Atlantic Islands comprise the Canaries, Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde Islands – beach resorts, volcanoes, rugged scenery and even desert – all off the west coast of Africa. The Canaries are a popular cruise area, particularly in winter, offering a warm African climate with a European ambience. Further out into the Atlantic Ocean are the mountainous Azores. Further south and 400 miles off the west coast of Senegal are the Cape Verde Islands and in the South Atlantic you will find St Helena and Ascension Island, all hosts to cruise ships.
Canaries and Madeira
The seven Canary Islands are scattered some 70 miles off the coast of Morocco. Gran Canaria offers busy resorts, impressive architecture and a mini Sahara while Tenerife has mountainous rainforests and great beaches. Lanzarote features moon-like landscapes in its Fire Mountain Volcanic Park and is close to the semi desert Fuertaventura with its extensive sandy beaches. Further out into the Atlantic are the unspoilt mountainous volcanic islands of La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. Green and mountainous Madeira, 250 miles to the north, has its capital Funchal to entertain you with its maze of winding cobbled streets and traditional sled rides down the steep streets.
Cruises to the Canary Islands and Madeira can be taken from the UK or Mediterranean ports like Genoa either as return voyages of 7 to 14 days or as a sector of a Transatlantic voyage. There are also cruises around the islands leaving from Tenerife or Gran Canaria.
Azores and Cape Verde Islands
The nine islands of the Azores, discovered by the Portuguese and long a haven for voyages between the Old and New Worlds, feature craters, lakes, sheer cliffs and lush valleys. The Cape Verde Islands are also a mountainous Volcanic archipelago with attractive towns and old Portuguese colonial buildings. Mainly staging posts on transatlantic cruises, there are occasional round trip cruises from Western Europe.
South Atlantic Islands
The tiny remote islands of St Helena and Ascension are set in the tropical South Atlantic, 1,500 miles and 2200 miles north-west of Cape Town, mid way between Africa and South America. World cruises will sometimes call as they travel north or south and there are some cruises leaving and returning to Cape Town that visit the islands.
When to Visit?
The African heat is tempered by the Atlantic Ocean to provide a climate in the Canaries that is mild to warm in winter and hot in summer. Consequently this is an all year round destination with the majority of cruises taking place from Autumn to Spring. Weather in the more remote Atlantic Islands will depend on the season and transatlantic voyages are normally scheduled for Spring and Autumn when cruise ships are repositioning on either side of the Atlantic.