Sailing from Rosyth
Rosyth • Bordeaux, France • Getxo, Spain • Gijon, Spain • Saint Malo, Brittany, France • Honfleur, France • Rosyth
Widely regarded as the world’s wine capital, the graceful French city of Bordeaux offers far more than just vineyards and claret. Having shaken off its rather sleepy image over the last few years, Bordeaux is now amongst France's most exciting and dynamic cities. While a sizeable number of the city's visitors are still enticed by the chance to taste what makes this wine-rich region so special, Bordeaux has many other surprising secrets.
Stretched along the banks of the Garonne River, this City of Art and History is home to 362 historic monuments, with some buildings dating back to Roman times. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2007, Bordeaux’s historic centre is home to the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, 18th century mansions and popular art museums, such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, and many other impressive treasures to discover. This urban and architectural ensemble includes public gardens that line the curving river quays, and the imposing Place de la Bourse, which overlooks the reflecting pool.
The underrated Getxo in Northern Spain, is an attractive seaside location, and the access port for Bilbao. Getxo’s wonderful beaches, beautiful architecture and truly impressive monuments include the UNESCO-listed Vizcaya Bridge – the world’s oldest transport bridge.
The town’s Old Port area, Algorta, is situated at one end of the Ereaga Beach and is a popular spot to soak up the sun, enjoy the vibrant nightlife and take advantage of the exciting water sports. At Ereaga’s other end, delightful palaces and gardens can be found and explored.
Getxo is also perfectly placed for tours to nearby Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque country, and home to the world famous Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Art and its stunning 14th century Gothic-style cathedral.
Located on Spain’s Atlantic Coastline, lively Gijon is one of Spain’s most important port cities. With a seafaring history and maritime heritage that dates back to Roman times, Gijon has – as you might expect – a large number of historic buildings, monuments and museums to enjoy as well as gorgeous beaches and beautiful landscapes.
Places of interest include the 19th century City Hall in Plaza Mayor, the Collegiate Church of San Juan Bautista, the Barloja Museum and the roman baths of the 16th century Valdes Palace. Those who prefer to relax and soak up the sunshine are spoilt for choice in Gijon, as the city is blessed with stunning stretches of soft sands such as San Lorenzo beach at Gijon Bay.
Originally a fortified island, the walled city of St Malo at the mouth of the River Rance on France’s Brittany coast, is now connected to the mainland by a 'Sillon' causeway. Visiting this atmospheric port, once a stronghold for privateers (pirates approved by the king), is like stepping back in time.
The walls of St Malo, largely destroyed in World War II, have been painstakingly reconstructed. A magnificent grey granite citadel protects the old city, the cobbled streets of which are packed with interesting shops, restaurants, bars and cafés. The main gate is Porte St-Vincent, home to the castle and town museum, and an eclectic mix of exhibits including maps and local artefacts. Saint-Malo Cathedral, built in Romanesque and Gothic styles, makes an impressive centrepiece.
From the beach outside the citadel it’s possible to walk at low tide to the small island of Grand-Bé, to see the tomb of the 19th century politician and writer, Chateaubriand. To the south is where the original inhabitants lived. They were converted to Christianity by St Malou, after whom they named the impregnable island when they moved there in the 12th century.
Historic Honfleur in northern France's Lower Normandy region is a quaint little port with a rich cultural and artistic heritage. One of France’s most visited towns, Honfleur – with its beautiful 15th and 16th century architecture and distinctive harbour – was the inspiration for Impressionist painters and poets.
Vieux-Bassin, Honfleur’s colourful old harbour, is lined with 16th to 18th-century lofty slate-and-timber fronted houses. Its sloping cobbled streets have long been a subject for artists including Claude Monet and native son, Eugène Boudin.
A visit to the 15th century St. Catherine's Church, a vaulted timber structure erected by shipbuilders, is a must, as is the maritime museum and Notre Dame de Grâce – a 17th century chapel containing various paintings and models. The chapel also offers fabulous views of the town, the Seine estuary and the impressively-engineered Normandy Bridge that crosses it.
At a glance....
Balmoral is Fred. Olsen's largest and newest cruise ship, named after the Scottish home of the Royal Family. Still smaller than most cruise ships today, there are 710 cabins and suites and generous public space for the 1,300 guests on board.
|Passengers||1350 Standard Occupancy|
|Beam (width)||28.2 m|