A Canarian Christmas
Golden dunes drenched in year-round sunshine. Rugged mountains hiding pretty whitewashed villages. Bays and coves linked together like a magnificent sandy necklace. Nature’s…Time in port: 08:00 - 23:00
Leaving the pier behind, you’ll set off towards Playa del Ingles before arriving in Maspalomas. The dunes here are somewhat of a celebrity in these parts – people come from far and wide to admire the huge mounds of golden sand. There’ll be a quick photo stop here, before you move on to Puerto Mogan, one of the most picturesque towns in Gran Canaria, thanks to its cobbled streets, traditional bougainvillea-clad houses and old harbour filled with bobbing fishing boats. You’ll have about an hour to wander around, so you can browse the shops for souvenirs, relax on the small beach, or head to one of the waterfront restaurants and tuck in to a plate of ‘sancocho’ – salt fish stew served with plump wheat dumplings.
If you’re a connoisseur of art and culture, the island’s cosmopolitan capital is a must. Your first stop is “Mirador de Altavista” where you will enjoy great views of the city, port and Las Canteras Beach. After this, you head to Barrio Vegueta, Las Palmas’ old quarter, its maze of cobbled streets and sun-dappled squares is a joy to explore. Make a stop outside the house and museum of Christopher Columbus. Here, your guide will be on hand to give you the low down on this great explorer. Following some free time here you’ll head to the heart of the city, keep an eye out for bronze statues of Canarian dogs which gave the islands their name. Next up is leafy Parque Doramas, a sleepy park that’s spot on for relaxing. Take a look at the famous ‘dragon trees’. A cross between a tree and a cactus, they don’t have any rings so their age is a total mystery. Parque Doramas is also where you’ll find Pueblo Canario, a traditional-style Canarian village complete with cutesy craft shops. Last but not least, you’ll get to see one of the island’s most impressive natural sights – the Caldera de Bandama - an extinct bowl-shaped volcanic crater at the heart of Gran Canaria. Over 3,000ft high, it’s one of the few inhabited craters in the world and, as you can imagine, the views it offers up are out of this world.
If you want the perfect picture reminder of Gran Canaria, a visit the golden sand dunes of Maspalomas is a must. Located on the island’s south coast the pristine dunes aren’t the only attraction. The climate on this side of Gran Canaria is normally the best on the island. In fact, it was here that the first tourists headed, turning the sleepy little town into a top holiday destination. This half day tour is simple – We’ll drop you off as close to town as possible and your escort will give you a pick-up point and time. All you have to do is choose how to spend your free time. With up to 3 hours and a mix of shops, cafes and, of course, plenty of room to spread out on the beach to catch some rays – where to head first. If you fancy stretching your legs then why not head to the promenade where you can enjoy your free time on the seafront of Meloneras.
Sweeter than wine, Madeira’s a fine excuse to binge on beautiful scenery to your heart’s content. Funchal is the island’s capital, a bewitching collection of cobbledstreets,…ARRIVE IN PORT: 17:00 (DAY 3)
DEPART FROM PORT: 16:00 (DAY 4)
Start as you mean to go on - so the old saying goes. And that’s certainly the case on this trip. Your day begins with a cable car ride from Funchal to nearby Monte. Make sure you’ve got your camera ready because once you reach the top, on a clear day, the panoramic views are superb. When you get to Monte, head for the famous Church of Our Lady of Monte, known for its striking façade of dark basalt stone and whitewash. Then it’s decision time - do you slip and slide down the narrow streets in a toboggan, or rejoin the bus for a more sedate journey down the hill? Sitting in a wicker basket mounted on wooden runners, two drivers guide the sled down through narrow streets, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. Ernest Hemingway once described the experience as ‘exhilarating’. After your ride - whichever one you choose - relax in Funchal’s tranquil Botanical Gardens. Wander through the grounds, inhaling the sweet scent of exotic blooms. Your last stop is at a souvenir shop where you can admire delicate lace as you sip fine Madeiran wine.
One thing’s for sure, Madeira’s not short on natural beauty and this tour serves up some of the island’s best sights. Visit the quaint fishing village of Camara de Lobos where Sir Winston Churchill used to spend his time capturing the views on canvas. Then it’s on to Cabo Girao, a towering cliff that drops down into the sea – an awe-inspiring sight worthy of a place in your holiday scrapbook. Afterwards, you’re off to one of the most enchanting spots on the island - Eira do Serrado. From this viewpoint, look out over the remote mountain village of Curral das Freiras, framed by sweeping valleys and jagged peaks. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air and browse for souvenirs in the nearby local craft shop. Your final stop is at Pico dos Barcelos to take in those last dreamy views before making your way back to Funchal.
Your morning starts at Funchal’s Farmer’s Market, where stalls groan under the weight of fruits, vegetables and fragrant blooms. Then take a ride through the hills of Funchal and clap eyes on the greenery that gives Madeira its name ‘The Floating Garden’. Once you get to the Botanical Gardens you’ll get some time to yourself to walk the terraces that climb from 200 to 300 metres. Explore the paths that wind between dragon and coral trees, and see all those beautiful flowers that have been brought here from around the world. Set some time aside for the views, too – the city of Funchal stretches out far below you. When you’re done there, take an exhilarating cable car ride to the village of Monte. Perched high up on a hill, its landmark is a little church whose twin towers spear the skyline. After you’ve had a chance to explore, it’s time to head back to Funchal by coach, polishing off your trip with a visit to one of Madeira’s finest wine cellars.
Its lunar landscape is legendary, its sun-soaked beaches loved worldwide, and its all-round postcard prettiness powerful enough to draw people back year after year. In…Time in port: 10:00 - 18:00
If there’s one place you HAVE to go in Lanzarote, it’s Timanfaya National Park. Born out of fiery volcanic eruptions, this corner of Lanzarote is all craters, calderas and cones. Drive through the barren landscape taking in the luna-like scenery and stop to see local guides perform amazing volcanic experiments. They’ll turn brushwood into fire and cups of water into steaming geysers. You can even take a camel ride through the scorched valleys and across the crater’s edge. Leaving Timanfaya behind, pay a visit to the vineyards of La Geria where you can try – and buy – the local tipples before heading back to the ship.
If your holiday mantra is ‘busy doing nothing’, you’ll love this trip to Lanzarote’s most popular beach resort, Puerto del Carmen. This is one of the few places on the island that doesn’t close down for siesta – its sandy beaches, shops, cafés and bars buzz with life round the clock. Pick up some souvenirs, stock up on your duty frees or simply laze away the day in the sunshine, the choice is yours. It’s a fun, half day trip that’s spot on if you’re ready to relax.
A set transfer to the second largest tourist resort in Lanzarote, Costa Teguise. Time is your own to explore and enjoy this popular resort. It's an easy way to get there as taxis are limited in the port area.
La Gomera is the Canary Islands stripped bare. Its beaches are quiet, its villages are sleepy and its countryside is fleeced with forests and dramatic mountain ridges.…Time in port: 09:00 - 16:00
If you fancy getting to grips with La Gomera’s rugged interiors, this trip is ideal. You’ll set off from La Gomera’s capital, San Sebastian, which is packed with low-rise, brightly-coloured houses, and narrow, winding streets. The Valley of Hermigua, which is well-known for its sprawling banana plantations, is first on the agenda today. You’ll get a good look at the vast fields on your way to Agulo, a pretty village that’s surrounded by a huge basalt wall, which measures 300 metres high. There’ll be a photo stop here, so you can get out and enjoy the panoramas across the Atlantic Sea. If you’re really lucky and the weather is clear, you’ll be able to see Tenerife in the distance, too. Finally, you’ll drive through the sweeping Garajonay National Park, an ancient ecosystem that’s part of the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage collection. Look out for wildlife unique to the area, as you pass Jurassic-sized ferns and spiky cacti. There’ll be one more stop en route to the ship at Agando – an area of bizarre basalt rock formations that have formed over thousands of years.
La Gomera moves at a much sleepier pace than its Canary Island neighbours. The island’s main attractions are its lush valleys, rocky mountains and sprawling greenery, and this driving tour will give you a great introduction to the landscape. It begins in the peaceful capital, San Sebastián, where you’ll board a coach at the city’s harbour, before trundling past the rainbow-coloured houses that tumble down the hillside. Once upon a time, San Sebastian was the HQ of Christopher Columbus, and you’ll pass La Asuncion Church where he and his crew attended mass before setting off to find the new world. Leaving the capital behind, you’ll head south to Los Roques de Agando, a well-known viewpoint that looks out over a surreal rock formation. After a photo stop here, you’ll continue through the pretty villages of Chipude and El Cercado, the latter of which is famous across the island for its beautiful pottery. There’ll be a final stop in the village of Arure, where you’ll enjoy a demonstration of the local whistling language, ‘El Silbo’. Afterwards, you can sample some of the local liquor, Mistela – a sweet mix of grape juice and brandy – before you head back to the ship.
La Gomera’s Garajonay National Park is an ancient ecosystem that stretches for over 15 square miles. Its deep gorges and thick woodland have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and the hundreds of walking trails here mean visitors can enjoy it from every angle. On this tour, you’ll don your hiking boots for a trek through the park’s humid depths. You’ll set off with your guide through the Laurisilva Forest first of all, making tracks for Garajonay Rock. At over 1,487 metres above sea level, it’s the highest point on the island and, on a clear day, the views stretch all the way out to Tenerife and La Palma. Continuing through Laurel Forest, you’ll pick a path along a watercourse, which eventually leads to a tiny chapel. Then, you’ll journey through El Cedro Forest, which is set in the heart of the park. Ancient trees, blackberry bushes and cacti line the bumpy paths here, and you’ll follow them to the end of the trail, ready for a scenic drive back to the ship.
Fuerteventura is the Canary Island of choice for beach connoisseurs. Its coastline morphs from the 10 kilometre-long blonde sweep in the Parque Natural de las Dunas to…Time in port: 08:00 - 18:00
This half-day trip showcases the history and culture of Fuerteventura. Your tour starts as you drive through the island’s flat, volcanic landscape on your way to La Alcogida Ecomuseum. This open-air spot features working recreations of stone farmhouses, which give you a real insight into the islanders’ life of old. It shows how farmers cared for their livestock amid the arid landscapes. Next up is a wildlife display at Casa Santa Maria. While you’re here you’ll also learn how they make the island’s award winning cheese, and there’ll be a chance to try a bit. A multi-vision show highlights life on Fuerteventura by land and sea. It’s a dazzling cinematic experience charting the island’s geology, flora, fauna and marine life through the seasons. Later, you’ll head to an aloe vera farm for a guided tour that tells you all about this healing plant. It’s been harvested on the island for its medicinal and cosmetic properties for centuries. Afterwards, try and buy some products or stroll around the surrounding valley to enjoy the scenery.
This trip takes all the hassle out of getting to and from the beach. You’ll be whisked to Corralejo’s 11-kilometre stretch of beach by bus. Then you’ll have three hours or so to spend relaxing on the sands, walking the dunes, and swimming in the sea – be careful, though, the currents can be quite strong. Alternatively, explore the town of Corralejo itself. A small fishing village just a few decades ago, it’s now a bustling port and holiday resort. Browse the designer boutiques and surfwear shops around the central square, snap up souvenirs, and amble along the waterfront, calling in at the pavement bars and restaurants.
Buckle up for this adrenaline-pumping tour. You’ll board a 4x4 and travel on and off-road, trundling by sleepy villages, idyllic beaches and rugged mountains. On the first leg of the journey you’ll pass through traditional villages, colourful fields and palm groves on route to Tindaya. This whitewashed village spreads beneath volcanic Mount Tindaya, which locals say attracts witches and strange phenomena. The mountain was once used for religious worship and footprints left by Fuerteventura’s original Guanche inhabitants have been discovered on its slopes. Next, you’ll rumble past remote beaches en route to El Cotillo, a rustic fishing village flanked by windswept coves and lagoons. This makes it the perfect stop and if there's time, why not take a quick dip? On the home straight, we’ll pass the island’s famous sand dunes. Their awe inspiring golden sands backed with the turquoise water is the perfect place to stop for a photo before we return to the ship.