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From its winding roads with colorful hand-painted tiles at every turn to, the lure of fado music in the air, or some of Europe’s most lovely panoramas thanks to its seven hills, Lisbon is filled with old-world charm and intrigue. Affordable and still one of Europe’s undiscovered gems, the people here are warm, gracious, and wonderfully laid-back. Spend more time in Portugal’s capital to soak in delicious dining — including mouthwatering seafood — and enjoy a full-day excursion to the city’s two most coveted getaway spots. You’ll visit historic Sintra, a royal hunting retreat famous for its fairy-tale castles; and Cascais, an idyllic fishing village whose picturesque lanes hide elegant townhomes and villas. Your centrally located hotel puts you right within reach of Lisbon’s best shopping, dining, museums, and more.
Board an overnight flight to Lisbon, Portugal
Your journey begins with an overnight flight to Lisbon, Portugal.
Arrive in the coastal capital city of Lisbon
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located Lisbon hotel. This evening you’ll get better acquainted at a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at the hotel.
A tour of postcard-perfect Lisbon before embarking your ship
After breakfast, embark on a morning panoramic and walking tour that introduces you to Lisbon’s famed monuments, including the including UNESCO-listed Belém Tower, the Monument of the Discoveries, and the Monastery of Jerónimos, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During your city tour, you’ll sample a classic Portuguese pastry: Pastéis de Belém. One taste of this creamy egg custard wrapped in buttery, flaky crust, and you’ll see why this is Portugal’s favorite treat!
After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll transfer by motorcoach through the lovely countryside to the western Algarve region before continuing to Portimão to embark ship. Settle in, relax, and enjoy an informative port talk followed by our Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Vistas and villages of the Algarve
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. We'll head back to the Variety Voyager for a late lunch with an evening at leisure.
Tour the storied highlights of Seville
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. Another stop is 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, you’ll admire a series 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’ll also see Seville Cathedral and have the opportunity to climb to the top of its soaring La Giralda Tower.
In the afternoon, you're welcome to join an optional market visit and cooking class, where you'll learn how to create and pair the perfect paella and sangria from a professional Sevillano chef. This evening, look forward to some homemade Spanish fare and eye-opening cultural exchange during your home-hosted dinner with a local family that owns a bull farm. They’ll give you a tour and teach you a bit about this fascinating centuries-old tradition.
Sail up the Guadalquivir River to romantic Cádiz
Join a guided visit to the local market in Seville, where you can take a peek at some of the freshest tasty items available in the city. Use these ingredients and more in a hands-on cooking class led by a professional, bilingual Spanish chef. Two classic recipes are on the menu – paella, a saffron rice dish, and sangria, a lovely wine-based cocktail. Learn from the pros and cheers to your success by enjoying the fruits of your labor. Salud!
Step ashore on the Rock of Gibraltar
Step ashore on “The Rock,” and take in the 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 here. British-flavored Gibraltar is a great spot for pub-hopping and duty-free shopping before we return to ship for dinner.
Arrive at Sotogrande for a bullfighting lesson in Ronda
Just before breakfast we drop anchor in Sotogrande, a luxury port on the Costa del Sol. From here, we head inland for an excursion to Ronda, set high in the sierras. Ronda was first settled by the Celts and has since seen a procession of Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans, Moors, Berbers, Visigoths, and other Europeans — all of whom have left their cultural mark in the town’s white stuccoed neighborhoods. You’ll see the old Roman Bridge spanning the deep El Tajo Gorge below, the stately Casa de Don Bosco, and Mondragon Palace before we visit the Plaza de Toros — the oldest bullring in Spain. Here, a docent will provide an informative talk on the history of Spanish bullfighting before you enjoy lunch at a spot of your choosing, with lunch money provided. Return to ship for dinner on board, as we set sail for Málaga, arriving late this evening and docking overnight.
Tour fabulous Málaga, one of Spain’s cultural hubs
This morning you’ll enjoy a city tour of Málaga, a provincial capital that recently remade itself into a popular cultural hub with a restored historic center. You’ll see the wide boulevards with their turn-of-the-century apartments, the Gothic Cathedral, and Gibralfaro Castle, an 11th century Moorish fortification. Back on board you’ll have the afternoon to relax or explore on your own. You can also join an optional tapas tour that stops at some of Málaga’s liveliest bars where you can sample the famous bite-sized delicacies that are a national passion. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner on board, followed by a flamboyant flamenco show in a local restaurant.
Perhaps the most inescapable element of Spanish dining is tapas. In fact, a day spent sampling these delectable little morsels is the ideal way to experience Spanish culture. Whether you’re in a bustling Spanish city or a quiet Spanish village, you’ll always find a bar or tavern (or sometimes an entire neighborhood!) specializing in tapas. Step off the beaten path and experience the Spanish way of life as you sit down with a local food and wine expert who will walk you through the cultural and gastronomic landmarks, share stories, and answer any questions. Then, you’ll visit a local bodega dedicated to Spanish wines, followed by two traditional tascas (restaurants) that will serve up delicious home-style food. Buen provecho!
A day at leisure in Málaga or the option to visit UNESCO-named Córdoba
Today you have a day at leisure, with another scintillating onboard lecture to offer context to your discoveries. Alternatively, you can join our full-day optional tour to Córdoba, a stage-set of history and beauty that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complete with an included lunch.
Explore the fortified complexes of storied Granada
From our berth in Motril we travel inland for a full-day excursion to storied 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, the centerpiece of our tour here.
Enjoy a city tour of historic Cartagena before an afternoon of scenic sailing
Around breakfast we arrive in Cartagena, then depart for a city tour. Cartagena is a major naval center that dates back to 227 BC, when it was founded by the Carthaginians. You’ll get acquainted with its history at La Concepción Castle, which overlooks the old Roman Theater. Walking down the Calle Mayor, you’ll also see some of the Cartagena’s noteworthy art nouveau buildings including the Cervantes House and Grand Hotel. After returning to ship for lunch we set sail for Valencia.
Discover the highlights of Valencia, including the UNESCO-named Lonja de la Sede de Valencia
Founded as a Roman colony, Spain’s third largest city now presides over the sparkling Mediterranean on what's called the Costa del Azahar or “Orange Blossom Coast.” Your city tour showcases important locations such as the Plaza de la Reina, Plaza de la Virgen, Plaza Redonda, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the cathedral, and the Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas. A highlight will be our visit to the late-Gothic Lonja de la Sede de Valencia, the old Silk Exchange, which is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site. You’ll return to your ship for a late lunch and have the balance of the day free.
Set off on a tour of enchanting Barcelona, followed by leisure time
This morning we’ll bid adios to our ship and crew, and transfer to one of Europe's most enchanting and historic capitals: Barcelona. We'll set off on a panoramic city tour that spotlights highlights such as the port and Olympic Village, the beaches of Barceloneta, the Plaza de España, and the Gran Via. You’ll also see the exterior of the surreal Sagrada Família basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the modernist masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, the visionary architect responsible for much of Barcelona’s design profile. After enjoying lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll continue to our hotel in Barcelona. This afternoon you’ll have time on your own to wander the shops and tapas bars of the famous Las Ramblas pedestrian thoroughfare on your own before returning to the hotel for dinner.
Board a return flight home
After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S., or commence your Barcelona post-trip extension.
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