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European Coastal Civilizations

Trip Highlights

  • Uniquely designed, eight-night cruise itinerary available only through Gohagan & Company.
  • Exclusively chartered cruise aboard the Five‑Star expedition ship Le Champlain, with private balconies in all Suites and Staterooms.
  • Visit four countries—Portugal, Spain, France and England—with access to ports unavailable to larger vessels and all shore excursions included.
  • Visit the historic beaches of Normandy, accompanied by Professor David Eisenhower.
  • Explore three UNESCO World Heritage sites—Oporto, Santiago de Compostela and Mont‑Saint‑Michel.
  • Visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum in beautiful Bilbao, Spain.
  • Once-in-a-lifetime cruise from the English Channel up the River Thames to London’s iconic Tower Bridge, possible only by small ship.
  • Complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages available throughout the cruise.
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi access (conditions permitting).
  • Lisbon Pre-Program and London Post-Program Options.


Pre-Program – Lisbon – Optional

One of Europe’s most visually appealing capitals, Lisbon seduces with its cinematic streetscapes, medieval passageways and timeless rituals. The legacy of Roman, Visigoth, Moorish and Christian rule is reflected in a cache of resplendent palaces and magnificent churches that crown Lisbon’s trademark hills. Overlording a forested village, Sintra’s glorious confection of turreted castles, Mudéjar palaces, ancient hermitages and hills laced with exotic gardens has lured kings, queens, poets and composers since the Moorish occupation. Accommodations are for two nights in the deluxe Dom Pedro Palace Hotel.


Post-Program – London – Optional

Experience stately London, where tradition and modernity meet with living history to make each visit more enjoyable than the last. Visit the medieval Tower of London and the magnificent Westminster Abbey and tour the underground cabinet war rooms of Winston Churchill. Accommodations are for two nights in a Five-Star hotel.


Shared departure: This departure is shared with other universities.


Day 1 – Depart Gateway City

Depart for Portugal.

Day 2 – Lisbon, Portugal

Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal’s enigmatic capital city—replete with pastel‑flushed buildings and world‑class architecture—and embark the Five-Star Le Champlain. Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and enjoy dinner on board the ship this evening. 

Meals: Reception, Dinner

Day 3 – Leixões/Oporto

Dock in Leixões and transfer to Oporto, once a Celtic hamlet (Cale) and then a Roman outpost and center of the port wine trade beginning in the 13th century. The cultural legacy of El Andaluz—the huge swath of Spain and Portugal occupied by the Moors from A.D. 711 to 1492—finds expression in Oporto’s rich architectural details, including famed azulejo tiles with Moorish geometric and floral motifs. The city is indelibly influenced by Greek and Roman heritages, the Moorish period and a coalescence of faiths, creating a culture of tolerance in which the disciplines of mathematics, medicine, optics, horticulture, art and architecture flourished.

Fall under the spell of Ribeira, Oporto’s historic center, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its extraordinary architectural timeline and living history status; for 2000 years the cultural and commercial growth of Portus Cale—as named by the Romans—has been inextricably linked to the sea.

Experience daily rituals unfolding along a tangle of medieval alleyways where splendid spires, Baroque domes and neoclassical mansions form a timeless silhouette. Visit the Gothic Igreja de São Francisco, hailed for its lavish gold‑plated Baroque interior, and the neoclassical Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange), where the swirling arabesques and ornate stained glass of the gilded Arabian Hall were inspired by the Alhambra in Granada.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 – A Coruña, Spain/Santiago de Compostela

Travel into the oak- and pine‑forested hills of Galicia, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities. Golden‑hued granite buildings and magnificent arcaded squares grace Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. Stroll along medieval pedestrian stone streets to the expansive Praza do Obradoiro flanked by the glorious Romanesque cathedral. A pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages and the final stop on the Camino de Santiago, the cathedral enshrines the tomb of St. James and is recognized for its intricately carved Baroque facade, original medieval portico and glittering Churrigueresque altar. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 – Santander/Bilbao

From Santander, transfer to dynamic and exuberant Bilbao, encircled by the verdant Basque Mountains. The construction of Frank Gehry’s titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in 1997 hailed the city’s cultural renaissance as modernist marvels from Santiago Calatrava and Philippe Starck redefined the post‑industrial skyline.

Enjoy a guided tour of the Guggenheim’s renowned modern and contemporary art collection, explore the art nouveau and Baroque jewels of Bilbao’s historic Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) and walk along the Paseo del Arenal, a promenade for leisurely evening strolls. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 – Cruising the Bay of Biscay

While cruising the Bay of Biscay along the west coast of France, attend enriching lectures on board.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 – Saint-Malo, France/Mont-Saint-Michel

Rising from a tidal plain seemingly suspended above the sea, UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Mont-Saint-Michel is a sight of soaring spires isolated beyond a stretch of saltwater marsh. The seat of its namesake Benedictine monastery since the early eighth century, this fortified village began as a humble oratory and became a renowned medieval center of learning. Narrow cobblestone streets weave through the village, culminating in the Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel, a three‑story Gothic masterpiece. Admire the serene cloisters, barrel-roofed réfectoire (dining hall) and Gothic salle des hôtes (guest hall) of 13th‑century La Merveille and the magnificent église abbatiale (abbey church) with a transept that rests on solid rock. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 – Caen/Normandy Beaches

Dock in Caen and make the solemn pilgrimage to the historic Normandy beaches, site of the largest seaborne invasion in history. In the company of Professor Eisenhower, walk where Allied forces landed on D-Day.

At Pointe du Hoc, envision the heroic U.S. Army Second Ranger Battalion scaling this cliff promontory and view the craters that remain from D-Day bombardments. Survey the serene English Channel and reflect on the memorial crosses and Stars of David in the American military cemetery at Colleville‑sur‑Mer.

Following lunch, continue to Arromanches to see the remnants of Mulberry Harbor, an artificial harbor taken across the English Channel to support Allied landings on the Normandy beaches. View a short documentary on the D-Day campaign or see the 230-foot‑long Bayeux Tapestry, which chronicles the Norman Conquest of 1066. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 – English Channel/The River Thames/London, England

Cruise the English Channel across the Strait of Dover and continue up the River Thames, a memorable passage possible only by small ship. Britain’s history is revealed as you pass the towering skyline of Canary Wharf and take in monumental views of Greenwich’s Observation Tower, the Tower of London, Norman Foster’s emerald‑hued Guerkin and Renzo Piano’s sky‑piercing Shard. Dock alongside HMS Belfast in view of Tower Bridge. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Reception, Dinner

Day 10 – London/Depart for Home

Following breakfast this morning, disembark and continue on the London’s Enduring History Post‑Program Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Note: Itinerary is subject to change. 


Show Full Itinerary

Your Journey

European Coastal Gohagan 2021 Trip Journey

By participating in an Alumni Association of the University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

(10 days)
Starting price: $5,995
Deposit per person: $800
Gohagan & Co.
Type: Cruise, Land & Cruise, Ocean Cruise, River Cruise, Shared Departure

You must be an Alumni Association member to travel with us. Questions? Call Michigan Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064.

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