Warm year-round temperatures are a feature of a cruise to the Canary Islands and Madeira, which lie off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s why they remain so popular as a winter sunshine destination. Less often visited and further out into the Atlantic, you may choose to discover the Portuguese Azores – and all these islands are perfect to explore from a luxury Cunard ship.
The Canary Islands’ diverse landscapes include black sand beaches, cloud forests and towering sand dunes. You may appreciate this on a cable car up to Tenerife’s Mount Teide on a wicker toboggan through the steep streets on Madeira or during camel rides across the volcanic scenery of Lanzarote. Nature has been kind to the Azores too, from spectacular Fire Lake on land to dolphin and whale watching offshore.
While the Romans knew the Canaries as the Fortunate Isles, they never settled in great numbers. It was over the course of the 1400s that the Spanish laid claim to the islands, and Columbus used the both the Canary Island and the Azores as stopovers during his crossings to the New World.
A laid back lifestyle is the signature of any Canary Island cruises. Whichever island you explore, you’ll notice a love of the outdoors and a real connection with the natural environment. Cosy cafés and bars line the towns that have grown around fishing harbours and beautiful beaches. You may hear the sounds of local folk music, while the Auditorio de Tenerife is an emblematic performing arts centre.
Being islands, expect wonderfully fresh fish – restaurants often offer menus shaped by that day’s catch. The constant sun also means rich tomatoes and plump olives feature in many dishes. The Azores are also known for their pineapples, which they claim as the finest in the world.