Wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands – Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands – Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands – Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands – Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Travel information 11 days MS Spitsbergen
February 8, 2024
Price from $ 5,485
$ 4,388
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Discover the natural wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands, including the festive sights and sounds of the world’s second-largest Carnival celebration.

The island of fire

Your expedition starts in Gran Canaria, the third largest of the Canary Islands. Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets and alleyways of the capital, Las Palmas, before embarking on your cruise. Our first stop is Lanzarote, the island of fire. Stand amazed at its deep U-shaped ravines and vertical cliffs, and explore its sun-kissed capital, Arrecife.

El Carnaval

Experience the rhythm, color, and flamboyance of the Carnival celebration in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, second only to Rio’s famous samba fest. Witness one of the most anticipated spectacles of the Carnival, the Gran Coso Apoteosis, or join excursions to the Teide National Park and its colossal centerpiece, El Teide. Afterward, take in Madeira, the ‘Garden of the Atlantic.’ Enjoy a selection of exotic fruits and world-famous Madeira wines before sailing to the undisturbed golden sands of Porto Santo.

A walkers’ paradise

Hiking in La Palma is superb and some walks start directly from Santa Cruz. See how it lives up to its nickname, La Isla Bonita (meaning ‘The Pretty Island’). Then we make our way to the remote island of El Hierro, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. As your cruise draws to a close, enjoy an authentic slice of traditional Canary life in La Gomera before ending your expedition in Gran Canaria.

Wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands – Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife Wonders of Madeira and the Canary Islands – Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
  • Day 1
    Amsterdam/Gran Canaria

    The miniature continent

    Gran Canaria is no stranger to curious explorers. The third-largest island of the Canarian archipelago has seen pirates, privateers, and explorers come and go, including Christopher Columbus himself. And over the past few decades, geologists have come to the island in droves to study its volcanic terrain. Now it’s your turn. Discover this ‘continent in miniature’ and see its dramatic mountain terrain.

    Las Palmas is the capital of the island and a treasure trove for history buffs. Feel like you’ve travelled back in time by heading to Vegueta, the city’s Old Town district. Stroll through narrow cobbled streets and alleyways and admire old churches and brightly colored colonial houses. Visit the Cathedral of Santa Ana and its bell tower for panoramic views of the Old Town, the harbor, and beyond.

    Most visitors to Gran Canaria’s come to see the geological wonders a few hours outside the capital. The island’s most distinctive natural feature is the Caldera de Tejeda volcanic basin, in the heart of the mountainous interior. Home to the sacred Roque Bentayga rock formation, this is an excellent area to explore and learn about the islands’ fascinating geological history.

    Once aboard MS Spitsbergen, settle into your cabin before attending a mandatory safety drill. Locate the Science Center, the Explorer Lounge & Bar, the restaurant, and the observation deck. We’re sure you’ll be frequenting these areas. After the welcome dinner, your expedition is underway! It’s a perfect time to sink into an armchair in the Explorer Lounge with a beverage.

    If you feel like extending your cruise, we recommend booking our optional Pre-Program in Las Palmas to further explore this beautiful island. The program includes an overnight stay in Las Palmas and an excursion taking you to the city’s main sights and the impressive Bandama Crater.

    Day 1
    Amsterdam/Gran Canaria

    The miniature continent

  • Day 2
    At Sea

    Timanfaya National Park

    Soak up the sun during a relaxing day at sea as we sail toward Madeira. Prepare to get into explorer mode! This is a great time to sample the ship’s amenities, if you haven’t done so already. Soak in one of the hot tubs or work up a sweat in the gym or the sauna—today, do whatever you like.

    Expedition Team members will share their knowledge of the region and prepare you for the adventures ahead. Lecture topics today may focus on Madeira’s history and wildlife, including birds and whales. Learn about the threat of invasive plant species on the island and how the local community is working to remove them from the natural park.

    As we set off on our journey, why not spend some time getting to know the crew and your fellow explorers? Strike up a conversation at the bar and see what you have in common with your shipmates, or relax in a comfortable chair by a window and watch the sea pass by.

    Day 2
    At Sea

    Timanfaya National Park

  • Day 3
    Funchal, Portugal

    The garden of the Atlantic

    Enveloped by swathes of moist laurel forest, Madeira rises majestically out of the Atlantic in various shades of green. Generous layers of ferns, mosses, and lichens cover volcanic rocks and ancient trees, creating a dense jungle habitat. Funchal, the island’s capital, is set in a natural amphitheater on the sunny south coast. It’s impossible to find a more idyllic location.

    Funchal is a quaint-yet-cosmopolitan city that hasn’t lost any of its old-world charms. Wander down the narrow winding streets of the historic Old Town and delight in the painted woodwork of houses, shops, cafés, galleries, and museums. Sample Madeira’s famous fortified wines in one of the many bars and restaurants.

    A visit to Funchal Cathedral is a must. Dating to 1485, it has a beautiful wooden ceiling and is a classic example of Manueline architecture. The historic farmers’ market is a short walk from the cathedral, bursting with the vibrant sights and sounds of vendors selling their fresh produce. Why not sample some local delights? A must-try is the exotic ananas-banana, literally pineapple banana, which only grows in Madeira.

    Take the cable car to the picturesque village of Monte for glorious views of Funchal and the bay. While you’re up there, visit the 18th-century Nossa Senhora do Monte church and the delightful Monte Palace tropical garden. Stroll around this landscaped haven and see its vast exotic plant collection, along with art exhibitions from around the world.

    For something truly memorable, travel back down to Funchal riding in an exhilarating carro de cesto, or ‘basket cart.’ These are essentially wicker baskets with seats set on wooden skis. So hold on tight as you descend over a mile from Monte to Funchal!

    To discover Madeira’s isolated villages, terraced agriculture fields, and dramatic topography, join an optional excursion that takes you farther into the interior.

    • Included Funchal Walking Tour with Wine Tasting
    Day 3
    Funchal, Portugal

    The garden of the Atlantic

  • Day 4
    Porto Santo, Portugal

    The magic of golden sand

    Porto Santo is so small it could fit into its sister island, Madeira, six times over. Yet, its dainty size is exactly what makes it so appealing. With Madeira getting all the attention, Porto Santo quietly offers picturesque scenery, gently rolling hills, and miles of undisturbed sandy beaches.

    Stay out on deck and watch for dolphins and seabirds as we approach the island. Cory’s shearwaters, Northern Gannets, and Great Skuas are commonly seen in the winter months. If you’re lucky, you might spot Sandwich Terns, Kentish Plovers, Manx Shearwaters, and Bulwer’s Petrels.

    We’ll dock for the day at Vila Baleira, Porto Santo’s small and compact capital. It’s an easy walk to the palm-lined square of Largo de Pelourinho, home to most of the island’s cultural landmarks. Start with the charming little church, Nossa Senhora da Piedade, built in the 15th century. Best known as the house where Christopher Columbus lived and had a son with a local noblewoman, the so-called Casa de Colombo is another must-see.

    Relax like a local at a café, sipping vinho do Porto Santo, the island’s distinctive reddish-brown wine. Most visitors are undoubtedly drawn by the almost-five miles of golden sands that line the coast. Relax on a beach, frolic in the turquoise waters, take a nice walk.

    Head down to Ponta da Calheta on an optional excursion for gorgeous views over the jagged island of Ilhéu da Cal. Another hike takes you north to the summits of Pico do Castelo and Pico Branco, rewarding you with stunning birds-eye views. For something a bit different, cross the island to drink the (reputedly) miraculous spring water of Fonte da Areia, said to guarantee eternal youth.

    • Included Porto Santo beach/coastal area cleanup
    Day 4
    Porto Santo, Portugal

    The magic of golden sand

  • Day 5
    At Sea

    Back to the Canary Islands

    After your days of on-land exploration, you’ll be ready for another leisurely day aboard the ship. Take in the views in the panoramic Explorer Lounge & Bar as you recline with a beverage in hand. Watch for whales and dolphins and keep an eye on the sky for seabirds. Take time to reflect on your adventures so far, edit your photos, update your travel journal, and rest your legs.

    By the time we return to the Canary Islands, you’ll ready for what’s in store. Located off the western coast of Africa, the archipelago has a history of its own. Initially populated by peoples of Berber origin, the islands are reputed to have been visited by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans, before the Spaniards settled in. Dominated by large active volcanoes, including the mighty Teide, there is plenty to explore on the Canary Islands.

    Prepare yourself and build excitement for the next part of your adventure by spending time in the library. Read up on upcoming places or attend the Expedition Team’s lectures in the Explorer Lounge. Lecture topics may include subjects such as the volcanoes of the Canary Islands, wine making, wildlife, or botany.

    Day 5
    At Sea

    Back to the Canary Islands

  • Day 6
    Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

    Carnival time!

    Welcome to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one of two joint capitals of the Canary Islands. Santa Cruz is a major Spanish cultural destination with a vibrant harbor, charming old-town appeal, and a slick modern edge. Our timing couldn’t be better! You will be able to witness its UNESCO-listed Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the second largest Carnival celebration in the world. While Rio’s may be bigger, few would disagree that Santa Cruz’s Carnival celebration is more accessible, with a safer, friendlier atmosphere.

    Don’t think for a moment think you’ll be arriving late to the party. Today, you’ll witness one of the most anticipated spectacles of Carnival: the Gran Coso Apoteosis (meaning the Grand Carnival Parade). Take in a memorable exhibition of color as you gaze at elaborate floats and decorated cars. Along the main streets of Santa Cruz, watch the Carnival queens and the winners of the official Carnival contest parade, before seeing a spectacular firework display.

    There is more to Tenerife than Carnival, however. The island’s interior is dominated by Teide National Park and the El Teide volcanic peak, the highest point on Spanish soil. Join one of our optional excursions to this stunning national park. Rising 12,188 ft above sea level, El Teide is an impressive backdrop for an adventure. Explore a unique landscape of craters, volcanic cones, ancient rocks, and streams of petrified lava.

    As you can imagine, the national park offers outstanding hiking opportunities. Trails of differing lengths give you the most scenic views in the archipelago. Be sure to bring a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots—and your camera, of course.

    • Included Discover UNESCO listed La Laguna and Santa Cruz’s Carnival Museum
    Day 6
    Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

    Carnival time!

  • Day 7
    Santa Cruz de la Palma, Spain

    La Isla Bonita

    La Palma more than lives up to its nickname, La Isla Bonita (meaning ‘The Pretty Island’). Home to unspoiled pine and laurel forests, banana trees, and palm groves, La Palma is certainly the Canary Islands’ greenest. This island has it all, including rugged gorges, towering mountains, and sheer cliffs.

    In days of old, Santa Cruz de la Palma served as a trading post on the way to the New World. Today, the island’s capital is considered one of the most attractive towns in the archipelago.

    Begin exploring the city at the vibrant main street of Calle Real. You won’t miss the monumental Plaza de España, lined with magnificent Renaissance-era buildings, including Santa Cruz’s iconic city hall. For many, it’s the best example of Canarian architecture around.

    Many streets feature traditional wooden balconies lavishly adorned with plants and flowers. Some of the best examples are on Avenida Maritima, just five minutes from Plaza de España.

    No visit to Santa Cruz is complete without a stroll through faded colonial glory in the La Canela and San Telmo districts. Visit the quirky building housing the eccentric La Palma Island Museum, set inside an old convent. You’ll find everything from natural history to local crafts, astronomy, and art exhibitions.

    Hiking in La Palma is superb and some walks start directly from Santa Cruz. The most impressive hikes, however, start farther afield. The central highlands, the southern volcanoes, and the spectacular Caldera de Taburiente National Park offer fantastic walks, rated as among the best in the archipelago. Join us on an optional excursion and enjoy the best walks in the Canary Islands!

    • Included La Palma – La Isla Bonita
    Day 7
    Santa Cruz de la Palma, Spain

    La Isla Bonita

  • Day 8
    Puerto La Estaca, Spain

    The edge of the Canary Islands

    Only a million years old, El Hierro is the youngest, smallest, and westernmost of the Canary Islands. You’ll feel that sense of remoteness from the moment you set foot on the island. It’s a straight line across the ocean to the Americas from here.

    El Hierro is a typical Canaries island: volcanic, with characteristic dark rocks shaped by eruptions, powerful winds, and landslides. The unique geology of its oceanic volcano in the early stage of shield development led UNESCO to classify it as a World Biosphere Reserve.

    El Hierro has few natural harbors, so most villages are inland. Valverde, the only landlocked capital in the Canaries, is just over four miles away from La Estaca, our port for the day. Valverde is a relaxing small town founded in 1610—much later than any other capital in the Canary Islands. You won’t find traffic lights or fancy shops here, just the easy-going atmosphere of the most traditional capital in the archipelago.

    Walking is the best way to explore El Hierro, by far. Visit the island’s natural highlights on an optional excursion, which are conveniently accessed by a network of marked trails suitable for all fitness levels. Discover shimmering natural pools, lava-sculpted rocks, pine forests, peaceful flower meadows, and twisted trees bent by the force of the elements. By the time we wave goodbye to El Hierro, you’ll appreciate how special and beautiful island really is.

    • Included Discover El Hierro
    Day 8
    Puerto La Estaca, Spain

    The edge of the Canary Islands

  • Day 9
    La Gomera

    Paradise off the beaten track

    The second-smallest island in the Canaries is also the most untamed. Looking for an authentic slice of traditional Canarian life? Experience it in La Gomera.

    Founded in 1487, San Sebastián is the island’s charming capital. Columbus called here before heading to the Americas—so did British and Portuguese pirates seeking to plunder New World fortunes.

    San Sebastián is small enough to explore by foot. Stroll along Calle Real, the main street in the Old Town, for the best the town has to offer. Iglesia de la Virgen de la Asunción is a church worth seeking out. Columbus and his men are said to have prayed at this traditional Baroque-style building before setting sail.

    A leisurely stroll takes you to the 15th-century fortress Torre del Conde, a beautiful and whitewashed stone building in a lovely green space. Head to the intriguing La Gomera Archeological Museum and learn about the island’s first settlers.

    La Gomera’s steep ravines and narrow valleys caused the islanders to develop a unique way of communicating over long distances: a loud whistling called el silbo. Listening to a demonstration of this traditional form of communication on an optional excursion is always a highlight.

    At the top of this almost circular volcanic island sits the jaw-dropping Garajonay National Park, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join an optional excursion that will bring you on pleasant hikes through laurel forests and idyllic palm-covered valleys, along with walks to high-mountain panoramic peaks.

    A spectacular circular path wraps around the island’s perimeter, with trails appropriate for walkers/hikers of all fitness levels. It’s probably best not to do the entire 87 miles of it. A walk to the panoramic views and black sands of Playa la Guancha is a worthy sample.

    • Included Traditional La Gomera
    Day 9
    La Gomera

    Paradise off the beaten track

  • Day 10
    Arrecife, Spain

    The fire island

    Our next stop lies just 78 miles off the African coast. The easternmost of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote’s desert-like landscape stands in sharp contrast to its lush green siblings to the west. This terrain is defined by eroded volcanic formations, deep U-shaped ravines, and vertical cliffs that give way to a wide central plain covered with aeolian sand. Lanzarote is a geologist’s dream!

    Long before Arrecife became the island’s official administrative center, it was a popular fishing port. Today, it’s a welcoming and sun-kissed town full of charm. Walk over the bridge to San Gabriel, one of two castles overlooking the harbor. Learn about the island’s history in the tiny museum and soak up great views from the castle.

    Arrecife’s Old Town is a short walk away and spreads around the Charco de San Ginés lagoon. Enjoy a pleasant seaside atmosphere with the elegantly whitewashed fisherman houses, brightly colored boats bobbing in the water, and lively bars and restaurants. Stroll around this charming area and check out the main historical buildings. Visit the 17th-century San Ginés church and, around the corner, Arrecife’s first two-story building, the 18th-century Casa de los Arroyo.

    Once the sightseeing is over, sit at an outdoor restaurant, order tapas and a beverage, and enjoy life in one of the sunniest places on Earth.

    Lanzarote’s ace in the hole is its stunning beaches. Head to El Reducto, the town’s main beach. Protected by natural reefs, this white sand-beach resembles a large pool. Featuring clear, calm waters, it’s the perfect spot to catch a tan.

    Or join an optional excursion to discover Lanzarote’s natural wonders. The spectacular volcanic landscape of Timanfaya National Park, along with the famous Jameos del Agua lagoons and its long lava tubes are all within easy reach. Hiking the volcanic trails of Lanzarote is an incredible experience.

    • Included Lanzarote Hiking
    Day 10
    Arrecife, Spain

    The fire island

  • Day 11
    Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

    Farewell to the expedition

    Estimated time of arrival is 6:00 AM

    Your expedition comes to an end back where it began, in Gran Canaria. Take this opportunity to get to know the island even better and discover what this ‘continent in miniature’ has to offer.

    Gran Canaria is geologically diverse, with dunes, subtropical valleys, deep ravines, palm-dotted oases, pine forests, spectacular cliffs, and jagged mountain ridges. Not to mention sunshine, beaches, and the ocean. Gran Canaria has more than 60 miles of beaches! And there is no need to travel far, as the beaches start in Las Palmas itself.

    Most of the island’s natural features are listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and are perfect for hiking. Gran Canaria has almost 620 miles of marked trails. Many are incredibly old, established to connect isolated villages during the first decades of the Spanish conquest. Once you leave the coast and enter the trail network, you’ll likely have the landscape to yourself.

    Gran Canaria is one of the best islands to learn about the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the archipelago. Museo Canario in Las Palmas should be your first stop, with fascinating archeological sites also scattered around the island.

    Why not extend your stay to discover more of the island? During our optional Post-Program, you can learn why this island is nicknamed the ‘continent in miniature’. The program includes an overnight stay in a hotel in Las Palmas and an excursion to the capital’s landmarks and the lush Bandama Crater.

    Whatever is next for you, we look forward to welcoming you back on your next adventure!

    Day 11
    Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

    Farewell to the expedition



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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • The ship has hot tubs, panoramic sauna, and an indoor gym
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

Landing Activities

  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers help configure your camera settings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • Air travel
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team


  • All planned activities are subject to weather and sea conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities are expected
Longyearbyen, Svalbard - MS Spitsbergen
Photo: Genna Roland
A large ship in the water
A large bed in a room
Your Ship

MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Shipyard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 180
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54 m
Beam 18 m
Speed 14.5 knots
Longyearbyen, Svalbard - MS Spitsbergen
Photo: Genna Roland

MS Spitsbergen will take you on a cruise beyond the ordinary. She cruises along the Norwegian coast from September to May and becomes part of our Global Expedition sailings the rest of the year.

Read more about MS Spitsbergen

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Photo: Stefan Dall / Hurtigruten

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