Join Vantage Deluxe World Travel in 2024 for a stunning small ship ocean cruise along Europe’s western coastline! Dramatic vistas, soaring architecture, sumptuous food and wine … you’ll experience these across Spain, Portugal, France, and England, as well as the British territory of Gibraltar.
Trace Iberia from Barcelona to Lisbon, uncovering layers of history in Cartagena and the Moorish-flavored Granada. Visit Spain’s oldest bullring in Ronda to hear how Spaniards view the event today, and share an intimate dinner at a family bull farm in Seville. Witness the rustic charms of Portugal’s magnificent Algarve and UNESCO sites like the Benedictine abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. In total, 44 included features and Cultural Discoveries, including a full-day exploration of Santiago de Compostela and an overnight stay in Bordeaux, give you a closer look at culture and everyday life in this region.
As you cruise aboard the 5-star Ocean Odyssey, you’ll also be immersed in local colors, flavors, and sounds. Enjoy gourmet regional fare at our restaurants, attend illuminating lectures by your Cruise Director that add context to your onshore discoveries, and round off each day with delightful local entertainment we’ve invited on board. Plus, treat yourself to a soak in the top-deck hot tubs, a massage at the onboard spa, or a gym workout whenever you want!
With just 77 cabins, including a landmark 15 solo cabins for independent travelers, the Ocean Odyssey ensures an intimate cruising experience throughout your journey — from the smaller ports that larger ships can’t reach, to the small passenger-to-crew ratio for optimum service. Explore more with recommendations from our complimentary onboard Concierge, and add on optional pre- and post-trip extensions to Madrid and Dublin to complete your unforgettable journey along Europe’s western coastline.
This itinerary is a combination of: Spain & the Portuguese Coast: A Cruise Around Iberia and Lisbon to London: A Coastal Odyssey.
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. 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.
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, hot tubs, 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 or 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 sundeck or explore Málaga on your own.
This evening, enjoy another informative lecture before another sumptuous dinner and an evening of entertainment on the Ocean Odyssey.
Discover the stunning Ronda gorge
After breakfast 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.
You'll continue on to a local restaurant, where a docent will provide an informative talk on the history of Spanish bullfighting. Enjoy lunch here, accompanied by rousing entertainment! After some free time to explore Ronda, you’ll return to your ship in Málaga for dinner.
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 sundeck.
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.
Return to the Ocean Odyssey for lunch. Then, in the evening, you'll set out into the countryside to a local family's bull farm for a tour, a delicious home-host dinner of Spanish fare, and a rich cultural exchange — including a passionate flamenco performance!
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.
You'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant during your tour and return to the Ocean Odyssey for 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
Arrive in Lisbon this morning, center of the Age of Discovery and a living history of Portugal’s past. On a panoramic and walking tour the city, 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.
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.
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. The Ocean Odyssey will anchor offshore, and you’ll board a tender into port. Please be aware that a certain level of agility will be required to embark and disembark these smaller vessels.
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 be required to anchor offshore and tender into Brest. We will return to the ship for lunch, after which you may tender 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. Since your ship will berth here, you’ll be able to stroll right off the ship 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. We will anchor offshore, and you will board a tender into town. En route to London, you’ll set off on a tour of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Queen Elizabeth spends most of her private weekends at the castle, which has housed 39 monarchs since its founding by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.
Afterward 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 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