Canary Islands & Madeira Winter Warmth
- After all the excitement, stress and strain of the hectic festive season, this enticing escape to the winter warmth of the beautiful Canaries and Madeira is the perfect way to settle into the new year.
- You’ll have chances to unwind on Gran Canaria’s golden sands; marvel at the volcanic landscapes of Tenerife and Lanzarote; explore the verdant lands of La Palma; and stimulate your senses with Madeira’s fragrant gardens.
- Before and after your island hopping adventures, two picturesque mainland cities provide plenty of highlights: Lisbon and La Coruña boast an abundance of architectural, historical and cultural delights.
2 February 2021 - 14 nights
The first of five gorgeous islands on your itinerary is Madeira. With its lush landscapes and vibrant botanical gardens, the Portuguese ‘garden island’ will beg to be explored during your call into Funchal. You could take in the floral scenes of the fragrant Monte Palace Tropical Garden, accessed by cable car from the island’s capital; or perhaps explore the unique levada trails and uncover lush-green scenery and incredible vistas. Then in the Canaries, you’ll experience the very best of this sun-soaked archipelago with calls into four inviting islands on consecutive days. On the ‘pretty island’ of La Palma, you’ll have the chance to see the soaring San Antonio Volcano; or savour a taste of the island’s local wines at the welcoming town of Fuencaliente on tours from Santa Cruz, while Santa Cruz de Tenerife is your gateway to the countless highlights of the largest Canary Island. The mysterious Pyramids of Güímar are the perfect place to while away a couple of hours in the sunshine; and riding a cable car up mighty Mount Teide – Spain’s highest peak – is an unforgettable experience. Of course, a full day in Tenerife will afford time to relax on the island’s glorious beaches too.
In Gran Canaria – an island renowned for its year-round tropical climate – you can take in the mix of fine architecture in Las Palmas’ charming Vagueta district; or delve deeper to discover picturesque towns such as Puerto de Mogán and Santa Brígida, which boasts pretty streets lined with eucalyptus and flower-adorned houses. Alternatively, you might prefer to unwind on the oasis-like sands of Maspalomas Beach, but whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to forget about the cold, wet weather back home as you bask in the soothing warmth. A stop at Lanzarote will offer you the chance to see the fascinating rock formations of Timanfaya National Park’s surreal, lunar-like landscapes; or go in search of the famous works of architect César Manrique, such as the Jameos del Agua caves, a remarkable exhibit of geology and architectural design. Before and after your island-hopping adventures Balmoral will also head to the shores of mainland Spain and Portugal and sail into two culture-rich, attraction-packed cities. You’ll have the chance to discover the architectural delights of historic La Coruña, including the Torre de Hercules lighthouse and the striking facades of Maria Pita Square; and explore Lisbon on foot, via the tram or even on a tuk-tuk tour to uncover the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery and much more.
- 14 nights onboard Fred. Olsen's Balmoral
- Comfortable, stylish cabins and suites equipped with a Smart TV, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, a fridge and individually controlled air conditioning
- A tempting choice of cuisine every day throughout your cruise – with five-course à la carte dinners, casual breakfast and lunch buffets, late-night snacks and much more
- Unlimited, self-service tea and coffee available 24hrs at selected venues, complimentary afternoon tea* with sandwiches and cakes, and in-room sandwiches and snacks
- A full programme of evening entertainment, including cabaret shows, comedy, dancing and live music
- Full use of on board leisure facilities, including swimming pools, Jacuzzis and gym
- A wide choice of engaging on board activities and lectures throughout the day
- All UK port taxes (where collectable in advance)
- Luggage porterage between your cabin and the drop-off/pick-up point
- Formal welcome and/or Captain’s Drinks Party and Gala Buffet
Day 1 Southampton, United Kingdom
Set sail from Southampton on the beautiful Balmoral
Day 4 Lisbon, Portugal
Stretched across its seven trademark hills overlooking the River Tagus estuary, Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city of Lisbon, is a cinematic collection of cobbled alleyways, pastel-coloured buildings, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals. The city was decimated by an earthquake in 1755, and modern Lisbon has been shaped by that eventful day. The Pombaline architecture that now defines the city represents some of the first seismically-protected buildings in Europe.
The city’s bridges include the Ponte 25 de Abril – similar to the Golden Gate in San Francisco – and the Ponte Vasco da Gama, which includes over 11km of viaducts. Lisbon’s many fascinating museums, include the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Coach Museum and the Carmo Archaeological
Day 6 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
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.
Day 7 Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain
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.
Day 8 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
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.
Day 9 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain
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.
Day 10 Arrecife, Spain
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.
Day 13 La Coruña, Spain
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.
Day 15 Southampton, United Kingdom
Time to say our farewells and make our way home.