- From Tenerife to the Azores
- Azores intense
- São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores
- Graciosa, the white island
- Corvo, the smallest Azores island
- Flores, the island of flowers
- Faial, the blue island
- Pico, the mountain island
- Terceira, the third
- Santa Maria, the island of the sun
- Conclusion Azores
- From the Azores to Madeira
- Our Azores cruise in retrospect
- Booking options World Voyager
Traveling in times of a pandemic is not easy. Our cruise with the WORLD VOYAGER was actually supposed to go from Lisbon to Hamburg. Since almost all ports on this tour were closed to cruise ships at the end of May 2021, nicko cruises came up with something.
Ten days before we left, the proposal came with a changed route: From Tenerife should it go to the Azores with stays on eight of the nine inhabited islands and then on to Madeira walk. What a journey! We accept.
WORLD VOYAGER - in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
From Tenerife to the Azores
On May 28th we will fly up from Düsseldorf with a stopover Lanzarote to Tenerife. We reach our destination a little late.
Traveling in times of Covid-19
At Tenerife Airport we are expected by Cruise Line employees. The arriving passengers must be taken together - in a so-called bubble - to the WORLD VOYAGER. A comfortable van takes us to the port of Santa Cruz in 45 minutes. A quick test is carried out before check-in, then we are allowed on board.
WORLD VOYAGER - Reception
WORLD VOYAGER - Infirmary
The hygiene regulations are comprehensive. Two PCR and regular rapid tests, daily temperature measurements, disinfection and medical masks are mandatory for everyone on board. After going ashore, the masks that were worn must be disposed of and new ones used. The mask requirement ends when you sit in the public areas or in the cabin.
A chic cabin
Our cabin 606 is forward on deck 6. It is not large, but furnished in a classy and stylish manner. The beds are inviting and comfortable. There are practical things like a kettle, espresso machine, and bendable reading lights by the bed. A small balcony and a spacious bathroom complete everything. And our cabin stewardess Nicki ensures meticulous cleanliness.
WORLD VOYAGER - our cabin
WORLD VOYAGER - our cabin - wet room
Life on board
On board the WORLD VOYAGER one can easily find one's way around. The cruise ship is 126 meters long and 19 meters wide. A maximum of 200 passengers live on three decks. The public areas such as the restaurant, grill, lounges, shop, bars, spa and gym are located on a further three decks.
WORLD VOYAGER - coffee station and smoothie bar
WORLD VOYAGER - Fitness
There is enough space everywhere. At normal times, around 100 crew members take care of the passengers. We travel at non-normal times. There are 48 passengers and 102 crew members on board. Not many people have dared this cruise, but at some point it has to start again.
We stay overnight in Santa Cruz. We won't leave Tenerife until the next evening. We enjoy the tranquility on board, the delicious food and the careful service. The restaurant is spacious and there is an almost completely covered outdoor area. The food has five star quality. Particularly good: the portions are not too big. However, you can always get another one.
World Voyager - Restaurant - Al Fresco Terrace
Shore excursion to Pico del Teide
In the morning it is the turn of important things such as sea rescue exercises, PCR tests and information about the current hygiene rules on board and during shore excursions.
Our excursion to Teide and the Cañadas starts at noon. The tour lasts five hours and is beautiful.
Tenerife - Pico de Teide
This is mainly due to the weather. It's 22 degrees, the sky is clear and blue with a few clouds as decoration. From every mirador we stop at, we have an unobstructed view of the Pico del Teide. We drive into the caldera up to the Roques de Garcia. The way back leads past the Observatorio Astronómico del Teide and “La Tarta”, a geological formation created from lava flows. It is called a cake because of its layers of color.
Tenerife - Pico de Teide and Roques de Garcia
Tenerife - La Tarta rock layer
More about our excursion: Panoramic trip by bus to Pico del Teide.
For us, Tenerife is very beautiful with around 10 percent of the usual number of tourists. For the residents of the Canary Islands, living and working conditions are difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is little time back on board, then we set off for the Azores. In front of Santa Cruz, a number of unoccupied cruise ships lie in the roadstead. We recognize "Mein Schiff Herz“And four AIDA ships. At some point it will start again for them too.
WORLD VOYAGER - in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Unemployed AIDA ships off Tenerife
It has become stormy overnight with wind forces of up to seven Beaufort. The sea is agitated and short, powerful waves are beating on the WORLD VOYAGER.
We're seasick until noon. The room service provides us with tea and bread rolls. It is best to hold out horizontally. Pills are available free of charge at reception, and at some point they will help. Why I get seasick after more than 35 cruises will remain a mystery to me.
WORLD VOYAGER - Wine tasting on the Al Fresco terrace
WORLD VOYAGER - Mystic Restaurant - Dessert
It gets better in the afternoon, probably also because the wind dies down. The temperature rises to 20 degrees and the sun is shining. In the evening we again enjoy the delicious dishes in the restaurant.
A calm day at sea
The sea has calmed down further and our seasickness is almost forgotten. It is warm enough for breakfast on the terrace. Then Atlantic walking is the order of the day on the path from deck 8. One lap is 135 meters, we walk at least eight laps. Unfortunately we don't see whales or dolphins.
WORLD VOYAGER - pool deck
WORLD VOYAGER - Jogging track
The bridge of WORLD VOYAGER is an "open bridge". Twice a day - for a total of four hours - passengers can visit the bridge without registering. This is a service for guests that is not possible on large cruise lines.
WORLD VOYAGER - bridge
WORLD VOYAGER - bridge
Next, we visit some of the cabins with the cruise manager. Since the ship is not very busy, we see almost all cabin classes. As with our cabin, the equipment is functional and elegant, the design is straightforward everywhere.
The whale alarm is in the late afternoon and we see our first humpback whale.
In Azores we reach early the next morning. The archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic is considered an insider tip among travel destinations. Ponta Delgada, capital of the island São Miguel (Azores), is the first port that WORLD VOYAGER calls at.
São Miguel - in the port of Ponta Delgada
São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores
Our travel companion Birgit comes on board in Ponta Delgada. She studied in Lisbon and now lives with her family on São Miguel. During our time in the Azores she stays on board, accompanies us on shore excursions and is our competent contact person. She knows a lot about the Azores and life on this remote archipelago. She is another asset during our trip.
Panoramic tour of Sao Miguel
Also in the Azores we are only allowed to disembark as a group. Our Panoramic tour to Lagoa do Fogo and to Ribeira Grande starts at nine in the morning. It's sunny, windy and 18 degrees warm. We drive along the coast to the town of Lagoa, then inland to Lagoa do Fogo. Shortly before we reach a pass from which we can see Lagoa, Ribeira Grande and the Caldeira with the crater lake Lagoa do Fogo.
Sao Miguel - Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo
Sao Miguel - Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo
The wind on the pass is icy, and this time we look forward to continuing our journey quickly. The next stop is at the Caldeira Velha Natural Park. Lush vegetation and warm thermal springs await us here, in which visitors can also bathe. The park is well maintained and a popular destination for residents of São Miguel.
São Miguel - Tree Fern in Caldeira Velha Natural Park
São Miguel - Water in Caldeira Velha Natural Park
We continue to Ribeira Grande. This is one of the oldest places in the Azores. The old town is worth seeing: there are beautiful squares and churches, a representative town hall and a well-kept park on the river that flows through the town. We do a tour with the group. Masks are also compulsory outdoors on São Miguel. It's exhausting, but we still enjoy the tour and the many new impressions.
São Miguel - Ribeira Grande - Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Estrela
São Miguel - View from the Ponte da Ribeira Grande
Conclusion Sao Miguel
A few years ago we were already on São Miguel. On the way from Barbados to Southampton we took the Ventura of P & O Cruises for a day in Ponta Delgada. "Corona" was not a pandemic back then, but the Spanish word for crown or a tasty Mexican beer. We drove around the west coast of the island in a rental car and then strolled through the town. An island like in a picture book, the small towns and the landscapes as if painted, clear colors, smell of grass and flowers. None of that has changed.
Sao Miguel - Sete Cidades
However, the Azores have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourism as an economic mainstay simply fell away. And the people had little support, unlike us in Germany.
In the evening we leave São Miguel towards Graciosa. This island belongs to the Central Group and is the second smallest of the inhabited Azores.
Graciosa, the white island
The World Voyager docks at the port of Praia. In the small fishing village we notice some disused Flemish windmills. Visitors to the island can rent the lovingly restored mills as holiday accommodation. Details about Graciosa and our panoramic tour: Graciosa.
Graciosa - Praia de Sao Mateus
Graciosa - windmill in Praia
Panoramic tour of Graciosa
We take part in a bus tour of the island. Graciosa is about 10 by 6 kilometers, so we will see a lot. In the morning it is still cool, after that it will be warmer with lots of sun and a few clouds. Our bus is a little late. First the children are driven to school, then it is the turn of the tourists. In Praia we first taste the specialty of the island. A bakery makes queijadas, delicious little tarts that Graciosa is known for beyond the Azores.
Then we go to the Miradouro do Ilhéu, from where we look out over the gently rolling landscape. The island owes its name to this landscape: Graciosa = the lovely, the graceful. The nickname comes from the scattered white houses.
Graciosa - Praia from the bird's eye view
Santa Cruz and Monte da Senhora da Ajuda
In the main town Santa Cruz da Graciosa we visit the museum. The interesting exhibitions are mainly dedicated to the history and tradition of the island. A tour of the town follows before we take a minibus to Monte da Senhora da Ajuda. From the mountain we have an expansive view of Santa Cruz, the coastline and the sea. We look at the small church of Senhora da Ajuda and two chapels. A little below in a small crater is the Santa Cruz bullring. Bloodless bullfights take place in the Azores.
Graciosa - monastery complex
Graciosa-Pico da Ajuda
Caldeira of Graciosa and Furna do Enxofre
We continue west to the Farol da Barca lighthouse and then south to the Caldeira of Graciosa. The Caldeira is impressive simply because of its size: 1600 by 800 meters in the oval and 270 meters deep. In the caldera is the Parque Florestal with animal enclosure, playground and picnic area. The tables and benches are widely scattered in the forest. A beautiful place. We have a rustic lunch here, which is brought in a small van.
Not far away is the Furna do Enxofre sulfur cave. Information about the cave and its importance is available at a visitor center. From there, a path winds to a tower-like shaft where a spiral staircase of 183 steps leads down to the cave. A large lake, fantastic rock formations and a strong smell of sulfur await us in the spacious cave.
The descent and ascent are tedious, but they are definitely worth it.
Medicinal Springs of Carapacho
In the south of Graciosa is the small town of Carapacho. It is known for its healing springs. In a well-kept building there are thermal and steam baths as well as therapeutic treatments. A natural pool invites you to swim in the Atlantic. Some of our fellow travelers dare to do the same. The water of the Atlantic is just too cold for me.
Our final stop is at the Ponta da Restinga lighthouse. Once again we have a wide view of the island and the sea. Then it's back to WORLD VOYAGER.
Graciosa - Miradouro da Restinga
The island has been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 2007. The different landscapes - rugged rocky coasts, rolling hills, the green Caldeira - and flora and fauna on Graciosa are worth seeing and experiencing. During our 7 hour tour we saw a lot. We would like to come back again.
Corvo, the smallest Azores island
Today we will call at the two western Azores islands. Flores and Corvo are the outposts of Europe, but are already on the North American plate. The distance to mainland Portugal and Canada is approximately the same.
We arrive early in the morning Corvo. It's cool and the sun rarely breaks through the clouds, but it doesn't rain. Later it will be sunny. Only 300 inhabitants live on Corvo, the smallest island in the Azores. The 17 square kilometer island consists almost entirely of an extinct volcanic crater.
Caldeira do Corvo
An impressive volcanic crater
We are in the roadstead and drive to Corvo with the onboard Zodiacs. Three vans are waiting for us on land. They drive us to the Miradouro do Caldeirão. From this vantage point at an altitude of 540 meters we enjoy the view of the TOP sight of Corvo, the volcanic crater Caldeirão. With its 2300 meters in diameter and 300 meters deep, the Caldeirão is really impressive. The crater walls glow in different shades of green, at the bottom lies the lake Lagoa do Caldeirão. Cattle graze in the lush green of the Caldeira. Again we experience an island like from a picture book.
Caldeira do Corvo
View of the sea from the Caldeira do Corvo
With the vans we drive back to the village of Vila do Corvo. On a tour we see three historic windmills, the small parish church and the eco-museum. Then we stroll through the narrow streets. A little later the Zodiacs take us back to WORLD VOYAGER.
Corvo is something very special. A tiny outpost on the edge of Europe, which, like the neighboring island of Flores, defies the forces of the Atlantic Ocean. The daily life of the people on the smallest island of the archipelago is not easy. The population is declining; There are more cattle than people on Corvo.
Happy cattle on Corvo
Vila do Corvo - one resident
The western end of Europe
At noon we continue to Flores, the westernmost island of the Azores. The weather is still stable, the sun often shows up. We pass the west side of Flores. A small volcanic rock in front of Fajã Grande, the Ilhéu do Monchique, marks the end of Europe.
Flores-Ilheu do Monchique
Flores, the island of flowers
Flores is also small, but at 143 square kilometers it is more than 8 times the size of Corvo. The island impresses with its unique blossom splendor and owes its nickname flower island to this. We reach in the early afternoon Flores. We are in the roadstead and use the Zodiacs to cross over to land.
Flores - Port of Lajes
Flores - Destruction in the port of Lajes
In October 2019, Hurricane Lorenzo struck the island. It destroyed large parts of the recently completed Lajes das Flores pier. Larger ships like the WORLD VOYAGER can no longer dock.
Paradise for nature lovers and hikers
At the pier we board the bus that will take us to many of Flores' sights. Flores has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2009. We look forward to the spectacular nature.
Flores - Ponto de Vista waterfalls
On the plateau above Lajes we stop at the Funda and Rasa craters and crater lakes, then in the nature reserve at the Caldeiras Negra and Comprida. We continue towards Fajã Grande. Our bus stops at a number of miradoures and we admire the scattered houses, the waterfalls and the Poco da Alagoinha pond.
In Fajã Grande we go to the Poço do Bacalhau waterfall, which after a drop of 90 meters ends in a small lake. The way there first winds between walls made of lava stones and then leads along a stream with water wheels.
Flores - Cascata do Poco do Bacalhau
Flores - Way to Cascata do Poco do Bacalhau
Grandiose vantage points
On the way back, the bus stops again at various vantage points. I particularly like the Rocha dos Bordões basalt formation. Finally we stop in Lajes das Flores. From the forecourt of the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário we enjoy the panoramic view over the bay. With the Zodiacs we drive back to WORLD VOYAGER.
Flores - Lajes - Largo do Pelourinho
Flores - Lajes - port and cruise ship
Flores is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. Hopefully this will remain the case for a long time to come due to the island's remote location in the middle of the Atlantic. Gentle tourism is wanted and should gradually become an economic mainstay alongside agriculture and animal husbandry.
Flores - landscape formation
Faial, the blue island
We reach in the morning Faial. The island belongs to the central group of the Azores. The temperature is pleasant early in the morning, it is sunny with a few clouds. We have breakfast on the terrace and look at Horta, the main town of Faial. The island looks inviting.
Faial - Horta Panorama
It is nicknamed Isla Azul - blue island - because of the many hydrangea hedges that border fields, gardens and paths. In the afternoon we will take a bus tour to some sights and see if the island deserves the nickname.
With the Zodiac around Monte Guia
Tours with the onboard Zodiacs are offered in the mornings. We signed up for a scenic drive. It leads around the Monte da Guia to the sandy bay of Praia Porto Pim. The center of whale processing used to be there.
Faial - Praia do Porto Pim with the whale oil factory
Faial - Whale Oil Factory on Praia do Porto Pim
The water is quite agitated on the way there. What would have awaited us on the sporty tour? On the way back it is actually a quiet boat ride.
By bus across the island
Our tour starts in the early afternoon. We first take the bus inland to the Miradouro da Nossa Senhora da Conceição. At this vantage point, a statue of the Madonna watches over Faial before a towering cross. We look at Horta and the nearby island of Pico with the volcanic cone of the same name, Pico, Portugal's highest mountain.
Our next stop is at the Caldeira do Faial. The crater has a diameter of around 2000 meters. Through a tunnel we reach the viewpoint from which we can see deep into the Caldeira and the spectacular hiking trail around the crater.
Caldeira do Faial
Circular walk at the Caldeira do Faial
In the region of Capelinhos
Continue to Capelinhos. In 1957 and 1958, volcanic activity created an ash-covered landscape and the young Capelinhos volcano. We visit the interpretation center, where the eruptions are well documented, and the lighthouse that was destroyed in the eruption. We drive back to Horta along the coast, past the Ponte do Morro with the Castelo Branco rock visible from afar.
Faial - Rocky island of Castelo Branco
On the way in Horta
In Horta we can look around on our own. Being alone after a long time in a foreign city is something special. A very good feeling. On our tour we look at the place and the marina, which is called at by many sailors when crossing the Atlantic.
Horta - Peter Cafe Sport
Horta - Peter Cafe Sport
And we visit the Peter Café Sport. The pub has existed for over 100 years and is one of the sights in Horta. We walk back to the WORLD YOYAGER. On the promenade we admire the many murals. The paintings come from the sailors, some of whom have immortalized themselves here very imaginatively.
Faial deserves its nickname. We saw hydrangeas in different shades of blue all over the island. But also a lush vegetation of ferns and mosses, beeches and cedars. The huge Caldeira impressed us, as did the lunar landscape of Capelinhos and lively Horta.
In the evening it starts to rain lightly. The barbecue at the pool on deck 7 will take place anyway. The guests like it, as do we. At 10pm we leave the port of Horta.
Pico, the mountain island
Half of the second largest island in the Azores consists of a huge volcanic cone. Pico, Portugal's highest mountain, gave the island its name. If visibility is good, the volcano can be seen from afar. The journey by ship is then impressive.
Madalena - in the background the volcano Pico
The WORLD VOYAGER is anchored in the roadstead in front of the town of Lajes in the south of the island. In the morning we laze around the pool in pleasantly warm temperatures. In the afternoon we will take part in a shore excursion.
Our shore excursion on Pico
Our tour goes west along the coast, then north and across the middle of the island back to Lajes. We will be much of the island Pico see. Hopefully also the volcanic cone of the Pico, which initially hides behind clouds.
We tender to the Lajes jetty. The bus for our shore excursion is already waiting there. After just a few kilometers we stop in São Mateus and visit the parish church.
Pico - the tender boat is waiting
Pico - Parish Hall of the Paroquia Matriz de São Mateus
Then we continue to the vineyards at Criação Velha. The cultivation of wine has a long tradition on Pico. The lava rock forms a good base for the vines. The small plots are protected by lava walls. They are among the largest human-made stone networks in the world. Criação Velha has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. We take a walk to the Moinho do Frade, a picturesque red mill.
Pico - Lajido da Criação Velha
Our next destination is the wine museum in Madalena. The exhibition in the former Carmelite monastery is well structured. I particularly like the beautiful garden with the many old dragon trees.
In the coastal town of Cachorro, the Pico lava flows have formed massive rock formations. They are connected by stairs and footbridges, which will take us far into the rugged area. Below us, the seawater rushes through tunnels and rock arches, and we enjoy the extraordinary views.
Wine and cheese on Pico
In Santo Antonio we visit an island-typical Adega, one of the small wineries. We taste wine and brandies, and there is cheese and sausage from our own production. The wine is very tasty, I particularly like the white Verdelho. And in the Adega shop there are tasteful souvenirs, not mass-produced kitsch. We buy a small lava sperm whale to commemorate Pico.
Pico - Buraca Winery
Sperm whale from volcanic rock
We follow the coast to São Roque do Pico, then we turn onto the highland road. Through lush green country we drive back to Lajes. And now the pico, which successfully hid behind clouds all day, also shows itself.
Pico - cows on the plateau
The volcano Pico shrouded in clouds
In the evening we sit on the terrace of WORLD VOYAGER for a long time. Our expedition ship leaves Pico and sets course for Terceira.
Pico could become my favorite Azores island. I have loved volcanoes and lava fields since my first stay on the Canary Island of Lanzarote. Life on Pico is still very original. The approximately 14.000 people who live on Pico are particularly attached to their homeland.
Terceira, the third
The name Terceira is said to derive from the fact that it was discovered as the third island. But it is also the third largest island in the Azores.
The WORLD VOYAGER docks at the port of Praia da Vitória in the east of Terceira (Azores) at. It's a beautiful day with lots of sun and few clouds. The temperatures rise to 25 degrees.
By bus through farmland and pastureland
We have breakfast on the terrace. Our bus tour to the island's capital, Angra do Heroísmo, starts a little later. Our route goes west across the middle of the island and then south. Terceira is a very green island. We drive through farmland and pastureland.
Terceira - Miradouros da Serra do Cume
Terceira - Miradouros da Serra do Cume
The fields are almost square and often separated by stone walls or hedges. On the way we stop at various viewpoints. And at an arena where bulls can be admired in front of the Tourada. The tourada à corda is a bullfight in which the animal is neither injured nor killed. The Tourada has been a tradition on Terceira since the 17th century.
On Monte Brasil
Before we visit Angra, we drive to the peninsula of the former volcano Monte Brasil. There are a few viewpoints on the hilltop from which we can see the harbor bay with the marina and the town with its many churches and convents.
Terceira - Angra do Heroísmo from a bird's eye view
We recognize the mighty fortress Fortaleza São João Baptista, the Cathedral, the city park Jardim Duque da Terceira and - because of its blue color - the Igreja da Misericórdia.
On the way in the island capital
Contrary to the otherwise strict Covid-19 regulations, we are allowed to explore the city on our own. First we visit the cathedral, then we go towards the pleasure craft and marina. The old town has been extensively restored in part and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. We really like strolling through the town. Unfortunately, the Igreja da Misericórdia is closed. But the square in front of the church with the colored cobblestones, the two arches of the old city gate and the statue of Vasco da Gama is also worth seeing.
The Rua Direita begins next to the Igreja da Misericórdia. There are small shops, cafes and bars. The street leads to Praça Velha with the town hall of Angra do Heroísmo. It is said to be the most beautiful town hall in the Azores. We continue to the city park Jardim Duque da Terceira. The well-kept park is three hectares in size. The variety of plants and trees is impressive.
Angra do Heroismo - Jardim Duque da Terceira
On the way back we pass the mighty Franciscan convent and reach our bus exactly at the agreed time.
We leave Angra in an easterly direction and drive back to Praia da Vitória near the coast. On the way back we also stop at the heights so that we can once again enjoy the views of Terceira.
Again we experienced an island like from a picture book. Terceira scores with rolling hills in lush shades of green. The largest forest area in the Azores is also on Terceira. And to discover the island's capital, Angra do Heroísmo, it takes more than our short tour.
In the evening we leave Praia da Vitória towards Santa Maria.
Santa Maria, the island of the sun
Santa Maria is the southernmost island of the Azores. Santa Maria owes its nickname of the sun island to the mild climate and the warmer temperatures. The WORLD VOYAGER is available Santa Maria on roadstead. From the terrace of the restaurant we look at the picturesque town of Vila do Porto, located above the marina. It's warm and sunny with temperatures up to 25 degrees.
Santa Maria - Vila do Porto - Forte de Sao Brás
Our shore excursion
Even today we are only allowed to leave our expedition ship in a group. We opted for a bus tour. The onboard Zodiacs take us to the marina. At 97 square kilometers, Santa Maria is the third smallest island in the Azores. Our panoramic tour takes you around the island in a clockwise direction. The first stop is in Anjos village. There we visit the Columbus monument and the chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Anjos.
Continue west overland past whitewashed houses with tall chimneys. The construction is typical of Santa Maria and dates back to the first settlers who came from the Alentejo and Algarve regions of Portugal. The color-contrasting plinths, window and door niches are something special. Each municipality on the island has its own colour: blue, green, ochre, red or grey.
We stop at Miradouro das Lagoinhas. From here one overlooks the wide Caldeira and large parts of the north coast of Santa Maria. After that we stop in the Parque National Costa Norte and in the municipality of Santa Bárbara. We visit the parish church, which has a particularly beautifully designed interior. The hiking trail to Poço da Pedreira starts in Santa Bárbara. The former quarry is one of the natural beauties of Santa Maria.
Santa Maria - Poço da Pedreira
Baia de Sao Lourenco and Praia Formosa
Then we drive to the Baia de São Lourenço, a wide bay with a light sandy beach. Steep mountains enclose the picturesque bay like an amphitheater. Wine is grown on the slopes on small plots protected with lava stones. From the Miradouro Vigia da Balaia on the Ponta do Castelo we can see as far as the Goncalo Velho lighthouse, which stands high above the sea on a promontory.
Santa Maria - Baia Sao Lourenco
Santa Maria - Ponta do Castelo
Two more sandy bays are waiting for us. Santa Maria is the only island in the Azores that has light sandy beaches, such as Praia Formosa and Praia Maia. At Praia Formosa we take a walk on the beach, some of our fellow travelers dare to swim in the Atlantic.
Walk in Vila do Porto
Last we stop in Vila do Porto. We visit the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Vitória and the former Franciscan monastery and then stroll through the town. The small houses are well maintained, many have wrought iron balconies. There are also some nice shops.
Santa Maria - Church of Nuestra Senhora da Vitória
Santa Maria - Vila do Porto - Main Street
The Zodiacs are already waiting at the port to take us back to WORLD VOYAGER. First it's time to say goodbye. Our tour guide Birgit, who has accompanied us since we arrived in the Azores, leaves the ship today and flies back to São Miguel.
Many dolphins accompany us
In the afternoon we laze around the pool on deck 6. Not long after we left Santa Maria, the WORLD VOYAGER is accompanied by many dolphins. They are spotted dolphins that romp along the ship and dive under the bow.
World Voyager - rest area aft
In the evening we have dinner with the Finnish captain and the cruise director. An interesting dinner. The Captain is communicative and a good conversationalist. And so does Sarah, the cruise director. Later the crew's show takes place. We are always amazed at how many talented crew members there are on cruise ships. Even the captain sings this evening.
Conclusion Santa Maria
Santa Maria is the oldest island in the Azores archipelago. It was discovered in 1427 as the first island by Portuguese sailors and was also the first to be settled. The island is a natural paradise that is home to fewer than 5.600 people.
After I inhabited eight of the nine Azores Islands seen at least part of it, I can't name a favorite. Each island is unique and worth seeing in its own way: There are huge volcanoes; craters with deep lakes; calderas where cattle graze; laurel and cedar forests. The soils are fertile. Constant temperatures and the frequent alternation of sun and rain offer ideal conditions for lush plant growth.
Santa Maria - Miradouro das Lagoinhas
I have never seen so many hydrangea hedges in my life. The islands are paradises for hikers and nature lovers. And the Atlantic attracts divers, sailors and surfers as well as whale and dolphin watchers.
From the Azores to Madeira
A day at sea awaits us before heading to Funchal Madeira reach. It's around 20 degrees. Sun and clouds alternate and it is very windy. A day for lounging and reading, running or walking on deck and exercising in the gym.
World Voyager pool deck
In the evening there is an interesting round of talks with the captain, the chief engineer and the hotel manager.
The same applies to Madeira: During the Covid 19 pandemic, we are only allowed to leave the ship in a group. It's a warm, sunny day. We have been to Madeira a number of times. Nevertheless, we take part in a panoramic tour. Madeira is always worth seeing. More about our tour: Madeira - Excursions during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
We drive first to the statue of Christ east of Funchal. The statue is significantly smaller than the Cristo Redentor statue in Rio de Janeiro or the in Lisbon. Next to the statue there is a cable car that leads to a beach below. We didn't know this little bay yet.
Caniço - Ponta do Garajau - Cristo Rei
Caniço - Praia do Garajau
Our tour passes the airport and then inland. Madeira is just beautiful. It's easy to forget if you haven't been there for a while.
On the north coast we stop in Ribeiro Frio. We visit a trout farm and take a break in a picturesque bar.
Madeira - Penha d'Aguia
Madeira - Trout farm in Ribeiro Frio
Then we drive back to Funchal. Shopping in one of Madeira's wine houses is still on the agenda here.
In the afternoon we pack our things. Once again we take a tour of the ship to say goodbye to everyone. After dinner we sit on the terrace for a long time and enjoy the view of the illuminated Funchal.
Another day in Funchal
We get up early, the cabin has to be cleared. We have breakfast one last time on the terrace, then the transfer to the airport starts.
Madeira - Funchal - Panorama
The requirements of the authorities at the port of Funchal can almost keep up with the entry formalities in the USA. Although we organized our own arrival and departure, we are not allowed to leave WORLD VOYAGER in Funchal alone. With the other guests we drive to the airport. Then we can do whatever we want there.
We leave our suitcases at the left luggage office in the airport. A little later we are sitting in the taxi to Funchal. The weather is really good: over 25 degrees and sun all day.
It's a national holiday, the President of the Republic is visiting Madeira. In Funchal, a number of streets are closed to traffic and the city center is already very lively in the morning. We leave the taxi near the market hall. First we take the cable car to the Monte district above Funchal. We walk past the Jardin Botanico to the church of Nossa Senhora do Monte. We like this pilgrimage church with the imposing staircase and the striking bell towers. The view of Funchal from above is always an experience. Next to the church, the sleigh drivers are waiting for customers.
Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte
Guide of the basket sleds
The ride down the mountain in a basket toboggan is also an experience. We tested this years ago and take the cable car for the way back.
In Funchal we walk along the sea and then through the old town. At the Praça do Município we take a break in one of the small bistros.
Collage of front doors in Funchal's old town
Funchal - Bistro at the Praça do Município
Funchal - Tower of the Catedral Sé
Funchal - waterfront promenade
We continue to the cathedral and once more to the sea. We are tired from walking and are waiting for the bus to the airport in the park by the Embroidery Museum. The return flight is on time and everything goes smoothly in Düsseldorf. We're home a little after midnight.
Our Azores cruise in retrospect
It was only ten days before the start of our cruise that nicko cruises suggested a changed route: Azores intensive. What a journey! We were thrilled from the start and have not regretted our decision.
The WORLD VOYAGER is an excellent travel companion. The small expedition ship sets high standards in terms of comfortable travel. There is a friendly atmosphere in all areas. The service is careful and professional. All members of the crew are dedicated and competent.
I really like the outdoor areas at the stern on deck 5 and deck 6. Part of it is covered, while a section towards the railing is free. The area is very sheltered and is a comfortable seating and lying area even when the weather is not so good, with a panoramic view.
The 12 Zodiacs on board are used again and again to offer passengers special experiences on the water and offshore. And for less sporty and daring people like me, there are also panoramic rides.
The Azores is a destination that I recommend to everyone. We also recommend the WORLD VOYAGER, which fits in perfectly with such an extraordinary trip. I enjoyed every day on board.
World Voyager in the roadstead