Dawn rose over the Normandy coastline early, just as it did 79 years ago. Tracing a route used by the Allied task forces on June 6, 1944, National Geographic Explorer approached Ouistreham in the early morning. Talks by D-Day historian Stephen Fisher and art historian Matthew Whyte occupied the morning until we approached the locks of the Caen Canal. Once through, our great ship transited the narrow canal and soon reached Pegasus Bridge. The first objective of D-Day, the bridge was captured in the very early hours on the morning of 6 June by soldiers who landed by glider on the banks of the canal. On arrival at our berth in Caen, we were joined by the local band Mes Souliers Son Rouges (My Shoes Are Red), who treated us to a performance of folk music.

After lunch, groups dispersed from the ship. One group visited the fabulous medieval city of Bayeux and spent time examining the famous Norman-era Bayeux Tapestry and the magnificent cathedral. The other groups toured sites associated with the Second World War. Visits to Sword Beach and Pegasus Bridge were followed by a trip to the Memorial Museum in Caen, where some guests were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s significant archive and its collection of numerous and fascinating D-Day artifacts.

An overnight stop in town gave guests the opportunity to stretch their legs in this lovely Norman city, whilst some rested in advance of a busy schedule tomorrow.