Atlantic Islands Exploration
Join this island-hopping voyage, as we take you to a carefully selected collection of interesting, warm and sunny destinations. You will experience the lesser-visited parts of the Canary Islands, get to know green and lush Madeira, explore three of the remote islands of the Azores and visit two of the most charming towns of Morocco, all in one voyage.
As one of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon offers centuries of heritage and charm, and has been influenced by many different cultures over time. It was home to great explorers like Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator. Take time to explore this fascinating city before embarkation. Lisbon´s historic districts feel like different villages as you stroll the charming streets. Visit the city’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Lisbon has a network of quaint, old-fashioned trams that lurch and screech around the narrow streets. No visit is complete without taking a ride on one of these classic, pre-war, Remodelado trams. Discover the many hidden gems of Portugal’s capital at your own pace.
The first day is spent at sea. The Expedition team starts with the lectures programme, so have fun and learn more about our next port of call in Madeira or enjoy life on deck.
The picturesque city of Funchal is set perfectly on the sunny south coast of Madeira, its backdrop a protective ring of green mountains, forming a huge natural amphitheatre that faces the blue Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful 500-year old city is best discovered by foot, and is teeming of interesting history. The historic centre, with its port and promenade, quaint and narrow winding streets, shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, is ideal for wandering. Points of interest include the Cathedral, Theatre, Town Hall and the waterfront. The cable car provides a panoramic ride to Monte where you can enjoy the overview of the bay in a pastiche of blues, greens and oranges. This lush and verdant island is perfect for hikes, and we will also have a wide range of excursions to see more of the magical place.
Exploration day means that the program of the day will be determined on site, to really get the best experience out of our location. This could be a landing on a secluded beach, a barbeque event, a visit to a local community that rarely accepts a ship visit or a stop to view migrating whales in a bay. The islands of Porto Santo and the Ilhas Desertas are possible destinations for the day.
We set course towards the Azores. Most people still know little, if anything, about this far-flung archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic. And yet it is hard to imagine a place better suited to nature lovers, fans of adventure sports, or anyone looking for a beacon of sustainability. Enjoy the lectures to hear more about this fascinating place.
Ponta Delgada is the main town on São Miguel Island, and has been the Azores’ capital since 1546. The fertile soils and safe bays first made this island a trading post in the 1500s, a role that it has maintained until today. Ponta Delgada displays urban architecture from the 17th to the 19th centuries and its three main churches are authentic works of art from the 16th, 17th and 18th century. Experience the buzzing city life in the main streets, relax at the calmer marina area or join one of our excursions. One of them goes to the famous lagoon Sete Cidades Massif. The volcanic, yet green, landscape of Sete Cidades is protected and is referred to as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.
Pico is the second largest island of the Azores and is dominated by the highest mountain in Portugal rising 2,351m above sea level. Pico is referred to as the Ilha Preta (“Black Island”), because of the black volcanic earth. The Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape is a sublime mixture of lava rock and exotic vegetation, making it ideal for hiking, walking and bird watching. The islands history and economy is closely linked to its winery and whale hunting traditions. The latter introduced a new economy at the end of the 18th century by the presence of American whalers in the waters of the Azores. Whaling became the primary industry around the island until the 1970s. In the small village Vila da Madalena you can see the impressive church - Santa Maria Madalana - that dates to the 17th Century. Vineyards and the fruit industry, in particular the citrus orchards, have been important export crops, and today the economy is also boosted by the dairy industry and ecotourism. Come ashore to explore the island. One of our optional excursions will take you to the UNESCO site where you can see an outstanding example of the adaptation of farming practices to a remote and challenging environment.
This is the historical capital of the archipelago, the Azores’ oldest city and the island group´s main city. Founded in the 15th century, Angra has twice briefly served as Portugal’s capital. Its location along the route from the New World brought precious commodities in and made the city prosperous. Overlooking the city and the bay is the formidable 16th Century fortress of São João Baptista, with its 4 km long exterior wall, constructed in the late 1500s. The architecture is testimony to the kings and noblemen who contributed to the landscape of the city. A large portion of Angra’s historical centre has been classified Public Interest, and is included in UNESCO’s List of World Patrimony. A trip across parts of the island will reveal dry-stone walls hemming in patchwork fields and more cows than people, with the volcanic Serra de Santa Bárbara massif looming to the west. Away from the coast, Terceira is a wild and hilly landscape with several walking and hiking trails. A big part of the interior of the island is a nature reserve.
Leaving the archipelago of the Azores behind us, our course is set for the Canary Islands further to the southeast.
Join lectures, look for wildlife or birds from deck or just relax.
Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is surely one of the most scenic islands in the world! Dominated by the huge outline of Mount Teide the world third largest volcano and a World Heritage Site, this volcanic island offers a wide variety of landscapes and activities. You may find yourself strolling through a sleepy hillside village, making your way through the dense foliage of a banana plantation or you relaxing on a sunny, sandy beach. Join one of the optional excursions to explore the island. We aim to visit Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar, which has an interesting story; Archaeologists and authorities scoffed when a local newspaper published an article claiming to have discovered mysterious step-pyramids on the island in the early 1990’s. Just more agricultural stone terraces they said, common throughout the Canaries. But Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl thought differently. Dr. Heyerdahl had extensive research on the pyramids of Túcume in Peru, and was intrigued by photos of the site. After visiting the valley of Güímar he believed these were neither terraces nor random piles of stone cleared by the Spaniards, as some had claimed. Instead, Heyerdahl felt they were painstakingly built step-pyramids, constructed according to similar principles as those in Mexico, Peru and ancient Mesopotamia. The Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar offers you the possibility to visit these rare and interesting structures, and will provide you with theories regarding the possible diffusion of ancient civilisations. Besides the six step pyramids, the ethnographic park is also home to the Museo Casa Chacona (museum of Casa Chacona), where a life-size replica of Dr. Heyerdahls’ boat, indigenous masks and ceramic figures are on display.
La Gomera may only be a small island, but few places in the world can rival its biodiversity. The vegetation is unexpectedly rich and includes species which cannot be found anywhere else the world. The small capital San Sebastian is known for its historic past. In the middle of the island Garajonay National Park consists of dense forest made up of different plant species. The area is often surrounded by a sea of clouds, lending the forest a magical aspect, and this is one reason is was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. La Gomera is also famous for its Silbo Gomero, a special whistle used by the inhabitants to communicate across the deep ravines and narrow valleys that radiate through the island. UNESCO declared this whistle “language” in the publication Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
From the Canary Islands, we sail to the west coast of Africa, and you still have time to join some of the fascinating lectures from the expedition team. The temperature will probably invite you to stay on deck, where you can enjoy the view and relax.
Safi is one of the oldest settlements in Morocco. The Phoenicians and the Romans frequented Safi’s natural harbour, and in the 11th century it was a port for the trans-Saharan trade between Marrakesh and Guinea, where gold, slaves and ivory were sold. In the 14th century the town became an important religious and cultural centre. When the Portuguese ruled the city, they built a citadel surrounding a military enclave, still intact today, called the Kechla. In the 16th century, Safi grew wealthy from trade in copper and sugar, and European merchants and agents flocked to the city. To experience the real atmosphere though, head for the alleys of the walled and fortified medina (old town). If you are looking for a real souvenir, check out the typical, brightly coloured Safi pottery. The bulk of Morocco’s pottery is produced here using local clay, and almost all items are made by hand.
Our expedition ends in Casablanca, Africa. We recommend that you stay out on deck when we sail into the harbour; The Hassan II Mosque is an amazing sight. The mosque is the seventh largest in the world, and 105,000 faithful can pray here at the same time. If you have the time, you can also explore the ‘White City’. To get a true feel for this lively African city, take a walk through the narrow streets and visit the local souk (African market place).
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