Those thinking all that stands between Europe and North America is the Atlantic Ocean are missing out on an archipelagic paradise. This region is known as Macaronesia, a name which means “fortunate islands” and, indeed, those who either inhabit or visit the island consider themselves very fortunate. You may have visited Macaronesia without even realising, as this region is made up of Canary Islands and Madeira, as well as another group of islands situated roughly 850 miles west of mainland Portugal known as the Azores.
This group of nine volcanic islands provide a tranquil, relaxing and picturesque experience for all who visit. Due to their location, one of the best ways to experience the Azores is via a cruise. The nine islands of the Azores include Corvo, Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Pico, São Jorge, São Miguel, Santa Maria and Terceira. This week, GoCruise takes a closer look at some of the islands you may be able to experience for yourself on a cruise.
Situated to the east on the island of Terceira, Praia da Vitoria greets all visitors to the island with a large and attractive sandy beach and glistening marina. Unlike the Canary Islands, where the beaches have a tendency to appear more grey and volcanic, the beaches in this modern town are golden. In fact, Praia da Vitoria is home to the largest sandy beach in the Azores and presents opportunities for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, diving and whale watching.
The pleasant town is well worth a visit, as there are many interesting-looking shops and much in the way of historical architecture. Perhaps one of the most impressive buildings is the Igreja Matriz de Santa Cruz, an attractive parish church with two huge bell towers that can be seen from miles away. Praia da Vitoria is one of the destinations to features on the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines “Portuguese Cities & Islands” itinerary, departing from Liverpool on August 1st, 2015.
Also on the island of Terceira, passengers sailing with Swan Hellenic will be able to experience the city of Angra do Heroismo. Swan Hellenic is renowned for taking passengers to unique destinations and this UNESCO World Heritage Site provides an insight into the development of the maritime world as know it today. It was a port of call for all passengers crossing the Atlantic Ocean between the 15th century and the introduction of the steamship.
After being greeted to the city by the 400-year-old fort of Sao Joao Baptista, you will be able to explore everything this city has to offer. There are many beautiful sites to visit within the city, including many cathedrals, palaces, churches and museums. The Se Cathedral is thought to be the biggest religious site of the archipelago and is well worth a visit. Construction started in 1570 and the beautiful silver altar of the Blessed Sacrament was crafted by local artisans in the 18th century.
On the island of São Miguel lies the administrative capital of the Azores, Ponta Delgada. This city has much to explore both in the way of architecture and natural beauty. The Portas da Cidade (Gates to the City) is one of the most iconic monuments in the city.
A stunning mix of black and white covers the three gates which each stand in alignment. These three arches were built in 1783 and have been adorned with the royal coat of arms of the city. Other historic landmarks include the nineteenth-century Mother of God Chapel and St Joseph’s Church, which was adapted to be a hospital.
There are also many gardens to explore around the city, including the Romantic Gardens, home to the Antonio Borges Garden which was named after an Azorean landscape architect. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are just some of cruise operators set to stop here throughout summer 2015 on various transatlantic and Canary Island itineraries.
The Azores archipelago is fast becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations – with many people choosing to travel into the Atlantic Ocean to discover these remote islands. One of the easiest and unquestionably most relaxing ways to access these Portuguese islands is to embark on a cruise.
There are many cruise operators to choose from, each of which provides an array of amenities and facilities that will help you to make the most of your cruise holiday. Our dedicated and knowledgeable GoCruise team provide a bespoke service that enables you the flexibility to build your perfect holiday package.
For more information, contact us today via our online form or call us via freephone.
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