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Exploring Europe: Eight great sailing ideas

Thinking about revisiting Europe, one of the world’s classic destinations? This new programme of sailing itineraries should appeal to anyone who is keen for a different type of travel experience.

After many seasons’ sailing across the seas of Indonesia, the South Pacific and Australia, the exploring partnership of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has set its sights on Europe. Its expedition ship, the National Geographic Orion, will embark on a maiden voyage of Portugal, Spain, France, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, the Baltic Republics and Scandinavia by land and sea next year. The smaller size of the ship (102 guests) makes it well suited to navigating European waters.

The 11 one-week itineraries, across 22 sailings, in the inaugural 2016 European programme aim to take travellers beyond the usual tourist experience, combining expert voices on everything from ancient history, art, viniculture and photography to active options such as hiking, biking and kayaking, and a range of authentic food experiences through menus prepared by international chef Serge Dansereau, of Sydney’s The Bathers’ Pavilion.

Here are eight sample itineraries that showcase the breadth of options available aboard the Orion.

1. Scandinavia by Sea: Denmark, Sweden and Norway

Kayak through the Weather Islands off the west coast of Sweden and get up close to colonies of Scandinavian seals.

2. Best of the Baltics: Cities and Islands from Tallinn to Copenhagen

Discover the Latvian town of Riga by bicycle, crossing the mighty Daugava River to the Island of Kpsala, known for its distinctive wooden houses.

3. Wild and Windswept: Exploring the Coasts of England and Wales

On the island of Sark, join a local astronomer from the Astronomical Society for a night of stargazing.

4. Norway and Scotland: From Fjordlands to the Inner Hebrides

Hike to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, and get the chance to dive the historic wrecks of Scapa Flow.

5. Culture and Cuisine from Oporto to the Basque Country

Spend the day discovering Galicia, collect mussels with local fishermen and listen to traditional music.

6. Bordeaux to London: The French Atlantic Coast

Explore the history and culinary traditions of St Malo visiting a local oyster farm and gathering oysters for the National Geographic Orion’s chefs.


7. The North Sea: London to Copenhagen

Work alongside local culinary artisans to make Belgian chocolates in Brugge and sculpt marzipan in Lubeck.

8. Hidden Ireland: Loughs and Isles off the Beaten Path

Experience the true Irish culture of Aran Island, discovering how goat cheese is made on a working goat farm.

This story first appeared in Expat Living’s June 2015 issue.