Follow in the wake of the ancient Spanish and Portuguese mariners on this extraordinary cruise around the Iberian Peninsula. Begin in Granada at
the incomparable Alhambra Palace, then embark Sea Cloud II in Málaga, transit the Strait of Gibraltar and visit Seville, Lisbon and Porto. Experience the grandeur of the great pilgrimage cathedral at Santiago de Compostela and the cutting edge design of Frank Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Learn about the strategic importance of these great Portuguese and Spanish cities, enjoy the rhythms of fado and flamenco and sample outstanding wines and distinctive regional cuisines.
Thursday–Friday, May 17–18
Home / Granada, Spain
Depart home on an overnight flight to Granada. Upon arrival, transfer to the Hotel Alhambra Palace, with spectacular views of the Alhambra fortress and the historic center of Granada. Hotel Alhambra Palace
Saturday, May 19 – Granada
This morning enjoy a walking tour of Old Granada, visiting the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), a lavish mausoleum built by Ferdinand and Isabel to commemorate their victory over the Moors, and the impressive Cathedral, one of only two Renaissance churches in Spain. After a special welcome reception and dinner, enjoy a private evening visit to the Alhambra, one of the most remarkable fortresses ever built. This 14th-century hilltop fortress palace, built by the Nasrid kings, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Spain’s most visited attraction. Explore the refined, elegant Nasrid Palaces, built around the Courtyard of the Lions, and the splendid Generalife Gardens, one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. Its Court of the Water Channel, framed by flowerbeds, fountains, colonnades, and pavilions, is considered a superior example of a medieval Persian garden. Hotel Alhambra Palace (B,L,D)
Sunday, May 20 – Granada / Malaga (Embark)
Travel by motorcoach to Malaga, birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Visit the Picasso Museum, where 285 of the artist’s works, donated by members of his family, are on display. After lunch, transfer to the port of Malaga for embarkation. Sea Cloud II (B,L,D)
Monday, May 21 – Seville
The Sea Cloud II docks this morning in the port of Cadiz for a full-day excursion to Seville, capital of Andalucía and Spain’s fourth-largest city. First established as a Roman provincial capital, Seville flourished under the Moors during the Middle Ages and reached new heights of prosperity during the Age of Discovery. Visit the lovely Reales Alcazares, a Mudejar palace and gardens built on the site of a former Moorish fortress. Walk through the charming Santa Cruz Quarter (the Jewish Quarter in the Middle Ages) and visit the Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the burial site of Christopher Columbus. Enjoy a traditional tapas lunch and a private flamenco performance at a local tablao. Sea Cloud II (B,L,D)
Tuesday, May 22 – At Sea
En route to Lisbon, enjoy a full day at sea, a continuation of the lecture program, and, weather permitting, an opportunity to experience the ship under sail. Sea Cloud II (B,L,D)
Monday, May 23 – Lisbon, Portugal
Built on seven low hills, Lisbon commands a view of its superb natural harbor at the mouth of the Tagus River. Our visit to this grand Old World city includes two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Belem Tower, an elegant 15th century structure built to defend the city from attacks; and the Jeronimos Monastery, the jewel of Manueline architecture, where the renowned Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama is buried. Enjoy a performance of fado, Portugal’s poignant traditional music, and visit the superb Gulbenkian Museum, whose collections span every major epoch of Western art.
Tuesday, May 24 – Porto
After a morning of cruising, arrive in Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city and a thriving economic center with considerable charm. Visit the Palacio da Bolsa, a 19th-century palace that is now home to Porto’s stock exchange. As most of the world’s port wines are blended and aged in Vila Nova de Gaia, a suburb across the Douro River, a private port wine tasting is the perfect way to cap off a visit to Porto.
Wednesday, May 25 – Islas Cies, Spain
Take tenders ashore for an afternoon in Islas Cies, an archipelago off the coast of Galicia that is part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park. Once a pirates’ haunt, the Cies today are uninhabited and pristine, with beautiful beaches, clear unpolluted water, and redolent
Thursday, May 26 – Santiago de Compostela
From the port of La Coruña, drive to the pilgrimage town of Santiago de Compostela, which for centuries has drawn pilgrims from all over the world. Here, according to legend, a 9th-century peasant led by the light of a shining star discovered the tomb of Saint James (Santiago) in a field. In the beautiful medieval heart of the city, visit the enormous cathedral, begun in 1075 and expanded in the 16th and 18th centuries. Observe a specially arranged swinging of the famous botafumeiro (censer) and enjoy lunch in a Gothic-arched dining room in one of Spain’s most celebrated paradores.
Friday, May 27 – At Sea
During a final day at sea, enjoy the conclusion of the lecture program and a festive farewell reception and dinner.
Saturday, May 28 – Bilbao
Disembark and visit Bilbao’s crown jewel, award-winning architect Frank Gehry’s masterpiece, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. This icon of 20th-century architecture contains a collection of some of the most intriguing artworks of our age. Enjoy a typical Basque lunch and an afternoon and evening free for independent exploration.
Sunday, May 29 – Bilbao / Home
Transfer to the airport for flights home.