Bilbao, Spain
The Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art in Bilbao, Spain

European Coastal CivilizationsA luxury cruise featuring Spain, Portugal and France

Apr 27 - May 5, 2014 (Call to Inquire)
Explore the history, arts, and cuisine from Lisbon to Honfleur aboard the deluxe L'Austral
Call 855-330-1542 or Ask Us a Question

Sail from Lisbon to Honfleur on this popular cruise to explore key historic sites and learn about the enduring yet dynamic cultures found along the western coasts of Portugal, Spain, and France, accompanied by popular historian Dianne Konz. From Lisbon, cruise to the charming city of Oporto on the Duoro River in Portugal’s renowned port wine country. In Spain, you'll walk in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims on St. James Way in Santiago de Compostela; cruise the breathtaking Costa Verde; and observe the intriguing balance of ancient and modern in Bilbao, with a visit to the illustrious Guggenheim Museum. Farther north, survey the sheer cliffs and rolling moorlands of France’s Belle-Île-en-Mer, and explore the U.K.'s charming Guernsey Island. Acclaimed historian Professor Dwight David Eisenhower II, grandson of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will share his personal insights during an onboard lecture and accompany you to the hallowed beaches of Normandy 70 years after Allied Forces made their historic D-Day landings. Your cruise then concludes in Honfleur.

Extend your stay with a Pre-Cruise Optional Extension in romantic Lisbon and/or a Post-Cruise Optional Extension in cosmopolitan Paris.

April 27-28 — U.S., Lisbon, Portugal, Embark M.S. L'Austral

Depart the U.S. for Lisbon. Upon arrival the next morning embark the M.S. L'Austral. (R,D)

April 29 — Leixões, 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. Visit the Gothic Church of São Francisco in the historic city center, a World Heritage site, and the Stock Exchange, with its elaborate Arabian Hall inspired by the famous Moorish Alhambra. (B,L,D)

On an optional culinary excursion,* enjoy a specially prepared lunch in Oporto’s oldest historic district where a celebrity chef introduces you to traditional Portuguese specialties. Then, tour the cellars of a renowned port wine producer and enjoy a tasting among the seasoned oak casks.

April 30 — La Coruña, Santiago de Compostela
Today’s excursion travels 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, and steeped in an unexpected Celtic atmosphere. Golden‑hued granite buildings grace its well-preserved capital, Santiago de Compostela, a World Heritage site. Here mostly pedestrian streets lead to the expansive Plaza del Obradoiro and the city’s grand Romanesque cathedral, a national monument built to enshrine the tomb of St. James, who preached on the Iberian Peninsula. A pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages, the church is recognized for its distinctive Baroque façade, original medieval portico, and incomparable Churrigueresque altar. (B,L,D)

May 1 — Santander, Bilbao
From Santander, transfer to nearby Bilbao, surrounded by the verdant Basque Mountains. Bilbao is home to architect Frank Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art. Enjoy a guided architectural tour of this marvelous structure with time to stroll through the galleries of modern and contemporary art. Afterwards, enjoy an orientation tour of the historic casco viejo (old quarter) and the promenade of El Arenal, a popular route for Bilbainos’ evening paseos (leisurely strolls). (B,L,D)

On today’s optional culinary excursion* learn more about Basque pintxos, or tapas, in a historic setting in the oldest café in Bilbao.

May 2 — Belle-Île-en-Mer, France
Spend the morning at sea and in the afternoon anchor at Belle-Île-en-Mer, France’s “Beautiful Island,” off the coast of Brittany. Much of the island’s current population is descended from repatriated Acadian colonists who returned to France from Acadia (Nova Scotia) in 1755. Explore the charming island community of Le Palais and visit the 18th-century Vauban Citadel, a World Heritage site. Admire the unique beauty of the island’s stunning Côte Sauvage on a panoramic tour, highlighting the “wild coast” that has inspired artists from the time of Romans and medieval monks to the modern French Impressionist Claude Monet. (B,L,D)

During the optional wine tasting* aboard ship this evening, sample Spanish and French wines and Calvados, an apple brandy from the lower-Normandy region.

May 3 — Guernsey, Channel Islands, United Kingdom
An English outpost located off the coast of France, Guernsey is a fascinating mosaic of fishing villages, greenhouses, and fields dotted with its well-known chestnut‑brown-and-white dairy cows. The island’s distinct culture is a delightful amalgam of English tradition and French lifestyle. Its capital, St. Peter Port, is an old Regency town distinguished by granite buildings and wrought-iron garden railings. It was here that Victor Hugo lived in exile from 1855 until 1870 and wrote Les Miserables. See the remnants of Germany’s occupation of the Channel Islands, a launching point for invading Great Britain during World War II. Visit the German Occupation Museum and drive along the coastal road to Vazon Bay and Fort Hommet to see the permanent fortifications constructed to keep a German foothold in Europe. (B,L,D)

May 4 — Caen, Normandy Beaches, France
Dock in Caen and travel through the scenic countryside to the historic Normandy Beaches. In the company of historian David Eisenhower, walk where Allied forces landed at the direction of his famous grandfather, on June 6, 1944. Step respectfully among the solemn crosses and Stars of David in the American Military Cemetery at St. Laurent, overlooking Omaha Beach. Envision the brave American rangers who scaled 200‑foot heights to capture German gun emplacements at Pointe du Hoc. See remnants of Mulberry Harbor, constructed to support Allied landings, and then view exhibits chronicling the campaign at the D-Day Museum. David Eisenhower’s exclusive onboard lecture will provide new insights to your visit. As an alternative to this excursion, you may choose to see the famous 230‑foot‑long Bayeux Tapestry, a stunning visual chronicle of the Norman conquest of 1066. (B,L,R,D)

May 5 — Honfleur, Disembark, Paris, Return to the U.S.
Disembark the ship in Honfleur and travel to Paris for your return flight to the U.S. or continue with the Post-Cruise Optional Extension in Paris. (B)

*Optional excursions are available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.