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The allure of Europe awaits you on an incredible adventure aboard our new 5-star Ocean Explorer. Feel entranced by the hues of Greece, the tasty flavors of Italy, and the rich history of the UK, plus enjoy stops in French wine country, Spain, and Portugal. There's a whopping 75 included features and Cultural Discoveries to experience on this voyage across the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Begin your odyssey with the highlights of Greece, from its ancient cities to its turquoise blue waters. Continue a walk through the past in famed Pompeii and views of Mt. Etna from Taormina in Italy. Venture onto Spain for passionate flamenco performances, cliffside cities, and UNESCO palaces. There's more to come as you continue through sunny Portugal, savor France's sophisticated wine scene in Bourdeaux, and wave to Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace in London.
In between discovering the best of these European destinations, you'll enjoy all the luxurious onboard amenities of our new 5-star Ocean Explorer. Are you ready for an indulgence? Take a dip in the infinity pool, taste local flavors in a fine dining experience, and enjoy a super smooth sail due to the ship's ULSTEIN X-BOW® technology.
The Ocean Explorer offers a low crew-to-passenger ratio for an ideal level of service, as well as an onboard Cruise Director and Concierge to help you customize your free time and optional itineraries any way you'd like. Watch the world sail by and join us on an experience full of Europe's coastal gems and historic wonders.
Board an overnight flight to Athens, Greece
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Athens. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension in Istanbul, Turkey.
Arrive in historic Athens
Welcome to Athens, the fabled Cradle of Civilization. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your hotel. You arrive this evening in time for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at the hotel alongside your fellow expeditioners.
Explore classical wonders of Athens
This morning, enjoy a panoramic tour of Athens, the sophisticated capital of Greece where mythology and ancient history come alive. You’ll visit the iconic Acropolis, where it was said that Poseidon and Athena fought over who would be patron of the city. This was the architectural pinnacle of Athens, crowned by its breathtaking Parthenon. You’ll also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House on Constitution Square, the Pan Athenian Stadium, and the Presidential Palace. Along the famed Panepistimiou Avenue, pass the Catholic Cathedral, Academy of Athens, the University of Athens, and the National Library. Enjoy lunch on your own in the charming Plaka district, nestled at the foot of Acropolis Hill.
Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure. Dinner is on your own tonight, and you're in luck. Athens restaurants are world-class, but so is its street food — at a fraction of the cost. Don't miss souvlaki, fava purée and pita, a classic Greek salad, or anything involving whipped feta.
Discover Athens on your own, embark the Ocean Explorer
You have the day at leisure to set out into the Cradle of Civilization to uncover some of its lesser known gems. If you’re looking for a deal, head over to the Monastiraki flea market, an atmospheric agora of secondhand Athenian treasures. While you’re there, seek out a traditional sandal-maker who is sure to have your size.
Later, continue to Piraeus to embark the Ocean Explorer. Get settled in your cabin, then take some time to explore its amenities, including the onboard boutique, spa, pool, and gym. Stop by the Concierge desk to perhaps even reserve a spa appointment. Later, gather for the first of your daily port talks to hear about tomorrow’s exciting destination. You'll enjoy your first meal tonight, just a taste of the curated dining we've prepared. Tonight the ship sets sail for Nafplion.
See ancient treasures in and around Nafplion
Your first morning on the Ocean Explorer begins with a delicious breakfast as the ship arrives in Nafplion. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Arcadian Mountains, this ancient city enjoys a sheltered location below a rocky headland. Admire its impressive Venetian castle as you approach. Then, set out to discover two of Greece’s most renowned ancient sites. First, explore the ancient healing center of Epidaurus. UNESCO has described its Sanctuary of Asklepios as “one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture.” The sanctuary was dedicated to the god of medicine. You will also view its remarkably preserved amphitheater built into a mountain slope, still celebrated for its excellent acoustics. After, continue to the ruins of Mycenae, the Bronze Age capital of one of the first great empires of the ancient Mediterranean and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Look for the massive archway with the carved lions, the symbol of the ancient city-state.
After lunch on board, you’ll have the afternoon to explore Nafplion at your leisure. Our onboard lecture today provides insight into the ancient Greeks.
In the elegant dining room tonight, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Admire the Rock of Monemvasia and wine tasting
The small island of Monemvasia simply takes the breath away. The small size of our ship allows us to dock on its shores so you can explore this seldom-visited enclave. Called “The Rock" for its massive dominating rock, it is truly a unique and thrilling slice of the Aegean. Walk the charming narrow streets of its fortress, passing Byzantine churches and old houses with graceful archways. Visit the 13th-century Church of Christ Elkomenos, home to impressive old Byzantine icons. Continue to the Liotrivi Mansion, surrounded by vineyards whose grapes produce the famed Malvasia wine. The Byzantine-era setting provides the ideal atmosphere for a wine tasting. You are welcomed by the vintner, who leads you on a tour of the centuries-old property before popping open a bottle or two for your sampling. After lunch on board, you have the afternoon to stroll the atmospheric streets of Monemvasia on your own.
Later today, a lecture illuminates more about this historic region. This evening, we welcome local entertainers on board for a lively cultural performance.
Behold: Gythion, the gateway to Byzantine Mystras
Arrive this morning in Gythion, with ties to the legendary Trojan War. From here, head inland on the Peloponnese Peninsula to Mystras, the last stronghold of the Byzantines. This stunning site atop Mount Taygetos was a Byzantine center of culture in the 14th and 15th centuries. Stroll the narrow lanes of the once-invincible fortress, viewing the stone-carved facades of the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios, where Constantine XII was coronated, the Church of Agia Sophia, the sprawling Palace of the Despots, and the Monastery of Pantanassa, with its brilliant frescoes.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to enjoy your ship’s amenities, perhaps swimming in the infinity pool or visiting the spa. Or, explore more of Greece with a tour set up by your onboard Concierge. Learn more about the day’s experience during today’s onboard lecture, before another evening of culinary delights.
Tour the stunning preservations of Pylos
Uncover the rich Greek, Venetian and Ottoman past of the Peloponnese today during your visit to Pylos. A scenic drive takes you first to Methoni, an important port in the 13th century. Its stunning fortress, a shining example of Venetian, Ottoman and French military architecture, is surrounded on three sides by the sea and on the landward side by an old moat. Back in Pylos, explore the Ottoman castle of Neokastro, one of Greece’s best preserved. Continue to the newly restored Mycenaean Palace of Nestor, a compound of four buildings and 105 apartments.
After lunch on board, you may continue to explore Pylos are your leisure. Your onboard Concierge can provide recommendations on other fascinating sights and tours. Today’s onboard lecture reveals more about the sites of the storied Peloponnese Peninsula.
See Katakolon & the Birthplace of the Olympics
This morning, arrive among the low forested hills of Katakolon and its quaint fishing port. Then, head inland to Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics in 776 BC. Set in an idyllic valley, the sacredness of this site to the ancient Greeks predated the first Games. See the Temple of Zeus, the Gymnasium, the Palestra, Temple of Hera and the Philippeion. The stadium here once seated 45,000 spectators. A guided tour of the Museum of the Ancient Olympic Games illuminates the site for you. Continue for a fascinating visit to the Magna Grecia Olive Oil Farm. During a tour, learn how to taste the elixir and enjoy samples of extra virgin and scented oils with a delicious lunch and some red wine, all while being regaled with cultural entertainment. Back on board, enjoy another enriching lecture.
Relax on board with a day at sea
Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Explorer makes its way into the heart of the Mediterranean. Visit the spa, get in a workout at the gym, lounge in the swimming pool, relax on the sun deck catching up with a great book, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine our chefs are offering. You'll enjoy another scintillating lecture to enrich your understanding of Mediterranean history.
Learn about Taormina's rich history and breathtaking setting
Arrive on the shores of Sicily today, the breathtaking island at the tip of Italy’s toe. From your anchor in Giardini Naxos, you head to Taormina, the historic city set on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. This chic resort town offers splendid views of Mount Etna in the distance and a charming medieval ambience. During your tour, admire the Moorish and Islamic influences in the exterior of the 15th-century Palazzo Carvaia. Continue to the fantastic Greek Theater, originally built in the 3rd century by Romans. You can marvel at its coastal vistas before heading to the Public Gardens, boasting some 200 species. Take time to sample a refreshing granita while here, then we provide you with the euros you’ll need to enjoy lunch at an inviting spot of your choosing.
This afternoon, continue to soak up Taormina’s refreshing views. Another onboard lecture deepens your understanding of the region. This evening, get into the rhythms of the Triskele Band, named for the three-legged triskelion symbol on the Sicilian flag.
Tour Lipari: Gem of the Aeolian Islands
It is only because of our small ship size that we can pause for a day to explore the Aeolian Islands, Italy’s archipelago northwest of Sicily. Drama greets you at every turn on these soaring, majestic volcanic islands. You anchor off the shore of Lipari and tender to Marina Corta, walking with your guide along the via Garibaldi. At the Rock of the Castle, set high on a promontory, peer deep into the island’s past at an archaeological site and visit the Cathedral of Bartholomew, the island’s patron saint. Then, get a panoramic view of the island, visiting the villages of Quattrocchi and Quattropani. As you explore, enjoy splendid views of other Aeolian Islands, including Stromboli with its ever-active towering volcano. You will also stop to take in the vistas of Lipari Beach and observe the ubiquitous pumice stone deposited here by volcanic eruptions from millennia past. After lunch on board, enjoy leisure time in Lipari.
This afternoon’s onboard lecture provides more fascinating context to this legendary part of the Mediterranean.
This evening, shipboard commentary accompanies our scenic cruising among the magnificent Aeolian Islands.
Uncover the mysteries of Pompeii
Arrive this morning along the legendary Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where seaside villages and dizzying cliffs create a dreamy landscape. No visit here is complete without a tour of Pompeii, the ancient city buried by the ash of Vesuvius in 79 AD. A walking tour with a private guide helps you step back 2,000 years into a world of cobbled lanes worn by horse-drawn cart wheels, fascinating villas still adorned by colorful murals, Roman baths, the old forum, and more.
This afternoon, take part in something truly extraordinary — don't forget your camera! We've coordinated an afternoon lunch visit to a local farm, where you'll meet your hosts for a tour and a class in creating the perfect pizza, the famed cuisine of nearby Naples.
Back on board, learn more about local history and culture before another delectable dinner brings you even more flavors of this region.
Explore the cultural riches of coastal cliff-top Corsica
This morning, enjoy breakfast and an early lunch as the Ocean Explorer nears Corsica. This mountainous Mediterranean outpost offers a fascinating glimpse of France in the middle of the Mediterranean. With its chalk-white coastal cliffs and rugged vistas, it is one of the area’s most breathtaking islands — known to the French as “l’Île de Beauté.” Arriving midday, you set out to explore Bonifacio, its castle and pastel-hued Old Town perched on a cliff edge. Explore its Gothic church, the only one on the island, and climb if you wish the 189 steps of the Roy d’Aragon. Then, embark a small boat for a thrilling expedition to explore the Lavezzi Islands and their dramatic cliffs and sea caves carved by the surf over millennia. An onboard lecture this afternoon reveals more about this seldom-visited corner of the Mediterranean.
Immerse in the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo
Arrive this morning in Monte Carlo, capital of the tiny independent principality of Monaco. Playground to well-heeled Europeans, this sovereign nation has been ruled by the Grimaldis since the 13th century. You will arrive via the world-famous Grand Prix track of Formula One fame. Then, marvel at the world-renowned Belle Époque Grand Casino, a vision of extravagance and wealth. See the lush gardens, too, before viewing the Hôtel de Paris, a 19th-century grand dame. In the historic quarter of Le Rocher (“The Rock”), admire stunning sea views 200 feet below while strolling past the Prince’s Palace, just in time to see the Changing of the Guard. Nearby, the neo-Romanesque Monaco Cathedral is a vision in white; the Grimaldis, including Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, are entombed here. After seeing the Justice Palace, your tour ends at the Oceanographic Museum, another neo-classical gem.
After lunch on board, perhaps you’ll stroll the streets of Monte Carlo to take in its monumental architecture. An onboard lecture fills you in on more fascinating details about this glittering Mediterranean coastline.
Explore the magic of the south of France
Steeped in history and boasting a newly revived waterfront, Marseille provides a beguiling glimpse of a French medieval port. From here, you have two ways to delve into the celebrated south of France today: a full-day tour to romantic Provence, or a full-day safari in Camargue National Park.
The first included tour takes you deeper into the heart of Provence. Begin at the Gordes Castle in its namesake town, a picture-postcard hilltop village climbing a slope from the Vaucluse plateau. After, continue to the red cliffs and ochre quarries of Roussillon. The emerald pine trees and vivid blue Provençal sky create a stunning canvas. We provide you some euros to have lunch at a restaurant of your choosing, then it’s on to a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence’s Old Town, strolling under the lovely plane trees of Cours Mirabeau past elegant mansions. If you wish, you may visit Paul Cézanne’s atelier during your free time.
Your second tour option is decidedly wilder. Head into Camargue National Park to explore the vast Rhône River Delta, a pristine region of swamps, river tendrils and ponds teeming with numerous bird species, including the pink flamingo. Throughout your safari, you will pause as opportunities arise to view the region’s wild Camargue horses and bulls grazing as manades, or free-roaming herds. You will visit a working farm to learn more about the horses and bulls and stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
After dinner, we have invited local performers to entertain you with dances and songs of their country.
Experience historic and cultural wonders of French Occitanie
The seaside resort of Sète is your entrée to two historic treasures. Again today, you can select the tour that suits your interest — A full-day tour of Carcassonne, or a half-day tour to Montpellier and Château de Flaugergues.
If you choose the first option, you'll journey to UNESCO-listed Carcassonne, the largest and best preserved fortified medieval town in Europe. Step back in time within its massive walls, exploring narrow, cobbled streets, the breathtaking St. Nazaire Basilica, an 11th-century Romanesque church, the 12th-century Château Comtal and countless other treasures from the Middle Ages. After lunch at a local restaurant, tour the lovely Fontfroide Abbey, founded in 1093, with its hushed cloister and vaulted chapter house.
Alternately, visit the historic and stylish city of Montpellier, capital of the Languedoc-Rousillon region. In the Old Town, admire elegant mansions and other stunning architecture that fuses the classical and the avant-garde. In the Place de la Comèdie, admire the Three Graces fountain. You will also see the fortress-like Cathedral St. Pierre and the Arc de Triomphe. Later, stop for a tour and wine-tasting at the 18th-century Château de Flaugergues. Romans were the first to cultivate grapes on these grounds 2,000 years ago. After the tasting, you'll be back on board the Ocean Explorer for lunch and an afternoon at leisure in Sète.
Tour Barcelona, 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!
Enjoy Mallorca: the 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. Later, we'll continue to cruise and have a sumptuous dinner and interesting lecture onboard.
Explore 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.
Admire 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.
Marvel the beauty and history in seaside Málaga
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.
See 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.
Have a taste of 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, home-hosted dinner on a family-owned bull farm
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 — and have the opportunity to climb to the top of its soaring La Giralda Tower.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Seville to shop and explore; your onboard Concierge can point you to the best spots. Later, you'll set out into the countryside to a local family’s bull farm, where you will enjoy a tour, a delicious home-hosted dinner of Spanish fare, and a rich cultural exchange.
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.
Portimão, gateway to the vistas and villages of The Algarve
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.
See Lisbon landmarks, tasting renowned Pastéis de Belém
Arrive in Lisbon this morning, center of the Age of Discovery and a living history of Portugal’s past.
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, enjoy lunch on your own with money provided. You'll have the rest of the day free to roam!
Go 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 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 an onboard performance with fado, a traditional Portuguese music that’s typically melancholic and features two 12-string guitars.
Enjoy 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.
Immerse in seaside splendor in the resort town of San Sebastián
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 back to France overnight.
Indulge 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.
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.
Explore 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 the best of 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.
Tour 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.
Explore Windsor Castle, disembark Ocean Explorer
Today you'll say goodbye to the Ocean Explorer when you disembark in Poole — we hope you enjoyed your expedition on Vantage's first small ship oceangoing expedition vessel! Today, en route to London, you’ll set off on a tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Queen Elizabeth spends most of her private weekends at the castle, which has housed 39 monarchs since its founding by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
Afterward, enjoy lunch on your own, then transfer to London where you’ll check into your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own. Your hotel is very centrally located, and you'll have a bevy of dining options to choose from.
Explore London's landmarks: From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace
Today you’ll discover this great metropolis on a half-day guided city tour that introduces you to London’s landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (UNESCO), Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and much more. You’ll also enjoy a fascinating visit to the Imperial War Museum, which explores conflict from WWI to the present day. This afternoon, discover more of the English capital on your own, before a Farewell Dinner at the hotel reunites you with your fellow expeditioners, as you toast your adventure one last time.
Return home, or stay longer in London
Transfer to London’s airport this morning for your return flight home, or spend an extra few days in London with a post-trip extension.
Important Note: Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew.