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Day by Day Itinerary

Portuguese cities which launched discoveries around the world … Moroccan minarets and palaces from which sultans ruled an empire … Spanish lanes enlivened with flowerpots and the sound of flamenco … a British territory with over a millennia of history. Experience the crossroads of Europe and North Africa in singular style aboard a cruise ship small enough to navigate not only the grandest harbors from Lisbon to Casablanca but smaller ports and rivers all the way to the heart of Seville. On our NEW Small Ship Cruise Tour, you’ll be immersed in diverse cultures: enjoying language lessons, meeting local people, and spending time in a Moroccan village. From ancient histories to modern cities, the bountiful gifts of the region will be on full display.

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    Depart today on your flight to Lisbon, Portugal. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times. Or begin your discoveries early with our pre-trip extension to Porto, Portugal.

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    Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal, where a Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to the harbor where you'll embark the Corinthian, your home for the next seven nights.  Onboard, you'll meet your fellow travelers during an included lunch.

    This evening, toast to the discoveries ahead during a Welcome Briefing, followed by a Welcome Dinner.

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    The Corinthian anchors this morning in Portimao, a city on the Algarve known for its sailing culture. While aboard ship this morning, enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event: a Portuguese language lesson that will introduce you to some of the most useful phrases and expressions.

    You’ll then be able to put those phrases to use when you disembark to visit Lagos, a town with a maritime history both celebrated and controversial: While Lagos was important to Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator during the 15th and 16th-century Age of Discovery, it was also once the heart of the European slave trade. After a walking tour, depart for Sagres, home to Cape St. Vincent, often called “The End of the World,” because it is not only the most southwesterly locale in Portugal but the last slip of land in continental Europe.

    Here, you’ll explore the Fortress of Sagres, which Henry the Navigator, as part of his quest to position Portugal as a vanguard in world exploration, constructed in the 16th century to defend the important shipping lanes. Strengthened and expanded over the next two centuries, the fortress as we see it was finished in 1793. The site also contains a 16th-century chapel and a compass rose made of stones.

    You return to your ship in time for lunch and set sail. Enjoy dinner onboard this evening.

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    Anchoring in Casablanca, your Moroccan discoveries begin with a shipboard Discovery Series lesson in the version of Arabic that you will hear spoken throughout this portion of your trip.

    This morning, get to know Casablanca, or “Casa,” as the locals say, during an included walking tour. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca boomed from a small hamlet in 1515 to a 20th-century powerhouse under French rule, becoming the heart of Moroccan industry along the way. You'll see this confluence of influences during your tour, including  the Neo-Gothic Casablanca Cathedral, known as the Church of the Sacred Heart during its first decades as a Catholic institution and now a secular cultural center. You'll also discover the main square at Place Mohammed V. Outlined with civic buildings, including the tile-fronted home of the King of Morocco, this elegant square ends in the palm tree-lined Arab League Park.

    You'll witness a source of national pride at the Hassan II Mosque, site of the world's tallest minaret, a slender tower rising nearly 700 feet that shines a green laser beam toward Mecca at nightfall. With room for 25,000 worshippers inside and 80,000 outside, the largest of Morocco's mosques was funded entirely by donations from Moroccans, and has become the symbol of the city.

    Discover a blend of cultures when you enjoy an included tour of Habous, the “new” medina (the Arabic word for city), which was designed in 1930 to blend Moroccan market culture with French influences. Here, you'll also see the Mahkama, a 60-room reception hall for the Pasha of Casablanca—a parliamentary building which houses the court of justice—that showcases a Spanish-Moroccan style.

    Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. Then the rest afternoon is yours to continue discovering Casablanca on your own, or to relax. You'll dine with your fellow travelers onboard tonight.

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    Anchor this morning in Tangier, a city with a swirling mixture of French and Arabic influences. After breakfast, you'll enjoy an included city tour that offers a multi-sensory display. You'll hear a multitude of languages, catch the aroma of exotic spices, and witness the colorful clamor of traditional bazaars as you enjoy a panoramic tour of the city's main boulevards.  But you'll also get a sense of its natural splendors as your tour culminates with a visit to the forested mountain slopes of Rmilate.

    At the Grand Souk, you'll take in the traditional sights and sounds of a medina. As you peruse the labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, you'll have the chance to admire all types of local fare. You'll then drive to the 500-year-old fortified town of Asilah, perched above the Atlantic coast, where you'll enjoy a brief walking tour, as well as a Home-Hosted Lunch with a local family, an exclusive Discovery Series event. After, you'll have the opportunity to return to the medina to make your own purchase or two—be it a handful of fresh olives or a piece of handwoven clothing.

    This evening, enjoy an included dinner onboard.

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    This morning, you’ll anchor in Gibraltar, located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The promontory here has been settled for more than a millennium, first by Phoenicians and then, in turn, by Arab sultans and Spaniards. Today it’s a British territory. You’ll begin the day’s included tour with a visit to the Windmill Hill Cemetery—also known as the Jews’ Gate Cemetery. Here are located the oldest Jewish gravestones in Gibraltar, the oldest one dating back to 1746.

    After a brief walk here, you’ll visit the famed Rock of Gibraltar, a 1,300-foot limestone tower that is literally the stuff of legend, known in ancient times as one of the Pillars of Hercules (the other being located across the Strait of Gibraltar in Morocco).

    You’ll then ascend to St. Michael’s Cave, perched 980 feet above the sea, to witness its dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. Then catch a glimpse of Barbary macaque monkeys in the only European colony home to this species. You’ll also discover a man-made wonder as you navigate a network of underground military tunnels created by the British.

    Later this afternoon, enjoy a ride in a cable car, following by an included lunch at a local restaurant. After, behold a glimpse of the past during a walking tour of Gibraltar’s ancient walls—a collection of gates, walls, and bastions surrounding the inner city. First built by the Moors, later modifications were made by both the Spanish and the British. Today, the government of Gibraltar is in the process of restoring the structures to their original beauty and might.

    Enjoy an included dinner onboard this evening.

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    Unlike larger cruise ships, the Corinthian is small enough to sail up the Guadalquivir River and dock right in the heart of Seville, saving you a transfer and arrival by motorcoach. After breakfast, you'll go directly ashore in this city of flowerpots and tapas bars, the birthplace of Don Juan and a favorite for romance-seekers. Legend says Seville was founded by Hercules himself, and it’s certainly been a bustling settlement for at least 2,000 years, today boasting a blend of Spanish flavor and Moorish influences from the five-century rule of the sultans. On a panoramic tour of the city’s boulevards, you’ll soak in scenes of whitewashed homes, impressive mansions, and charming plazas. And you'll also take in the architectural feat that is Seville Cathedral. With its 12th century tower, the longest nave in Europe, and an interior gilded in gold, the world’s largest Gothic cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Return to the Corinthian for the balance of the day at leisure, including lunch and dinner onboard. Or, join us for an optional flamenco performance and dinner. Flamenco, a passionate union of guitars, song, and dance, is so well-recognized and beloved—not just in Spain but around the world—that in 2010 UNESCO declared it one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Experience a fiery, romantic flamenco performance and enjoy an included dinner before returning to the ship.

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    Discover the Macarena section of Seville this morning on a panoramic tour. The traditional and original name for Seville, La Macarena is now located just north of the city center. While here, you will visit one of the most important churches in Spain, the Basilica of Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza Macarena (Our Lady of Hope Macarena). The Basilica is home to one of the largest, most-popular, and most passionate Easter celebrations in the country. For the entirety of Easter’s Holy Week, the streets of Macarena are closed and everyday life slows to witness the spectacle. 58 processions with 116 large platforms, or thrones, with life-sized images portraying scenes of the Passion are carried out of the Basilica and paraded through the streets. These ornately decorated thrones resemble large floats and are so massive they must be carried by as many as 60 people. The grandest of these floats bears the wooden statue of Our Lady of Hope which dates back to the 17th century. Adorned with a profusion of flowers and candles held in silver urns and candlesticks—the magnificent throne is carried solemnly through Macarena on Good Friday. You will be able to view Our Lady of Hope, as well as see some of these thrones, for yourself.

    Then you will return to the ship for lunch while you sail. And that evening, celebrate the last night onboard the Corinthian with a Farewell Dinner.

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    Dropping anchor for the final time in Lisbon, you'll say farewell to the Corinthian this morning and disembark.

    In the late 15th century, the port of Lisbon was the staging point for Portuguese explorations that would usher in the great Age of Discovery—and make Lisbon the richest European capital until the 19th century. The immense riches brought back by these explorers and navigators ushered in a period of building and expansion that gave birth to the new Manueline architectural style, with its ornately carved decorative motifs. You'll see the examples of this style of architecture in a panoramic tour of Lisbon with photo stops in the historic section of Belem, at the ornate Belem Tower and the 16th-century church of the Jeronimos Monastery.

    Next, enjoy a short walk through Alfama, Lisbon's oldest neighborhood. Then, enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant.

    After checking into your hotel, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner is on your own this evening in the vibrant culinary capital of Portugal.

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    After breakfast, transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight home. Or begin our post-trip extension for more discoveries of Lisbon.

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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 10 days, with 7 nights aboard the Corinthian; and 1 single-night stay

Physical Requirements

  • Travelers using mobility aids or with medical conditions that might require immediate attention or evacuation will not be able to board the Corinthian
  • You must be able to walk 2 miles unassisted and participate in 2 hours of physical activities each day

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures range from 62-76°F during cruising season

Terrain

  • Travel over uneven surfaces, including unpaved paths, steep hills, stairs, and cobblestone

Transportation

  • Travel by 33- to 45-passenger coach and 98-passenger small ship

Small Ship Cruising

  • If docked at a pier, gangway incline can be steep
  • Weather conditions and tides may require adjustments to your itinerary

Cuisine

  • Meals will be a mix of local specialties and familiar American standards
  • Meals onboard feature a variety of entree options, including vegetarian

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for this trip.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your vacation, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Program Directors and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Corinthian

    The Corinthian is 290 feet long and carries 98 passengers in 49 outside-facing suites—each at least 215 sq. ft. in area. Each suite features individual climate control, mini-refrigerator, safe, telephone, TV, DVD/CD player, a sitting area, hair dryer, and a private bathroom with shower. An elevator serves all passenger decks. The ship’s well-appointed common areas include a restaurant, two lounges and a library with Internet access, and provide congenial spaces to get to know your fellow travelers as you cruise. Enjoy discoveries on land in a group of no more than 25 travelers, led by your own expert, resident Program Director.

Main Trip

  • Hotel Altis

    Lisbon, Portugal | Rating: Superior First Class

    Rising 13 stories over the cultural and shopping heart of Lisbon, with views of St. George’s Castle, the Superior First-Class Hotel Altis features sleek modern lines and a stylish, contemporary feel. The hotel’s facilities include an indoor swimming pool, penthouse-level restaurant and lounge, and a fitness club. Your air-conditioned room features a telephone, cable TV, minibar, refrigerator, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

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  • Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa

    Porto, Portugal | Rating: Deluxe

    Located in the center of Porto’s business district, the Deluxe Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa is just a short walk from the city’s historical treasures. Amenities include a restaurant, bar, pool, and spa with fitness equipment. Your air-conditioned room features a satellite TV, mini-bar, safe, and private bath.

  • Hotel Altis

    Lisbon, Portugal | Rating: Superior First Class

    Rising 13 stories over the cultural and shopping heart of Lisbon, with views of St. George’s Castle, the Superior First-Class Hotel Altis features sleek modern lines and a stylish, contemporary feel. The hotel’s facilities include an indoor swimming pool, penthouse-level restaurant and lounge, and a fitness club. Your air-conditioned room features a telephone, cable TV, minibar, refrigerator, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two vacations to maximize your value.

  • Extend your vacation and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip excursions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your ship or hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your vacation
  • Choose to "break away" before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of Grand Circle Cruise Line vacations to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium class

The air options listed above may involve additional airfare costs based on your specific choices.

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Flamenco: Heart of Spanish Dance

A national culture displayed through fiery movements & a pulsing beat

by Carley Thornell, Grand Circle associate

Traditional flamenco artists rarely received formal training, instead learning by listening and watching relatives, friends, and neighbors.

The resounding chords of a furiously strumming guitarist keep the precise rhythms of compas, Spanish metre and time signature. An impassioned vocalist claps and walks to the beat. The vibrations from a cajon drum box beat like a collective heartbeat. And a dancer assumes the spotlight.

This woman with dark bun, swirling ruffles, fringed shawl, ruby lips, and nails to match, has come to symbolize the very essence of flamenco. This lined yet beautiful face, this body that is no longer slender but still lithe, belongs to one of the art form’s most recognizable women: Matilde Coral.

This septuagenarian embodies the essence of the duende, or soul of flamenco. Unlike other forms of dance, where dancers turn professional early and youth is often the most valued quality, flamenco dancers don’t peak until they’re in their 30s—or beyond. It’s an art form that embraces wisdom and experience, all channeled into passionate, and at times plaintive, movements. The Spanish Civil War-era poet, dramatist, and theater director Frederico Garcia Lorca wrote of this essence:

The duende, then, is a power … I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, ‘The duende is not in the throat, the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.”

For Matilde, this spirit was cultivated from the time the soles of her feet learned to walk on the Andalusian terrain. Born in 1935 in Seville—credited as the birthplace of flamenco dance (baile), guitar (toque), and song (cante)—she started dancing in clubs at age 16, borrowing the ID of her 18-year-old cousin to work legally. At age 20, she was hired to work at El Guajiro, the seminal club that pioneered the phasing in of tablao flamenco establishments in lieu of cabarets nationwide. There, amidst the mirrored walls and bullfighting posters, she met her husband, Rafael El Negro.

Though she has found fame in her footwork, Matilde’s experience isn’t uncommon in that her training started in her mother’s small living room; likewise for Rafael, often referred to as a “gypsy dancer.” Traditional flamenco artists rarely received formal training, instead learning by listening and watching relatives, friends, and neighbors. In its most authentic form, flamenco can be seen danced informally at Gitano (gypsy) weddings and gatherings in Spain, and etymology of the dance and its eponymous music is, in the eyes of many historians and countrymen, synonymous with this nomadic people.

Those many different forms have evolved, flamenco puro, with hips moving and arms curving around the head and body, is considered to be closest to these Gitano origins. This dance is performed solo, improvised rather than choreographed. Voluminous, commercialized costumes are discouraged, and props like castanets and fans are sometimes frowned upon. There have been no greater proponents of puro than Matilde and the late Rafael, whose Seville School of Andalusian Dance, founded in 1967, promotes these traditions.

Throughout the rest of Europe, where ballet uses academies and encourages precision and grace, its tutu-clad primas never outshine the choreography, each move executed as planned. Romance-language words ballet and baile sound similar, but they are worlds apart, the latter a poor man’s dance, of and for the people.