Macaronesia & Bissagos Islands – Grand Expedition Cruise from Lisbon to Dakar (Southbound)

Macaronesia & Bissagos Islands – Grand Expedition Cruise from Lisbon to Dakar (Southbound)

Macaronesia & Bissagos Islands – Grand Expedition Cruise from Lisbon to Dakar (Southbound)

Macaronesia & Bissagos Islands – Grand Expedition Cruise from Lisbon to Dakar (Southbound)

Travel information 21 days MS Spitsbergen
October 9, 2024
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

21-day expedition cruise from Lisbon to Madeira, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, the Bissagos Islands, and Senegal

Sandy beaches and beautiful nature

From Lisbon, we’ll take in the picturesque beaches and scenery of Porto Santo before sailing on to Madeira to admire its verdant landscapes. We’ll then head to the beautiful Canary Islands, making stops in La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro.

Island life

Scan for hundreds of different bird species and rare saltwater hippos, manatees, turtles, and more in the Bissagos UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Discover Cape Verde’s culture, fascinating geology and volcanic landscapes when we visit Boa Vista, Santiago, Fogo, and Santo Antão.

Flavors of African culture

Your expedition cruise ends in Dakar, the buzzing capital of Senegal and the most vibrant, affluent, and influential city in West Africa. After you disembark MS Spitsbergen, we’ll take you on an included city tour to explore.

Macaronesia & Bissagos Islands – Grand Expedition Cruise from Lisbon to Dakar (Southbound) Macaronesia & Bissagos Islands – Grand Expedition Cruise from Lisbon to Dakar (Southbound)
  • Day 1
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Enchanting Lisbon

    Begin your grand expedition cruise in Lisbon

    Your expedition cruise begins in Lisbon. The Portuguese capital is rich in history and culture. If you have time, take a stroll through the classical districts of Baixa and Bairro Alto, Chiado, and Alfama—the old Islamic quarter—where there are the remains of a Roman theater and Moorish fortress.

    You can also visit the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Torre de Belém and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a little further from the city center, where you’ll also find delicious pastéis de Belém. Then it’s time to board MS Spitsbergen and begin your adventure at sea.

    To give yourself time to explore the city, we recommend arriving early and extending your stay an extra night to do some sightseeing. Join our optional Lisbon Pre-Program for a sightseeing tour of the city and surrounding areas.

    Day 1
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Enchanting Lisbon

  • Day 2
    At sea

    Timanfaya National Park

    Unwind and learn during a relaxing day at sea

    Enjoy a leisurely day at sea as we sail towards Porto Santo, north of the Madeira archipelago.

    Soak in a hot tub, work up a sweat in the gym, enjoy a sauna, or take in ocean views from our Explorer Lounge &Bar. If you want to improve your camera skills, ask for some pointers on landscape composition from our expedition photographer.

    Don't miss our Expedition Team’s fascinating lectures on Madeira's history and wildlife. Learn about important conservation projects, like how locals are working to remove invasive plant species from Madeira Natural Park.

    Day 2
    At sea

    Timanfaya National Park

  • Day 3
    Porto Santo, Portugal

    Sands of Porto Santo

    Witness natural beauty on a small, golden island.

    As we approach Porto Santo, keep your binoculars handy for dolphins and seabirds, including Cory’s shearwaters, northern gannets, and Bulwer’s petrels.

    In Vila Baleira, walk to the palm-lined square, Largo do Pelourinho, and enjoy a glass of vinho do Porto Santo in one of the bars before visiting the Christopher Columbus House Museum.

    Join us on a panoramic bus tour to Ponta da Calheta, Pico do Castelo, and Fonte de Areia, whose waters are said to guarantee eternal youth. If you prefer a nature walk, join a hike to spectacular Pico Branco, where much of the endemic flora on the island can be found.

    Day 3
    Porto Santo, Portugal

    Sands of Porto Santo

  • Day 4
    Madeira, Portugal

    Verdant Madeira

    Experience Funchal's old-world charm

    Enveloped by swathes of humid laurel forest, Madeira rises majestically out of the Atlantic in various shades of green. Funchal is its quaint and cosmopolitan capital, filled with old world charm.

    Visit the historic old town and see the beautiful cathedral. Dating to 1485, its wooden ceiling and is a classic example of Manueline architecture. Sample Madeira's fortified wines and try the sweet ananas-banana fruit, which looks like a giant pickle.

    For glorious views, take the cable car to the picturesque village of Monte. If you dare, slide the mile back down to Funchal in a carro de cesto, a wicker sled on wooden skis. It’s a fun and memorable experience!

    Day 4
    Madeira, Portugal

    Verdant Madeira

  • Day 5
    At sea

    Canary Islands Bound 

    Learn about the Canary Islands as we cruise.

    With volcanic landscapes and a rich history, you may want to learn more about the Canary Islands before we arrive. Our Expedition Team is on hand to teach you all about these remarkable islands.

    Enjoy life onboard, edit your photos, and relax on deck while looking for whales, dolphins, and seabirds. Dine on delicious meals prepared in our onboard restaurant and watch the sunset from the Explorer Lounge &Bar.

    We recommend heading over to the Science Center and taking part in Citizen Science projects that support marine conservation. We believe everyone can make a difference in protecting the world’s most precious habitats.

    Day 5
    At sea

    Canary Islands Bound 

  • Day 6
    La Palma, Canary Islands

    La Palma, the pretty isle

    Discover vibrant Santa Cruz.

    Known as La Isla Bonita or ‘The Pretty Island’, La Palma is home to unspoiled pine and laurel forests, banana trees, and palm groves. Santa Cruz, its capital, is considered one of the most attractive towns in the archipelago.

    Lined with magnificent Renaissance-era buildings with lavishly adorned plants and flowers, Santa Cruz displays a fantastic example of Canarian architecture. Don’t miss the eccentric La Palma Island Museum, set inside an old convent.

    In the districts of La Canela and San Telmo, you’ll see signs of faded colonial grandeur. Walking in La Palma is superb, with some walks starting right in Santa Cruz. Outside the city, you can join a walk to experience the spectacular Caldera de Taburiente National Park.

    Day 6
    La Palma, Canary Islands

    La Palma, the pretty isle

  • Day 7
    La Gomera, Canary Islands

    Unspoiled La Gomera

    Explore lush national parks and laurel forests.

    La Gomera is the second-smallest island in the Canaries, and the nature is largely untamed. You’ll find island life here at its most authentic.

    In San Sebastian’s historic center, you can visit the Iglesia de la Virgen de la Asunción, a Baroque church, where Christopher Columbus and his crew are said to have prayed before setting sail. You can also visit the archeological museum to learn about the mysterious Gaunche people who first settled these islands.

    Consider hiking through the beautiful laurel forests and idyllic palm-covered valleys of the mountainous Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Day 7
    La Gomera, Canary Islands

    Unspoiled La Gomera

  • Day 8
    El Hierro, Canary Islands

    Remote El Hierro

    See the unique geology of this UNESCO biosphere.

    With lava-sculpted rocks and fields filled with flowers, the remote El Hierro is a truly remarkable island. In fact, this young oceanic shield volcano is classified as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

    Our port for the day is Puerto La Estaca, just over four miles away from Valverde, the only landlocked capital in the Canary Islands. Stroll the streets of this easy-going capital and soak up its traditional atmosphere.

    Choose a panoramic drive tour or explore the island’s photogenic forests, meadows, and volcanic formations on a hike. These varied landscapes are all connected with crisscrossing trails.

    Day 8
    El Hierro, Canary Islands

    Remote El Hierro

  • Day 9-11
    At sea

    Bound for Cape Verde

    Enjoy life at sea as we sail to Cape Verde.

    Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as we head towards the Cape Verde archipelago. The islands are known for their magnificent volcanic landscapes, dramatic valleys, and towering volcanoes, with the highest point at Pico de Fogo (literally meaning ‘peak of fire’), rising 9,250 ft above sea level.

    As we cruise, you’ll learn more about the geology and history of Cape Verde through lectures from our Expedition Team. There will be opportunities to participate in scientific projects in our Citizen Science program. You can also take it easy and relax on deck in the tropical sun.

    Day 9-11
    At sea

    Bound for Cape Verde

  • Day 12
    Santo Antão, Cape Verde

    Rugged Santo Antão

    Island paradise made for adventure

    Santo Antão’s landscapes of peaks, gorges, and canyons have benefited from their unsuitability for agriculture. Largely untouched, this wilderness sanctuary is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.

    We’ll land in Porto Novo, the island’s main port, which has spectacular views across to São Vicente. Enjoy a ride around the island, which takes you on a nature tour through the island’s ribeiras. These are deep, narrow canyons with near vertical walls.

    Or you could take a nature walk and admire the beauty of these local spots up close. Walk along trails through mango and almond groves, punctuated by the delicious aroma of roasting coffee wafting through the villages.

    Day 12
    Santo Antão, Cape Verde

    Rugged Santo Antão

  • Day 13
    Fogo, Cape Verde

    Volcanic Fogo

    A landscape of lava, craters, and calderas

    Today's expedition day takes you to Fogo, an island dominated by a cone-shaped active volcano. Centuries of eruptions, the last in 2014, have left an incredible landscape for us to explore.

    Enjoy a tour of São Filipe’s cobbled streets and charming historic center. Don’t miss the stunning lava fields of Chã das Caldeiras.

    Fogo doesn’t have any natural harbors, so we’ll only land if conditions allow us to launch our small boats (RIBs). Otherwise, you’ll take in the spectacular volcanic scenery as we cruise around the island.

    Day 13
    Fogo, Cape Verde

    Volcanic Fogo

  • Day 14
    Santiago, Cape Verde

    Diverse Santiago

    See Santiago’s eclectic mix of cultural influences.

    Santiago embodies the spirit of the Cape Verde archipelago. Here you can enjoy a little of everything, from historical sites and bustling markets to lush valleys and jagged mountains.

    The capital of Praia is a dynamic city that attracts immigrants from the rest of Cape Verde and the African continent.

    Explore Praia’s vibrant culture on a city tour. Visit the museums and buildings around the Plateau, which displays artifacts recovered from the islands’ shipwrecks. Stop by viewpoints, the local market, and more

    Day 14
    Santiago, Cape Verde

    Diverse Santiago

  • Day 15
    Boa Vista, Cape Verde

    A piece of the Sahara

    Explore an island gem

    You've now reached Cape Verde’s easternmost island, Boa Vista.

    You’ll be awed by the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like desert formations and landscapes of this volcanic island. The sand dunes and oases found here are in stark contrast to the other islands we visit on this cruise.

    Stroll the streets of the island’s capital, Sal Rei, where you can explore its history and traditions, and visit Santa Isabel Church. The Ponta do Sol nature reserve is within hiking distance of the town and a great way to enjoy the scenery.

    Day 15
    Boa Vista, Cape Verde

    A piece of the Sahara

  • Day 16
    At sea

    A day of relaxation at sea

    Heading towards Africa

    We leave Cape Verde and set course for Guinea-Bissau. Your Expedition Team will brief you on what lies ahead as we sail.

    Learn about the extraordinary biodiversity found on the Bissagos Islands, the traditional culture of the Bijagós people, and the historical impact of Portuguese exploration and the slave trade.

    You can participate in our Citizen Science projects and contribute data to ongoing research projects. You could also brush up on your photography skills with our onboard photographer to prepare for the sights to come.

    Day 16
    At sea

    A day of relaxation at sea

  • Day 17-20
    Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau

    Bissagos expedition

    Take in the nature and wildlife of this UNESCO wonder

    Over the next four days, you’ll explore a maze of islands and channels, seeking out mangroves, tropical forests, savannah woodlands, and coastal lagoons. Our small boats (RIBs) will take us down the smaller channels and on-shore landings with the Expedition Team. We may also launch our kayaks.

    You’ll meet and learn more about the local Bijagós people, a tribal society organized in clans. Practicing a life that is in balance with nature, they hold the world around them as sacred and have retained their ancestral traditions.

    Local conditions will determine when and where we can land and explore, but whatever we do you can be sure you’ll experience the rich diversity of the archipelago up close.

    Day 17-20
    Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau

    Bissagos expedition

  • Day 21
    Dakar, Senegal

    Delightful Dakar

    End your adventure in Senegal’s vibrant capital

    Your expedition cruise ends in Senegal’s kaleidoscopic capital, Dakar. After you disembark MS Spitsbergen, we’ll take you on an included city tour to explore this fascinating city.

    Listen out for the many languages of West Africa, such as Wolof, Pular, and Serer. Undoubtedly, seeing the diversity of local cultures here is a wonderful way to round off your trip.

    With the tour complete, you’ll be taken to a hotel for lunch and spend the rest of the day relaxing in comfort at the hotel, before transferring to the airport for your return journey home.

    Day 21
    Dakar, Senegal

    Delightful Dakar



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What’s included

Post-Program in Dakar after the cruise

  • Dakar City Tour, day room at hotel in Dakar, including lunch

Expedition Cruise

  • Stay in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages* in the Aune restaurant and complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board†
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

*House beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water

†Please note that Wi-Fi and phone reception are very limited in the remote areas where we travel and streaming is not supported.

Onboard activities

  • In-depth lectures and discussions hosted by experts on the Expedition Team
  • Full use of our Science Center, extensive library, and advanced biological and geological equipment
  • The Citizen Science Program allows guests to contribute to ongoing scientific research projects.
  • Our onboard professional photographer will give photography tips and teach techniques for capturing landscape and wildlife photos.
  • The ship has hot tubs, a sauna with a view, and a gym.
  • Join informal gatherings with the crew for daily briefings.

Landing activities

  • Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
  • Expedition photographers will be on hand to assist you.


  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • Please make sure you meet all vaccination requirements (global health insurance recommended) 
  • No gratuities are expected

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
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Longyearbyen, Svalbard - MS Spitsbergen
Photo: Genna Roland
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Photo: Stefan Dall / Hurtigruten
Your Ship

MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Shipyard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 220
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54 m
Beam 18 m
Speed 14.5 knots
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MS Spitsbergen is named after the crown jewel of Arctic Norway: the Svalbard archipelago and its biggest island, Spitsbergen. Hurtigruten has a long history of traveling to Spitsbergen, beginning in 1896 with the ‘Sports Route’. 

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