Our tall ship sailing adventure starts in France’s beguilingly beautiful, La Rochelle, originally a 10th century fishing village, which soon became celebrated as wine and salt trading port.
Before boarding the Santa Maria Manuela take time to enjoy the port festival, or stroll around the Vieux-Port quarter, the city's most emblematic district which has inspired painters and photographers through the ages. The medieval fortifications host three historic towers, most famously the 15th Century Lantern Tower which boasts striking views of the city and the harbour.
We leave La Rochelle’s architectural treasures in our wake as we join the festival’s parade of sail, west and north into the Bay of Biscay. Volunteer to help the crew hoist and set the sails. The feeling of helming a 68m sailing ship with the sensation as she responds to the command of the wheel is something to savor forever. There´s nothing our crew like more then to share their knowledge of sailing with our guests, and they will encourage you to get actively involved in sailing the ship.
Knot classes are a great way to learn a new skill whilst sharing sailing stories with shipmates, and if the weather allows there's the opportunity to go up the mast or relax on the bowsprit. A drink at sunset on the deck is the perfect way to round off each day.
After a few days at sea we approach the aptly named Britannic island of Belle-Ile en Mer, where breathtakingly beautiful landscapes offer a rich mosaic of peaceful beaches, spectacular cliffs, colourful ports and lush countryside. If we’re lucky with the weather we will drift here for the day. For the energetic, it’s a chance to swim and enjoy the ships kayaks and paddle boards. For those with culture in mind, take a lift ashore on the ships zodiac to walk the quays past colourful houses, stroll around the port and the streets in the old town of Palais or explore the Vauban citadel.
Soon we set sail again, this time for our final destination of Lorient, and another great port festival.
After disembarking soak up the festival atmosphere or marvel at the fish market, a hive of activity every morning. Fresh fish and seafood just off the boats are taken straight to the Merville indoor market, the beating heart of the town.
In Belle Ile expect pleasant maximum average daytime temperatures of around 19°C (65°F) and nighttime temperatures around 15°C (59°F)
When preparing for your voyage please bear in mind:
The trip between Lisbon and Funchal was really exceptional thanks to the kindness and professionalism of the crew that was always available to answer all our requests. A trip far too short.
It was my first cruise aboard Santa Maria Manuela but it will certainly not be the last.
Catherine - France
I can't imagine the Santa Maria Manuela having a bigger fan than me. It was a remarkable experience and I really enjoyed getting to know the crew as well as all of the passengers. It was a great group of people to spend 6 days with.
Sailwiz - Spain
It was obvious that the crew was very capable of doing everything without the help of the passengers, but I loved that they wanted us to be involved and gave us tasks that we could do. It is also evident how important safety on board is and I was impressed to see all of the crew members in harnesses and helmets whenever they were in slightly precarious positions preparing a sail to be raised or fixing something.
Sailwiz – Spain
The trip was absolutely incredible. I am extremely impressed with the ship and the crew. I felt very at home on board and the crew was so kind, helpful and knowledgeable. I feel like I learned so much about the ship and navigation and I know many of the other passengers feel the same. I truly enjoyed the trip and hope that I will go aboard again.
Julia – USA
My friends and familly are all '50 shades of green' with envy. Thankyou from Andrew and me to you and the crew for an experience of a lifetime.
Gordon - Scotland
As for the trip to Madeira was the best experiences I have had and I take the opportunity to congratulate your team and crew who are fantastic ...
We want to say THANK YOU to all the crew they all were so helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. If the world would follow Santa Maria Manuela’s example we would all live in a better place.
Peter & Ron, UK
Absolutely loved the trip from Lisbon. Such a beautiful ship - have fallen completely in love with her and can't wait to book the next trip.
It was a wonderful journey. The ship is beautiful and in a perfect condition, we felt comfortable at any time, thanks to the gentle team. The meals were very tasteful (thanks to the cook!).
Katrin - Holland
We really enjoyed our Madeira-Tenerife crossing onboard SMM. Great crew, fantastic downwind sailing, pleasant ‘guests’.
Pierre - France
The crew took good care of us, I just hope they enjoyed the trip as much as we did. Could not have been any better.
Irmgard – Germany
Without a doubt, this year the best experience I had was being on board Santa Maria Manuela. The days on board were extraordinary. Crew 5⭐
Nuno - Portugal