Vantage celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!
Discover Spain’s lively cosmopolitan capital on a 5-day tour that lets you experience its historical highlights, traditional cuisine, and more. Explore by coach and on foot, witnessing bustling centers like Plaza Mayor and the aromatic Mercado Central. Then, stop in at one of the world’s premier art museums, Museo del Prado, and marvel at the 1,500 pieces on display (it houses around 7,000 in its reserves!). You’ll also have ample free time to explore the Spanish capital on your own and make independent discoveries. Vamos!
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
Welcome to Barcelona! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your hotel transfer. Settle into your centrally-located hotel before an evening Welcome Briefing and Welcome Dinner at the hotel and get to know your fellow passengers.
Barcelona, Catalonia’s vibrant cultural heart
Today, 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. First, ascend Montjuïc, which means Jewish Mountain and behold its ornate castle as well as panoramic views of the city. Then, head to Plaza de España, one of Barcelona's most important historic squares. Finally, continue to La Barceloneta Beach, where you'll enjoy lunch.
Afterward, you'll have an opportunity for an outdoor visit to La Sagrada Família cathedral, Antoni Gaudí’s famous masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you'd like, you can ask for a ticket to tour the inside. Or, you may choose to do this during your free time tomorrow. 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 before lunch at a local restaurant.
Later, 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 forget!
Follow your own whims in Barcelona and embark the Ocean Odyssey
During this free morning and afternoon in Barcelona, you may set your sights on the city’s atmospheric Gothic Quarter, the Barrio Gótico adjacent to Las Ramblas. It is a pure delight to follow its labyrinthine streets into intimate squares, or plaças, stopping along the way for a café crema or a lunch of traditional tapas and rioja wine. Browse the colorful food stalls of the Mercat de la Boqueria, a food-lover’s paradise for its artisanal cheeses, smoked meats, chocolate truffles, and so much more.
Later this afternoon, embark the Ocean Odyssey. Due to the small size of your ship (just 77 cabins), in many ports we’ll be able to dock right onshore, giving you access easy access to your destination and more time spent exploring! However, please keep in mind that other ports may require us to anchor offshore and tendering inland. Get settled into your cabin and take time to explore the ship’s amenities, including the onboard boutique, spa, pool, and gym. Stop by the Destination Manager desk to make a spa appointment or organize a group dinner with your travel companions. Later, join the first of your daily port talks to learn about tomorrow’s exciting destination before dinner onboard. Tonight, your ship sets sail for Sète, France.
Historic and cultural wonders of French Occitanie
The seaside resort of Sète is your entrée to two historic treasures. Again today, you can select the tour that suits your interest: a full-day tour of Carcassonne or a half-day tour to Montpellier and Château de Flaugergues.
If you choose the first option, you'll journey to UNESCO-listed Carcassonne, the largest and best preserved fortified medieval town in Europe. Step back in time within its massive walls, exploring narrow, cobbled streets, the breathtaking St. Nazaire Basilica, an 11th-century Romanesque church, the 12th-century Château Comtal and countless other treasures from the Middle Ages. After lunch at a local restaurant, tour the reverential Fontfroide Abbey, founded in 1093, with its hushed cloister and vaulted chapter house.
Alternately, visit the historic and stylish city of Montpellier, capital of the Languedoc-Rousillon region. In the Old Town, admire elegant mansions and other stunning architecture that fuses the classical and the avant-garde. In the Place de la Comèdie, admire the Three Graces fountain. You also will see the fortress-like Cathedral St. Pierre and the Arc de Triomphe. Later, stop for a tour and wine-tasting at the 18th-century Château de Flaugergues. Romans were the first to cultivate grapes on these grounds 2,000 years ago. After the tasting, you'll be back on board the Ocean Odyssey for lunch and an afternoon at leisure in Sète.
Witness the magic of southern France
Steeped in history and boasting a newly-revived waterfront, Marseille provides a beguiling glimpse of a French medieval port. From here, you have two ways to delve into the celebrated south of France today: full-day tour to romantic Provence or a full-day safari in Camargue National Park.
The first included tour takes you deeper into the heart of Provence. Begin at the Gordes Castle in its namesake town, a postcard-picture hilltop village climbing a slope from the Vaucluse plateau. After, continue to the red cliffs and ochre quarries of Roussillon. The emerald pine trees and vivid blue Provençal sky create a stunning canvas. We provide you some euros to have lunch at a restaurant of your choosing, then it’s on to a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence’s Old Town, strolling under the lovely plane trees of Cours Mirabeau past elegant mansions. If you wish, you may visit Paul Cézanne’s atelier during your free time.
Your second tour option is decidedly wilder. Head into Camargue National Park to explore the vast Rhône River Delta, a pristine region of swamps, river tendrils and ponds teeming with numerous bird species, including the pink flamingo. Throughout your safari, you will pause as opportunities arise to view the region’s wild Camargue horses and bulls grazing as manades, or free-roaming herds. You will visit a working farm to learn more about the horses and bulls, and dine at a local restaurant for lunch.
Uncover the charms of Cannes
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on board as you sail into one of the most glamorous ports on the Cote d'Azur: Cannes. This modern resort city is known for its annual film festival, and you’ll enjoy a panoramic walking tour here, taking in views of the Promenade de la Croisette and stopping to admire the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, home of the Cannes Film Festival. Continue to the old town of Le Suquet, where Roman ruins and sweeping views of the city and harbor await.
Next, you’ll visit the Perfume Factory of Grasse for a special presentation. You’ll tour the factory and learn about how the flowers are boiled and the essence is condensed using one of the world’s oldest distillation processes. After, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before departing for St. Paul de Vence, a hotspot for artists and celebrities. Explore this walled village with structures dating back to the 16th century and wander along narrow, cobbled lanes past high-end boutiques and art galleries. You’ll have some time to explore at leisure before returning to the ship.
After dinner, we’ll welcome local performers on board to entertain you with dances and songs of their country.
Behold the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo
Arrive this morning in Monte Carlo, capital of the tiny independent principality of Monaco. Playground to well-heeled Europeans, this sovereign nation has been ruled by the Grimaldis since the 13th century. You will arrive via the world-famous Grand Prix track of Formula One fame. Then, marvel at the world-renowned Belle Époque Grand Casino, a vision of extravagance and wealth. See the lush gardens, too, before viewing the Hôtel de Paris, a 19th-century grand dame. In the historic quarter of Le Rocher (“The Rock”), admire stunning sea views 200 feet below while strolling past the Prince’s Palace, just in time to see the Changing of the Guard. Nearby, the neo-Romanesque Monaco Cathedral is a vision in white; the Grimaldis, including Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, are entombed here. After seeing the Justice Palace, your tour ends at the Oceanographic Museum, another neo-classical gem.
After lunch on board, perhaps you’ll stroll the streets of Monte Carlo to peruse its monumental architecture. An onboard lecture fills you in on more details about this fascinating region.
Take in the bucolic beauty of Cinque Terre and Portovenere
Nestled along a short stretch of Italy’s breathtaking Ligurian Coast is the Cinque Terre — five tiny villages that date back to the early-medieval period. This national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its colorful, cliff-hugging houses, and steep, winding trails, but today, you’ll explore it by boat with a private guide!
Anchoring at Portovenere, you’ll take a public ferry plying the coastline to visit the villages while checking out the superb views from the water. Explore Monterosso, Vernazza, and Manarola on foot, and gain some insight on the difficult and isolated life of the villages’ inhabitants during the early-medieval period. Lunch is a traditional affair at a local restaurant.
After, return to Portovenere and enjoy a walking tour along its narrow, charming streets up to the church of San Pietro, which sits on a craggy ledge overlooking the Gulf of Poets. A port talk rounds off your day’s discoveries before the Captain’s Reception Cocktail and Dinner Gala onboard.
Arrive in Livorno, and select your choice of tours
This morning upon your arrival in Livorno, you’ll have your choice of full-day tours: Florence and Pisa or Siena and San Gimignano.
If you choose the former, you’ll depart by coach for Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. Upon arrival you’ll meet your guide and set off on a walking tour of the city’s highlights, including the exterior of the domed cathedral of Piazza del Duomo and Piazza del Signoria, as well as Ponte Vecchio, a historic bridge lined with shops. After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll depart for Pisa, home of the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa. Upon arrival, enjoy free time in the town’s bustling Miracle Square.
If you decide on Siena and San Gimignano, you’ll depart by coach for Siena, a city marked by medieval architecture. Upon arrival you’ll embark on a guided walking tour, visiting its lively squares and historic highlights such as Piazza del Campo, the 13th-century City Hall and Torre del Mangia bell tower, the Sansedoni Palace, and the Gaiai Fountain. Then, depart for a locally-owned farm and vineyard, where you’ll be welcomed by the owner and feast on a farm-to-table lunch complete with a tasting of their wines and olive oils. After lunch, you’ll drive to San Gimignano and explore the “Manhattan of Tuscany,” taking in centuries-old towers along its skyline.
Return to your ship this evening and enjoy dinner onboard, complete with local entertainment
Tour Elba, where Napoleon ruled in exile
This morning you’ll arrive at the island of Elba, famed as the site of Napoleon’s first exile, where he was sovereign for close to 10 months. This island is as beautiful as it is historic, with lush hills covered in olive trees, vineyards, and beaches met by ombré blue waters.
Set off on a tour of the island, departing from your port in Portoferraio and stopping at Villa San Martino, Napoleon’s summer residence. Continue to Porto Azzurro, where candy-color houses front the town’s eponymous azure harbor. You’ll have time to stroll the charming streets, perhaps picking up a souvenir from shops selling crafts and crystals. On your way back to the ship, you’ll stop at Punta delle Grotte for a splendid bird’s-eye view of Portoferraio.
After lunch aboard your ship, you’ll have the remainder of the afternoon to explore Portoferraio at your leisure. This evening, enjoy an onboard lecture before your ship sets sail for Livorno.
Sightsee in Bastia, France and savor local wines
Your ship anchors in Bastia this morning, the main commercial port of the island of Corsica. Learn about the how this town became instrumental in Corsica’s development during a tour that starts in Old Town, where you’ll see the magnificent Cathedral Ste. Marie, the governor’s palace, and the Old Port. Then, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the finest parts of the city, including St. Nicholas Square and St. Jean Baptiste Church. Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to admire Bastia’s breathtaking landscapes and small, baroque buildings and chapels.
After lunch onboard your ship, enjoy a scenic drive along the scenic Gulf of St. Florent past rolling vineyards en route to the city center. Here you’ll have time to explore the bustling streets at your own pace, perhaps visiting the local shops or stopping into a café for a hot espresso!
Later, you’ll depart St. Florent and head into the mountains to the vineyards of Patrimonio. Taste the local offerings in the wine cellar and you’ll understand why the whites, rosés, and Moscatos of this region are so famous. Dinner is back onboard your ship this evening.
Explore Olbia in Sardegna with your choice of tours
Cruise into Olbia during breakfast this morning. This seaside city located in the northeast of Italy’s Sardinia region boasts not only a picturesque, palm-line coastline, but also a rich medieval history. Today, take your pick of tours: uncover the city’s history with a half-day tour of Old Sardinia, or discover its wine tradition with a half-day tour of Porto Cervo with a winery visit.
The Old Sardinia option will bring you first to the small village of Luras, where you’ll walk along the shore of lake Liscia and behold olive fields and some of the oldest trees in Europe that date back 4,000 years. Then, you’ll drive to Tempio Pausania, the ancient capital of this region. You’ll tour the old part of tour town and discover historic churches, houses, and mansions before stopping to visit the cork museum.
The Porto Cervo tour will take you on a panoramic drive through this resort town, where you’ll stop and have time to peruse the elegant shops. Then, arrive at the Surrau Winery to learn all about the wine-making process, including which wines are produced here and how the grapes are cultivated and harvested. Finally, enjoy a wine tasting complete with local snacks such as Sardinian cheese and salami.
Back onboard, enjoy an informative lecture before dinner.
Disembark the Ocean Odyssey and take in the highlights of Rome
This morning after breakfast, bid farewell to the Ocean Odyssey and set out to discover Italy’s legendary capital — Rome.
We’ll transfer by motorcoach into the city and enjoy a guided panoramic tour (by motorcoach and on foot) of Rome’s historic center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site with highlights that include the iconic Colosseum, ancient Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, and more. Get a taste of the regional fare during lunch at a local restaurant.
Afterward, check into your hotel and have the afternoon and evening at leisure. Dinner is on your own tonight, giving you the opportunity to sample some authentic Italian cuisine from pasta carbonara to tiramisu. Ask your Program Manager for recommendations!
Discover the UNESCO-listed Vatican city
Have breakfast at your hotel this morning before setting off to enjoy a true Roman highlight: a tour of the Vatican Museums in the UNESCO-listed Vatican City. Enjoy fast-tracking entrance to these world-renowned museums, featuring an exceptional collection of classical sculptures, Renaissance art, and the Michelangelo-painted Sistine Chapel. Following the museums, enter St. Peter’s Basilica — an Italian Renaissance-style church among Christianity’s holiest sites.
Enjoy your afternoon at leisure to make any last-minute discoveries in Rome before joining your travelers for a Farewell Dinner at your hotel. Bid your new friends farewell and toast to the unforgettable memories you’ve made!
Fly home or transfer to Sorrento
Following breakfast this morning, you’ll transfer to the Rome airport for your flight home. Or, continue to Sorrento, Italy for your 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. 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.