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Set on seven hills on the banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon has been the capital of Portugal since the 13th century. It is a city famous for its majestic architecture, old wooden trams, Moorish features and more than twenty centuries of history. Following disastrous earthquakes in the 18th century, Lisbon was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal who created an elegant city with wide boulevards and a great riverfront and square, Praça do Comércio. Today there are distinct modern and ancient sections, combining great shopping with culture and sightseeing in the Old Town, built on the city's terraced hillsides. The distance between the ship and your tour vehicle may vary. This distance is not included in the excursion grades.
Formed by a volcanic eruption, Madeira lies in the Gulf Stream, about 500 miles due west of Casablanca. Discovered by Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves Zarco in 1419, this beautiful island became part of Portugal’s vast empire and was named for the dense forest which cloaked it - 'Madeira' means 'wood' in Portuguese. Sugar plantations first brought wealth here, and when King Charles II of England granted an exclusive franchise to sell wine to England and its colonies, many British emigrants were drawn to the capital, Funchal. Today’s travellers come to Madeira for the varied and luxuriant scenery, from mountain slopes covered with vines to picturesque villages and a profusion of wild flowers. The natural beauty of the island has earned it many pseudonyms such as ‘The Floating Garden of the Atlantic’, 'The Island of Eternal Springtime' and ‘God’s Botanical Gardens’ and our selection of excursions aim to show you why.
Also known as ‘La Isla Bonita’ (the beautiful island), La Palma is typified by lush forests of pine, laurel and fern which contrast with the rugged splendour of the gigantic Taburiente crater. The island is dotted with attractive villages, which are a delight to discover, and the capital Santa Cruz also makes for an interesting day of exploration. Perched on the edge of the volcanic crater of La Caldereta, Santa Cruz comfortably blends modern architecture with old colonial buildings. Perhaps visit the fascinating Natural History Museum, stroll around the historic quarters and the Plaza de Espana or travel a few miles outside the city to the exquisite Church of Our Lady. If you enjoy shopping, you can find reasonably priced silver jewellery, leather goods and beautifully embroidered clothes, tablecloths and napkins, a speciality of the Canary Islands.
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a beautiful and scenic island which enjoys year-round sunshine and is dominated by Mount Teide. The mountain range runs through the centre of the island, with fertile valleys on the northern side. In the central part of the range is the gigantic natural crater of the Cañadas del Teide, about 14 miles in diameter. Santa Cruz, the island’s pretty capital, was originally a small fishing village but has now grown into a modern city, and also contains 16th-century civic buildings and ornate private mansions. Near the pier is the Santa Cruz Palmetum, a Botanical Garden covering an area of 29 acres, specialising in palms.
A volcanic island designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Lanzarote’s dramatic landscapes were shaped by an explosive past. Today, its pretty beaches and virtual absence of rain together with duty-free shopping make the island an extremely desirable destination. The main port and capital, Arrecife, is a pleasant town with a modern seafront and colourful gardens. Outside the capital there is plenty to explore, from the dazzling white salt flats of Janubio and the rugged terrain of Fire Mountain to the eerie caves of Los Verdes and an array of unspoilt fishing villages scattered around the coast. The island is home to a great selection of restaurants and local specialities including garbanzos compuestos – a chickpea stew; papas arrugadas – potatoes with carrots, peas, ham and green pepper; and of course, plenty of fresh seafood. Please note that those planning to participate in one of the shore excursions from this port may need to take an early lunch on board ship to suit the excursion schedules.
Shaped by the Atlas Mountains on one side, Agadir is framed on the other by a magnificent crescent-shaped beach. While little is known of the city’s origins, the Portuguese created a fortress here at the end of the 15th century, naming it Santa Cruz de Ghir. Freed from Portugal’s occupation by the Saadians in 1540, Agadir grew into a colourful and prosperous port and became newsworthy in 1911 when a German gunboat, the Panther, sailed into the bay as a protest against the division of North Africa between the Spanish and French. Morocco gained independence from the French in 1956, an event which was closely followed in Agadir by the tragic earthquake of 1960. The city, which has been rebuilt to represent the ‘new nation’, is blessed by fine sandy beaches overlooked by luxurious hotels and a great selection of cafés and restaurants. Please note that vendors in the souks can be very persistent and eager to make a sale.
The original settlement formed on the site of Casablanca by the Berbers became the kingdom of Anfa, and during the 15th century harboured pirates who raided the Portuguese coast. In retaliation for the attacks, the Portuguese destroyed Anfa and founded the town they called Casa Branca (white house). They remained here until an earthquake in 1755 and the town was subsequently rebuilt by Mohammed ben Abdallah, whose legacy of mosques and houses can still be seen in the old Medina. Casablanca acquired its present-day name when the Spanish obtained special port privileges in 1781. The French landed here in 1907, later establishing a protectorate and modelling the town on the port of Marseilles. Today Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city, its most significant port and the centre of commerce and industry. The city is a vibrant fusion of European, African and Arabian influences and its French colonial architecture and art deco buildings seamlessly blend in with the busy, colourful markets. Please note that vendors in the souks can be very persistent and eager to make a sale.
Believed to be the oldest town on the Iberian Peninsula, the Andalusian port of Cádiz enjoys a stunning location at the edge of a six-mile promontory. The town itself, with 3,000 years of history, is characterised by pretty white houses with balconies often adorned with colourful flowers. As you wander around be sure to take a stroll through the sizeable Plaza de Espãna, with its large monument dedicated to the first Spanish constitution, which was signed here in 1812. Cádiz has two pleasant seafront promenades which boast fine views of the Atlantic Ocean, and has a lovely park, the Parque Genoves, located close to the sea with an open-air theatre and attractive palm garden. Also notable is the neo-Classical cathedral, capped by a golden dome.
The infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gòtic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!)—one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafés and markets, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudí's majestic Sagrada Famíliaand his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Spain's second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night, when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.
|Use of swimming pools, hot tubs, fitness centre and leisure facilities where available|
|Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in a choice of included dining venues|
|WiFi included on-board|
|Return flights included from a choice of UK airports (fly cruise bookings only)|
|24-hour room service|
|Shuttle service to and from ports and airport where available|
|Complimentary in-suite bar in selected suites|
|Butler service in Penthouse Suites and above|
|1:1.6 staff to guest ratio|
|1:1.6 staff to guest ratio|