European Coastal Civilizations: Lisbon to Bordeaux
This unique seven-night cruise aboard the exclusively chartered Five-Star M.S. L’Austral to coastal Portugal, Spain and France celebrates the cuisines and wines of our ports of call—and includes visits to up to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites!
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Save $1,000 when you book by September 17, 2015!
This unique nine-day itinerary captures the historical legacies and dynamic cultures of coastal Portugal, Spain and France. Cruise for seven nights aboard the exclusively chartered, Five-Star M.S. L’Austral and visit up to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. The exclusive C'est Bon! Culinary Traditions™ program led by our culinary expert Kristine Kidd celebrates the cuisines and wines of our ports of call through lectures, demonstrations and tastings. Call at Oporto in Portugal’s renowned wine country. Walk in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela. Visit the illustrious Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Tour quaint St Jean de Luz, and Biarritz and Bayonne. Lisbon Pre-Cruise and Bordeaux Post-Cruise Options.
Day 1 — U.S.
Depart the U.S.
Day 2 — Lisbon, Portugal
Arrive in Lisbon and embark the Five-Star M.S. L’Austral. (D)
Day 3 — Leixões for Oporto
Dock in Leixões, northern Portugal’s principal port, and transfer to Oporto, a former Roman outpost and the hub of the country’s world-famous port wine trade since the 13th century. Oporto’s historic city center, Ribeira, is a picturesque neighborhood of medieval streets lined with colorful houses and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the Gothic Church of São Francisco and the neoclassical Stock Exchange, with its intricately gilded Arabian Hall inspired by the famous Moorish Alhambra palace. The city showcases great artistic and architectural treasures that remain from the Moorish period, when previous Greek and Roman influences, alongside Jewish and Christian life, created a coexistence of cultures in which disciplines like algebra, medicine, optics, horticulture, art and architecture flourished.
During the “Robust Flavors Of Oporto” C’EST BON! CULINARY TRADITIONS™ option, enjoy a specially prepared lunch in Oporto’s oldest district, where a celebrity chef introduces you to traditional Portuguese specialties. Afterward, tour the cellars of a renowned port wine producer and enjoy a tasting among the seasoned oak casks.
Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and dinner this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Day 4 — La Coruña, Spain, for Santiago de Compostela
On today’s excursion, travel into the oak and pine-forested hills of Galicia, one of Spain’s self-governed principalities influenced by its Roman, Germanic, Moorish and Castilian heritage, infused with an unexpected Celtic atmosphere. Golden-hued granite buildings grace its well-preserved capital, Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where almost completely pedestrianized streets lead to the expansive Plaza del Obradoiro and the city’s grand Romanesque cathedral. A national monument and pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages, the cathedral was built to enshrine the tomb of St. James, who preached on the Iberian Peninsula, and is recognized for its distinctive Baroque façade, original medieval portico and incomparable Churrigueresque altar. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Santander for Bilbao
From Santander, transfer to Bilbao, surrounded by the verdant Basque Mountains. Discover this dynamic and sophisticated city with a stop in the historic casco Viejo (old quarter) and the promenade of El Arenal, a popular route for Bilbainos’ evening paseos (leisurely strolls). Enjoy a guided architectural tour of the iconic Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art with time to stroll through the galleries of modern and contemporary art.
Basque cuisine is a ritual of love passed down through generations. During the “Pintxos: A Basque Tradition” C’EST BON! CULINARY TRADITIONS™ optional excursion, sample a variety of traditional Basque pintxos (tapas) in a 16th-century caserio (country house) located in an idyllic setting just outside of Bilbao. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, for Biarritz, Bayonne
Arrive in the lovely Basque town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Walk through the old town and visit the Church of St. John Baptist, built between the 15th and 17th centuries and home to a monumental Baroque altarpiece.
Continue to chic Biarritz, principal French bathing resort of the Bay of Biscay, once a summer retreat for nobility and today known for lovely coastal scenery, and silvery sand beaches and the picturesque seafront promenade.
Nearby Bayonne, chief town of the French Basque region, is an attractive fortified town with ramparts dating from the Roman era, ramparts from the reign of Francois I in the 16th century and ramparts designed by the famous 17th-century architect Vauban. A walk through Bayonne’s perfectly preserved old town, filled with tall townhouses accented in typical Basque reds and greens, highlights the history and lifestyle of the Basque people. Reboard the ship in Bayonne. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — La Rochelle, France, Île de Ré
Dock in the bustling port city of La Rochelle where luminous limestone facades glow in bright coastal sunlight. La Rochelle was once the Knights Templar’s largest base on the Atlantic Ocean; Frenchmen from this area later emigrated to North America and eventually founded Montréal, Canada; and during World War II it became a German naval stronghold and the last French city to be liberated. Today, the picturesque harbor is filled with boats moored in serried ranks.
On Île de Ré, one of the island jewels of the French coast, see the UNESCO World Heritage site Fortifications of Vauban built by the preeminent military engineer of his age, who, under Louis XIV, masterminded the consolidation of France’s borders.
Although La Rochelle has thrived on its wine and salt trade throughout history, it is perhaps most famous for its fresh seafood. During this last C’EST BON! CULINARY TRADITIONS™ optional excursion, sample the flavors of the port’s lively markets in a distinguished local venue featuring locally farmed oysters, vegetables and meats. You also have an opportunity to learn about the local process of distilling renowned Cognac, complimented with a tasting of the refined brandy. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Bordeaux
Port of the Moon in lovely Bordeaux is a veritable feast of Enlightenment-age architecture from as early as the 13th century, and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site of outstanding universal value. See the18th-century Place de la Bourse, an enormous, highly-ornamented town square and the beautiful 14th-century Porte Cailhau, the original gate to the city. Admire the grosse cloche on the belfry of the town hall, one of the city’s best-known landmarks; the bell was cast in 1775 and rings six times per year for major celebrations. Tour the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Andre, where Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII, King of France, then see the charming 18th-century riverfront where the wine trade began. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Join the Captain on board the ship for the Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)
Day 9 — Bordeaux, U.S.
Disembark the ship and continue on the Bordeaux Post-Cruise Option or to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.