Spring in the Towns & Gardens of the Atlantic Edge

Spring in the Towns & Gardens of the Atlantic Edge

From GBP £3,795


Join the MS Serenissima in Lisbon next spring for this coastal voyage of some 1500 miles to Portsmouth visiting some marvellously historic and scenic places along the way. Giving the large ports a wide berth, we will instead call into some places away from the well traversed routes of the larger cruise lines and have allowed time to explore the horticultural splendours and delightful towns of the region in depth.

We will witness some splendid gardens in all their springtime glory, step into the pilgrimage cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, spend time exploring some of Brittany and Normandy’s charming villages and towns and taste some local ports and wines. Added to this we have the benefit of remaining moored overnight in Oporto allowing the opportunity to dine ashore and enjoy the pretty old town which is so atmospheric in the evening. All this is combined with the rich maritime history of the region and the sheer beauty of the coastal landscapes making for an endlessly fascinating cultural experience.

Trip Name
Spring in the Towns & Gardens of the Atlantic Edge
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 107 (from Dec 2018 - 95) Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2018 We are delighted to have had the MS Serenissima on long term charter since 2013. There are so few ships of her generation still cruising and the fact that she is is a great testament to her owners who invest considerable sums to keep her in top form. In December 2018, the vessel will once again undergo a significant refurbishment after which she will accommodate a maximum of just 95 guests. MS Serenissima is a charming vessel and one of her best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During a major refit the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels. The vessel is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft allowing us to visit remote places where normal tender arrangements are not possible. The European Captain, Officers, Expedition Staff, and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere on board is warm and welcoming and dedicated to discovery and relaxation. AIR-CONDITIONING The ship is air conditioned throughout. Please note that only the Serenissima Suites have individually controlled air-conditioning. DAILY PROGRAMME A Daily Programme, detailing the following day’s arrangements as well as any specific information about the day’s activities is produced onboard and delivered to your cabin each evening during the turn down service. DINING, DRINKING AND DIETARY REQUIREMENTS The Venice Restaurant onboard serves international cuisine and accommodates all guests at a single open seating. Tables seat 4 to 10 diners. In addition, there is an outside dining area for when the weather and itinerary permit. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style, dinner is waiter service only. Complimentary (red and white) house wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Bar drinks and other beverages with meals are not included; these may be purchased onboard and paid for at the end of your cruise. Complimentary tea and coffee are available between 07:00 hours and 23:00 hours at the tea and coffee station located in the Andrea lounge. Please advise of any special dietary requests in advance. DISABLED FACILITIES The ship can accommodate passengers with mobility restrictions and wheelchair dependent passengers in cabin 407, which has a wider door and no step into/out of the bathroom and shower area. There is a lift serving decks 3 to 6, but there is no stair lift. DOCTOR A medical doctor is available on board 24 hours a day. A fee is charged for any consultations and medication prescribed. Please ensure you carry adequate supplies of any regular medications you may require.  ELECTRICITY The electrical outlets in the cabins and public areas are 220V and take a two-round-pin plug (as in continental Europe). There is a 110/220V, 60Hz outlet for electric shavers in the bathroom. We recommend that you bring an international adaptor. GRATUITIES Gratuities to crew and whilst on excursions are included in the cost of your holiday. INTERNET The onboard library has a computer equipped for email/internet access and Wi-Fi access is available in public areas, although you will require your own laptop, tablet or smartphone, and charges apply – 100mb for €15 Euros, or 500mb for €25 Euros. Please note that connection is dependent on weather conditions and location. LANGUAGE All members of the crew speak English. MONEY The following payment methods are accepted for settlement of shipboard accounts: Cash (Euros or British Pounds), Credit Card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express), Debit Card (MasterCard and Visa). Please note that personal cheques and Travellers’ Cheques are not accepted. PUBLIC AREAS • Andrea Lounge (on Deck 5). The bar is open from 11.00 until 24.00. • Harald Jarl Lounge (on Deck 5). There is a small library here with books and games. There is also a computer for public use (charges apply for internet access) • Lido area (on Deck 5) with a Jacuzzi and fitness room with two running machines • Observation Deck (access from Deck 5 lido area) • Deck 5 and Deck 6 outside seating areas SNORKELLING Snorkelling equipment is kept onboard. Please note that there is no snorkelling from Zodiacs. All snorkelling stops will operate from a beach.  TELEVISION The ship is equipped with a satellite TV system which receives 15 channels. TV reception depends on the satellite dish and on occasion it may not be possible to receive a signal. There is one central video channel on which it is possible to listen to the lectures delivered in the Andrea Lounge. There is also a channel for the ship’s camera located in front of the ship. ZODIACS Some destinations may require the use of Zodiacs to go ashore. These are usually on expedition cruises though may sometimes be used on destination cruises.  PLEASE NOTE: Deck plan varies for 2019 cruises, no inside cabins.


Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Lisbon, Portugal.
Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the MS Serenissima. Embark and sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Figueira da Foz for Coimbra.
Located at the mouth of the Modego River, Figueira da Foz is one of central Portugal’s prime beach resorts. However our reason for coming is actually inland and the nearby city of Coimbra, the Medieval capital of Portugal for over 100 years, and the site of the country’s greatest university for the past five centuries. On a walking tour we will view the stunning buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries, including the Paco das Escolas (Royal Palace) and the Monastery of Santa Cruz, before we head to the university which was recently appointed UNESCO status. After a local lunch you can choose to return to Figueira da Foz or stay longer in Coimbra to explore independently. Perhaps visit the Botanical Gardens, created in the 18th century and designed to complement the Natural History and Medicinal Studies taking place at the university.
Day 3 - Days 3 & 4 - Oporto.
Continuing our journey in Portugal we arrive this morning into the port of Leixoes, the base for our two days of activities around Oporto. During our time here we will arrange a number of tours including Oporto where we see the impressive St. Francis Church and the Ribeira, a riverside quarter made up of narrow, twisting streets and shadowy arcades, before continuing to a local port wine cellar. Here you will be able to learn all about the wines and how they are produced. The keen gardeners can join a drive to the 17th century Casa do Campo which has been with the Meireles Pereira Leite Teixeira Coelho family since its foundation and whose origins go back to the 12th century, where it started out as a part of a group of 29 farmhouses that established the Santo Andre de Molares Parish. The Baroque style garden was built in around the 18th century and is crossed by a unique and graceful set of pathways of boxtrees and trimmed camellias, and through these alleyways we find stone tables, fountains and a pond surrounded by cylinders, rings, sunshades, arches and camellia cupulas making it one of the most artistic gardens in Portugal. Maybe visit the Quinta de Aveleda, located in the heart of the Vinho Verde Demarcated Region, which creates a young fresh wine with a low alcoholic content and a lightly fruity flavour. Learn about the wine which has been created here since 1947 before exploring the beautiful park and gardens with rare specimens of trees, shrubs and flowers which surround the Manor House. There will also be the opportunity for free time to explore at your own pace and maybe visit the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal, a wonderful park with a rose garden offering superb views over Oporto and the River Douro. We will moor overnight and offer a shuttle service into Oporto for anyone who wishes to dine ashore at one of the waterfront restaurants.
Day 4 - Day 5 - Villagarcia De Arousa, Spain.
Arriving in Galicia we spend a relaxing morning in the port of Villagarcia De Arousa. After lunch on board, visit the nearby Pazo de Rubianes, originally founded in 1411 and one of the three official lordships in Spain. Enjoy a guided walk through the stunning gardens, famous for their thousands of camellias but also home to eucalyptus trees, sequoias and camphors. Also visit the Pazo’s extensive vineyards and learn about the local Albarino wine production, before exploring the historical palace itself. Enjoy a wine tasting before returning to the ship.
Day 5 - Day 6 - Santiago de Compostela.
From our berth in La Coruna we will make our way to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia. The city’s cathedral is the destination of the important Medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St James (in Spanish the ‘Camino de Santiago’), which is still walked today. For those keen to walk some of the route there will be the chance to hike a short section towards Santiago. Otherwise transfer directly to the site where we will visit the Conventual de San Francisco, the Faculty of Medicine and the world-famous Plaza del Obradoiro. Inside the cathedral, we will visit the Romanic crypt and see the facade of Platerias; the Quintana Plaza; House of Parra; facade of Azabachería; and the facade of San Martin Pinario. Enjoy lunch at a Parador and some free time before returning to the ship this afternoon and sailing.
Day 6 - Day 7 - Gijon.
Gijon is the largest city in Asturias and our base for a day of exploration. This morning you can choose to visit nearby Oviedo, the modern capital of the Asturias region. Oviedo is recognised as the most culturally significant and historically interesting city of the province and, after a panoramic drive, we begin a walking tour where we will see the San Salvador Gothic Cathedral before exploring the restored Old Town decorated with beautiful sculptures. Alternatively remain in Gijon and explore the city including the 18th century Revillagigedo Palace and the university building before spending time at the 25 hectare Atlantic Botanic Gardens which specialises in flora and fauna that thrives in the Atlantic zone and is split over four zones including the Cantabrian and historic gardens. Return to the ship for lunch and the afternoon is free to explore independently. Maybe take a walk in the Cimavilla (old town) area or find a spot to enjoy a glass of the local cider.
Day 7 - Day 8 - At Sea.
After a busy few days take the chance to relax as we spend the day at sea. Our lecture programme continues in the lounge or find a spot on deck to watch the world go by.
Day 8 - Day 9 - Douarnenez, France.
This morning we arrive in the Finistere region of France and the port of Douarnenez which prospered as a major centre for the sardine industry in the 19th century. Traces of these days still show in the architecture and old fisherman’s houses that line the harbour, whilst at the Port Musee you may find a number of traditional boats at anchor. Today you can choose to join a half day tour to Locronan, one of the most picturesque and preserved Medieval Breton villages which grew from the manufacture of sailcloth. Visit the 15th century church, remarkable for its stone vaulting and stained glass windows, before walking through the craft workshops. You might also be tempted to taste the famous “kouignamann”, a traditional Breton butter cake. Return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and this afternoon will be at leisure to relax on board or to explore this lovely town at your own pace.
Day 9 - Day 10 - Cherbourg.
After a morning at sea we arrive in Normandy at lunchtime to the port of Cherbourg. In its heyday the port was a regular call for transatlantic vessels including a call from the Titanic in 1912, and a museum to the ship can be found close to the port. This afternoon we will drive to the east of the city along the Cotentin peninsula and enter the Saire Valley, a charming area of green landscapes and market gardens. We will stop in the village of Barfleur, an attractive and well-preserved fishing port frequented by the Dukes and Kings of England in the Middle Ages. From Barfleur continue on to Saint Vaast la Hougue. Famous for the Battle of La Hougue that took place in 1692, Saint Vaast La Hougue is now a renowned centre of oyster production. Remnants of the decisive battle in the War of the Grand Alliance are everywhere. The imposing fortifications which still protect the port date back to 17th century. The atmosphere here today is relaxed compared to the past, with the moor, cliffs, inlets and the sea crashing over the pebbled beach. Return the ship and you may wish to spend some time in Cherbourg before we sail tonight.
Day 10 - Day 11 - Portsmouth.
Disembark this morning. Transfers will be provided to Portsmouth Harbour Railway station and to our departure London airport at a fixed time.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
23-04-201903-05-2019GBP £0Standard Single
23-04-201903-05-2019GBP £0Standard Stateroom
23-04-201903-05-2019GBP £0Superior Stateroom
23-04-201903-05-2019GBP £0Deluxe Stateroom
23-04-201903-05-2019GBP £0Junior Suite
23-04-201903-05-2019GBP £0Owners Suite


    • Discover the city of Coimbra, the Medieval capital of Portugal for over 100 years, and the site of the country’s greatest university for the past five centuries
    • Visit Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia
    • Explore Gijon is the largest city in Asturias