Silversea’s 10-day Lisbon to London cruise explores a part of Europe that is somewhat off the beaten path—its rugged and wild Atlantic coast. You’ll start in Lisbon, sail north along Portugal, and then into the Bay of Biscay, calling at ports along the green strip of Spain—despite the phrase, the rain does not fall mainly in the plain. Beautiful Bordeaux has private residences in the city along with majestic squares to rival those of Paris, while nearby are some of France’s most stunning chateaux. Farther north, Cherbourg provides a gateway to the sights of Normandy. The cruise concludes in London, though you may want to extend your stay to dive deeper into the cultural riches of the British capital.
This Silversea cruise is also an epicurean odyssey. You’ll have opportunities to savor four of Europe’s great culinary traditions at stops like Oporto, with its fable port wines; Bilbao, where there are opportunities to explore the rich Basque tradition of Spanish cuisine; and Bordeaux, a mecca for gourmets and oenophiles alike.
Your home for this trip is Silver Whisper, a ship that has all the features of a luxury resort, albeit one that calls at different cities each day. You’ll enjoy world-class accommodations, a state-of-the-art spa, and restaurants celebrated for their culinary excellence.
Float above the chateaux of the Bordeaux region in a hot-air balloon for an unforgettable perspective on these stately houses.
Silversea’s small luxury ships are designed for those who want to appreciate every comfort while exploring the world’s most fascinating, and often most remote, places. Silversea voyages and cruise expeditions visit over 900 destinations on all seven continents, more than any other cruise line. You’ll be transported to the most distant corners of the planet while enjoying personalized service, the renowned excellence of the ships’ restaurants, and the convenience of an all-inclusive fare that includes almost all of your onboard expenses.
You’ll begin your journey in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. Spread over seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who are ready to explore its many different neighborhoods. In the oldest of them, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards.
Many of the great monuments and buildings of Lisbon are associated with the great navigators who explored the world in the 15th and 16th centuries and their royal patrons, from the Jeronimos Monastery to the diminutive and iconic Torre de Belem. It’s a fitting city to start your own maritime adventure.
You’ll arrive this morning in Oporto, the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Also called Porto for short, the word brings to mind the city's most famous product—port wine. Oporto's strategic location on the north bank of the Douro River has accounted for the town's importance since ancient times. The Romans built a fort here where their trading route crossed the Douro, and the Moors brought their own culture to the area. Oporto profited from provisioning crusaders en route to the Holy Land and enjoyed the riches from Portuguese maritime discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries. If you are passionate about history, you’ll want to join the Silversea excursion to Guimarães, the first capital of Portugal, where many medieval buildings have been meticulously restored. The tour of Oporto itself with Silversea includes, of course, a tasting of port wines.
Today you’ll have time to bask in life aboard Silver Whisper. Perhaps you’ll want to enjoy a lecture with one of the onboard speakers or choose from less cerebral activities like wine tastings, spa treatments, or borrowing a DVD from the library to watch in your suite.
Time in Bilbao (Bilbo, in Euskera, the Basque language) 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 is not alone, however, in transforming this city that was long known primarily as one of the country’s major industrial centers. The Guggenheim was joined by 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 Alhóndiga Bilbao cultural center.
The city is also a gateway to one of the most beautiful and surprising regions of Spain. The Basque Country is lush, green, and mountainous—a far cry from the more familiar images of dry and hot Andalusia in the south. Silversea excursions include opportunities to hike some of the peaks in the region or visit the symbolic heart of Basque life, the village of Guernica. Travelers motivated by culinary passions may be most interested in the trip to the beautiful 19th-century seaside resort of San Sebastian, famous for its tapas (here known as pintxos) bars and legendary dining clubs.
Days 5 and 6
Like a fine French meal, a visit to the city of Bordeaux should not be rushed—that’s why this itinerary includes an overnight in one of France’s most fascinating and magical cities.
Bordeaux as a whole, rather than any particular points within it, is what you'll want to visit in order to understand why Victor Hugo described it as Versailles plus Antwerp, and why the painter Francisco de Goya, when exiled from his native Spain, chose it as his last home (he died here in 1828). The capital of southwest France and the region's largest city, Bordeaux remains synonymous with the wine trade: wine shippers have long maintained their headquarters along the banks of the Garonne, while buyers from around the world arrive for the huge biennial Vinexpo show (held in odd-numbered years).
With an extended stay in Bordeaux, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of different ways of exploring the city with Silversea: on a bicycle or Segway tour, or even in a hot-air balloon flying over the region’s many chateaux. You can also dive deep into the area’s culinary traditions with a cooking class at the Château Ambe Tour Pourret.
Sail to Cherbourg
Your second day at sea provides a perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. Whether that is watching the blue waters of the Atlantic from the Observatory Lounge, reading a good book on deck, or perhaps enjoying a treatment in the spa, blue sea days are the perfect balance to others spent exploring the ports you will call at on this journey.
You’ll arrive this morning in the city of Cherbourg. Originally a little fishing village, in the 17th century it was developed following designs by the military engineer, the Marquis de Vauban. It was also a strategic naval port during the Napoleonic Wars. Today, it’s better known as a destination for pleasure craft—there’s a marina with over 1000 moorings. Located in Normandy, Cherbourg is a gateway to a region that has provided inspiration for countless artists and writers, a land of apple orchards and rolling farmland dotted with villages of half-timbered houses.
Days 9 and 10
You’ll arrive this morning in Greenwich, about eight miles downstream on the Thames 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. Greenwich will also be your base while exploring London. Silversea overnights here too, so you’ll have more time to explore the city’s countless world-class museums, historic palaces and castles, and its famous shopping and restaurants. It is truly among the handful of cities that can truly claim the title of global capital. Silversea’s excursions include walking tours close to your ship in Greenwich, others in London itself, and ones farther afield to destinations like Windsor Castle. While it will be hard to pass on the temptation to spend more time in London, if you don’t choose to extend your stay, Silversea can arrange a transfer to Heathrow and your flight home.