Your expedition cruise north starts off in lovely Lisbon.
If you have time, a tour of Lisbon's classical districts is essential – almost everything of historic interest is here. Start your exploration at the Praça do Comercio in Baixa and walk towards the narrow streets of Bairro Alto.
From there, you'll arrive at Alfama and the old Islamic quarter, the remains of the Roman amphitheatre and the Moorish fortress. If you’ve time, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Torre de Belém and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, where you'll also find the delicious pastéis de Belém.Pre-Programme
To give yourself enough time to take in Lisbon’s many sights and the coast of Portugal before boarding MS Spitsbergen, extend your stay by joining our exciting Lisbon Pre-Programme. You’ll visit the impressive Monserrate Palace with its gardens, before heading to Cape Roca – the westernmost point of mainland Portugal, continental Europe and indeed the Eurasian land mass.
Arriving in Portugal, we dock at Leixoes. From here, you can see the Lighthouse of Leça, the Chapel of Boa Nova and the beautiful Praia Azul beach.
You can take a shuttle bus to Porto – famed for its port wine and UNESCO-listed historic centre. An undulating city made for strolling, you'll fall in love with the pastel houses, colourful tiled facades, street art, ornate churches and panoramic views across the Douro.
Stroll along the bustling Ribeira Docks promenade, cross the Dom Luís I bridge, snack on delicious petiscos and enjoy wine tastings at the port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.
This picturesque fishing village has a name derived from ‘Finis Terrae’, meaning ‘Land’s End’ in Latin. Fisterra owes its name to the Romans, who thought its rocky cape was the end of the world. People come here to enjoy the magnificent landscapes of the cape and the lighthouse, which you’ll be able to see on an included bus excursion.
Fisterra sits on the Costa da Morte – or Coast of Death, in a wide and open ría, and can at times be exposed to swell, making landing difficult. If that’s the case, we’ll dock at Brens, a nearby port, instead.
Galicia is a region of Spain that’s culturally distinct - and Galicians are proud of their Celtic roots. We’ll overnight in A Coruña, enjoying excellent opportunities for an after-dinner stroll into town and a chance to see the two-millennia-old lighthouse of Torre de Hercules.
While here, why not sample the unique gallego cuisine. Ask for a selection of tapas and sample a glass of famous Galician cider – traditionally poured into the mouth from a height.
A Coruña is an excellent base from which to explore some of the highlights of Galicia, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Santiago de Compostela.
Our next stop is Ferrol, located a couple of hours sailing northwest from A Coruña along the rugged coast of Galicia. Originally a small fishing hamlet, it’s been Spain’s main naval base for almost three centuries, and is today being considered for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of several pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, Camino Ingles, also known as the English Way, starts here. Walk on your own the first stage to Neda or Pontedeume, or join an optional excursion to the highlights of northern Galicia, including the UNESCO-listed Roman walls of Lugo.
Take the opportunity to relax on deck with your binoculars and look out for whales, dolphins and porpoises. This is one of the few places in the world where beaked whales can be seen – if you’re lucky – as they’re drawn to the nutrient rich waters of the Bay.
You can also learn about the marine biology of the seas along our cruise, with hands-on demonstrations and in-depth lectures about the history, geography and environment of the destinations to come. And don’t forget the leisure facilities on board – why not try out the panoramic sauna?
In the picturesque seaside town of Dourarnenez, you'll find the colourful quaysides, sandy beaches and steep cliffs that inspired famous painters like Renoir and Boudin. As well as fishermen’s huts and seamen’s chapels, Dourarnenez hosts a wonderful maritime museum with boats from around the world. On an included excursion, we’ll take you to the dramatic Pointe du Raz, one of the westernmost headlands of Brittany.
If conditions don’t allow a visit to Dourarnenez, nearby Brest is a fascinating maritime city with many medieval fortifications. Here, you’ll discover the National Naval Museum – inside the military fortress of Chateau de Brest. Brest is a modern city too, with lively quays and docks that are perfect for a scenic stroll. We’ll top the day off with an included visit to nearby Pointe Saint-Mathieu, where you’ll discover the ruins of an abandoned abbey.
Located on the southwestern peninsula of Britain, the idyllic county of Cornwall is the next stop on our journey. Enjoy a stroll from the fishing port of Newlyn to either the lively town of Penzance or the picturesque village of Mousehole.
If conditions allow, our expedition boats will take you to St. Michael’s Mount, a tidal island boasting subtropical gardens topped by a castle. We also include a visit to mainland Britain’s most south-westerly point, Land’s End. This iconic landmark is a hotspot for coastal birdlife, and the inspiration for age-old myths and legends.
This enchanting archipelago 30 miles off the tip of Cornwall is home to some exquisite small islands. If conditions allow, we’ll split our time here. You can explore Tresco’s white sandy beaches and its renowned 19th Century Abbey Gardens, or St. Mary’s, the largest of the Scilly Isles.
Alternatively, join a trip around the archipelago, visiting shipwreck sites, spying seals lying on the rocks and cruising around the bird sanctuary of Annet to observe the puffins and numerous other breeding seabirds.
Nestled between the Preseli Hills and the Pembrokeshire coast is the charming Welsh coastal town of Fishguard. You’ll find the original hamlet and harbour in Lower Fishguard, and spectacular sea views from the ‘Main Town’ above.
A short drive away from Fishguard is the UK’s smallest city of St Davids - more a village than a city. You can explore this small settlement as part of an included activity. The dramatic nearby headland marks the divide between the Irish and the Celtic Sea, and is the most westerly point in Wales. Explore this spectacular coastal spot and the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastal path here.
Approaching the seaside town of Peel, you’ll immediately notice the imposing ruins of Peel Castle looming over the port. This mighty fortress gives you a taste of what awaits you on this enigmatic island.
Feel history beneath your feet as you wander the winding lanes of merchants’ houses and explore the ruined buildings of Peel Castle. Learn about the island’s modern history of high-speed racing in museums showcasing vintage bikes and cars. In the House of Manannan, you’ll see the replica Odin’s Raven, a Viking longboat that was sailed here from Norway.
At just six-miles long and one-mile wide, Rathlin Island is ideal for exploring by bike or on foot. Choose from scenic clifftop walks or the many rambler trails where you can admire the natural beauty and take in the sights and sounds, including large colonies of breeding seabirds.
Visit the RSPB Seabird Centre and the working ‘upside-down’ lighthouse perched on the cliffs. You’ll also have time to pop into the Boathouse Visitor Centre to learn about island life, local history and the many historical shipwrecks in nearby waters.
Our expedition cruise exploring some of Europe’s rugged islands and coastlines ends in Glasgow. Set against a backdrop of splendid Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture, Glasgow has reinvented itself as a stylish and exciting city, full of museums, galleries and lively spots to eat, drink and shop. Head west from the centre to view the eclectic art and natural history collections of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. Design fans will enjoy spotting the mark of Charles Rennie Macintosh dotted across the city. What better way could there be to round off your cruise!Post-Programme
If you want to get a taste of Scotland’s two main cities, why not extend your stay by booking our Post-Programme. You’ll see the main sights of Glasgow, as well as the magnificent Edinburgh Castle – and a night in Edinburgh is included.