Cruising the Canary Islands
The Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands is an autonomous community, about 100 kilometres off the coast of Morocco. With a great range of nightlife and truly incredible weather, it draws crowds of tourists from around the world. But those are by no means the only attractions. The blend of Spanish and indigenous influences has created a vibrant culture that will charm you as soon as you arrive.
Why You’ll Love the Canary Islands
There is so much to appreciate here, no matter what you are in the mood for. Culture and history buffs can explore the many churches and museums, and night owls will love the clubs. Markets and cafés allow you to sample local produce and crafts, and the sheer natural beauty of the archipelago will take your breath away.
Go on a guided or independent walk during the day, or take advantage of the unspoiled surroundings at night to indulge in some of the best stargazing you will ever experience. And of course, indulge in the delicious local wine produced from grapes that are grown in volcanic ash. The fact that most locals speak English as well as the official national language of Spanish is a serious advantage; it makes it much easier to get around and find what you need.
Every island has its own unique appeal, and you will really get to see that on a ship. You’ll find options that stop over in a few ports for a longer time, and ones that really take island hopping to new heights. You can also choose whether to focus on the Islands, or visit them as part of a trip around the Western Mediterranean, Northern Africa or Western Europe. A few ports also usually feature on transatlantic trips.
When to Go
There isn’t really a bad time to visit the Canaries; it depends what is most important to you when you are on holiday. Sunny weather is always guaranteed, and liners sail there all year round. The hottest months are July, August and September, so sun worshippers should go then.
The islands are especially lush in January and February, following the rainy months. And the spectacular Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, also held in February, is an unforgettable experience. The busiest season is from December to March, when the weather is at its most perfect.
What to Pack
- Layered clothing for changing temperatures. The natural terrain on the islands varies so much that you’ll go from warm to cool as you move around.
- Decent hiking gear – you can walk up volcanoes if you choose to.
- Cash to spend at the markets, bars, restaurants, cafés and clubs.
- Books to read during the afternoon siesta, when most businesses close.
Who to Sail With
A number of trusted cruise lines can take you to the Canaries. Fred Olsen, P&O, Cunard, MSC, Saga and Marella all offer affordable options with itineraries that stop at some of the islands’ ports. If you want to spend a little more, you can board the luxury tall ship Sea Cloud and enjoy a round trip that focuses exclusively on the archipelago.
Fred Olsen creates its famous “British country house” feel on its Canary cruises, while you can enjoy ballroom dancing, games on the deck and afternoon tea with P&O and Marella. The Cunard line creates an atmosphere of luxury and will remind you of the Golden Era of yesterday. And, on all of them, you’ll be able to relax and sip a delicious cocktail as you watch the majestic sunsets over the water.
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