Catch four Canaries… with just one cruise: A fabulous whirlwind voyage around the Spanish islands aboard boutique line Azamara’s latest ship
- Caroline Hendrie boards the mid-size ship Azamara Onward for a trip that begins and ends in Gran Canaria
- During downtime on board she advises checking into the ship’s Sanctum Spa for a full Swedish massage
- In Tenerife, don’t miss the ‘heart-soaring’ cable car ride up to Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, she says
Caroline Hendrie goes island hopping around the Canaries on cruise line Azamara’s latest ship, Azamara Onward (above)
You fancy a tour of the Canaries, taking in several islands, but you have only a week’s holiday – so how do you fit them all in? Look no further than boutique line Azamara’s latest ship, Azamara Onward, and its fabulous whirlwind Canaries round trip.
This mid-size ship carries fewer than 700 passengers, leaving plenty of room for bars and lounges, from the airy, glass-walled Living Room overlooking the bow to the cosy, book-lined Drawing Room. Or simply chill around the pool with drinks (included in the fare) from the Sunset Bar.
THE HIGH LIFE ON LA PALMA
Azamara Onward (pictured) carries fewer than 700 passengers, ‘leaving plenty of room for bars and lounges’, Caroline reveals
A state room aboard Azamara Onward. During your time on board, Caroline recommends chilling around the pool with drinks from the Sunset Bar, which are included in the fare
La Palma’s capital, Santa Cruz (pictured), is ‘a great little town to explore, with the beach, shops, cafes and tapas bars a short stroll from the ship’
Above are colourful buildings in Santa Cruz
This round trip begins with Azamara Onward departing Gran Canaria and heading to a bonus fifth island – Madeira, part of Portugal. After spending the night in port at its capital, Funchal, where you can grab a selfie with the enormous statue of home-grown superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, you’ll set sail for La Palma.
The world’s steepest island, soaring to 7,960ft, it made headlines last year with the spectacular eruption of Cumbre Vieja, the volcano that makes up the southern half of the island.
But you’ll dock on the other side of the island, at 9am, in the charming capital, Santa Cruz. This is a great little town to explore, with the beach, shops, cafes and tapas bars a short stroll from the ship. Look out for the row of historic houses on the seafront with wooden balconies spilling with bright flowers.
Don’t miss: The Island Museum in a tranquil former Franciscan convent, with seats in shady cloisters and sun-dappled courtyards, and an interesting collection of natural and seafaring history, contemporary art and religious artefacts.
Downtime on board: The ship doesn’t sail again until 10pm, so take your time over a tip-top breakfast in Discoveries Restaurant. Stand-out dishes include perfectly plated shakshuka, Japanese courgette noodle breakfast bowl and ratatouille with scrambled eggs.
GO GREEN ON LA GOMERA
Variety show: Guests will spend the day on La Gomera. The island’s dramatic landscape is its biggest draw, says Caroline. Above is the isle’s Roque de Agando volcanic plug
You’ll arrive on the greenest of the Canaries, with little tourist development, at 8am.
Cleaved by deep ravines and fringed with cliffs, where most of the beaches are accessible only by boat, the island’s dramatic landscape is its biggest draw.
An ages-old whistling language, Silbo, which was used to communicate across the ravines, is still heard where there is no mobile phone connection.
Keep an eye out for native birds such as Atlantic canaries, laurel pigeons and Bolle’s pigeons on a trek through the Garajonay National Park, pictured
Don’t miss: Take your pick of 370 miles of trails in Garajonay National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site. On a guided walk in the ancient laurel forest, you’ll half expect to see hobbits among the twisted roots of moss-covered trees. Keep an eye out for native birds such as Atlantic canaries, laurel pigeons and Bolle’s pigeons.
Downtime on board: Check in at the Sanctum Spa for a full Swedish or one of six other relaxing and invigorating massages on the menu.
CLOUD SURF ON TENERIFE
When the ship arrives in Tenerife, passengers can set off on a scenic trek through Anaga Rural Park, pictured
After an overnight voyage, your ship will dock in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife. It’s an ideal jump-off point to see the green north-west of this, the largest Canary Island. Anaga Rural Park has three easy, circular trails from Cruz del Carmen viewpoint through the beautiful cloud forest, filled with heather trees and gnarled laurels dripping with moss.
Back in Santa Cruz, tram No 1 will whisk you to the laid-back old capital, San Cristobal de La Laguna, which has preserved its colourful 16th Century colonial buildings. Stroll around the pedestrianised Old Town and stop at a pavement cafe to dip churros fresh from the frier into hot chocolate.
You will already be familiar with the outline of Mount Teide, an active volcano so huge it is visible from La Gomera. A tour of Teide National Park feels like entering a different world, with torrents of petrified black lava, weirdly shaped monoliths, giant boulders and swathes of yellow, gravel-like dunes.
Make sure to take the cable car ride up to the platform close to the summit of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak
It seems bleak, but there are nearly 200 species of plants growing here, 32 of them unique to Tenerife.
Don’t miss: The heart-soaring cable car ride up to the platform close to the summit of Mount Teide (Spain’s highest peak). You’ll reach 11,663ft in eight minutes for views over puffy white clouds to the sea.
Downtime on board: Bag your place at the Explorer’s Dinner, with six courses of Spanish dishes made with ingredients brought from the New World by the conquistadors.
CAMELS IN GRAN CANARIA
While docked in Gran Canaria, you can cross the rolling sand dunes of Maspalomas on a camel (pictured)
Departing Tenerife at 10pm, the final leg on this tour will return you to Gran Canaria, docking at 8am the next morning.
There is so much more to this island than the hotels, malls, pubs and clubs of Playa del Ingles.
You can hike to the bottom of the crater of the extinct Bandama volcano, taste unique wines grown in volcanic soil, cross the rolling sand dunes of Maspalomas on a camel and explore the capital, Las Palmas, where the house that Christopher Columbus stayed in before he sailed to the Americas still stands.
Caroline recommends hiking to the bottom of the crater of the extinct Bandama volcano (pictured) on Gran Canaria
Don’t miss: Potter in the maze of narrow, cobbled streets and tiny squares of Vegueta, the oldest quarter of Las Palmas.
In the 19th Century markethall you can stock up on coffee beans, Canarian wines and cheeses, olive oil and dried fruit to take home.
Downtime on board: Start your final evening with Spanish music and tapas such as rich roast artichoke with sun-dried tomato, melt-in-the-mouth tortilla and carpaccio of beef.
Caroline Hendrie was a guest of Azamara (azamara.co.uk), which has a seven-night Canary Islands Intensive Voyage aboard new ship Azamara Onward departing on March 11, 2023. Fares start at £937pp, including drinks and gratuities but not flights. For more information, visit hellocanaryislands.com and webtenerife.co.uk.
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