21-day Western Europe – Moors, Celts, and Fjords

Expedition ship: Midnatsol

50% off 2nd guest.  From $6,015* pp

April 17, 2017

cruiseNORWAY recommends: Hurtigruten Voyages

Discover intriguing histories and living cultures, from Casablanca in Morocco to the fjords of Norway. See structures including the Tower of Hercules and the Moorish Castle’s Tower of Homage. Witness wild natural beauty and prehistoric remains on several of the British Isles. Our onboard team of experts are geographers, geologists, and biologists. They will give lectures during the whole expedition to make your journey even more fascinating and illuminating.

A Journey through Millennia of Europe’s History

On this expedition, you will experience the beauty of Moorish legacy and the might of Celtic heritage. We start by exploring the Iberian coast of Spain and Portugal. After a short stop in France, we enjoy the almost-tropical landscapes of the Isles of Scilly. Then we sail along the rugged west coast of Ireland to the windswept beauty of the British Isles. We visit Scotland and Germany and cross the North Sea before reaching Bergen, the gateway to the Norwegian fjords.

The Perfect Time to Visit Europe

Spring is wonderful time to travel in Europe. You can expect nice, warm days with sunshine, but not the extreme heat of the summer. The weather should be just perfect for your activities ashore and relaxing days on board. Take pleasure in the first warm, sunny days of the year on the open decks and watch the sunset from the comfortable observation lounge with a delicious cocktail in hand and in the company of like-minded people.

You will have many new experiences during the landings, where you will gain insight into the ways of life of the people in the different countries, discover their unique histories by visiting important UNESCO World Heritage sites, and be impressed by the incredible scenery you’ll observe all along the way.

If you like diversity and want to visit the most intriguing spots in Patagonia and Antarctica, this expedition is for you. Starting in Ushuaia, we cross the ocean to explore the wonders of the Deep South in Antarctica. Come ashore on isolated beaches, get close to huge colonies of penguins, hike in the haunting landscapes and enjoy kayak trips in untouched waters with icebergs floating by.

Itinerary

Day 1 Casablanca, Morocco

Your enriching 21-day voyage up the European coastline starts in Casablanca. This exotic city has a rich heritage where various cultures and traditions live harmoniously together. Here, the past is ever-present in the traditional ways of life and in the crafts that have remained unchanged for centuries. We recommend a visit to the colorful souks (open-air markets) before departure. Everybody should be out on deck when the ship sails slowly from Casablanca’s harbor. You’ll surely notice the The Hassan II Mosque. The seventh largest mosque in the world, 105,000 faithful can pray here at the same time. Regardless of your religion, everyone is impressed by this beatiful monument.

Day 2 Gibraltar, British Overseas Territory

The rich diversity of Gibraltar’s nature draws many visitors every year. The Rock of Gibraltar is home to Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the friendly, charming, and inquisitive Barbary apes (although the species is commonly referred to as an ‘ape’, it is actually a macaque, an Old World monkey), Europe’s only wild primates, that have lived here for centuries. The history of Moorish Gibraltar began with the landing of the Muslims in Hispania in 711 and ended with the fall of Gibraltar to Christian hands 751 years later. The Moorish Castle’s Tower of Homage is the largest surviving remnant of Moorish Gibraltar. At the foot of the cliff you find the town center, a charming little piece of Britain. Gibraltar is also a popular destination for birdwatchers. Each spring and autumn, the Rock becomes a staging area for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds flying between their breeding grounds in northern Europe and their wintering areas in tropical Africa.

Day 3 Cádiz, Spain

Cádiz is generally considered the oldest city in the Western world. The Phoenicians founded the town around 1100 B.C. Later, the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors all found their way into the city. The historic city is still surrounded by vestiges of the old city wall and is worth a visit. Also take some time to enjoy the seafood, churches, and museums and explore the narrow streets while Atlantic waves crash against the seawalls. We reach the harbor of Cádiz in the morning. Cádiz is almost totally surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, and only connected with the mainland by a very small isthmus. Long beaches with fine, white sand invite you to set your feet into the Atlantic. The climate here is very mild, with an average temperature of 17.6°C/63.7°F throughout the year.

Day 4 Portimão, Portugal

Portimão is a popular vacation  resort on the Algarve coast. The weather is among the best in Europe and offers around 300 days of sunshine each year. Portimão is a commercially oriented town with 35,000 inhabitants, and its location at a natural harbor at the mouth of the Arade River has caused it to be associated with many famous smugglers and pirates in the past. Join us today on an optional excursion to Lagos, one of the most interesting towns on the Algarve coast. Throughout history it has been inhabited by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Moors. Later, Lagos became the launching point for Henry the Navigator’s caravels of discovery to Africa. It was also the site of the first slave market in Europe in 1444.

Day 5 Lisbon, Portugal

One of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon offers centuries of heritage and charm. Visit the city’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery – or simply explore the city at your own pace, discovering the many hidden gems of Portugal’s capital. The tranquil old city is near the harbor area, so you will have enough time to explore the city and its famous buildings, such as the Neo-Gothic 148-foot-high Santa Justa Lift (elevator) built by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel. Or sit and relax in one of the nice restaurants, café, or bars to watch the ways of life in Lisbon.

Day 6 Leixões (Porto), Portugal

Leixões is the port of Porto and one of Portugal’s major seaports. Unlike the the brilliant natural harbor of La Coruña, Leixões is a man-made harbor 2.5 miles north of the mouth of the Douro River. Guests will enjoy a short and interesting tour from Leixões to Porto. Ribeira is Porto’s historic center, located at the northern bank of the Douro River and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Boat tours in replicas of the traditional ‘Rabelo boats’ allow you a perfect view of the historic city from the riverside. While exploring the city, don’t miss Porto’s cathedral from the Reconquista period. The cathedral has been remodeled in the Baroque and Rococo styles. Because you can find many churches and other buildings here in the Baroque style, Porto is also described as the ‘City of Baroque’. Porto and the Douro Valley are also the home of Port wine, and you should take this opportunity to visit one of the famous distilleries.

Day 7 La Coruña, Spain

La Coruña is a city full of history. The Phoenicians, Celts, and Romans all lived here and used the sheltered harbor at this isthmus in northwest Spain. You will get a first glimpse of the 180-foot Hercules Tower, the oldest Roman lighthouse still in use today, as we pass it on our way into the harbor. The oldest part of the city, known popularly as ‘Cidade’ (City), is built on an ancient Celtic castro. Today La Coruña is well known for its characteristic glazed-window balconies, called ‘galerías’. As you walk through the city, don’t miss the very famous Avenida Marina. On this street you will find the very well-known, multilevel, traditional Galician buildings with elegant glass façades that have become became an architectural symbol for La Coruña.

Day 8 Bay of Biscay 

Take this opportunity to get to know the ship and its facilities. The expedition team has also prepared informative lectures so that you will be well-prepared for the landings tomorrow. Relax with a cocktail or coffee in the bar or observation lounge and enjoy the marvelous meals in the restaurant.

Day 9 Brest, France

Brest is situated at the western tip of Brittany. Since medieval times, Brest has been an important port and naval base. Richelieu first recognized the advantages of the location as a port and constructed a harbor with wooden wharves in 1631. This soon became a station for the French navy. Today, we will have the chance to explore Brest and its surroundings, which include impressive landscapes and historical sites.

Day 10  Isles of Scilly, UK

Just 28 miles off the southwest tip of Britain, we find the small, beautiful archipelago of the Isles of Scilly. Discover its white-sand beaches, beautiful landscapes, and a rich, fascinating history, including a huge number of prehistoric remains. The islands are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and are home to rare species of birds and plant life, many of which are unique to Scilly.

Day 11 Cobh, Ireland

Cobh is found on the largest island in Cork Harbour. The island has a history dating back to pre-Christian times. The town itself is relatively new; it was founded in the 17th century. Cobh’s varied history includes a reputation as a health and seaside resort, but it is probably best known for being the country’s main emigration port during the 19th century. Close by, we find Cork, Ireland’s second-largest city. Most of Cork’s finest monuments can be found in the heart of the city, including the Crawford Art Gallery located next to the Opera House. Just five miles away is Blarney Castle, containing the famous stone said to give the ‘gift of eloquence’ to all who kiss it.

Day 12 Dublin, Ireland

Originally founded as a Viking settlement, the city evolved into the Kingdom of Dublin and became the island’s primary city following the Norman invasion. With its rich Celtic heritage, Trinity College, Ha’ Penny bridge, stunning cathedrals, friendly people, bars, and fiddle players, Dublin is one of few European cities that offers a combination of fascinating history and fashionable modernity that pervades the tightly packed, song-enlivened streets of Ireland’s beloved capital.

Day 13 Douglas, Isle of Man

Fiercely proud of its diverse culture and fascinating heritage, stunning natural landscapes and unspoiled beaches, the Isle of Man has a captivating story to tell that stretches back thousands of years. Legend has it that the Island’s name came from the Celtic sea god Manannan Mac Lir, who protected the land from invaders by shrouding it in a cloak of mist.

Day 14 Iona and Staffa, Scotland

Visiting the Inner Hebrides and the tiny island of Iona, you have a chance to see Iona Abbey, a church of historical and religious interest to pilgrims and visitors alike. It is the most elaborate and best-preserved ecclesiastical building surviving from the Middle Ages in the Western Isles of Scotland. Later, we continue to Staffa. This small island is well known for its basalt columns and Fingal’s Cave, the inspiration behind Mendelssohn’s overture of the same name.

Day 15 Stornoway, Scotland

It might have been the first visitors to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland who created the phrase ‘wild and woolly’, for that is a most fitting description of Scotland’s westernmost islands. Deep glens and fjords dominate the Isle of Lewis, and its main town, Stornoway, was originally settled by the Vikings and was developed around its sheltered natural harbor. We will spend a day here exploring its beautiful surroundings.

Day 16 Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

Kirkwall is the largest town and the capital of the Orkney Islands, situated off the coast of mainland Scotland and dominated by the famous St. Magnus Cathedral. The first mention of a settlement is in a saga from 1046 A.D., and the name Kirkwall derives from the Norse ‘Kirkjuvagr’ (Church Bay). Today, Kirkwall has a population of 8,500, and is one of the most attractive and well-preserved small towns in Scotland.

Day 17 Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland

Leith is situated just a few miles from Edinburgh. After London, Edinburgh is the most visited city of the UK. With streets steeped in history and a thriving cultural scene, Edinburgh offers the perfect balance between the traditional and contemporary. The UNESCO World Heritage Site at the heart of the city combines the medieval Old Town, the Georgian New Town, and award-winning modern architecture. Explore mysterious winding streets, elegant terraces, and an abundance of shops, bars, and restaurants. From the well-known Edinburgh Castle you will have a magnificent view of this cosmopolitan city surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The castle is at the heart of Scotland’s history, and here you will find the crown jewels and the famous ‘Stone of Destiny’.

Day 18 The North Sea

This day will be spent sailing toward Bremerhaven. Our expedition team will starting wrapping up our onboard lecture series, and you can enjoy the lectures, the view from the observation lounge, or relax in one of our outdoor Jacuzzis..

Day 19 Bremerhaven, Germany

Where the River Weser and the North Sea waters meet, you’ll find Bremerhaven. The town was founded in 1827, and even though it is a relatively new city, it has a rich history as a trade port that stretches back to the 9th century. Bremerhaven offers a fantastic mix of maritime history and modern flair – and excellent shopping!

Day 20 The North Sea

Enjoy a relaxing day at sea with onboard lectures while we set a course toward Norway..

Day 21 Bergen, Norway

The journey ends in Bergen, the gateway to the fjords. Stroll through the picturesque streets of Bergen and enjoy famous sites including Håkon’s Hall and Rosenkrantz Tower, St. Mary’s Church, Bergen Harbor, and the famous fish market. And don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage houses of Bryggen!Poets, painters and philosophers have long been drawn to Chile’s most unusual city, described as both colourful and poetic.­ After disembarking, join us on a sightseeing tour before we take you to your hotel in Santiago de Chile.

About the MS Midnatsol

MS Midnatsol has a strong environmental profile and a modern design. The interior’s bright, colourful décor is inspired by the warm sunny climate, a motif also reflected in the many pieces of Norwegian modern art on display. She is also a TV star, being featured in the award winning documentary “Hurtigruten 365”, made by Norwegian TV. On deck 9 you find the sun deck and a Jacuzzi. Key qualities of the MS Midnatsol include the large, two-story panorama lounge above the bow, and the large glass expanses that allow natural light to enter, while providing extraordinary views.

MS Midnatsol is an ice class 1X ship and equipped with advanced technology, making her very well suited for expedition voyages in Antarctica. In 2016 she will begin to take explorers on adventures to Patagonia and Antarctica.

Deck Plans

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Deck 9

Cabins

Expedition Suite

Our Expeditions Suites are the most exquisite cabins on the ship. Situated on upper deck, you can enjoy the most comfortable suites on board. Inside you will find seating areas with TV, bathrooms with shower/wc and most of them have double beds. All of the suites offer cabin kits, which contains bathrobe, slippers and other beauty articles.  Some of the suites do have more facilities than others.

Arctic Superior

Relaxation and comfort are the hallmarks of our Arctic Superior cabins. Situated on both upper and middle deck, they all have bathrooms with shower and WC. They are also equipped with tea and coffee -making facilities. Most of them have separate beds, where one doubles as a sofa, and some have double beds. All the cabins have individual specifications.

Upper deck with limited view (QJ)

Lean back in these large, relaxing cabins with double beds. Most cabins have sofa groups. You will also find TV and minibar at your disposal. These cabins are situated on upper decks with limited or no view.

Top deck (U)

Enjoy these comfortable outside cabins, situated on top/upper decks. These cabins have separate beds where one doubles as a sofa.

Upper deck for 2 persons (P)

Enjoy these comfortable outside cabins, situated on upper or middle deck. These cabins have separate beds where one doubles as a sofa

Polar Inside

Our cosy Polar Inside cabins can be found on all decks. All cabins include bathrooms with shower/WC. Most of the cabins have separate beds where one doubles as a sofa, while some are equipped with a double bed or upper and lower berths. All the cabins have individual specifications.

Polar Outside

Our Polar Outside cabins are situated mostly on middle or lower deck and all have bathrooms with shower/WC. Some have double beds, others offer separate beds (where one is a sofa bed) or upper and lower berths. All the cabins have individual specifications.

* 50% off promotion reflects pricing of two guests sharing a cabin, with one guest at full price and the second guest at a savings up to 50% of the voyage-only price. All prices listed  are per person, double occupancy, in USD, in an inside cabin, unless otherwise specified, and valid for new FIT bookings. Prices are subject to change to change without notice. This offer can be combined with the Ambassador discount for past passengers and the Child discount. Offer is not combinable with Canada discount.

Call us now to secure a cabin. We offer the right cruise at the right price. Call 1-800-334-6544 (U.S.) or +1-212-480-4521 (International) or go to How to Book