Embark on your own Age of Discovery on Vantage Travel’s luxurious small ship ocean cruise from Lisbon to London that includes explorations into the hidden gems and overlooked ports of Portugal, Spain, and France. From the ports of northwest Spain and the Basque resort town of San Sebastián to Belle-Île’s laid-back shores and Saint-Malo’s medieval walls, this cruise will illuminate the historical, cultural, and culinary wonders of both ancient and contemporary life.
Your voyage takes place on the 5-star Ocean Odyssey, a modern vessel built for a more intimate cruising experience. With just 77 cabins on board — including a landmark 15 solo cabins — you can look forward to a small passenger-to-crew ratio, less queuing, and more time to explore each destination. Enjoy 26 included features and Cultural Discoveries in total, including a full-day exploration of Santiago de Compostela, an overnight stay in Bordeaux complete with wine tastings, and visits to up to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Mont Saint-Michel and London’s Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
As each day’s discoveries ebb and flow, indulge in the Ocean Odyssey’s many amenities: Relax on the top-deck, indulge in a pampering spa treatment, or try hot-rock cooking at the onboard restaurant. While certain ports may require tendering to and from the ship, her small size lets you navigate to exclusive ports larger ships can’t reach, giving you access to some of the world’s most iconic sites and undiscovered gems.
Customize your journey with the expertise of an onboard worldwide Concierge — make restaurant reservations in Bordeaux, visit a neighboring town or nearby wine estate, or tailor your itinerary to your interests! Optional pre- and post-trip extensions to Madeira and Dublin round out this historical — and delicious — journey along Europe’s western coastline.
Board an overnight flight to Portugal
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Portugal. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Madeira.
Welcome to Lisbon! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your hotel. Relax with an afternoon at leisure to acclimate and a Welcome Briefing later today. Tonight, enjoy a Welcome Dinner alongside your fellow travelers at the hotel.
Lisbon landmarks, tasting renowned pastéis de Belém
The Age of Discovery launched in Lisbon, so it’s fitting that you begin the morning with a spate of them. On an included panoramic and walking tour of the Portuguese capital, you’ll explore the city’s famed monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Belém Tower and Monastery of Jerónimos, which you’ll peruse and walk through. The latter is inextricably tied to the country’s history of exploration, and it’s said that Vasco da Gama spent his last night here before sailing for the Far East (his tomb is in the monastery). Your tour culminates in a stop at the towering Monument to the Discoveries: a massive white-stone tribute to some of the world’s most intrepid sailors and explorers. While on your tour, sample pastéis de Belém custard pastries, Portugal’s favorite treat.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, with dinner on your own.
Full day tour to Queluz Palace, Sintra and Cascais, embark the Ocean Odyssey
This morning, hop on a motorcoach to discover another UNESCO-listed feature — the historic landscape of Sintra. First, you'll visit Queluz Palace, the ornate 18th-century Baroque residence that was once home to Portuguese royalty. You'll enjoy a guided tour of the palace before setting off for Cascais, a beautiful resort town known for its white-sand beaches. Lunch is on your own here.
This afternoon, you’ll proceed to the pier and step right onto the Ocean Odyssey to begin your own journey of discovery. During your 10 nights onboard this small ship ocean cruise, you’ll enjoy 5-star luxury amenities, informative onboard lectures, immersive Cultural Discoveries, and more. Enjoy scenic sailing as we ship out and take in Lisbon’s vibrant coast from your vantage point on the Mediterranean. Tonight, enjoy a curated dining experience during your first dinner on board.
Inside Porto, the “Unvanquished City”
Enjoy breakfast as the ship arrives in Leixões. Your ship will berth in port so you’ll be able to disembark with ease—no waiting and no tendering. From here, we'll transfer 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 a local port wine cellar for a tasting. Return to the ship for lunch, with an afternoon at leisure to explore Porto on your own using free shuttle service to and from the ship. 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.
Dinner is on board, with overnight sailing to Spain.
Exploring UNESCO-listed Santiago de Compostela
You’ll berth in Vigo today, in the westernmost corner of Spain, where you’ll step off the ship and get ready to 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. Lunch is included at a local restaurant today, complete with local entertainment.
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. Because the ship will be berthed here, you’ll be able to easily step on and off while in port.
Then, spend an afternoon at leisure in Gijón, a city of beautiful beaches and a rich history situated on the shimmering Bay of Biscay. Return to the ship this evening for dinner on board and another scintillating lecture.
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. We’ll berth in port today, so you’ll be able to step right off the ship and head out for 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.
The Ocean Odyssey will cruise to France overnight.
Bordeaux, the Port of the Moon
You'll revel in the scenic sailing aboard the Ocean Odyssey as it takes you through the Gironde Estuary to 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 or sightseeing from the deck. Join your guest lecturer for another talk that prepares you for the exciting explorations we've planned — your choice of tours and leisure time to discover 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.
Enjoy an evening at leisure in Bordeaux, with dinner on the Ocean Odyssey. 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. Tonight, enjoy evening entertainment onboard.
Pick your choice of tours in Bordeaux
This morning after breakfast, you'll have your choice of tours — you may embark on a half-day excursion to the UNESCO-listed Saint-Emilion or a half-day tour to Arcachon. The former will bring you to a commune teeming with medieval architecture where you'll sample local wines during a tasting. The latter will bring you to a seaside resort town where you'll enjoy a tasting of freshly-shucked oysters. Your ship will be berthed today, so you’ll be able to step off easily and commence your second day of discovery in Bordeaux.
Have an afternoon at leisure in Bordeaux. Tonight, enjoy an informative lecture before dinner. Your ship sails overnight to Belle-Île.
Belle-Île, a sandy and secluded isle off France’s Brittany coastline, is yours to explore today. Most people arrive to this oft-overlooked island outpost via ferry from the mainland or not at all, but the Ocean Odyssey’s small size is versatile enough to let us berth directly in port, allowing you to easily step ashore.
On a full-day 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. You'll receive some cash to enjoy lunch on your own. Perhaps you'll seek out fresh seafood, an island staple.
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. We will return to the ship for lunch, after which you may head back into town for an afternoon at leisure, 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.
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 will board an offshore tender and head inland to begin your tour. 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.
Exploring Windsor Castle
Today you'll say goodbye to the Ocean Odyssey, Vantage's second small ship ocean vessel, when you disembark in Poole. En route to London, you’ll set off on a tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The British royal family spend most of their private weekends at the castle, which has housed 39 monarchs since its founding by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
Afterward have lunch on your own, then transfer to London where you’ll check into your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure and dinner on your own. Your hotel is centrally-located, giving you a bevy of dining options from which to choose.
From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace: Exploring London’s landmarks
Today you’ll discover this great metropolis on a half-day guided city tour that introduces you to London’s landmarks, including Westminster Abbey (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and much more. You’ll also enjoy an included visit to the British Museum, famed for its extensive permanent collection of 8 million works dedicated to human history and culture. This afternoon, discover more of the English capital on your own before a Farewell Dinner at the hotel reunites you with your fellow expeditioners; to toast your extraordinary adventure one last time!
Return home, or head to Dublin
Transfer to London’s airport this morning for your return flight home, or head to Dublin, Ireland for your 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 itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion. Port times & itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.