Although we did not take a shore excursion, we have visited this area numerous times. There is plenty to see and do here. The cruise line has some excellent shore excursions or book independently before you sail. There are plenty of taxis around when you arrive if you prefer not to book ahead of time.
Although the weather was a bit iffy when we arrived we did get to see all the high points on an all-day Princess excursion. We toured the rugged volcanic island visiting pineapple greenhouses and a gift shop, also tasting a pineapple liquor. We visited the very picturesque Ribeira Grande which is located on a volcanic plateau. We explored the narrow cobbled lanes with its Portuguese influenced architecture. We traveled to the summit of Pico do Ferro Belvedere which unfortunately due to fog was not too picturesque while we were there. We did catch glimpses of the lake through the lifting fog. We next visited the Nostra Botanical Gardens which was just outside of Furnas. We strolled the beautiful grounds with its lakes and streams. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel with a typical local menu. Our journey continued with a trip to Furnas Valley with its geothermal park of 22 hot springs, mud pools and geysers. It was fun to watch steam emitting with a strong smell of sulfur. We even tasted water from a spigot that tasted very salty.
With only one day in France, we decided to repeat a previous visit. We took a bus tour to Paris with a stop to view the Eiffel Tower. After a tour of the city, we boarded a luncheon boat along the Seine River. The meal with wine included was wonderful as were our seat mates. There was plenty of time for picture taking too. We then had time for shopping. All to soon we headed back to the ship. It was a long but exciting day.