CRUISING ON THE ATLANTIC COAST

From $ 3,699 pp
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Cruising on the Atlantic Coast

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From $ 3,699* pp

London to Lisbon

Cruising on the Atlantic Coast
Sip robust red wines from storied French chateaus. Stare skyward at centuries-old arches in silent, candle-lit cathedrals. This 11-day, autumn Atlantic cruise along the coasts of Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal is an ideal getaway for anyone seeking popular European destinations without summertime crowds. Set sail from London, where you’ll have an unobstructed view of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and open seats at riverside pubs. Uncover the secret war waged by Guernsey’s island resistance at the La Valette Underground museum in St Peter Port. Slurp freshly shucked oysters with dry Muscadet wines from the western Loire Valley during a delicious stop at the Castel Clara restaurant in Port Goulphar on Belle Ile. Stroll beneath the storied arches of famous classified wine estates and sample exceptional French food during an overnight stay in Bordeaux. Soar high above the priceless Medoc vineyards and sprawling chateaus in St. Émilion in a helicopter. Cook up pinchos, or Basque-style tapas at a Bilbao cooking class or study contemporary art at the Guggenheim Museum. Sip smoky, 30-year-old port and shop the famed Avenida do Aliados District in Porto, Portugal. This journey concludes in Lisbon, where uncrowded streets present opportunities to explore the palace ruins of Moorish São Jorge Castle above the city and the crenelated splendors of Belém Tower down on the waterfront—all in one wonderful autumn day.
You get to see all the flavors and textures changing as you head deeper into the Mediterranean."
Our Storyteller: Graeme Cockburn
Corporate Executive Chef
Graeme Cockburn’s illustrious career includes turns at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel, the Royal Scotsman train, and Pompadour Restaurant in Edinburgh, which was named Scotland’s top restaurant during his tenure. Graeme trained under the Michelin-starred tutelage of Michel Guerard and Michel Roux, although his greatest inspiration was watching his grandmother cook while growing up in Perthshire. “During (World War II) she needed to be very thrifty, so making the most of basic local ingredients was key,” he says. Graeme uses that same philosophy while planning menus for Windstar’s fleet, giving his chefs license to create new dishes from whatever fresh produce they pick up in port. He also has been instrumental in the cruise line’s collaboration with the James Beard Foundation. When he’s not traveling the globe overseeing operations onboard the ships, you likely will find Graeme back in Scotland, whipping up something new from whatever he can find his kitchen.

Bordeaux has some of the best markets in Europe, claims Graeme Cockburn, and depending on the day of the week, there’s one right along the quay where your yacht docks. “I can spend two, three hours just walking those few hundred yards, tasting the local delicacies,” says Windstar’s Executive Chef, who also spends time searching out what he calls the city’s “backstreet restaurants” that only serve a dozen or so people per meal. “These boutique places are really cooking off the cuff,” he elaborates, “creating menus from whatever comes in fresh that day, bringing in different flavors. They expose you to the French thought process about food.” So, how do the French view food? Graeme sums it up in a word: “Life. Their life is all about good food, a nice glass of wine, family and friends … It’s just a completely different culture.”
               
That cultural shift is experienced each day of this culinary-focused voyage, from tasting crisp ciders in Honfleur and freshly shucked oysters on Belle Ile, to pintxos (Basque tapas) hopping around Bilboa’s Old Town and enjoying a smoky, decades-old port or spicy chouriço sausage in Porto. “You get to see all the flavors and textures changing as you head deeper into the Mediterranean,” says the chef. Back on board, Windstar guests enjoy what the ship’s chef bought in port that day, creating a sense of continuity that lasts long after the cruise ends. “It’s all in the memory,” says Graeme. “Those culinary experiences are captured in the brain. You’ll always come back to those memories.”
 

IF I WERE THERE...
Visit Frank Gehry’s curvaceous Guggenheim Museum or join a pintxos cooking class in Bilbao — “The city’s Plaza Nueva area is a great spot for Basque tapas hopping, and oenophiles should make a pilgrimage to Haro, capital of the Rioja wine-growing region, home to more than 500 bodegas (wineries)”
 
Take advantage of an overnight in Bordeaux to visit Saint-Émilion’s sprawling chateaux and experience the local nightlife — Graeme recommends grabbing a table outside, ordering a great French beer or wine, and “enjoying the ambiance, all the different nationalities together having a good time … The food just brings it all together”
 
Taste fresh Breton oysters in Le Palais — “Brittany’s flat oysters are some of the best in the world! Enjoy a plate with a nice, dry Muscadet”
 
Spend an extra night in Lisbon to sample the popular bacalhau (salted cod) and perhaps visit the scenic mountain village of Sintra — “Stop by the Piriquita café for their melt-in-your-mouth travesseiros (puff pastries)”

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