on your own with provided lunch money, head to the town of Bath for a walking tour. You’ll visit the preserved remains of one of the ancient world’s greatest religious spas. The city’s unique thermal springs come to a head at these Roman baths, created circa 79AD. The baths still flow with natural hot water at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture and lush pools are a true feast for the senses. Close your eyes and envision what life was like here thousands of years ago.
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 Normandy’s finest flavors and ponder 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.
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.
Traverse Amsterdam’s highlights on foot
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 Anne Frank House or 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.
Cruise through Amsterdam’s canals, then witness Rijksmuseum’s Dutch masters
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.
Witness how an ocean liner is built in Papenburg, Germany and explore Delfzijl, the Netherlands
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.
Walk through Hamburg’s highlights
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.
Cruise through the scenic Kiel Canal 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.
Experience Denmark’s spiritual touchstones
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.
Discover majestic Copenhagen
The ship arrives in Copenhagen this morning, where you’ll enjoy breakfast on board. 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. You'll receive provided lunch money so you can enjoy lunch on your own here, choosing among more than 60 stalls selling everything from tacos to tapas, sushi to salad.
Encounter Bornholm’s cliff-top castles and Danish gastronomy
This morning you'll explore Bornholm Island, where the open fields and granite headlands get more days of sunshine than anywhere else in Denmark, drawing summer tourists to the sandy beaches. On your island tour, you’ll 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 12th-century round church to admire its circular plan.
During your visit, you'll sample firsthand the island’s burgeoning reputation as a food destination. Not only is its climate ideal for growing a common fig known as the Bornholm Diamond, but the island also embraces the products grown on its many farms. You'll stop for tastings at the Garden, a food and cultural house that showcases Bornholm’s exciting flavors before returning to the ship for lunch.
Relax this evening with a lecture on the region, then savor dinner and attend a port talk to learn about tomorrow’s explorations.
Follow the Solidarity Route through historic Gdansk, Poland
The Ocean Explorer arrives in Gdansk this morning. Gdansk was a powerful member of the Hanseatic League, the maritime organization that controlled much of medieval trade in the area. Today, the legacy of its prosperity has been lovingly restored.
On a morning tour, set out to explore this great maritime city whose great shipyards served as the incubator for the legendary Solidarity movement of 1980, the first crack in what would ultimately be the crumbling of the entire Soviet Union. You’ll follow the Solidarity Route through this historic seaport, including the charming Old Town and massive St. Mary’s Church, one of the largest brick churches in the world. A visit to the European Solidarity Centre reveals the Solidarity story in impressive detail; you will follow 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.
Roam the Hanseatic town of Visby, Sweden
Enjoy breakfast this morning as the ship arrives in Visby. This charming seaside treasure is located on the large Swedish island of Gotland. Rightfully declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the extraordinary preservation of its medieval port area, Visby was a key link in the powerful Hanseatic League. On your walking tour of the Old Town’s winding streets, you’ll see Almedalen Park, the Powder Tower, Fish Alley, and Visby Cathedral, then return to the ship for lunch.
Leisure time in the afternoon allows you more time to return to favorite spots on your own; perhaps you will duck into the cathedral to admire its lovely stained glass and ornate altarpiece. Or, enjoy the ship's amenities — maybe you'll reserve a massage, hit the gym, or even pick up some items in the boutique. Before dinner, hear another fascinating lecture, followed by a port talk on tomorrow's adventures.
Savor dinner this evening as you cruise to your next destination, cosmopolitan Riga, the Russian-flavored 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, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkable preservation. After breakfast, attend a lecture that will offer some insight into your explorations of Tallinn today.
After an early lunch on board, embark on a panoramic tour of the city. The two-level Tallinn has an enchantment all its own, which you’ll discover from the winding streets of the Lower Town to the fortified Upper Town on Toompea Hill, where you can take in the amazing view from the Patkuli viewing platform. You’ll also see the Dome Church and the Opera House before heading to the Song Festival Grounds to see the spot where locals raised their singing voices in protest to eject the Soviets in a “Singing Revolution.”
Tallinn boasts a thriving high-tech economy, too, which has earned it a reputation as Europe’s Silicon Valley. The young, entrepreneurial population supports a lively cultural and dining scene.
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 came close to succeeding, because no matter how often you’ve been, you simply cannot get enough of this magnificent city.
Today’s full day of exploring takes you first on a panoramic tour to see the palaces, canals, and churches in the heart of the city. Then, following lunch in a local restaurant, you'll travel to Peterhof, the spectacular “Russian Versailles” that Peter designed and built on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. The gardens and Grand Cascade of fountains are a marvel in themselves.
After tonight's sumptuous dinner on the ship, Russian entertainers join you on board for a lively performance that showcases a rich and colorful tradition of music and dance. You'll overnight in St. Petersburg, hearing 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 amazing Hermitage Museum was started by Catherine the Great, expanded under subsequent tsars, then grew exponentially as the Soviets seized scores of private collections. You’ll arrive early so you can immerse yourself in the masterpieces in a more relaxed setting. Admire the cream of the 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 Helsinki later this afternoon. Enjoy another lecture in the lounge; then, a port talk will fill you in on all that awaits in Finland.
Admire Helsinki’s grand squares and sacred cathedral
This morning the ship arrives in Helsinki as you're enjoying a breakfast that will power you up for walking and panoramic tours of the city today. Whether you’re viewing Helsinki’s 1852 cathedral, crossing one of its many parks or squares, or seeing yourself reflected in the glass of a brand-new building, you'll find that there’s an appealing orderliness and grace to this northern capital. Your panoramic city tour includes the bustling waterside Market Square (known locally 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 watch over your progress. This neoclassical wonder — completed in 1852 as a tribute to Czar 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 high perch and its rooftop statues of the Twelve Apostles remind the devout of Helsinki that their God is ever-present.
Explore Stockholm and disembark the Ocean Explorer
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 Stockholm's irresistible charms and remarkable history, 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 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.
Later, check into your Stockholm hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Lunch and dinner are both on your own.
Wander Stockholm on your own
You'll have the entire day to take in the sophisticated pleasures of Stockholm today. Maybe you’ll 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. Return 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 journey this evening with a Farewell Drink and Dinner alongside 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.
Please Note: Port-of-call orientation walking tours are subject to change based on port time and weather conditions