Cruises to the Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are a favourite among travellers cruising Europe and of Europeans fleeing the dead of winter. The archipelago’s seemingly eternal spring, delectable beaches, impressive geologic features, and distinct blend of cultures make this offshore Spanish autonomous community a compelling destination.
Composed of seven major islands, the Canaries are actually much closer to northwest mainland Africa than it is to Spain, hence the many African immigrants that come to its shores for better opportunities. Although the islands have thriving agriculture and fishing sectors, tourism forms the bulk of economic revenue. Canary Islands cruises are the main drivers of the tourist trade.
Canary Islands Cruises typically depart from Southampton in England, though there are also cruises from Rome and even trans-Atlantic voyages calling on the many ports of the Canary Islands.
Tenerife is the largest of the major islands and easily the most popular and the most populous. This is where all of the cruises to the Canary Islands call on, followed by stops at the ports of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and La Palma, depending on the cruise itinerary you choose.
Cruise to the Canary Islands and balmy Tenerife
Tenerife is easily the most recognizable of the “Canarias” not just because it is the economic hub of the archipelago, but equally so because it is the most visually stunning of the Canaries, dominated by the towering El Teide, considered the third largest volcano in the world. Even though snow can be seen capping the summit of El Teide in winter, the general climate of Tenerife is mild, making it an escape of choice for shivering travelers from up north.
On Tenerife, cruises to the Canary Islands stop at the port of Santa Cruz, capital of the Canaries. Outside, the city bustles with urban traffic. The Canary Islands are visited by 12 million tourists a year, most of which end up in Tenerife. While this island is admittedly heaving with tourists and all other accoutrements that come with the trade, there are pockets of quiet and sleepy village charm you can stumble upon if given enough excursion time ashore.
Cruise stops on other Canary Islands
Cruises to the Canary Islands always call on Tenerife, but your holiday would be enriched more if you venture out of this touristy stop.
Gran Canaria is another favorite, it being blessed with plenty of soft sand beaches and 350 spring-like days out of every year. The island interior features craggy gorges and gaping craters because of its volcanic origin.
La Palma (not to be confused with Las Palmas of Gran Canaria), typically included in a trans-Atlantic cruise to the Canary Islands, beckons with cobbled streets, arty shops, intriguing pre-historic human settlements, and active volcanoes! The volcanic crater Caldera de Taburiente is large and deep and home to varied animal and plant life.
Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera and El Hierro complete the Canarias, along with smaller islands La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montana Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste that are also volcanic in origin. Canary Islands cruises may include Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in their itineraries; otherwise you can get to them and the rest via catamaran or ferry rides from Tenerife.