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.
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 wine cellars.
You’ll feel like you’ve switched continents when you dine at this restaurant. It offers a pan-Asian selection of curries and noodle dishes, a separate sushi menu, plus bespoke dishes created by master chef Ian Pengelley exclusively for Marella Cruises. This is one of the ship's speciality restaurants, so there's a charge to dine here – plus, we recommend you make a reservation in advance.
You’ll be whisked to sunny Spain when you dine in this section of The Mediterranean, which specialises in tapas dishes for dinner. Or you can take your taste buds over to Portugal and try espetadas – meat or veg skewers – for a little extra. It's open at lunchtime, too, for light bites, like sandwiches and jacket potatoes.
The main waiter service restaurant is a good-looking place, with a gold-and-grey colour scheme and floor-to-ceiling windows. Menu-wise, you can expect traditional dishes with a modern twist.
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.
For a different way of exploring a port of call, try one of our bike tours. This way, you can really get to know a destination and see the places that bus tours can't reach. You'll be led around by a guide, who'll give you the lowdown on all the sights.