9 nights onboard Le Lapérouse

London to Lisbon: Cruising Europe's Western Shores aEUR" with Smithsonian Journeys

In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.

This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.

Set sail with PONANT aboard Le Lapérouse for a 10-day cruise along the coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal.

Embark in London, England, the cosmopolitan capital of the United Kingdom, and begin with a night aboard ship docked near London Bridge. Your ship then continues down the River Thames, through the Strait of Dover, and along the English Channel.

From Caen, France, whose thousand-year-old castle was built during the reign of William the Conqueror, choose to venture further afield in Normandy to Omaha Beach, where Allied forces launched their attack against German troops during the D-Day invasion of WWII.

Your next call is in Saint-Malo, a charming seafaring town on the coast of Brittany and the gateway to magnificent Mont-Saint-Michel. This iconic medieval town on a tidal islet with its famed citadel and abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

After a day at sea, Le Lapérouse sails into Bilbao, on the northern coast of Spain. Between daring architecture, including the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the continuation of its ancestral traditions, you will bear witness to the cityâs unique energy.

A Coruña, on Spain's northwest coast, is a major shipping port with a long maritime history, tracing back at least as far as the Phoenicians. The Tower of Hercules, built by Emperor Trajan, is a UNESCO World Heritage siteâthe only Roman lighthouse still in use. More recently, the city played important roles in the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and in the Napoleonic Wars on the Iberian Peninsula in the early 19th-century.

Your journey will continue the city of Vigo in southwest Galicia. Not far from here, Santiago de Compostela awaits you for an extraordinary visit. This Christian pilgrimage destination is home to a number of monuments from the Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque periods, testimony to its illustrious past.

From the port of Leixões, you will visit Porto, Portugal. The capital of Portugal's northern region, this âcity of graniteâ is renowned for its wine but also for its remarkable historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Your voyage ends in Lisbon, Portugalâs buzzing capital.

Leaving from: London (Greenwich)
Cruise ship: Le Lapérouse
Visiting: London (Greenwich) London (Greenwich) Caen Saint-Malo
Ponant Logo
Ponant

When searching for a luxury yacht expedition cruise, there’s one name above all else that you need to know – Ponant Cruises. Founded in 1988 by former French Merchant Navy officers, Ponant combines succulent luxury with authentic adventures on all seven continents.

From classic Mediterranean itineraries and Caribbean sailings, to bucket-list expeditions around Greenland and Antarctica, Ponant cruises proudly counteract the banality of mainstream voyages with a unique take on the concept of small-ship cruising. It’s the absolute trip of a lifetime.

184
Passengers
110
Crew
2018
Launched
10700t
Tonnage
128m
Length
18m
Width
6
Decks
EUR
Currency
Cruise Itinerary
Days 1 - 2
London (Greenwich), England
Day 3
Caen, France
Day 4
Saint-Malo, France
Day 6
Bilbao, Spain
Day 7
La Coruña, Spain
Day 8
Vigo, Spain
Day 9
Leixões, Portugal
Day 10
Lisbon, Portugal
London (Greenwich), England image
Days 1 - 2
London (Greenwich), England
About 8 miles downstream—which means seaward, to the east—from central London, Greenwich is a small borough that looms large across the world. Once the seat of British naval power, it is not only home to the Old Royal Observatory, which measures time for our entire planet, but also the Greenwich Meridian, which divides the world into two—you can stand astride it with one foot in either hemisphere. Bear in mind that the journey to Greenwich is an event in itself. In a rush, you can take the driverless DLR train—but many opt for arriving by boat along the Thames. This way, you glide past famous sights on the London skyline (there’s a guaranteed spine chill on passing the Tower) and ever-changing docklands, and there’s usually a chirpy Cock-er-ney navigator enlivening the journey with his fun commentary. A visit to Greenwich feels like a trip to a rather elegant seaside town—albeit one with more than its fair share of historic sites. The grandiose Old Royal Naval Hospital, designed by Christopher Wren, was originally a home for veteran sailors. Today it’s a popular visitor attraction, with a more glamorous second life as one of the most widely used movie locations in Britain. Greenwich was originally home to one of England's finest Tudor palaces, and the birthplace of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Mary I. Inigo Jones built what is considered the first "classical" building in England in 1616—the Queen's House, which now houses a collection of fine art. Britain was the world’s preeminent naval power for over 500 years, and the excellent National Maritime Museum> details that history in an engaging way. Its prize exhibits include the coat worn by Admiral Lord Nelson (1758–1805) in his final battle—bullet hole and all. The 19th-century tea clipper Cutty Sark was nearly destroyed by fire in 2007, but reopened in 2012 after a painstaking restoration. Now it’s more pristine than ever, complete with an impressive new visitor center. Greenwich Park, London's oldest royal park, is still home to fallow red deer, just as it has been since they were first introduced here for hunting by Henry VIII. The Ranger's House now houses a private art collection, next door to a beautifully manicured rose garden. Above it all is the Royal Observatory, where you can be in two hemispheres at once by standing along the Greenwich Meridian Line, before seeing a high-tech planetarium show. Toward north Greenwich, the hopelessly ambitious Millennium Dome has been successfully reborn as the O2 and now hosts major concerts and stand-up comedy gigs. More adventurous visitors can also go Up the O2 on a climbing expedition across the massive domed surface. Meanwhile, those who prefer excursions of a gentler kind may prefer to journey a couple of miles south of the borough, farther out into London’s southern suburbs, to the shamefully underappreciated Eltham Palace. Once a favorite of Henry VIII, parts of the mansion were transformed into an art deco masterpiece during the 1930s.
Caen, France image
Day 3
Caen, France
Saint-Malo, France image
Day 4
Saint-Malo, France
Thrust out into the sea and bound to the mainland only by tenuous man-made causeways, romantic St-Malo has built a reputation as a breeding ground for phenomenal sailors. Many were fishermen, but others—most notably Jacques Cartier, who claimed Canada for Francis I in 1534—were New World explorers. Still others were corsairs, "sea dogs" paid by the French crown to harass the Limeys across the Channel: legendary ones like Robert Surcouf and Duguay-Trouin helped make St-Malo rich through their pillaging, in the process earning it the nickname "the pirates' city." The St-Malo you see today isn’t quite the one they called home because a weeklong fire in 1944, kindled by retreating Nazis, wiped out nearly all of the old buildings. Restoration work was more painstaking than brilliant, but the narrow streets and granite houses of the Vieille Ville were satisfactorily recreated, enabling St-Malo to regain its role as a busy fishing port, seaside resort, and tourist destination. The ramparts that help define this city figuratively and literally are authentic, and the flames also spared houses along Rue de Pelicot in the Vieille Ville. Battalions of tourists invade this quaint part of town in summer, so arrive off-season if you want to avoid crowds.
Bilbao, Spain image
Day 6
Bilbao, Spain
Time in Bilbao (Bilbo, in Euskera) may be recorded as BG or AG (Before Guggenheim or After Guggenheim). Never has a single monument of art and architecture so radically changed a city. Frank Gehry's stunning museum, Norman Foster's sleek subway system, the Santiago Calatrava glass footbridge and airport, the leafy César Pelli Abandoibarra park and commercial complex next to the Guggenheim, and the Philippe Starck AlhóndigaBilbao cultural center have contributed to an unprecedented cultural revolution in what was once the industry capital of the Basque Country.Greater Bilbao contains almost 1 million inhabitants, nearly half the total population of the Basque Country. Founded in 1300 by Vizcayan noble Diego López de Haro, Bilbao became an industrial center in the mid-19th century, largely because of the abundance of minerals in the surrounding hills. An affluent industrial class grew up here, as did the working class in suburbs that line the Margen Izquierda (Left Bank) of the Nervión estuary.Bilbao's new attractions get more press, but the city's old treasures still quietly line the banks of the rust-color Nervión River. The Casco Viejo (Old Quarter)—also known as Siete Calles (Seven Streets)—is a charming jumble of shops, bars, and restaurants on the river's Right Bank, near the Puente del Arenal bridge. This elegant proto-Bilbao nucleus was carefully restored after devastating floods in 1983. Throughout the Casco Viejo are ancient mansions emblazoned with family coats of arms, wooden doors, and fine ironwork balconies. The most interesting square is the 64-arch Plaza Nueva, where an outdoor market is pitched every Sunday morning.Walking the banks of the Nervión is a satisfying jaunt. After all, this was how—while out on a morning jog—Guggenheim director Thomas Krens first discovered the perfect spot for his project, nearly opposite the right bank's Deusto University. From the Palacio de Euskalduna upstream to the colossal Mercado de la Ribera, parks and green zones line the river. César Pelli's Abandoibarra project fills in the half mile between the Guggenheim and the Euskalduna bridge with a series of parks, the Deusto University library, the Meliá Bilbao Hotel, and a major shopping center.On the left bank, the wide, late-19th-century boulevards of the Ensanche neighborhood, such as Gran Vía (the main shopping artery) and Alameda de Mazarredo, are the city's more formal face. Bilbao's cultural institutions include, along with the Guggenheim, a major museum of fine arts (the Museo de Bellas Artes) and an opera society (Asociación Bilbaína de Amigos de la Ópera, or ABAO) with 7,000 members from Spain and southern France. In addition, epicureans have long ranked Bilbao's culinary offerings among the best in Spain. Don't miss a chance to ride the trolley line, the Euskotram, for a trip along the river from Atxuri Station to Basurto's San Mamés soccer stadium, reverently dubbed "la Catedral del Fútbol" (the Cathedral of Football).
La Coruña, Spain image
Day 7
La Coruña, Spain

Situated on the northwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, the city of La Coruña (or A Coruña, its official name) is the closest European port to New York. And perhaps in keeping with its location, the coastal city itself is charming blend of old and new, filled with culture, splendid architecture and fascinating museums, along with pristine beaches and open spaces. La Coruña is also the gateway to Galicia, one of the most verdant and scenic regions in Spain.

Vigo, Spain image
Day 8
Vigo, Spain
Dating from Roman times, the Galician city of Vigo has a fine natural harbour and is renowned as the biggest fishing port in the world. It is also full of history - it was in this fjord-like quay that the English and Dutch defeated the French and Spanish fleets in 1702. Today, the attractive marinas stand in contrast to the industrialised areas of the city, while further exploration will reveal the characteristic 17th-century architecture and attractive countryside beyond. The charming Old Town is a delight, with its labyrinth of winding narrow streets and shaded squares. Nearby is the Cathedral city of Tui, and further to the north is the pilgrimage centre of Santiago de Compostela, which can be reached by car in approximately 1¼ hours.
Leixões, Portugal image
Day 9
Leixões, Portugal
Ever since the Romans constructed a fort here and began using it as a trading post, Oporto has been a prosperous commercial centre. In the 15th and 16th centuries the city benefited from the wealth generated by Portugal’s maritime discoveries, and later, the establishment of a lucrative wine trade with Britain compensated for the loss of the spice trade. Today, Portugal’s second-largest city is a thriving, cosmopolitan place and is famous for its production of the fortified, sweet 'port' wine. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was also awarded the status of European Capital of Culture in 2001. A large sandbar prevents ships from sailing into Oporto itself, so for over a century they have used nearby Leixões instead, a man-made seaport constructed nine miles from the city. Leixões is one of Portugal's major sea ports and is also home to one of the country's oldest football clubs, winners of the Taça de Portugal cup in 1961.
Lisbon, Portugal image
Day 10
Lisbon, Portugal

Set on seven hills on the banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon has been the capital of Portugal since the 13th century. It is a city famous for its majestic architecture, old wooden trams, Moorish features and more than twenty centuries of history. Following disastrous earthquakes in the 18th century, Lisbon was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal who created an elegant city with wide boulevards and a great riverfront and square, Praça do Comércio. Today there are distinct modern and ancient sections, combining great shopping with culture and sightseeing in the Old Town, built on the city's terraced hillsides. The distance between the ship and your tour vehicle may vary. This distance is not included in the excursion grades.

Ship Details
Ponant
Le Lapérouse

Featuring innovative and environmentally-friendly equipment, elegantly designed cabins, spacious suites with large windows, and lounge areas that open onto the outside, this new limited-capacity yacht boasting just 92 cabins and suites∘ will offer you a truly unique cruising experience.

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