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Join the inaugural season of the new Ocean Explorer on a voyage that celebrates the very roots of America. You'll journey from the Revolutionary sites of Boston to Virginia’s earliest colonies to the plantation lands of the South to Florida’s island fortifications — all the way to the Bahamas, where Columbus first set foot in the New World. Along the way, you’ll discover the quirky charm of Provincetown on Cape Cod. Experience the coveted resort of Martha’s Vineyard, where the quaint and the glamorous coexist side by side. See the opulent Gilded Age mansions of Newport. Take a bite out of the Big Apple (where you’ll stay overnight). Step into the living history museum of colonial Williamsburg. Enjoy the coastal beauty and architectural grace of Wilmington, North Carolina. And visit Charleston, South Carolina, the culinary hot spot and all-around cultural charmer that has been voted the “world’s best city” by readers of Travel + Leisure for six years in a row.
Not coincidentally, we’ve timed this voyage to take advantage of the best travel season. It will be fall when you depart New England — the most exquisite time of year when the fall foliage frames every town in a mantle of color. Enjoy comfortably cool temperatures as you explore New York, and then warm up with some southern sunshine as you make your way along the coast, and head to balmy Nassau, the Caribbean jewel.
In between you’ll enjoy two relaxing days at sea — time to rejuvenate and enjoy the deluxe amenities of your brand-new, 5-star luxury expedition ship. Plus, included hotel stays in Boston and Nassau provide the perfect bookends.
Depart home and arrive in Boston, Massachusetts
Welcome to Boston. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in and relax, or perhaps do some exploring on your own. Maybe you’ll venture across the river to Charlestown to see the historic Bunker Hill monument, or come aboard the USS Constitution or “Old Ironsides,” the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. You might browse Fanueil Hall (aka Quincy Market), a bustling pedestrian marketplace with colonial roots and a tempting food hall. Just leave room for our Welcome Dinner tonight back at the hotel.
Discover the best of Boston and Cambridge
The heart of Boston is quite compact, but it packs a big wallop in terms of its cultural, historic and touristic attractions, even compared to much larger cities. Boston has been called a “city of neighborhoods,” and on your city tour today you’ll see some of its most charming locales.
Riding across town, you’ll pass Copley Square, ringed by architectural jewels like Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, and the Old South Church. Continue riding through the Back Bay and see trendy Newbury Street, the Public Gardens, Boston Common, and Beacon Hill, crowned by the gold-domed, Bulfinch-designed Massachusetts State House. From here you’ll head to the Old North Church, where Paul Revere hung two lanterns in the steeple to signal that the British were coming. It sits in the middle of the North End, Boston’s historic Italian neighborhood. Take a little time to walk around and enjoy its sights, sounds, smells, and (of course) tastes. From here you’ll cross the Charles River and head across Cambridge to Harvard Square, where you’ll have time to walk around and see the campus and surrounding commercial center of America’s oldest and most prestigious university.
The balance of the afternoon and evening are free for you to explore, relax, and enjoy dinner on your own. Perhaps you’ll walk along sections of the Freedom Trail, passing the site of the Boston Massacre of 1770, Boston Common, the Old Granary Burying Grounds (where many illustrious Bostonians are buried), and more. Heading towards the renovated Seaport district, you can see a replica of the Boston Tea Party ship, where colonists protested a British tax by dumping tea into the harbor in 1773. Boston has a brisk dining, music, and theater scene, so don’t forget to ask your Vantage Concierge to help you plan your time.
Visit Lexington and Concord, then embark the Ocean Explorer
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and head west to discover Lexington and Concord, the battleground where the “shot heard round the world” officially triggered the American Revolution. Concord is also famous for its literary history, and was the home of the American Transcendentalist movement spearheaded by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Arriving at Lexington’s Battle Green, you will stand where the opening shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired. Your route to Concord takes you along the Battle Road Trail that Paul Revere followed during his famous midnight ride. Here you will walk on the Old North Bridge, a replica of the wooden bridge where militiamen beat back the British forces, and view the outsides of the gracious, historic homes where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott (and the rest of her illustrious family) and others established one of America’s most formative, 19th-century intellectual circles.
You'll stop for lunch on your own as we return to the city proper. Arriving back in Boston, you will then be transferred to the pier to embark the Ocean Explorer. Come aboard and get settled in before this evening’s port talk and Welcome Dinner.
Explore Cape Cod and ride the trolley around Provincetown
Provincetown (or “P-Town,” as locals call it) was the fertile fishing ground where the Pilgrims first dropped anchor before settling in Plymouth. Set at the curving tip of Cape Cod, it still is an important fishing community that over the years has been known for its spectacular beaches and tolerant, live-and-let-live vibe. For this reason, it has been a longtime resort, artists’ colony, and popular summer haven for the LGBTQ community. Famous residents have included Tennessee Williams, Norman Mailer, Eugene O’Neill, Kurt Vonnegut, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Julie Harris, Anthony Bourdain, and many more. You’ll get acquainted during this morning’s tour.
Come aboard an old-fashioned trolley to ride around the town. You’ll see the impressive Town Library, which is housed in an old, Italianate-style church built in 1860 and which also includes the Heritage Museum. At the Pilgrim Monument, you can admire the country’s tallest granite building, a 252-foot-high tower that offers commanding sea views. The museum at its base commemorates the Pilgrim’s 5-week sojourn here, during which time they drew up the Mayflower Compact that codified the first laws of the new colony. The Cape Cod National Seashore boasts some of the country’s most stupendous seascapes, and at the Salt Pond Visitor’s Center you will enjoy wonderful views of them, as well as exhibits on local flora and fauna.
After lunch, you will have free time to explore on your own. Poke around the eclectic shops and art galleries, or perhaps enjoy the bustling harbor scene at MacMillan Pier.
See the legendary summer resort of Martha’s Vineyard
Beautiful Martha’s Vineyard is famous as an affluent summer resort, and you can certainly do some celebrity-watching here. But your eyes will also be drawn to the sweeping natural beauty, historic towns and charming architecture. If some of it looks familiar, perhaps that’s because the movie Jaws was filmed here.
Today’s tour starts with historic Oak Bluffs, once a religious revival summer camp. Then, head along the coast to Edgartown, a quaint, white-clapboard village that was originally an important whaling center. Ride though the farmlands of West Tisbury, and the hills of Chilmark, where celebrities such as Ted Danson, Carly Simon, James Taylor, and Bill Murray have homes. Back in Oak Bluffs, you’ll have lunch and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
Perhaps you will explore Oak Bluffs on your own to get a feel for the laid-back charm that is synonymous with Martha’s Vineyard. You can see the colorful Flying Horses, the country’s oldest, continuously-operating platform carousel that was brought here from Coney Island in 1874. Nearby is Wesleyan Grove, better known as the Campground. Back in the mid-1800s, Methodist families would set up tents in this 34-acre site to enjoy revival meetings and summer Bible study groups. The tents eventually gave way to cottages that are painted lovely pastel hues and adorned with elaborate millwork. Today, these lovely gingerbread cottages are part of the National Historic Register. You can also learn about Oak Bluff’s history as one of the country’s first resorts for affluent African Americans.
Delve into history in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is famous as the summer “watering hole” for America’s wealthiest families during the Gilded Age. It is also a yachting center that hosted the America’s Cup races from 1930–1983, and the first US Open sites for tennis and golf. Less well-known is the town's colonial heritage, when it was an important whaling and trading port, notably as a center of the slave trade. Your tour points out the historic wharves, Touro Synagogue (the country’s oldest synagogue), the sweeping vistas of Ocean Drive, Hammersmith Farm (Jacqueline Bouvier’s childhood home, where she later held the reception for her wedding to John F. Kennedy), and more.
A highlight of the day will be your visit to the Breakers, the opulent Italian Renaissance-style mansion that was built as a summer residence by Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Set on elegant Bellevue Avenue, it has a vast back lawn overlooking the Cliff Walk and the sea, and is filled with lavish period furnishings and art. Your tour provides a fascinating, intimate glimpse into the lives of America’s wealthiest and most powerful families during the late 1800s through the turn of the century.
The afternoon is free for you to explore Newport at your leisure. Your onboard Concierge will be able to provide recommendations based on your interests!
Discover the best of the Big Apple, New York City
Enjoy breakfast as we arrive in New York City, then set out to explore. Your tour showcases some of the city’s most famous attractions and landmarks. See where world economies rise and fall on Wall Street, including the New York Stock Exchange building in the heart of the financial district. Nearby, you’ll pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial, where the victims of the World Trade Center bombing are honored. Also nearby is St. Paul’s Chapel, the oldest surviving church in New York City, built in 1766. At Battery Park, you’ll catch glimpses of the Statue of Liberty.
Your tour continues as you make your way towards Midtown, passing through Chinatown, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and more. Ride past the elegant New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, and then see Rockefeller Center, Times Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Central Park and Grand Central Station. You’ll be back on board in time for lunch and a free afternoon, with a scintillating port talk and dinner back on board. Your evening is free; ask your Concierge in advance to help with tickets for a Broadway show, musical performances, gallery shows and more.
Explore New York as you like it
The morning is yours to delve deeper into the best of New York. There is so much to choose from, you’ll be grateful for the guiding hand of your Vantage Concierge, who can help you plan your time. We'll sail on to our next destination in the early afternoon.
Travel back in time at Nautical Norfolk and Colonial Williamsburg
Strategically set at the core of the historic Hampton Roads region, Norfolk is surrounded on three sides by water and is home to the world’s largest naval base, as well as one of NATO’s two Strategic Command headquarters. You’ll arrive around breakfast time, then head out to explore the region’s historic colonial roots.
From 1699 to 1780, the colonial city of Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia colony, which at the time stretched as far west as the Mississippi and as far north as the Great Lakes. Today, the city is a living history museum with about 80% of the original layout and buildings restored to their 18th-century appearance. You’ll visit the Colonial Williamsburg site today and enjoy a light lunch here. You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with actor-historians who demonstrate colonial livelihoods. After enlightening colonial cooking and craft demonstrations, you’ll enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Day at sea, cruising Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coast
A full day to relax and enjoy the 5-star amenities of your deluxe ship. Perhaps you’ll swim in the infinity pool, join a yoga class, or enjoy a soothing massage. During an onboard lecture you can learn about the rise and fall of plantation life — a wonderful preparation for your upcoming discoveries in Wilmington and Charleston.
Revisit antebellum life in Wilmington, North Carolina
If you’re up on deck this morning, take in the beautiful coastal scenery as your ship makes its way up the wide Cape Fear River to Wilmington. This historic port city boasts a beautifully restored waterfront, and exquisite architecture which you’ll see on today’s tour.
This morning’s trolley tour spotlights Wilmington’s National Register Historic district, some 230 blocks worth of beautifully preserved architecture from many different eras. You’ll also learn about the many movies and television shows filmed around here. In fact, Wilmington has the country’s largest full-service filming studio outside of Hollywood. A highlight will be your visit to the Bellamy Mansion, a 10,000-square-foot, 22-room antebellum masterpiece. Built in 1859 in the Italianate style, it features finely detailed plaster, iron, and millwork, carefully crafted by enslaved and freed black artisans. The grounds feature lovely gardens as well as separate slave quarters. Afterwards, you’ll revisit a different era when you step aboard the Word War II battleship USS North Carolina, which is permanently docked in Wilmington.
After your tour you’ll have free time to enjoy this pretty city on your own. Take a stroll along the Riverwalk, a waterfront promenade lined with parks, shops and cafés. If you are a craft beer enthusiast, Wilmington boasts many well-regarded microbreweries. It also boasts many fine nearby beaches such as Carolina Beach, known for its colorful boardwalk. You can also visit the Railroad Museum, or perhaps borrow one of the bikes or kayaks on board your ship to explore the Cape Fear area.
Soak up the color and culture in Charleston, South Carolina
For the past six years in a row, Charleston was voted the “#1, best city in the world” by readers of Travel + Leisure. Once you experience its stunning waterfront setting, exquisite Georgian architecture in every color of the rainbow, historic attractions, fine beaches and of course, some of the best cuisine in all of North America, you will agree that the title is well-deserved. Begin exploring with a panoramic city tour of some of Charleston’s most important attractions. You’ll see the Battery, the Citadel, Old City Market, and Hampton Park, and enjoy spectacular views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse.
From downtown Charleston you’ll proceed to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, named one of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens” by Travel + Leisure magazine. The house was built in 1676, and the garden is the oldest in the country, created in 1680. You’ll explore the manor house, filled with priceless antiques; and also see the Conservatory, where many plants native to Barbados are cultivated. There is also a petting zoo, wildlife observation tower, a Biblical garden, Audubon Swamp Garden, and a horticultural maze. A highlight will be your 45-minute “nature train” tour, which takes you by tram through the plantation's wetlands, lakes, forests, and marshes. Naturalist guides will help you spot alligators, turtles, egrets, and herons, and provide the backstories of the slaves and indigenous people who once lived in the cabins and woodlands surrounding the main house.
Back in Charleston, spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring at your leisure. You might visit the Old Slave Market, a moving museum depicting the city’s notorious role in African-American history. Or, browse the shops along King Street to find Charleston souvenirs like a Brackish bowtie made entirely of feathers or a handcrafted Gullah sweetgrass basket. Along the way, get a taste of Charleston's famed shrimp and grits or Low Country bouillabaisse!
Tour Amelia Island and Fort Clinch
This morning your ship drops anchor in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida’s northernmost barrier island. After breakfast you’ll set out on a tour of the island, which draws visitors with its dramatic history as the only United States location to have had eight flags flown over it. In the historic district of Fernandina Beach, you'll pass blocks of colorful storefronts and 19th-century mansions from the Gilded Age. Then, follow the boardwalk out to Fort Clinch Beach to admire the coastline. You’ll be back on board in time for lunch and a relaxing afternoon as your ship sets sail for the Bahamas.
Day at sea, cruising to the Caribbean
Enjoy a day at sea to refresh and renew, and enjoy your ship’s deluxe amenities. Perhaps you’ll join a morning workout class, or lounge by the pool. You could enjoy a facial at the spa, meet friends in the lounge for a game of bridge, attend a lecture on the history of the Bahamas, or simply soak in the hot tub with the cocktail of the day — the choice is yours!
Get into island time in Nassau, the Bahamas
You’ll know you’re in the Bahamas as the water gets bluer and brighter. In fact, the Bahamas lays claim to the clearest water on Earth. Enjoy the views as you approach Nassau, the capital of this beautiful archipelago. After breakfast you’ll disembark ship and then enjoy a sightseeing tour that acquaints you with the history and laid-back culture of the island, which is called New Providence.
In downtown Nassau, you’ll see Rawson and then Parliament Square, with its pink stucco Georgian neo-classical buildings that house the Supreme Court, Senate Chambers, and House of Assembly. Then, cross the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge to Paradise Island to get a look at the spectacular Atlantis Hotel Resort & Casino. Leaving here, you’ll pass the Queen’s Staircase, 66 limestone steps that connect Fort Fincastle to the lower town. It was carved out of the sheer rock by slaves in 1793. You’ll also see the Government House and Graycliff, a stunning mansion built in 1740 that is now a famous hotel. After a photo stop at historic Fort Charlotte, you’ll pass other landmarks such as the College of the Bahamas, Sir Harry Oakes Monument and Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, and others. You’ll also pass colorful Arawak Cay, a jumble of multi-colored shacks and cafés that are collectively known as “Fish Fry.” You'll have some time at your leisure before heading to your hotel, with lunch on your own — perhaps you'll come back to enjoy the famous conch fritters, fried chicken, and tropical conch salad, and to hear a local storyteller share some Bahamian lore.
During your tour you’ll stop at the historic 1789 Buena Vista Estate, home of the John Watlings Distillery where you will enjoy a self-guided tour and rum tasting. Upon departing the distillery you’ll visit Aradastra Gardens, a lush tropical setting where you’ll be introduced to some local denizens such as monkeys, flamingos, snakes, lorikeets, flamingoes, and other native species. The rest of your day is free. Unwind and sample the little luxuries of your deluxe hotel, the only one in Nassau to boast its own private sandy beach.
Explore more of Nassau on your own
A full day of leisure to explore and relax as you like. Your hotel is within walking distance of downtown Nassau, so everything is within easy reach. Perhaps you’ll visit the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, or shop for handicrafts at the Straw Market. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are spectacular dive sites, and plenty of opportunities to swim with dolphins, feed sharks, or enjoy water sports, from kayaking to jet-skiing and more. At the Pirates of Nassau museum, you can learn about infamous privateers like the notorious Blackbeard through fun, interactive exhibits and performances. You might also join an excursion to the Atlantis Resort, where you will find an Aquaventure water park, walk-in aquariums, 11 pools, the largest open-air marine habitat, a golf course, casino and more.
Be back in time for this evening’s Farewell Dinner at your hotel, where you will join your travel mates to toast your discoveries.
After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
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.
Important: 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.