Amsterdam to Lisbon Expedition Cruise: A European Tapestry of History and Culture

Amsterdam to Lisbon Expedition Cruise: A European Tapestry of History and Culture

Amsterdam to Lisbon Expedition Cruise: A European Tapestry of History and Culture

Amsterdam to Lisbon Expedition Cruise: A European Tapestry of History and Culture

Travel information 11 days MS Spitsbergen
Departure
November 3, 2022
Price from $ 4,189
$ 3,189
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Check prices and availability Request a quote

Discover the rich history and cultural heritage of Europe’s Atlantic coast as we sail from Amsterdam to Lisbon.

Ancient abbeys, medieval masterpieces, and D-Day battle sites

Setting sail from Amsterdam, take a deep dive into Europe’s fascinating history. Explore Dover, the strategic gateway to England, and marvel at the sprawling castle built atop the famed white cliffs. Then sail to Normandy and walk a beach where the Allied troops landed on D-Day. Then we visit Caen, the medieval town where William the Conqueror left his indelible mark.

In Brittany, stroll through the incredible walled city of Saint-Malo, built by the ancient Gauls and a home for pirates for centuries. Then it’s down through the Bay of Biscay to the rugged northern coast of Spain, looking out for marine wildlife along the way. In Galicia, see the world’s oldest still-functioning extant lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules. Then seek out Celtic links to the past in A Coruña.

Culture, cuisine, and cruising

Get lost in the charming maze of streets around Vigo’s Old Town. When hunger strikes, its many bars and restaurants won’t disappoint. Sample exquisite local Gallego cuisine and savor authentic tapas with your Galician cider. Our cruise of discovery comes to an end in culture-laden Lisbon, the jewel in Portugal’s crown.

Our experienced and knowledgeable Expedition Team is on hand to ensure you have the best possible experience on your cruise. Aboard the comfortable MS Spitsbergen, they host informative lectures about our destinations.

Amsterdam to Lisbon Expedition Cruise: A European Tapestry of History and Culture Amsterdam to Lisbon Expedition Cruise: A European Tapestry of History and Culture
  • Day 1
    Amsterdam, Netherlands

    The city where land meets sea

    November 3, 2022
    Estimated time of departure is 6:00 PM

    Your expedition cruise begins among the cobblestone streets and reflective canals of Amsterdam, the city where land meets sea. Could there be a better place to kick off our cultural exploration of Europe’s Atlantic seaboard?

    Founded in the Middle Ages, Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city with a rich cultural heritage. Located at the estuary of the Ij River, the original settlement was built on islets of moving sand linked by a thousand bridges. Today, water remains pervasive throughout the city.

    Start your exploration by strolling beside these iconic canals and across the old bridges between the rivers Amstel and Ij. Admire the charming townhouses lining the canals of the Grachtengordel. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by wealthy merchants and are now protected by UNESCO.

    If you have some time to spare, head over to the Museumplein (Museum Square), where three of the world's top museums await you. The Rijksmuseum hosts one of Europe’s greatest galleries, known for its unrivalled collection of Dutch masters, including Rembrandt. Meanwhile, the Vincent Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of paintings from the troubled genius, while the Stedelijk Museum is one of the best places to view modern art.

    Ready to move on to the expedition cruise? Your comfortable expedition ship, MS Spitsbergen, will be ready and waiting for you in the port of Amsterdam. Once you board and check in, you’ll receive your complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket. Since we sometimes encounter unpredictable weather along the way, it may come in handy.

    Take time to settle into your cabin and explore a bit of the ship before attending a mandatory pre-departure safety drill. Then, we’ll set off at sea toward our first destination, where we’ll arrive in the morning: the English port of Dover.

    Pre-Program

    There’s plenty to see and do in historic Amsterdam, we recommend extending your stay and booking our optional Pre-Program. Enjoy more time here and discover the city at your own pace in this package, which includes one night in a centrally located hotel. With the Pre-Program, you’ll have a transfer that takes you from your hotel to MS Spitsbergen.

    Day 1
    Amsterdam, Netherlands

    The city where land meets sea

  • Day 2
    Dover, United Kingdom

    Iconic white cliffs and medieval fortifications

    November 4, 2022
    Estimated time of departure is 6:00 PM

    Located facing the narrowest stretch of the English Channel and flanked by spectacular chalk cliffs, Dover has been the gateway to Britain since prehistoric times. Founded during Roman times, the settlement of Dover quickly became the main port between the provinces of Britannia and Gallia Belgica. Its strategic position has remained important ever since.

    Start your day with dazzling views of the Channel on a visit to sprawling Dover Castle, just a short walk from the port. History buffs will love exploring this huge fortress. Admire the Roman lighthouse, the 13th-century gates, and the massive outer defenses built during the Napoleonic Wars.

    Consider paying a visit to the underground barrack tunnels that served as the fire command post during World War I and later as the headquarters of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay during the evacuation of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940.

    There are even more historical sites to explore! Make your way to Dover’s only remaining Norman church, the 12th-century St. Mary’s, which survived the heavy bombing of World War II. Or explore another medieval building that survived the war, the 13th-century Hospital of St. Mary, also known as Maison Dieu, now part of the town hall.

    The Western Heights of Dover are worth a visit if you’re looking for more fortifications to explore. These vast defenses are within walking distance of the port and are made of of forts, strongholds, and ditches built in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Be sure to visit the glorious White Cliffs of Dover, just east of Dover Castle. Continue eastward to the South Foreland Lighthouse for magnificent views or explore picturesque St. Margaret’s Bay, four miles away.

    Day 2
    Dover, United Kingdom

    Iconic white cliffs and medieval fortifications

  • Day 3
    Ouistreham, France

    Steeped in history and medieval charm

    November 5, 2022

    With a rich and turbulent past, Normandy is a region inextricably linked with European history. From the Viking Rollo’s arrival in 911 to being the seat of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066—not to mention the D-Day landings in 1944—Normandy is a captivating mix of medieval abbeys, sprawling beaches, and emotive World War II memorials. Ouistreham is known for its D-Day landing sites connected with Operation Overlord, also called the Normandy Invasion. A 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast was sectioned into five areas, with Ouistreham code-named ‘Sword’. The invasion here was the responsibility of the British Army, with backup from the navies of Norway and Poland. At the Musée de Debarquement No 4 Commando, learn more about the landings and the heavy battle fought here.

    Visit the recreated Germany control tower and other historical artifacts related to the invasion at the Le Grand Bunker - Musée du Mur de l'Atlantique. Then pay tribute to the fallen at the war cemetery of Hermanville-sur-Mer, three miles west of Ouistreham. Afterward, feel the salty Atlantic breeze as you stroll along the beautiful beach at Riva-Bella. Consider visiting the nearby 12th-century church of St. Samson and a lighthouse built in 1905. Located 11 miles from Ouistreham, Caen was named ‘Catumagos’ by the Romans, derived from Celtic terms for ‘combat’ and “fields.’ Fortified by William the Conqueror, who preferred it to Rouen, the city changed hands repeatedly and was occupied several times. Despite heavy bombing during World War II, Caen was rebuilt and has retained its considerable charm. Don’t miss the impressive 11th-century Romanesque church of Saint-Étienne.

    Stroll the pleasant streets and take in the small shops, sidewalk cafés, green parks, and restaurants. Lovers of fine art will enjoy the Musée des Beaux-Arts, housed in the remains of the Château de Caen.

    Day 3
    Ouistreham, France

    Steeped in history and medieval charm

  • Day 4
    Saint-Malo, France

    Citadel by the sea

    November 6, 2022

    Viewed from the sea, Saint-Malo is quite a sight. This gateway to Brittany is fringed by fortified bastions and shallow beaches, creating the impression of a place apart. In fact, Saint-Malo considered itself an independent city state for much of its modern history. Its residents still refer to themselves as malouins, separate from the French and even the Bretons.

    No matter what, set time aside for the circular walk of the ramparts. From the top of the walls, you’ll have the best views of the town and the surrounding islands. You’ll find tributes to Saint-Malo’s most celebrated locals: a statue of the famous pirate Robert Surcouf and a monument to Jacques Cartier, the maritime explorer credited with mapping the Gulf of St. Lawrence and naming Canada.

    The corsairs of Brittany were ruthless privateers, operating under the protection of the king of France. Back home in Saint-Malo, they built fine country homes and were treated as respectable gentlemen. Tour the Château Saint-Malo museum and visit the Privateers House, where you can learn about the town’s pirate heritage.

    At low tide, walk across the sand to the fortified island, Le Grand-Bé, where famous 19th-century writer Chateaubriand is buried. Then gaze across to the Vauban-designed bastion of Fort National on a nearby island.

    A historical trail within the old city walls leads through a maze of cobbled streets, where you can discover what remains of the original town before the Allied bombings of 1944 reduced much of it to rubble. Visit the Gothic-style St. Vincent Cathedral and the distinctive turret of Chateau de la Duchesse Anne.

    Then take a scenic stroll to the nearby village of Aleth, where you can discover more about World War II experiences in Saint-Malo at the Cap-Horniers Museum.

    Day 4
    Saint-Malo, France

    Citadel by the sea

  • Day 5
    At sea

    Sailing the Bay of Biscay

    November 7, 2022

    Today, we’ll enjoy a leisurely sailing across the western edge of the Bay of Biscay on our way to the Galicia region of Spain.

    In Roman days, these waters were named Sinus Cantabrorum after the Cantabri, the Celtic tribe inhabiting the northern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula. Today, the southern portion of the Bay of Biscay, adjacent to the northern Spanish coast, is still called the Cantabrian Sea.

    Relax on deck with your binoculars and look for wildlife. Cetaceans can often be spotted here. In fact, up to one quarter of all the world’s species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been spotted in the Bay’s waters. They are drawn here by the nutrient rich waters around the edge of the continental shelf. You could be lucky and spot a beaked whale, as this is one of the few places in the world where they can be seen.

    If you haven’t already, now is a good time to check out the onboard Science Center. You have abundant information at your fingertips to learn about the marine biology of the seas along our cruise. Take part in hands-on demonstrations, use high-tech microscopes to view marine microorganisms, and learn nature photography tips.

    Join the Expedition Team in the Explorer Lounge for in-depth lectures on different topics related to the days ahead. These might include learning about the history, geography, and environment of upcoming destinations. Don’t forget to make full use of the leisure facilities on board MS Spitsbergen. This is the perfect time to try out the panoramic sauna!

    Day 5
    At sea

    Sailing the Bay of Biscay

  • Day 6
    A Coruña, Spain

    Guided by the light of Hercules

    November 8, 2022

    We continue our Atlantic journey across the Bay of Biscay, towards Finisterre, The End of the Earth in northwestern Spain. Despite its apparent isolation at the edge of the Iberian Peninsula, Finisterre and the rest of the Galicia region have played a central role in Atlantic Europe since prehistoric times.

    Ships sailing to and from the Mediterranean had to navigate the rugged Galician coast and seek shelter from the occasional fury of the ocean in its natural rias. They may look like fjords, but these rias are not flooded glacial valleys like the Norwegian fjords, but rather river valleys flooded after the last glaciation. Their gentle banks hold an age-old allure and have caused farming and fishing to thrive in this region.

    The oldest functioning extant lighthouse in the world, known as the Tower of Hercules, bears witness to this enduring relationship with the sea. Built around 2,000 years ago in Roman times, this tower in A Coruña has survived against all odds and still helps ships navigate the tricky Finisterre coast of Spain and safely enter A Coruña’s natural harbor. The lighthouse has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.

    We expect to dock at A Coruña in the evening. This will give you plenty to stroll into town from the port and visit the unique lighthouse. Galicians, it has long been claimed, are among the toughest fishermen in Spain. Maritime heritage permeates many aspects of life here, as you will discover as you explore.

    Day 6
    A Coruña, Spain

    Guided by the light of Hercules

  • Day 7
    La Coruña, Spain

    Gateway to Galicia

    November 9, 2022

    A Coruña is one of the main cities in Galicia, a region of Spain that is culturally distinct and has its own identity. Galicians speak Galego, a language that is closer to Portuguese than Spanish. The people here are also proud of their Celtic roots.

    Settled by Celtic peoples from at least the first millennium, A Coruña flourished under the Romans. It was conquered during the Arab Invasion at the beginning of the eighth

    century and reconquered shortly after by soldiers under Christian command. And then A Coruña was repeatedly attacked by Vikings in the ninth and tenth centuries.

    Today, the historical center is an enticing mix of charming squares, winding streets, and narrow alleys. It is a perfect city for exploring by foot and home to ancient chapels, Baroque convents, and plenty of Neoclassical architecture. Stroll through the old town and admire the famous glass-fronted buildings by the harbor. Don’t miss the architectural structures at Plaza María Pita and the archeological museum located at the old castle.

    If you didn’t manage to see the Tower of Hercules yesterday evening, be sure to do so today. After your exploration, relax at one of the many bars or restaurants, and sample the unique Galican cuisine. Order a selection of tapas, which might include the classic pulpo a la gallega (Galician octopus) and sample a glass of famous Galician cider, traditionally poured into a cup from a considerable height.

    A Coruña is an excellent base for exploring the highlights of Galicia, including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Roman walls of Lugo and the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela. Join one of our optional guided excursions to explore these two major sites.

    Day 7
    La Coruña, Spain

    Gateway to Galicia

  • Day 8
    Vigo, Spain

    Galician traditions

    November 10, 2022

    Vigo has one of the best natural harbors in Galicia—perfectly sheltered inside a ria and protected by the beautiful Cíes Islands. The city flourished in the 16th century, attracting traders and settlers—along with pirates and other invaders. But Vigo persevered and grew to become Galicia’s main trading and fishing port.

    For centuries, Vigo was the gateway to the Americas. Many Galicians, as well as other Spaniards, emigrated to the New World from here. Even today, people in some Latin American countries sometimes refer to people of Spanish descent as Gallegos, regardless of where in Spain their ancestors came from.

    Vigo expanded eastwards in the 19th and early 20th centuries along the bustling Rúa do Príncipe with an eclectic mix of buildings in neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles. The most impressive structure of all could be the 16th-century Castro Castle and its surrounding park, featuring spectacular views of the town. Nearby, you’ll find the remains of a settlement from the iron age, called Castro—the original settlement where Vigo now stands, from more than 2,000 years ago.

    The port is perfectly located for exploring the city on foot. Vigo is built on the slope of a hill overlooking the ria, which means that almost everything is uphill from the harbor. The old town’s maze of streets are organized around Plaza de Igrexa and the 19th-century neoclassical cathedral of Santa Maria.

    On your way to the square and the cathedral, stop by Rúa da Pescadería, the best street in town to sample the delicious seafood Galicia is famous for. Then stop for a coffee at Praza da Constitución, a lovely square with pretty houses, cafés, and restaurants.

    Day 8
    Vigo, Spain

    Galician traditions

  • Day 9
    Porto, Portugal

    The city of port wine

    November 11, 2022

    MS Spitsbergen will dock at Leixões, an excellent jumping-off point for exploring Portugal. Head north toward the small fortification of Forte Leça de Palmeira and continue along the beach to Avenida Liberdade. You could also visit the lighthouse of Leça, the Chapel of Boa Nova, and the beautiful Praia Azul beach.

    A shuttle bus is available take you the six or so miles to Porto. Famous for its port wine and UNESCO-listed historic center, Portugal’s second-largest city will win you over with its charismatic look and surprise you with its modernity. It’s a place made for strolling, filled with mazes of narrow streets and unique monuments, where everything eventually leads to the Douro River.

    Don’t skip the Church of San Francisco, the Romanesque cathedral with an opulently gilded Baroque interior, or the panoramic views from the top of the Church of the Clérigos. Do you like books? Lose yourself among the magical Neo-Gothic interior among the books) of the beautiful Lello bookstore, discover the Palácio de la Bolsa, and stroll along Avenida de los Aliados.

    Soak up the atmosphere along the bustling riverside promenade at the Ribeira docks, packed tight with pastel-colored houses and beautiful tiled façades. Cross the Douro River along the top deck of the Eiffel Tower–inspired Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge, see the warehouses and port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank, and cross the bridge again along the lower walkway.

    Reward yourself afterward with a refreshing white port and tonic at one of the many lively bars and restaurants on the pier. Built up an appetite? Try Porto delicacies such as the francesinha (a popular grilled meat and cheese sandwich) and the local variant of salt cured cod, called bacalhau.

    Day 9
    Porto, Portugal

    The city of port wine

  • Day 10
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Legendary Lisbon

    November 12, 2022
    Estimated time of arrival is 7:00 AM

    We’ll sail south all morning, so why not join the Expedition Team for more fascinating talks? You could also head on deck to scan the sea for marine life. We expect to arrive in Lisbon in the afternoon, so prepare to discover the ultimate destination on your cruise.

    Located close to the Old Town, Lisbon Cruise Terminal is perfectly situated to explore the historical center of the Portuguese capital on foot. Built on seven hills along the shores of the scenic River Tagus, Lisbon ranks among southern Europe’s most enchanting metropolises—with a fascinating history, to boot.

    The Phoenicians were the first to discover the commercial potential of the Tagus Estuary, but not the last. Lisbon’s strategic location attracted the Celts, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, each of whom occupied the city and left their mark.

    You simply must walk around Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Alfama, the classical districts of Lisbon. Almost everything of historic interest is here, along with a great number of small shops and boutiques. Start at the Praça do Comercio in the Baixa district and make your way to Praça Rossio to see the statue of King Pedro IV. Then head up to Largo do Chiado to explore the narrow streets of Bairro Alto.

    In Alfama’s labyrinthine of narrow streets around the old Muslim quarter, you’ll find Lisbon Cathedral, the remains of the Roman amphitheater, and Castelo de San Jorge, the impressive 11th-century Moorish fortress which offers the best views of the city.

    There are two historical gems you must leave the center to see. Follow the river four miles downstream and visit Torre de Belém and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Closely connected to Portugal’s Age of Discovery and explorers such as Vasco de Gama, Belém is also home of the famously delicious Pastel de Belém custard tart. Don’t pass that one up!

    Day 10
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Legendary Lisbon

  • Day 11
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Farewell in Lisbon

    November 13, 2022

    Our expedition cruise ends at Lisbon. After breakfast, bid a fond farewell to MS Spitsbergen and to the people who made your expedition so memorable, including the Expedition Team and crew members.

    Post-program

    We are confident that your cruise through the fascinating history of Europe’s Atlantic coastline has been fantastic, but you don’t need to go home just yet. Want to explore Lisbon and its surroundings before returning home? We recommend joining our optional Post-Program.

    On this Post-Program, you’ll explore Lisbon’s fascinating historic districts and then resorts outside the city, including the UNESCO World Heritage town of Sintra, Monserrate Palace, and a guided excursion to the beaches of Cascais. Then you’ll return to Lisbon to spend the night.

    As you return home, no doubt you’ll already be planning your next adventure. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon!

    Day 11
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Farewell in Lisbon

Departures

2022

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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in the cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in our Aune restaurant
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • The ship has hot tubs, a sauna with a view, and an indoor gym
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

Landing Activities

  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers will help configure your camera settings before landings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • Air travel
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and, if applicable, ice conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities are expected
A large ship in the water
A group of people posing for the camera
Photo: Stefan Dall / Hurtigruten
A room filled with furniture and a large window
Photo: © Tor Farstad
Your Ship

MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Shipyard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 180
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54 m
Beam 18 m
Speed 14.5 knots
A large ship in the water

MS Spitsbergen will take you on a cruise beyond the ordinary. She cruises along the Norwegian coast from September to May and becomes part of our Global Expedition sailings the rest of the year.

Read more about MS Spitsbergen

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