The Canary Islands are a highly popular cruise destination for British tourists looking for a wonderful mix of stunning weather and rich culture. With year-round warmth, a wide range of sights and activities, mouthwatering cuisine, and a sense of myth and mystery surrounding the islands, they’re simply perfect for families and first time cruisers especially.
The Canaries are located just off the Northwest coast of Africa and with 12 months of sunshine, the Canary Islands provide an ideal holiday for escaping the cold British winter weather. Although the Canary Islands are a Spanish territory, they lie closer to Northern Africa than they do to mainland Spain, which really produces a blend of cultures. There is a definite Mediterranean feel with beautiful beaches, laid back tapas restaurants and eye-opening boat tours along the coast, but the African influences are undeniable.
With many cruise itineraries actually including a stop in either Casablanca or Agadir, you can really see how Northern Africa influences have made their way across to the Atlantic islands, from the the Moorish architecture and adventurous dishes of goat stew, which are very much Moroccan in origin. Interestingly, there’s also a third culture that enters into the picture - American. The islands were once a popular rest stop for trade ships importing and exporting goods between Europe and the Americas, and the traders certainly left their mark.
The Canary Islands offer a wide range of activities and attractions for people of all ages and with all interests. Whether you’re looking for a cruise holiday to relax and soak up the sun or for something a little more action-packed such as water sports, diving, fishing, hiking and cycling you’ll find the facilities and excursions you desire. For families and adventure enthusiasts, a Canary Islands cruise provides excellent tourist attractions including water parks, camel safaris, theme parks, museums, art galleries, gardens, monuments, mountains and volcanoes.
Be sure to take an excursion to the Timanfaya National Park for unbelievable views over the Island's lunar landscape that has served as a location for many sci-fi movies. Alternatively, for those looking for something a little more relaxed and laid back, there’s plenty of choice.
Gran Canaria, is renowned for its plantations which utilise the excellent weather conditions to grow exotic fruits, vegetables, and nuts, including papaya and mango. To catch a glimpse of the lush plantations, take a trip to Las Palmas, which sits on the north coast of the island or similarly, opt to tour the fabulous and fruit vineyards of Lanzarote. During your time in Lanzarote why not take the opportunity to get know more about the winemaking process, and sample some rich and tasty delights. Bodegas El Grifo, one of the oldest wineries in Europe, is a must-see for wine aficionados.
For those interested in mystery and legend, there is perhaps no better place to visit than the Canary Islands. While unconfirmed, and the subject of much debate, many historians claim that the Canary Islands, along with nearby Funchal, are the broken remains of the lost city of Atlantis. Whether you buy into the hype or not, there’s something very romantic and inspiring about the possibility of being stood thousands of metres above some of the most mysterious, curious, and perplexing palaces and temples in history.
The location of the Canary Islands makes them ideal for visiting during a cruise from Southampton, perfect for travellers with a dislike for flying. However, it is also possible to visit the islands during a fly-cruise holiday, or as part of a world cruise on the way from Spain or Northern Africa across the Atlantic to New York or the Caribbean. With highs reaching between 20 and 30 degrees celsius, typical lows of no less than 14 degrees, and minimal rainfall all year round, there’s really no bad time to take a Canaries cruise.
During a day ashore, the diversity of the Canaries will become clearly visible, with many regions to explore. You can enjoy stunning mountains, abundant valleys, bustling resorts, fabulous golden sand beaches, and the more unusual black sand beaches, tinted by lava and the vigorous volcanic activity of the past. Whatever your interests and desires, a Canary Islands cruise will certainly satisfy them.
The birds eye view of the dramatic landscape of the Canaries when arriving into port is the perfect start to your holiday. If you enjoy island hopping with beautiful scenery, desert-like landscapes, volcanic mountains, sandy beaches and hot weather, you’ll love a Canary Islands cruise holiday.
The welcoming climate of Gran Canaria is just the start of the wealth of attractions this fantastic port possesses. The weather here is always great with the island on average receiving approximately just ten days of rain per year; an incredible statistic and one that continues to attract sun worshippers throughout the year. The cruise port here is based in Las Palmas, the largest city in the Canary Islands and an impeccably beautiful area to welcome passengers. Expect sunny days and warm waters here but above all, like most Canary Island cities, Las Palmas has a distinctively traditional Spanish feel, full of charisma and steeped in rich history. The city was founded in 1478 by the Conquistadors and Christopher Columbus himself even ventured to the island during his renowned voyage of 1492.
The first thing passengers will notice upon arrival is the fascinating palm groves that provide the perfect backdrop to the serene harbour location. There are two choices here, stay within the realm of Las Palmas lively tourist attractions or venture towards the old quarter of Vegueta; the choice is yours but whichever you decide will certainly provide an exciting day of exploration. Slightly further afield from Las Palmas is the wonderful beach setting at Playa Del Ingles. This is an area that attracts holiday makers year round due to the blissful ambience and amazing beach scene; one of the finest in the region. Head slightly further and you will find Maspalomas and the captivating desert scenery. An incredible sight of pure desert as far as the eye can see meets the seafront for a fabulous photographic opportunity. Both Maspalomas and Playa Del Ingles provide plenty of bars and dining options as well as the chance to enjoy a lazy day in the sun. These areas are also the ideal locations from which to take in the famous old town parts of Arucas and Teror, both famous for their unique attractions. Arucas boasts notorious banana plantations whilst Teror is famous for the many traditional structures and innovative balcony designs pouring over the narrow streets.
One of the most visited locations in Gran Canaria is Palmitos Nature Park. This is a fantastic point of interest and set in an iconic canyon just inland from the area of Maspalomas. As well as being wonderfully picturesque, the area is also renowned for its array of birds, fish and tropical plant life. The Bandama is also here; a remarkable extinct volcano set 1,900 feet above sea level. This really is an impressive sight in itself but also provides a unique point from which to capture the diverse views over the island.
Depending on your preference, there are many different excursion opportunities here to enjoy. The majority of cruise operators will provide a diverse range of choice to be as adventurous or as relaxed as you wish. Family cruising here is extremely popular and there are many options to keep the children entertained. If you want to spend time at a beach at the south of the island then Maspalomas is definitely the place to go and most cruise operators will run a shuttle transfer service to the area to drop you off at the opening of the beach for a day soaking up the rays. Alternatively there is also the Aquasur Waterpark which is in fact the largest water park in the Canary Islands and boasts an impressive array of attractions for the young and the old.
For something more serene whilst taking in the magnificent sights of Gran Canaria then perhaps opt for a more leisurely paced tour. One of the most popular excursions with all cruise operators is a leisurely tour of Gran Canaria providing the chance to take in many areas including the modern location of Puerto Rico, aboard a panoramic coach trip. You may prefer however, to get active and if this is the case, take in a cycling tour of Las Palmas, the only real way to uncover all the fabulous delights of the old towns. There is also the chance for a camel ride at Maspalomas or even dolphin watching, setting sail from Puerto Rico to discover these fascinating creatures.
La Palma is a truly captivating destination and is the most north-westerly of the Canary Islands. The beautiful landscapes here provide outstanding scenery and the harbour of Santa Cruz boasts a fabulous location to unwind and watch the world go by. One of the key attractions to a visit here is that the island is easily explored on foot and the close proximity of the major point of interest allow for a slower paced relaxing day in the superb sunshine.
The island of La Palma plays an ever confusing name game as the full name is infact San Miguel de la Palma but it also is referred to as Santa Cruz de La Palma and even La Isla Bonita y Verde translated to 'the beautiful green island'. There are many names for this mesmerising destination but no matter what you wish to call it, one thing remains constant, it is a wonderful port of call to visit.
Upon arrival into the port head for the old quarter of the island via the tremendous Avenida Maritime promenade. This route will lead passengers to Plaza de Espana and provides a fantastic point to welcome visitors to the area. Sightseeing here is brilliant as you whirl between 16th century fountains, the town hall structure and the unique Renaissance church. There is also an opportunity to explore the markets to find innovative hand crafted pottery goods or perhaps sample local cuisine delicacies.
Like all of the Canary Islands, La Palma’s origins derive from volcanic landscapes and there are still several volcanoes active today. One of the major attractions to see is Caldera de Taburiente, one of the world’s largest volcanic craters and a truly awe inspiring sight to behold. This fascinating location is 5 miles wide and actually delves just under half a mile deep. It is now a national park location and boasts a remarkable array of wildlife. As you head back down to sea level a stop is often made by many at the stunning location of Mirador de la Concepcion to capture a photograph overlooking the northern point of the island and right along the coast. Be sure to visit to the brilliant observatory nearby also known as Roque de los Muchachos which was built to allow major astrophysical research due to the incredible clear night skies here.
Take a trip to a typical bodega to sample some of the local reds and whites with the opportunity to purchase a bottle of wine, should you wish to do so. Perhaps you’d like to take in a walking tour of the island or even opt to venture around using the local trollies as the ideal transfers to and from the ship. With several cruise operators including P&O Cruises sailing here, there is the chance for you try something more adrenaline pumping with a buggy adventure over the rough terrain of the Brena Baja regions.
The port of La Palma provides a wondrous setting to relax and recharge aboard a well-earned holiday. The Canary Islands glisten in the sunshine and the beach settings here are no exception. No matter whether you wish to delve into the cultural highlights of the island, the volcanic charm or simply lay back under the shimmering sunlight, this destination has everything you could wish for to enjoy a great day.
At 37 miles long and 12 metres wide, Lanzarote is the fourth largest island in the Canaries. Well known for its year round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape, it is the perfect holiday destination and port of call on a cruise, especially during the drab and cold winter months here in the UK.
Home to 93 beaches in total, Lanzarote is a real beach lover’s paradise. Some of its beaches are regarded as the best in the Canaries, ranging from the beautiful white sands of the north, to the golden sanded beaches of Puerto Del Carmen and the black sand of Playa Quemada. You’ll find a handful of Lanzarote’s beautiful beaches lay just off the beaten track, so if you are looking for a less crowded beach head for Papagayo or Famara.
If you’ve had your fill of beach days, head out to sea for a submarine adventure and explore matters underwater for the chance to witness the superb marine life here up close and personal.
If you can tear yourselves away from the entrancing underwater scenes, get back on dry land and head for the island’s amazing volcanic landscape. There’s no finer place to witness otherworldly scenery than at the location of Fire Mountain in the Timanfaya National Park. Once the destroyer of the local area, this site now provides an enthralling backdrop to the area and is certainly worth a visit. Here you can witness several demonstrations on how intense the underground heat is and watch in awe as water is turned into steaming mini-geysers and brushwood is burst into flames.
On the border of the Timanfaya National Park, you can discover the Wine Valley of La Geria, Lanzarote’s main wine-growing region. To this day, indigenous methods are used to cultivate the vines on the infertile and hostile ground.
If you’re wishing to head further afield from the cruise port area, head towards the north and the destination of Haria, known as the home to ‘The Valley of a Thousand Palms’, due to a tradition of planting palm tree to mark the birth of a child – one tree for a girl and two for a boy. A northern discovery also presents an unmissable opportunity to explore the caves of Jameos del Agua, a hidden gem of Lanzarote.
The wondrous beauty of Lanzarote’s scenery never ceases to amaze and once you see the magical Fire Mountain looming on the horizon from afar, you realise just how magnificent a cruise to Lanzarote is.
The Portuguese capital makes for an impressive sight, even before you arrive at the cruise terminal. One of the most fascinating features of Lisbon is the journey through the Tagus River passing by some of the spectacular scenery. The Belem Tower and Monument to the Discoveries are just two of the exciting attractions for a photograph before taking in the awe inspiring scenery of the Vasco da Gama Bridge spanning the river and just about providing enough space for cruise ships to pass under. A brilliant sight, this suspension bridge marks the first of many exciting attractions during a visit to this glorious city.
One thing worth noting for Lisbon is that the city itself does span out over a distance. It may not be the largest of capital city in the world, but some of the major attractions are fairly detached from each other and we would recommend focusing on three distinctive areas in particular to assist with this. The majority of cruise operators will provide a shuttle service to a central area; however, it is not always the case, so if you are planning to see the sights individually rather than a tour it is worth considering when planning your day. Baixa, Bairro Alto and Alfama are the three areas we would advise to focus on and all three portray unique characteristics, definitely worth a visit.
Baixa is all about bars, cafes and restaurants for an authentic Portuguese indulgence. The area of Baixa is in complete contrast to that of Alfama where guests can explore the many narrow cobbled streets and medieval charms. Here there is a mix of shops and bars but the Moorish influences are the dominating feature, especially for passengers looking to soak up the architectural pleasures of Lisbon. Bairro Alto is in a similar mould to Alfama with many picturesque historical monuments to discover. The location, however, is set up a steep hill from Baixa and for those concerned about the lack of accessibility to the area; it is well worth heading for Elevador do Carmo, the 100 year old lift that can transport you directly to the top from Baxia’s Rossio Square. The huge attraction to this beatuful destination is the diverse range of locations to explore. Modern cosmopolitans meet historical extravagance to create a wondrous port of call.
The majority of cruise operators provide a shuttle service to a central area as the walk is approximately fifteen minutes at a brisk pace. Sports lovers can enjoy a trip to the world famous Estádio da Luz, which translates to Stadium of Light. This brilliant stadium is home to the iconic team of Benfica and presents the opportunity to enjoy great photo opportunities, sensational views and learn the history of the eagle emblem of Benfica. Discovery cruise sailings to Lisbon generally focus on the exquisite architectural sites such as the infamous Palace of Queluz.
One of the best-selling tours with many operators is the opportunity to explore Estoril. This is a sublime area of countryside with many alluring attractions and the journey itself takes passengers right alongside the River Tagus. The beach scene at Estoril is also a beautiful setting and considered one of the best in the region. Sintra and Cascais are two other local villages worth visiting for a more intimate day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Known as the Garden Island, this stunningly beautiful port of call offers so much to see and do, the choices are endless. There is a breathtakingly impressive array of colour here and a magnificent display of sub-tropical flowers and plants. For this reason, it’s not hard to understand why the large and vibrant flower markets are one of the most interesting features of Funchal, Madeira’s capital.
Funchal is the base for the majority of tours, especially to the islands glorious botanical gardens. From here you can also visit the charming fishing village of Camara de Lobos, the location where Churchill went to paint.
Elsewhere, shopping lovers will relish a visit here as there are many unique souvenirs to be found. Locally made wicker, lacework and tapestries are all good buys in Funchal along with the ubiquitous Madeira wine. As you step foot ashore, a good feature of this destination is the close proximity of the port from the islands market town, however, it is worth noting that the further inland you wish to head, the steeper and narrow the streets become.
The scenery here is truly spectacular and many cruise lines offer the perfect excursion choices to make the most of your visit. If it’s the scenery you wish to enjoy then be sure to take your time with it, don’t rush as you will miss some of the hidden gems the island possesses. Many excursions seeking the finest scenic views head for Pico dos Barcelos. From here you have the most incredible views over Funchal and the southern coast of the island. Head further on to Pico do Serrado and you will be at one of Madeira’s highest points, ideal for capturing a unique photograph of the colourful landscapes below.
The choice of excursions when visiting this destination really is outstanding. All cruise lines that visit here provide an excellent range of options from refined luxury to unique and exhilarating. One of the most popular selections is the chance to enjoy one of Madeira’s oldest traditions; tea at Reid’s Palace Hotel, which overlooks the Bay of Funchal. This stunning hotel was built in the last century and boasts a special place in the history of the island. Its location is extraordinarily beautiful as it sits proudly perched on a cliff top overlooking the bay. Set amongst 10 acres of tropical gardens, a mass of colour awaits all who visit. A trip to Reid’s Palace Hotel is the perfect choice for guests looking to relax, unwind and enjoy an unforgettable afternoon tea treat.
Another way to see the sights and an excursion that can be combined with a thrilling toboggan ride is the Madeira cable car experience. It was once the job of a rack and pinion railway to transport passengers to the top of the hillside in Funchal but the railway closed in 1939. This was replaced by the construction of a cable car trip up to Monte and the Funchal station can be found towards the old town area. The journey up the hillside takes approximately 15 minutes and offers amazing views over the bay and surrounding scenery. From the top of the hillside you can enjoy even greater views but it’s the return journey back down the hill that often provokes the most excitement. Experience the ancient wicker-sled transport on a thrilling ten minute long toboggan ride. In this superb experience, the drivers actually run alongside the toboggans in order to steer and use their rubber-soled boots to brake. This is an iconic Madeira experience and definitely worth a go to try something different.
Away from the scenery, botanical gardens and tea at Ried’s Palace Hotel other exciting excursion options include sampling Madeira wine, a deep sea fishing adventure, dolphin watching aboard a RIB boat experience, explore the magnificent Funchal Ecological Park and there’s even a 4x4 jeep adventure to discover the islands paradises.
The island is a wonderful year round destination to visit and enjoy an ever pleasant climate. Ofen featured on Canary Islands itineraries, New Year’s Eve is a spectacular time to visit for the fabulous firework display that takes place at the stroke of midnight.
Dominated by the gigantic outline of the 12,198ft high Mount Teide, Tenerife is the largest island in the Canaries and only 300km away from the African continent. Thanks to pleasant weather all year round, Tenerife is the perfect port of call, nicknamed the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’. It's also a port you can enjoy without the need to fly. Cruise the Canary Islands sailing direct from the UK.
Upon arrival in Tenerife you’ll be in the heart of the bustling centre of the islands capital, Santa Cruz. Here you are welcomed by a boulevard of restaurants and bars, before arriving at the vibrant Plaza de Espana - the ports main shopping centre. The majority of the ships arriving here will aim for the north end of the port, placing passengers within a short walk of the centre, however, should the ship be forced to dock to the south area of the u-bend port, then it is an approximate fifteen minute stroll to the central boulevard.
You may decide to head straight for the rugged mountain of Mount Teide, which provides many routes for walkers, trekkers, cyclists and climbers alike. Before climbing to the peak of the mountain, go through the Esperanza Forest and head for the peak either by hike or alternatively choose from various methods of transport to explore the awe inspiring scenery. One exciting option would be a Jeep adventure, which is often a best-selling shore excursion.
‘Strenuous exercise on my holiday? No way, hosay!’. Fear not, as you can simply relax and unwind by taking advantage of a beach transfer where you can spend the day nestled under the beautiful Canary Islands sunshine. Alternatively, you can opt for a transfer to and from one of the island’s iconic locations such as Playa de las Americas or Puerto de la Cruz; two of the Canary Islands’ most well-known holiday resorts.
For families there are two brilliant locations for children to have the time of their lives. Start with Loro Park, one of Tenerife’s top attractions, and find an amazing array of wildlife including one of the world’s most extravagant parrot collections. You will also find Californian sea lions, dolphins, orca whales and so much more for all the family to enjoy – young or old.
Tenerife boasts one of the most spectacular waterparks in Europe, so don’t miss out on family fun with a visit to ‘The Water Kingdom’ of Siam Park. This exciting attraction is an aquatic adventure for pulse pounding adrenaline rushes. With over 14 different water based attractions, including Europe’s tallest water slide, this is a great place to enjoy with the kids. Siam Park also boasts a great choice of restaurants, bars and cafes to enjoy; it’s a good choice for the family and an excellent place to spend the day, especially when the sun is shining.
The province of Galicia is home to Vigo and this area is the busiest fishing port in the whole of Spain. Perhaps the most incredible feature of this port of call is the amazing history it holds. Vigo has encountered many naval attacks over the years and the residents are renowned for maintaining their strength and unity. Although many areas of the port of call have been damaged over the years, in modern times, the location is now far more peaceful and presents a wonderful place to visit, especially aboard a cruise. The port of Vigo has earned itself the nickname of "The Green Spain" due to the sheer dominance of countryside scenery. Many Spaniards head here to enjoy the relaxing nature of the location and to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The climate here remains beautiful yet is often slightly cooler than areas further east. The port lies just north of Portugal on the north-west of Spain and the gentle flowing breeze from the coastline makes for a delightful days adventure. Vigo regularly features on both Mediterranean and Canary Islands cruise itineraries.
This is a taste of real Spain and the traditional feel here is excitingly charming. The wondrous characteristics of Vigo provide the chance to take a step back in time and enjoy the fascinating Spanish flavours. The waterfront is a beautiful entrance to the city itself. A delectably elegant setting leads to the famous Castillo Del Castro. An amazing fort, this structure was built to defend the area and overlooks the harbour. This is a brilliant feature to explore and also provides a wonderful vantage point to capture a photograph of the ship nestled into the port beneath you. The daily fish market here is also an iconic feature and the short journey from the cruise port through the winding cobbled streets provides the perfect entrance through the Barrio del Berbes old town.
The advice we would provide to passengers visiting Vigo for the first time would be to enjoy the old town attractions. This destination has been proclaimed a Spanish National Monument and therefore certainly commands respect. The Cathedral of Santa Maria lies here and provides a fantastic atmosphere of sheer beauty.
The excursion opportunities for Vigo revolve primarily around the cultural heritage as well as the Galician extravagance. Wine tasting is a popular choice for the chance to sample Albariño wines. Enjoy sublime tapas whilst taking in a panoramic leisurely tour of the area by coach or perhaps opt for a trek off the beaten track to the famous Monte Aloya Natural Park. A visit to Santiago de Compostela is often a best-selling option with many cruise operators for the chance to independently explore. Here exciting sights such as the Romanesque Collegiate Church of Santa Maria del Sar and the Gelmirez Palace help create one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
A trip to the Portuguese border is often popular especially with the chance to soak up the Galician countryside scenery or alternatively take in the cultural gem that is Pontevedra.
The decision is yours for how you wish to spend your time at this fabulous port of call. A wondrous destination and not to be missed for a day of soaking up the blissful sunshine whilst making your way around the many enthralling sights.
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