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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. Then, close out your expedition by spending the Christmas season in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands and welcoming the New Year in Antarctica!
We've combined five expeditions — and included free international airfare — for the ultimate odyssey of the Western Hemisphere. In all, experience 14 nations and an unparalleled 77 included sightseeing excursions and Cultural Discoveries. You'll also enjoy two relaxing days at sea — time to rejuvenate and enjoy the deluxe amenities of your brand-new, 5-star luxury expedition ship.
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 do some exploring on your own. This evening, meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
Discover the best of Boston and Cambridge
The heart of Boston is quite compact, but it is big on 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 on a panoramic tour, 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. From here you’ll cross the Charles River and head across Cambridge to Harvard Square, where you’ll embark on a walking tour and see the campus and surrounding commercial center of America’s oldest and most prestigious university.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore, relax, and enjoy dinner on your own. 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 Provincetown’s trolley
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.
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 through 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.
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 to 1983, and the first U.S. 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.
Soak up local 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 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 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 guided motor coach 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 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 cafes that are collectively known as “Fish Fry.” Be sure to come back during your free time 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, and other native species.
Relax aboard the Ocean Explorer
Treat yourself to your ship’s amenities as you cruise into the legendary Caribbean Sea. Take advantage of this time to read a book from our library or enjoy a soothing massage at the spa. The time is yours!
This afternoon, attend the first in our series of onboard lectures by experts in their fields. Learn about local culture, Caribbean history, and the breathtaking natural world. In the elegant dining room this evening, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Indulge in the natural riches of the Dominican Republic in Samaná
Samaná is a lush, laid-back slice of the Dominican Republic, and you'll get to see its beaches and natural glory on a tour today, as well as meet with some locals. On a tour, stop by La Churcha, which was brought from England and reassembled piece by piece. Next, visit the Whale Museum for a walking tour before embarking on a drive through some local villages. Your guide will regale you with interesting information on local culture and point out areas of interest along the way. After, we’ll visit a typical Dominican farm featuring native fruits, coconut, coffee, and chocolate. Your guide will explain how these items are grown, harvested, and prepared for market. You’ll even have the opportunity to sample many of the fruits and the fantastic coffee. Then, make your way to a local cigar factory. Lunch is included on your tour.
Relax on board with a day at sea
Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Explorer plies the historic waters of the Caribbean. 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 cooking up.
Gain more insight about your upcoming destinations from your onboard lecturer.
Ride the rails to a historic fortress on St. Kitts
Dock this morning in Basseterre, the capital of the sovereign nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. These lush islands were first colonized by France and Britain in the 1620s and became independent in 1983. Today, you’ll venture to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Erected by the British, this was the largest fortification ever built in the Western Caribbean.
You’ll arrive at the fort via a splendid two-hour rail trip aboard an open-air train, a thrilling experience through lush countryside and past sweeping vistas awash in the Caribbean’s azure waters and distant emerald-hued islands. After visiting the fort, you’ll have the afternoon at your leisure to explore St. Kitts on your own.
Today’s onboard lecture illuminates more of the islands’ rich culture and heritage.
Discover Martinique, the "Island of Flowers" and birthplace of an empress
The French island of Martinique boasts a fascinating culture born of its Carib and French colonial heritage. We anchor offshore today and tender to shore for a drive to Les Trois-Îlets and Pagerie Museum: birthplace and childhood home of the future Empress Josephine, who became the first wife of Napoleon in 1804. We’ll also visit the Clement plantation, where the presidents of France and the United States met in 1991, before admiring the vibrant tropical blooms of the 16-acre Botanical Garden.
At an old distillery, you’ll find the insight about the island’s rum production, domestic plantation life, and Creole architecture to be downright intoxicating. Peek into one of its aging cellars, fragrant with wood and alcohol, and enjoy a rum tasting before returning to the ship.
After lunch onboard, venture out to discover Martinique at your leisure — your onboard Concierge will be able to provide recommendations on where to go!
This evening, get into the rhythm of the islands when local performers bring their talent to the onboard lounge.
Explore the volcanic splendors of St. Lucia
Arrive in Soufriére this morning, the scenic and pastel-hued capital of St. Lucia tucked into a natural amphitheater. A scenic drive showcases its beautiful colonial architecture. Continue to Sulphur Springs Park, the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano where pools of bubbling hot springs create an otherworldly landscape. Then, stop to admire the vivid, exotic hues and melodious birdsong at the Diamond Botanical Garden and Waterfall.
Later, visit the island’s Old Sugar Mill. Its waterwheel, built in 1765, once crushed sugarcane and limes and even generated the island’s first electricity. During your visit, jive to the rhythms of a local band over a refreshing drink and snacks.
Following your lunch on board, the afternoon is at your leisure. Perhaps explore more of St. Lucia with a tour set up by your onboard Concierge or stroll the streets of Soufrière in search of a handcrafted souvenir.
As you leave St. Lucia behind, you will cruise past the island’s most famous landmark — the twin volcanic spires of the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover Barbados’s British charm
Few places other than Barbados blend calypso music and cricket so seamlessly, thanks to its rich British heritage. This is one of the Caribbean’s most stunning islands, as you’ll have ample time to discover during a stay here. Your explorations begin in the island’s northern reaches at Animal Flower Cave, the only accessible sea cave on the island. After admiring its beauty, stop in Tent Bay at the Atlantis Historic Inn. You might spot faraway fishing boats hauling in their catch as you relax in the warm sun over a refreshing drink.
At St. John’s Parish Church, perched 800 feet above the sea, enjoy stunning views of the ocean and the town of St. John. One of the island’s most fascinating residents was a descendant of the Byzantine Imperial family, today buried in the cemetery here after his 1678 death. Conclude your tour with lunch at Sunbury House, dating to 1650. This grand manse is brimming with antiques and echoes of plantation life, including the Caribbean’s largest collection of carriages and some of the first optical machinery in the West Indies. You’ll anchor overnight in Bridgetown which, together with its Garrison, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This evening, we’ve invited some talented performers on board to regale you with lively entertainment.
Encounter the magnificent Harrison’s Cave
Head out this morning to visit what many call the Caribbean’s most spectacular natural sight — Harrison’s Cave. What makes this cavernous chamber so spellbinding is the crystallized limestone from which it was formed over millennia. An electric tram takes you down into its depths, a stunning canvas of stalagmites, stalactites, gurgling streams, and waterfalls plunging into emerald pools.
Your onboard lecturer provides more insight and illumination about the natural and cultural wonders of the Caribbean. You cruise out of Barbados before the dinner hour. Be sure to take a cocktail up to the Observation Lounge or the sun deck to bid this spectacular island farewell.
Relax with two days of bliss and relaxation at sea
You have two days to indulge in the amenities of the Ocean Explorer. Relax by the swimming pool, visit the spa for a soothing treatment, or perhaps get a workout in the gym. At mealtime, savor incredible culinary creations thoughtfully prepared by your onboard chefs. In the evening, head up to the Observation Deck for some of the most magnificent stargazing you’re ever likely to experience.
Each day, you’ll learn about your upcoming ports along the coast of South America and the Amazon during onboard lectures by local specialists.
Explore Devil’s Island, French Guiana
Home to one of history’s most feared penal colonies, Île du Diable, or Devil’s Island, today is one of coastal South America’s most enthralling sites. This was where France sent its most notorious criminals; the prison was long considered inescapable until the two convicts broke out against all odds — depicted in the novel by Henri Charrière and its film adaptation, Papillon.
After a fascinating morning, set sail along the French Guiana and Brazilian coasts. Attend another onboard lecture to learn about this lush and biodiverse region.
Ply Atlantic waters, cross the equator, and cruise up the Amazon
Enjoy these two days treating yourself to the indulgences on board the Ocean Explorer as the outside world fades away. Lounge by the infinity pool, lose yourself in a book from our library, enjoy a calming treatment at the spa, and savor refined cuisine from breakfast to dinner. As you cruise, the observation lounge offers incredible views.
You’ll achieve a travel milestone on Day 28 as you cross the equator. Our staff and crew will help you mark the occasion with a fun ceremony, honoring a tradition with ties to naval and maritime trade ships. Later, head up to the top deck as you approach the mouth of the Amazon River. By some accounts, the Amazon estuary stretches some 200 miles along Brazil’s coast. The waters you’ll cruise along this breathtaking and iconic waterway have coursed their way from as far away as Peru and Bolivia. Setting a course upriver into this realm of mystery, you’ll want to grab the binoculars we’ve provided in your cabin to get your first glimpse of the rainforest’s wild beauty.
Over these two relaxing days, our onboard lecturer will keep you informed and enlightened about the wonders of the Amazon you’re likely to witness during fascinating lectures.
Set out for piranha fishing and a Santarém nature cruise
Arrive this morning at the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers, where the city of Santarém rises on the banks. The people of this small market town rely on boats to get around; the 60 miles of white-sand beaches on the river have earned it the nickname “the Amazonian Caribbean.”
Spend the morning on a spectacular nature cruise, viewing this rare natural phenomenon along the river and learning how locals fish for the notorious piranha. Head downriver on a small local boat to witness the Meeting of the Waters, where the Amazon and the Tapajós converge. Each waterway has its own distinct color and they run side by side, one deep blue and one milky brown, for several miles.
You’ll arrive soon thereafter at Lake Maica, one of the Amazon’s natural outlets and home to abundant wildlife. Your captain will cut the motor here so you can cast a line into the water, aiming to catch and release voracious piranha. If you’re not in the mood to fish, sit back and take in the plentiful flora and fauna of the Amazon.
Get to know Parintins and Boca dos Botos
Continue taking in the Amazon’s splendor as we visit Parintins. Located just west of Santarém, this town is renowned for its Brazilian folkloric festival, the Festival de Parintins, or Parintins Folklore Festival, second only to Carnival. Today, you’ll explore this municipality, which is known for its rich biodiversity. Due to its central location in the Amazonas, during low tide you’ll discover its riverside beaches along the Uaicurapá River and the Amazon.
Starting outside the port, you’ll get to know this incredible province, including Caprichoso Boi, Liberty Square, and Bumbódromo — where the annual festival is held. With the possibility of riding locally-decorated tricycles, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with locals. After visiting the cathedral and cruising along the shore, you’ll get to see Boca dos Botos, weather permitting. Hop on a zodiac boat for an afternoon cruise, where you'll see more local flora and fauna.
Discover Manaus, gateway to the Amazon
Get acquainted with the largest city in the state of Amazonas. You might find that Manaus has a fascinating contradictory feel; despite its size, it is only accessible in a practical sense by boat or plane. And though seafaring vessels dock here, the ocean is 900 miles away. It’s all part of the intrigue of the state of Amazonas! Your included tour features the Amazon Theatre. This stunning vision in pink — opened in 1896 at the height of the rubber barons’ prosperity — was built with European bricks, French glass, and Italian marble.
If you’re in the market for exotic fruits, Amazonian herbal medicines, and local handicrafts, you’ll love rubbing elbows with the people of Manaus during a visit to the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, adjacent to your pier. Fashioned after the Les Halles market of Paris in 1882, it is Manaus’s oldest market and a scintillating way to immerse yourself in the culture. Produce from the surrounding countryside and fish from the river are delivered every morning.
Continue your journey through the Amazon River
Retrace your route along the mighty Amazon today, heading downriver. As you cruise, it’s easy to hold the surrounding forest in awe: It is about the size of the continental United States and hosts some 45,000 plant species. The waterway is so large that it has been called the River Sea. Spend time on deck today with your binoculars, keeping watch for pink dolphins or even manatees. Or you might partake of the ship’s spa facilities, easing into a massage or relaxing in the sauna.
Your onboard lecturer will illuminate the many wonders of this primeval forest as you return to the Atlantic.
Dive into the culture of Santarém
During your return visit to Santarém, you’ll get a fresh view of the city and its rich culture. Take in the riverside atmosphere of Fisherman Square, where fishing boats cluster at the pier. Then head into town for a fun and festive folkloric show and a visit to the pretty, powder-blue Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Conceição - Igreja Matriz de Santarém, a church built in 1761 where the city’s founder built a chapel. Inside, view the crucifix donated by a German scientist who shipwrecked on the Amazon River in 1819. After, stop by the Manioc Flour house, where local families produce farinha and tapioca. While here, you’ll see some of the region’s famous rubber and Brazilian nut trees and enjoy a tour of a family’s vegetable garden.
Leave Santarém behind around lunchtime as you settle in to savor another delicious meal on the m/s Ocean Explorer. This afternoon, learn what’s in store over the next three days of cruising the Amazon and Brazil’s densely forested coast.
Cruise the Amazon River and Brazilian Coast
Lose yourself to the rhythm of the Amazon River as you follow its course to the Atlantic. Consider that you’re drifting along waters that have flowed and gathered here from as far away as Peru and Bolivia. Its watershed covers 40% of the South American continent; the waterways that have spilled into the river continue to nourish the world’s largest rainforest. By the time it reaches the ocean, the Amazon River fans out into an estuary that, by some accounts, stretches some 200 miles along the coast.
Relax on board as you sail the Brazilian coast. Take a dip in the swimming pool as the forest drifts past, get a workout in the gym, or watch the river expand into the wide Atlantic Ocean from the observation lounge. At mealtime, savor incredible culinary creations prepared by your onboard chefs. In the evening, head up to the Observation Deck for some of the most magnificent stargazing you’re ever likely to experience.
Over these three relaxing days, our onboard naturalists will keep you informed and enlightened about Amazonian wonders during fascinating discussions.
Discovering Fortaleza's countless cultural treasures
Around midday, you’ll arrive in Fortaleza, capital of the Brazilian state of Ceará. Despite its size, there’s a light and airy quality to this culture-rich city dotted by soft-sand urban beaches and stately colonial-era buildings.
Tap into the city’s distinct musical rhythms during an included tour that features the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral, which is adorned with stunning stained-glass windows. Also discover the José de Alencar Theater, named for the region’s beloved poet; a drive along the palm-fringed beach past the sophisticated residences of Aldeota; and a stop at the Espigão de Pedras bridge.
You’ll also stop to peruse the countless cultural treasures at the Central Market, a lively emporium of Fortaleza’s handmade lace, embroidery, hammocks, and various crafts. If you wish, there will be time to take a short stroll from the ship into downtown afterward.
Cruising coastal Brazil
Treat yourself to more of your ship’s amenities as you cruise around the easternmost coast of Brazil. Take advantage of this time to read a book from our library or enjoy a soothing massage at the spa. The time is yours! Cultural Discovery: During your time at sea, onboard lecturers will captivate you with talks about Brazilian culture and history and our chefs will continue to amaze you with their culinary expertise.
Marvel at Salvador’s colonial architecture
Dock in Salvador de Bahia – Brazil’s first capital and unparalleled colonial town – this morning. Its colorful Renaissance city plan and outstanding new-world monuments earned it a prestigious place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your city tour passes Brazil’s famed lighthouse, the Farol da Barra. In the Pelourinho district (the Old Town), walk along charming cobbled lanes from the Municipal Square to Terreiro de Jesus Square and view the splendid baroque cathedral, once the home of the largest Jesuit seminary outside Rome. Gaze upon its ornate interior, then visit Largo do Pelourinho Square and the San Francisco Church.
Conclude your tour with a capoeira demonstration, a lively dance rooted in a tradition of the Afro-Brazilian martial arts. There will be time to browse the paintings, pottery, beads, and handicrafts at the local market.
Later this afternoon, enjoy another fascinating lecture on board.
Relax amidst the Brazilian sea for a day
Once again, the Ocean Explorer’s amenities are yours to indulge in as you continue southward along Brazil’s coast. If you haven’t yet treated yourself to the spa, this is your time! And you’re sure to find the Observation Lounge the ideal spot for reflection as you ply the waters of the Atlantic.
During today’s onboard lecture, learn more about Brazil’s prolific culture and history.
Visit Vitória’s mountaintop convent
Explore one of Brazil’s oldest cities – and one of the nation’s best state capitals to live. Vitória is set on Honey Island in Vitória Bay at the picturesque foot of sloping hills. Your included tour takes you to the mainland over the Third Bridge to Vila Velha, where the 16th-century Penha Convent has long stood as a symbol of faith from atop its high mountain perch. A shuttle takes you halfway up, and you can choose to walk the remaining 365 steps, or to enjoy the breathtaking 360° views from this vantage point.
After a photo stop at a couple of the city’s urban beaches, pause at the Cooperativa da Paneleiras de Goiabeiras to see firsthand how local artisans bring shape to clay pots used to make moqueca, a stew made with fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro, a mouthwatering famous dish in Brazil that was born in Espírito Santo. En route back to the ship, admire Vitória’s blend of old and new architecture downtown. Back on board, attend another enlightening lecture from one of our experts.
Delight in Armação dos Búzios’s beaches
Enjoy a preview of Rio de Janeiro today when you call on Armação de Búzios, the buzzing resort town favored by the glamorous jetsetters of the capital. French actress Brigitte Bardot made Búzios famous when she visited in 1964 and transformed the little fishing village into the St. Tropez of South America. Ever since, Búzios is the place for members of high society to be seen. More than 23 beaches grace this peninsular region. On an included tour by open-air trolley, you’ll see many of them, including the wild and scenic Brava Beach, the pink sands of Forno Beach, and the unique rock formations of Point Lagoinha — known as the Brazilian Himalayas. There’ll be time to linger and to swim if you wish, after which you may browse the posh shops downtown.
This afternoon, you can spend more time on the water when you take our shipboard paddleboards or kayaks out to explore.
Learn what cultural and historic treasures wait for you in Rio during today’s onboard lecture. Tonight, thrill to the beat of a lively samba show when local entertainers join you on board!
Explore Rio de Janeiro, a cidade maravilhosa!
See Rio’s iconic sites up close today. Ascend to the spectacular Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain. The 124-foot soapstone figure has an arm span of 98 feet. Then visit the Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and admire its modernist design inspired by Mayan pyramids. Head from the sacred to the footloose when you next visit Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches, celebrated in song and frequented by the city’s carefree partygoers. Enjoy lunch at a Rio institution — Confeitaria Colombo. The old-style café — set in a cavernous ballroom crowned with a stunning stained-glass ceiling — has been serving delicious meals and decadent desserts to cariocas for 120 years.
This afternoon, enjoy some leisure time on board, perhaps admiring the spectacular vistas of Rio — Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountains and the sweeping Guanabara Bay. You’ll sail through this magnificent canvas as you depart this evening.
Land in Ilha Grande, an island penitentiary turned lush paradise
Arrive this morning on the lush shores of Ilha Grande, or Big Island, the largest of a breathtaking archipelago of 360 islands dotting the Bay of Kings and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site (together with Paraty). Once home to a prison and leprosarium, today this largely unspoiled paradise — free of vehicles and other signs of civilization — is ringed by sand beaches and blanketed in Atlantic forest and palms. You’ll join your guide for a walk into Abrão Village, stopping at the San Sebastian church. Then, follow the footpaths into the woodlands of the state park, hearing tales of the island’s buccaneer days and its once-prosperous coffee and sugar barons. Keep your eyes and ears open for howler monkeys, sloths, and countless birds. There’ll be time for a refreshing swim at Praia Preta in the natural pools of an aqueduct.
After lunch, learn what cultural and historic treasures await during an onboard lecture. Enjoy the afternoon poolside or pampering yourself with a spa treatment. Dinner tonight is on board, featuring a festive Brazilian show.
Explore the colonial treasures of UNESCO-listed Paraty
Step back in time today when you explore Paraty, a remarkably preserved Portuguese colonial town and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site along Brazil’s lush, green coastal corridor. Once a port for the export of gold to the Old World, Paraty enjoys a stunning setting surrounded by tropical islands and soaring mountains. Your walking tour along narrow cobbled lanes leads you into its heart. Admire original 18th-century architectural gems, including the 1722 Church of the Santa Rita de Cássia and the colonial mansion that hosts the House of Culture, which provides a fascinating chronicle of the town’s role in Brazil’s past. Pause to peruse charming boutiques and art galleries as you explore, perhaps meeting some artists in residence.
As you sail on to your next destination after lunch on board, gain more insight into Brazil’s fertile coast during a lecture from one of our onboard experts.
Discover the vibrant urban center of Santos
Today, enjoy a glimpse of one of Brazil’s major urban centers. Built on the prosperity of the coffee industry, today Santos is home to the largest beachfront garden in the world. A city tour reveals its cosmopolitan air and rich history. Visit the Coffee Museum, located in a former palace. Stop by the Museum of the Santos Football Club, proud to have called Pelé its star player for 18 years. And explore the Aquário Municipal de Santos, Brazil’s oldest aquarium.
Another onboard lecture today uncovers more of the region’s fascinating history and rich culture.
Embrace Camboriú’s natural and cultural splendors
One of Brazil’s most popular resort towns welcomes you today. Locals come to Camboriú for the beaches, the lively culture, and the vistas of steep slopes draping down to the sea. To get a bird’s-eye view of it all, you’ll embark on an ecological tour and board the city’s famous teleférico, or cable car, to the Atlantic Forest Station. Take a walk into these magnificent hilltop woods with an interpretive guide, with ample opportunities to take in stunning panoramas. Your cable car continues to Praia das Laranjeiras. Feel free to bring your suit along; there are changing rooms here if you’d like to go for a swim.
More Brazilian history and culture stimulates your mind and your curiosity during an onboard lecture this afternoon. This evening, enjoy another divine meal prepared by your chef.
Enjoy a day at sea along the Brazilian coast
The indulgent amenities of the Ocean Explorer are yours as you continue your expedition along Brazil’s Costa Verde, or Green Coast. Perhaps you’ll treat yourself to the spa. And you’re sure to find the observation lounge the ideal spot for reflection and looking for seabirds as you ply the waters of the Atlantic. You’ll turn your attention again to Brazil’s colorful culture and history during an onboard lecture today.
Soak in Rio Grande’s rich art culture
Dock this morning in one of Brazil’s most important maritime port cities. Host to what some believe is the longest uninterrupted beach in world, the Praia do Cassino, at about 160 miles long. Founded by the Portuguese in 1737; this gorgeous city is often overlooked by cruise lines.
On your walking tour, admire some of its elegant historic buildings, including the neoclassical Alfandega Customs House and the Baroque Cathedral São Pedro. At the Museum of Sacred Art in the Chapel of San Francisco, view a collection left by the Jesuits, the area’s first European settlers. At the Praça Tamandaré, admire some of the city’s beloved public sculptures. A stop at the Oceanographic Museum rounds out your enriching tour.
This afternoon, enjoy another fascinating lecture on board.
Treat yourself to more of your ship’s amenities as you cruise Brazil’s lush coast. Take advantage of this time to read a book from our library or enjoy a soothing massage at the spa. The time is yours! As you approach Uruguay, our onboard lecturer continues to astonish you and our chefs will continue to amaze you with their culinary expertise.
Witness the opulent lifestyles of Punta del Este
Often compared to Miami and Cannes for its resort style and well-heeled visitors, Punta del Este is the jewel of Uruguay at the wide mouth of the Río de la Plata. Head into this posh resort town and set out on a scenic panoramic tour through tony residential neighborhoods and past stunning beaches. Stop to visit Casapueblo, the self-built curvilinear home and studio of the late artist Carlos Páez Vilaró perched on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic. A picturesque coastal road leads you back to the pier.
After your Punta del Este explorations, learn about more cultural treasures of Uruguay during an onboard lecture.
Uncover the international spirit of Montevideo
Around breakfast time, arrive in Montevideo, consistently ranked at the top of “quality of life” lists among Latin American cities. Get acquainted with the vibrant and sophisticated cultural capital on a far-reaching city tour that takes in the major monuments, parks, and gardens. At Independence Square, begin a walking tour that features the cathedral, City Hall, the Government House, and the renowned Solis Theater. Then, drive along the celebrated Avenida 18 de Julio, stopping to view the Legislative Palace, built with 52 types of local marble and 12 different kinds of wood. Continue to El Prado, an elegant neighborhood of sprawling botanical gardens and colonial mansions. At the Plaza Virgilio, enjoy sweeping views of the city.
Spend the remainder of the day exploring on your own. Perhaps you’ll walk to Plaza Cagancha and make a stop at Mercado de los Artesanos, the Craftsmen Market, to pick out a souvenir amid the swirl of local art and handcrafted goods. Alternatively, your onboard Concierge may help you set up a tour catered to your interests. This evening, be delighted by a dance show on board!
Discover UNESCO-listed Colonia del Sacramento
Visit the oldest city in Uruguay today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento, spread on a small peninsula on the Río de la Plata. A rich Spanish and Portuguese past whispers from its remarkably preserved colonial buildings. As you stroll its cobbled streets, stop to view the Matriz Church; the Calle de los Suspiros, or Street of Sighs, named for its breathtaking historic authenticity; the Puerta del Campo city gate; and the Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo.
A final captivating talk on board ship rounds out our lecture series.
Encounter Buenos Aires: Latin America with European flair
Wake up early for your last sunrise on board and enjoy the scenery and downtown skyline as we enter Buenos Aires, the sultry capital of Argentina.
Here, you'll disembark the Ocean Explorer — we hope you enjoyed your expedition on Vantage's first small ship oceangoing expedition vessel! This richly cosmopolitan city feels a lot like Europe — graced with splendid architecture and a hint of glamour. But its spirit is distinctly Argentine. A city tour reveals its most magnificent sites. Visit the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada, La Boca — a neighborhood full of colorfully painted homes — and the neoclassical Catedral Metropolitana, the church home of Pope Francis. After lunch at a traditional restaurant, you’ll check into your hotel and have the afternoon and evening free to pursue your own interests.
Cruising the South Atlantic
Enjoy three relaxing days on board your 5-star expedition ship. Each day, your expedition team will be conducting different presentations on topics relevant to your destinations — history, geology, astronomy, ornithology, marine biology and more. You’ll also want to join them on deck for birdwatching, perhaps spotting fulmar, petrel, or even a wandering albatross, with its eleven-foot wingspan. Keep your eyes peeled for marine life — these waters frequently host southern right whales. Take advantage of your ship’s other amenities to refresh and restore yourself, perhaps visiting the sauna or enjoying a soothing massage in the spa. Looking for photo tips? Check the schedule (posted on your onboard interactive system) for the next photography workshop.
Delight in West Falkland Island’s unspoiled beauty
Where we make landfall today is entirely based on local conditions. As your ship approaches West Falkland Island, you may pass the pristine sandy beaches or sheer cliffs that are home to some of the island’s 63 avian species, such as Cobb’s wren, Falkland skua, king cormorants, ground tyrant, pipit, thrush, and more. More than a million penguins call the Falklands home, often nesting in the green tussock grass burrows.
Remember, daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses. During your visit, you might join an excursion to see penguins. Your expedition leader will help you try to spot the five main types: waddling gentoo penguins, with their orange beaks; king penguins, the largest breed which can stand 39 inches tall; black-and-white banded Magellanic; macaronis, with their orange head feathers; and rockhoppers, with their bushy heads.
Savor a bit of Britain in the Southern Hemisphere
Today you’ll arrive on East Falkland and visit the capital, Port Stanley. With a population of about 2,100, Port Stanley is home to nearly two thirds of the Falklands’ residents. It will be the focus of today’s discovery.
Given the quaint pubs, red phone booths, and fish and chips shops, you’d think you are in rural England, except for the occasional Argentinean shop or Spanish word. One Spanish word you’ll hear often is “camp,” derived from the Spanish campo meaning countryside. Here, the Falklanders say "camp" to refer to all the land outside Stanley. Your city tour showcases some of this tiny city’s main attractions, including the Victory Green, where a mizzen mast from the SS Great Britain is displayed; the Government House; the Town Hall, which also serves as a post office, court of law, and dance hall; and the Christ Church Cathedral, the southernmost Anglican church in the world. Nearby, there is a decorative arch made of whale bones.
You’ll spend two days cruising towards South Georgia Island. Take this time to enjoy your ship, perhaps taking in a movie, joining a fitness class, dancing in the lounge, or simply curling up with a book from the library. On the way, your expedition team will offer fascinating workshops and presentations about the region’s geology, glaciology, biodiversity, and history.
One story you are likely to learn is that of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led three British Antarctic expeditions. On his final one, his ship Endurance was trapped in ice, and sank. After camping on ice floes for more than two months, the crew escaped by boat to Elephant Island. From here, Shackleton led a daring open boat, six-man mission 720 miles across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia Island, where they were able to organize a rescue. All 22 of the crew members back on Elephant Island were saved.
Discover South Georgia Island
You’ll have three days to explore the unique history and natural splendor South Georgia, whose biodiversity is so rich it is known as the “Serengeti of the Southern Ocean.” Although South Georgia is within the Antarctic ecosystem, it is outside the limit of sea ice. As a result, tens of thousands of breeding penguins, seals, and seabirds may be seen here.
During your stay, your expedition team will lead various excursions by Zodiac landing craft and on foot, taking you to observe fascinating wildlife and to admire the unspoiled scenery of hanging glaciers, cliffs, and scenic lagoons. South Georgia is home to over half of the world's enormous southern elephant seals, the largest of all seals. Keep an eye out for newly birthed southern elephant seal pups alongside their mothers, plus a huge colony of king penguins, and wandering albatrosses in their nesting grounds.
You will also visit the South Georgia Museum, a whaling museum that also details the island’s maritime and natural history, as well as the 1982 Falklands War. Also featured are the Norwegian seaman’s church, former whaling stations, and the grave of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in Grytviken. Weather permitting, you might hike over part of the trail that Shackleton followed on his brave journey across rugged mountains to find help for his men.
Cruising the Scotia Sea and Southern Ocean to Antarctica
You’ll cruise for two days in southwesterly course across the Scotia Sea, into the Southern or Antarctic Ocean. Here is where the cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer sub Antarctic waters, creating a nutrient-rich environment for several species of whales, seals, and seabirds. Once we have crossed the Antarctic Convergence, you will notice that the air becomes crisper and colder.
Spend five unforgettable days in Antarctica, the “White Continent”
Prepare to witness the most unspoiled, sublime terrain on Earth — and to cross another continent off your bucket list. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent, containing 90 percent of all the ice on Earth. Nonetheless, it is classified as a desert because so little moisture falls from the sky. Believe it or not, the Sahara Desert gets twice as much rain each year!
You will be exploring here during the austral summer, the most temperate time of year. But because conditions vary from place to place, our captain will adjust our landings as the adventure progresses. You’ll set foot on the South Shetlands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula, venturing ashore every day for naturalist-led expeditions via our versatile Zodiac boats. Wherever our explorations lead us, you can look forward to encountering penguin refuges, floating icebergs, paradisiacal bays and quiet, wildlife-rich sounds, international research bases, and even an active caldera!
Please note: Remember, daily life in Antarctica is determined by the elements, and we’ll adjust our landings as our adventure progresses.
Cross the Drake Passage
This legendary body of water connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, stretching for about 600 miles from the tip of South America to Antarctica. Though it is the most direct route between the continents, it can also have some of the planet’s most turbulent seas. You never know whether your crossing will be a “Drake Shake” (rough journey), or a “Drake Lake” (calm sailing). Either way, it is quite literally a “rite of passage” for all Antarctic explorers and your onboard expedition team will keep your spirits up with some fun and fascinating activities, plus whale watching and birdwatching from the deck.
Leisure time in Ushuaia, then fly to Buenos Aires
After breakfast, you’ll disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina, the “City at the End of the World.” This former penal colony is now a charming gateway between the wildernesses of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica. You’ll have time to take in the views of the snowcapped Andes and Beagle Channel, where Darwin made some of his evolutionary discoveries; and to poke around the town’s shops and cafés. From here you’ll transfer to the airport and fly back to Buenos Aires. Tonight, you’ll toast your milestone adventure at a Farewell Dinner at a Buenos Aires restaurant.
After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’ve selected our optional post-trip extension, stay on for two more nights in Iguassu Falls.
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.