Setting sail from Southampton
Southampton is the UK's leading port. Bustling modern cruise terminals, as well as wharfs and commercial harbours, line the waterfront, whilst the city itself is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern, with a picturesque old town, the original city walls still standing, and super-modern shopping centres and office complexes. On all corners you will see tributes to the city's rich history and maritime heritage. Henry V marched his troops through the Westgate on his way to the battle of Agincourt, The Mayflower sailed from here with a cargo of settlers to the New World, and the Titanic started her fateful voyage here.
Just a short drive from Southampton is the magical New Forest with its quaint hamlets, historic towns and seaside villages. Look out for the ponies too.
Guernsey: St Peter Port
The island of Guernsey draws visitors south from the British mainland with its more favourable climate and beautiful coastline. The capital, St Peter Port, is a lovely little town of cobbled streets and elegant architecture, and there are also several interesting museums dedicated to the island’s occupation by the Nazis during the Second World War.
France: La Rochelle
La Rochelle is an attractive seaside town of elegant limestone facades and agreeable weather, known as La Ville Blanche (the ‘White City’). The heart of the city is the atmospheric Vieux Port, guarded by three imposing towers which offer excellent views of the harbour and nearby islands.
30 September - 1 October
Bordeaux sits at the centre of the world's most famous wine region, and is home to a beguiling blend of beautiful buildings, sophisticated gastronomy and high culture. It's a marvellous place to spend some time, whether it's a day sampling wines, an evening at the opera or a night on the tiles.
France: Le Verdon
It’s not so long ago that Bilbao was a grim and unappealing place, scarred by heavy industry, but the Basque Country’s biggest city has reinvented itself as a cultural hub since the opening of the shimmering Guggenheim Museum in 1997.
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon’s colourful cityscape includes Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums. But for many the best times will be had wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets, with their great local food, wine and music.
The crumbling, sun-baked seafront city of Cádiz is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the western world, founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC. Although the city lacks any obvious landmarks, it’s rich in atmosphere, and plays host to one of Spain’s most colourful carnivals.
Málaga boasts plenty of chic restaurants and bars where you can ease into the rhythms of life in southern Spain, before exploring sights including the intriguing, unfinished Gothic cathedral, and a museum devoted to the city's most famous son, Pablo Picasso.
From the warren-like medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic to the fantastical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, from the dizzy heights of Mount Tibidabo to the golden sands of Barceloneta, there’s never a dull moment in Barcelona.
Spain: Palma de Mallorca
Mallorca is renowned for its beaches, ranging from big, bustling resorts to small, secluded coves. The island interior offers ruggedly beautiful scenery and quaint little towns, while the charming capital, Palma, boasts an attractive old quarter dominated by the imposing Gothic cathedral.
The rumbustious port of Marseille often gets a bad press, but the city has been transformed in recent years, with a host of new cultural attractions. The vibrant Vieux Port remains at the heart of life in Marseille, however, and is the best place to begin your exploration of the city’s many historic sights.
Renowned for its casino, its Grand Prix and its oligarch-friendly tax policies, Monte Carlo is glamour and hedonism personified, with a price tag to match. This little principality enjoys a lovely setting, the villas and penthouses tumbling down the hillside towards the sweeping blue expanse of the Mediterranean.
The attractive, oceanfront capital of Corsica was the birthplace of the island’s most famous son, Napoleon Bonaparte. You can find out more about the emperor at his childhood home, the Maison Bonaparte, which is now a museum.
Italy: La Spezia
La Spezia is a busy port and Italy’s most important naval base, on the Ligurian coast to the south east of Genoa. The town itself has a certain authentic charm and an atmospheric old town, though you’ll most likely just be passing through en route to the beautiful villages of the nearby Cinque Terre.
Italy: Florence / Pisa (Livorno)
The faded port town of Livorno serves as a gateway to Tuscany’s star attractions. Wonderful Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, is resplendent with beautiful architecture and unrivalled artistic treasures, while nearby Pisa is of course famous for its precarious Leaning Tower.
Arriving in Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world's great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. As the saying goes, the city wasn't built in a day, and if you want to make the most of Rome you'll need to spend at least a couple of nights here. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
Plan ahead to make the most of your time – Rome is an exhausting city to visit so you need to pace yourself. There are plenty of parks, gardens and squares to relax and enjoy time out.
Your home from home
Small enough to operate fascinating port-intensive itineraries, but with the space for dining options, comfortable accommodation and more, sister ships Insignia, Nautica, Regatta and Sirena are for many the perfect size.
What we love
These four boutique style sister ships carry just 684 guests apiece, with a comfortable, relaxed country house style and plenty of intimate corners. We love the alternative restaurants - Oceania is rightly renowned for great food - and the pretty little library up on deck 10.
|Crew||400 International Staff|
|Style||On Oceania it's all about the time spent ashore, so back on board it's relaxed and unpretentious, with no dressing up. Open seating throughout creates an atmosphere which is friendly and sociable.|
Tailor-make your trip
Overnight in Southampton
Stay at the Pig in the Wall, stylish with great food. Very small so book early.
Day trips from Southampton
Visit historic Winchester, home to King Arthur’s Round Table, the Great Hall and Winchester Cathedral.
Extend your stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels but we particularly love the Campo de’ Fiori, for its great location in the centre of everything.
Beat the queues
Get a private guide to help you jump the queues into the Vatican who can whizz you through the galleries to see the essentials and ensure your best view of the Sistine Chapel.