Departs: 29 Mar 2020
16 Nights Full Board
Ports of call
Newcastle • Oporto (from Leixoes), Portugal • Funchal, Madeira • Snta Cruz, La Palma • Santa Cruz, Tenerife • Las Palmas, Gran Canaria • Arrecife, Lanzarote • La Coruna, Spain • Newcastle
Sailing from Newcastle
A short journey from Leixões takes you into the heart of Oporto, with its fortress-like Cathedral and the Baroque Church of Clérigos. Head to the historic Ribeira District, where the narrow, cobbled lanes wind their way down to the Douro River. Don’t forget to visit one of the many wine cellars for a taste of the tipple named after the city, Port. On the ground floor of the Museu Romantico is the Port Wine Institute, where port is served with great ceremony.
Oporto sits deep in the gorge of the River Douro and on the riverside – dominated by the two-level Luis I bridge – it’s possible to look up at the narrow old town streets climbing out of the valley. Pastel-fronted houses with red-tiled roofs line the streets, mixed with neo-classical buildings and wonderful baroque churches. Dominating the centre of the city is the fortress-like Cathedral, which is worth visiting for the views alone.
Funchal, the capital of Portugal's Madeiran archipelago, has a timeless old-world charm. Enhanced by a subtropical climate that fills this 'floating garden' with the year-round colours and perfumes of flowers and fruit, Funchal was a favourite of Sir Winston Churchill. His praise of the city has ensured British visitors always receive a warm welcome from locals.
Backed by rolling hills, the town is famous for its harbour, the 17th century São Tiago Fortress (now the Contemporary Art Museum) and world renowned Madeiran wine cellars. Funchal’s parks and gardens are a delight, and a hike through the Laurel Forest nearby is highly recommended. The ancient Funchal Cathedral mixes Gothic and Romanesque architecture, and is noted for its impressive carved wooden ceiling.
La Palma’s small, yet pretty capital city - is one of the Canary Island’s true gems. Boasting colonial-style architecture, a swathe of charming beaches, restaurants and bars, Santa Cruz is typically Canarian and has something for everyone.
Conquered by the King of Castile in the 15th century, Santa Cruz de La Palma was a key trading post between Spain and the Americas, and the city’s fascinating history can be explored in the historic quarter – one of Spain’s Historic-Artistic sites. The Naval Museum is a replica of Christopher Columbus's 15th-century Santa Maria sailing ship.
Stunning palaces and sumptuous merchants’ houses butt up against the grand town hall, built during the reign of Phillip II. Religious buildings include the Renaissance-style Church of El Salvador, with a tower of volcanic stone, and the Church of Santo Domingo, which houses a superb collection of Flemish paintings.
The compact city centre is incredibly picturesque, and the newly redeveloped beach and promenade have boosted the city's resort credentials. Calle Real, the city’s main street, is famous for being both a Property of Cultural Interest and a Historic-Artistic Site. Santa Cruz’s finest restaurants, shops and prettiest squares are found here, and sampling the delicious local cuisine and local culture is highly recommended.
Sophisticated Santa Cruz - Tenerife's capital - is built around boulevards and wide avenues that link elegant squares and parks.
Well-preserved buildings feature in the old town, including the colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception and the 18th century Palacio de Carta, which has impressive Baroque and neoclassical features. Recently redesigned by the architects Herzog & de Meuron, the city’s largest square, Plaza de España, is a pleasant spot to lose a few hours. Lively beaches such as Playa de Las Americas are within easy reach of Santa Cruz too.
Away from the capital, many of Tenerife's highlights await on tours, including the exotic Botanical Gardens or the mystical lava stone Pyramids of Guimar. Exploring the volcanic El Teide National Park to marvel at majestic Mount Teide, or even climb Spain's highest peak, is an unmissable experience.
With its feel of mainland-Spain, spiced up with an eclectic mix of Asian and African cultures, Las Palmas is one of the Canary Island's most popular destinations, attracting sun-seekers who come to relax on its golden-sand beaches and soak up the gorgeous, year-round climate of Gran Canaria.
Founded over 500 years ago, Las Palmas is the largest city in the Canary Islands, and has three gorgeous beaches, including Playa de las Canteras, regarded as one of the world's best beaches, to enjoy.
Vegueta, the oldest quarter, is both atmospheric and fashionable, with extensive historical architecture plus a fine selection of boutiques and smart bars. At its centre stand the twin towers of Santa Ana Cathedral; started in 1500 but still unfinished, the cathedral has a unique mix of Renaissance, Gothic and Neoclassical styles in its construction. In Plaza Santa Ana, bronze statues of dogs – the Romans named the islands after legendary canines – stand guard over the 17th-century Palacio Regental, the Town Hall and the Bishop's Palace.
The sweet arc of Playa de las Canteras at the town’s other end offers the tantalising possibility of taking a dip between sightseeing and shopping. The bewildering maze of streets behind the beach hides many fine restaurants serving an array of wonderful Canarian cuisine.
The bustling port of Arrecife on Lanzarote’s east coast is home to the biggest fishing fleet in the Canaries. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries the city was regularly attacked by pirates. To defend against these raiders, the court of Spain ordered two castles to be built. The first built in 1590, Castillo San Gabriel, now houses the island’s Ethnographic Museum, which tells the fascinating story of the islands' original inhabitants: the Guanche.
Castillo San Jose followed later, providing employment and alleviating poverty on the island following volcanic eruptions in the 1730s - it became known as the Fortress of Hunger. Today, it is home to the Museum of International and Contemporary Art, with a small but impressive collection of modern paintings and sculpture. The excellent restaurant in its basement offers diners panoramic views over the harbour. Today, Arrecife is a quirky hotchpotch of sun-bleached buildings and has a pleasant Mediterranean-style promenade.
The city of La Coruña is the capital of the province and a busy seaport situated in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. Most famous for its Roman lighthouse, the diverse architectural styles of La Coruña make the city an absolute delight for sightseeing.
La Coruña boasts an impressive seafront promenade, beautiful beaches and a host of attractions such as the Domus Museum, the Casa del Hombre and Torre De Hercules – said to be the only Roman lighthouse in existence – which offers sweeping coastal views from the top of its 60 metre high tower. The Paseo Marítimo, a lovely 13km walkway and bike path, runs from the port, around the peninsula, and along the ocean beaches.
The compact Ciudad Vieja – La Coruña’s old quarter – is a must-visit area. Often referred to as “the city” by the locals, the medieval centre contains remains of the centuries-old Roman wall that once protected it. The arcaded Plaza de María Pita, surrounded by narrow pedestrianized lanes, is a popular spot, and features the Estatua de María Pita, a statue of a 16th century woman who warned the town of an invasion by Sir Francis Drake. The medieval Church of Santiago, the Museum of Sacred Art and the Military Museum are all fine places of interest.
Beyond the historic city is a proud, modern metropolis, which boasts a superb food scene and a buzzing nightlife. The world’s best picnic food, empanadas, and the locally produced beer, Estrella, both demand trying.
At a glance....
Balmoral is Fred. Olsen's largest and newest cruise ship, named after the Scottish home of the Royal Family. Still smaller than most cruise ships today, there are 710 cabins and suites and generous public space for the 1,300 guests on board.
|Passengers||1350 Standard Occupancy|
|Beam (width)||28.2 m|