Since the early days of cruise ship travel, a transatlantic crossing has been a celebrated and treasured journey. This important trade route from Europe (and sometimes Africa) to the Americas has become an iconic way of travelling in style, spurred on by the fact that ships have become progressively safer, faster and more abundant.
There was a time when the major cruise lines were competing to launch the most luxurious vessels that could make this journey in the quickest time, but nowadays most companies offer transatlantic cruises. And whilst relaxing on board is all part of the experience, it’s not all about sea days and how you spend them.
Many islands lay in the Atlantic Ocean and are often added to itineraries to break up the journey and offer the chance to explore somewhere unique and remote. Here are three such destinations that you may visit.
This Portuguese island is a regular feature on transatlantic cruise itineraries and is a beautiful place to explore. Situated off the cost of Morocco, north of the Canary Islands, the spectacular flora and fauna create the stunning landscapes that attract visitors. And there are many ways to enjoy these, either from the land or up high. Numerous cable cars allow you to look down from incredible viewpoints, whilst keen hikers will enjoy following the maze of levadas (irrigation canals) that wind through the picturesque countryside.
Madeira is the name of the archipelago (which includes two main islands and two other island groups), as well as being the name of the largest island. This is where the majority of cruise ships visit, dropping anchor in the capital of Funchal. It’s the perfect place to try some of the eponymous wine for which the island is famous or head further afield to try adventurous activities like paragliding, kayaking and canyoning.
Santiago, Cape Verde
The Cape Verde Islands are further south than the other Atlantic archipelagos but still feature on many transatlantic crossings. Sometimes, on more in-depth cruises, your ship may stop off in more than one of these beautiful ports, with Mindelo on São Vicente being another popular destination. Most, though, sail into Praia, the capital, where volcanic peaks dominate the landscape. The island offers a taster of African culture and history and is known for enjoying a good party or festival.
Music plays a big role here - as does food. There are plenty of quirky cafes and restaurants where you can sample a mixture of African and Portuguese cuisine which, as with many islands, makes the most of the surrounding seas. Cruise ship passengers could choose to relax on one of the glorious beaches, dive down to take a look beneath the waves or even travel to one of the other islands.
São Miguel Island, The Azores
Another Portuguese territory, the Azores are well-positioned for a transatlantic stop off. Whilst Horta is also a popular point of interest, most ships make their way to Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island. Although not really a secret, you will feel like you have stumbled across a real gem once you start to discover the natural beauty of this remote yet captivating place. Around each corner, you’ll find a different environment where flora and fauna thrive and where the jaw-dropping landscape showcases the volcanic beginnings of the archipelago.
One of the best examples of this lies just minutes from Ponta Delgada port. Lagoa das Sete Cidades is one of the most photographed spots in the Azores and highlight of any visit. Two lakes are separated by a small strip of land that you can drive along to get some fantastic shots. The turquoise waters have filled two reservoirs that were created by historic volcanic eruptions and the result is simply breathtaking. Other popular things to do in Ponta Delgada include whale and dolphin watching; visiting the symbol of the city, Portas da Cidade; exploring underground caverns at Gruta do Carvão and taking a romantic stroll along the harbour promenade.
If you are interesting in a transatlantic cruise that visits any of these destinations, we can help you book your preferred itinerary. Call us today or click here to send us an online enquiry.