Join Vantage Travel on this unforgettable ocean cruise through Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar (U.K.), three destinations that have long been celebrated for their spirit of exploration. You’ll indulge in the luxuries of the Ocean Odyssey as you trace Iberia from Barcelona to Lisbon, immersing yourself in rich cultures and epic histories along the way. Visit Mallorca, overlooked by most cruise lines, and take in the stunning island capital of Palma. Uncover layers of history in Cartagena. Explore the lively and Moorish-flavored cultural centers of Granada and Seville. And witness the rustic charms of Portugal’s magnificent Algarve. All while the dramatic and sweeping landscapes of Iberia unfold before you.
Your cruising vessel, Ocean Odyssey, embodies the perfect marriage of luxury travel and ocean cruising. Thanks to the small size of your ship, you will almost exclusively dock right onshore and be able to walk right into the places you visit (please note, there will be some tendering where you will be required to have the physical agility to maneuver getting on and off of tenders/Zodiac boats.) While cruising, savor fine cuisine in our elegant restaurant. Sip a vintage glass of wine on the sundeck while cruising up the scenic Guadalquivir. Enjoy luxury amenities — such as the onboard spa, or full-service hair salon — as well as a series of enlightening lectures lead by your Cruise Director to keep you informed about the cultural nuances of the destinations you visit.
With 22 included features and Cultural Discoveries, you’ll experience the real Spain and Portugal up close as you visit a bullfighting ring to hear how Spaniards view the event today, share an intimate dinner at a family bull farm, and gain immeasurable insight into Iberia’s history and legacy during onboard lectures with notable experts. Plus, our small ship size lets us journey up the Guadalquivir River into the pristine wilderness of Doñana National Park, something large ships could never do!
A dedicated onboard Cruise Director and Worldwide Concierge accompany you as you explore, along with city hosts based at the destinations. With their insider connections, they’ll open doors you could never step through on your own, whether it’s pointing out the intricacies of azulejo tile work at a seldom-visited Portuguese parish church, recommending the best places to sample a slice of Britain while visiting Gibraltar, or letting you in on the works you absolutely must see at Málaga’s Picasso Museum.
If you're interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination cruises Wonders of the World Cruise 2023: A 150-day Voyage from Australia to Sweden and Kingdoms and Cultures: A 68-day Voyage from Jordan to England. Explore more and save.
Board an overnight flight to Barcelona, Spain
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Barcelona. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Madrid, Spain.
Arrive in Barcelona, the vibrant capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer or transport to your hotel. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the hotel with your fellow travelers, including those on the Madrid pre-trip extension.
Exploring 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.
Then, enjoy an evening at leisure with dinner on your own. And after that, prepare yourself for a passionate flamenco performance at a local tablao. This is an experience you won't soon forget!
Follow your own whims and desires in Barcelona and embark the Ocean Odyssey
After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy your morning at leisure in Barcelona. You'll have lunch in a local restaurant, then you'll be welcomed aboard the luxurious new Ocean Odyssey. Your ocean cruise begins! Thanks to the small size of the ship, it’ll be docked right in the port, allowing you to stroll right onboard. This is almost exclusively the way you’ll embark and disembark throughout your cruise.
Get settled in your cabin, then explore the many amenities, including the sundeck and fitness center. See your Concierge to reserve an appointment at the onboard spa. After, gather for the first of your daily port talks to hear about tomorrow’s exciting destination. In the dining room, savor a special Welcome Dinner. We get underway later in the evening.
Mallorca: Jewel of Spain’s Balearic Islands
The ship arrives in Palma de Mallorca this morning. Perhaps you'll catch the sunrise from the Ocean Odyssey's observation deck, or get in an early workout at the gym before a delicious breakfast.
Ringed by pristine crescent beaches and cloaked in lush green forest, Mallorca is an island paradise for the Spanish and visitors alike. On a panoramic city tour, you'll explore the stunning circular Bellver Castle, built in the 14th century for the Kings of Mallorca. Later, step inside the massive, Gothic La Seu Cathedral. This honey-colored masterpiece boasts a cavernous interior designed by Antoni Gaudí and a 144-foot-high nave. Return to the ship for lunch before an afternoon at leisure in Palma de Mallorca.
Before dinner this evening, you'll hear the first in a lecture series that will highlight the historic and fascinating destinations visited on your journey.
Exploring Cartagena's Roman flourishes
After breakfast on board the ship arrives in the natural harbor of Cartagena, in use since the city was established as a major naval center by the Carthaginians in 227 BC. You’ll get acquainted with its history at La Concepción Castle, which overlooks the old Roman Theatre, the second largest in Iberia. Walking down the Calle Mayor, you’ll also see some of the Cartagena’s noteworthy art nouveau buildings, including the gleaming white façade of the Cervantes House and the elegant Grand Hotel, where you have time to explore on your own.
After returning to ship for lunch, your afternoon is free. Perhaps you’ll relax and take in some Spanish sunshine on deck. Before another gourmet dinner on the Ocean Odyssey, yet another lecture illuminates more about this historic region.
Experience 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. Return to the ship in Motril and you'll learn more about Andalusia during today’s onboard lecture as you set sail for Málaga late this evening.
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), 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.
This evening, enjoy another informative lecture by a local artist before another sumptuous dinner on the Ocean Odyssey.
Discover posh Sotogrande and the stunning Ronda gorge
Your ship will dock in Malaga today, one of the most beautiful ports in the Costa del Sol. Then, we’ll 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.
While in Ronda, we’ll have lunch in a local restaurant and enjoy free time in the city. In the afternoon, return to the ship in Sotogrande. After dinner onboard we welcome some local entertainers on our ship for a lively cultural performance.
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 and 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
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.
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 see 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 Odyssey 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.
Lisbon: Monumental city with an epic past, disembark
Arrive in Lisbon this morning, center of the Age of Discovery and a living history of Portugal’s past. You'll disembark the Ocean Odyssey — we hope you enjoyed your journey on Vantage's newest small ship ocean vessel!
On a panoramic and walking tour of Lisbon, you'll visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Belém Tower, the city’s iconic gateway at the mouth of the Tagus River. Nearby, marvel at the ornate Jerónimos 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, check into your hotel and have the rest of the day free.
Full day tour to Sintra and Cascais
Today’s full-day tour introduces southwest Portugal’s most iconic destinations, including Queluz Palace, the extravagant estate of Pedro and Maria I. You’ll peruse its gilded rooms and gorgeous gardens before continuing to Sintra for a walking tour of the city’s stunning architectural styles. Conclude your day in Cascais, the sunny beach resort beloved by locals and vacationers from across Europe, where you’ll have time for independent exploration and lunch on your own. This evening, raise a glass to your voyage during a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers.
After breakfast, transfer to the Lisbon airport for your return flight home, or fly to Madeira with our optional post-trip extension.
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. The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert. Port-of-call orientation walking tours are subject to change based on port time and weather conditions