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Compare: 8 Best Cruise Ships in the Canary Islands

Fuerteventura, Canary Island, Spain (Photo: Elena Krivorotova/Shutterstock)
Fuerteventura, Canary Island, Spain (Photo: Elena Krivorotova/Shutterstock)

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With year-round sunshine, spectacular scenery and stunning beaches, it’s not hard to see the appeal of the Canary Islands.

Located on Europe’s westernmost edge, it’s far enough away to soak up some vitamin D, but close enough for a 7 to 14-night cruise.

Thanks to its popularity with Brits, most of the major cruise lines sail here, either solely touring the islands, or passing through as part of a transatlantic trip. Many ships also dock at ports in Portugal and Spain en route, so you can get a taste of life in the Mediterranean.

Whichever itinerary you choose, your cruise line is sure to have a roster of fascinating shore excursions on offer, from exploring stunning landscapes and cities, to experiencing local food and wine.

To help you select the right cruise, we’ve compiled a list of our top 8 ships for seeing the Canary Islands in style.

Updated March 29, 2019

1. Saga Sapphire

Saga Sapphire (Photo: Saga Cruises)

With sculpture and art lining the walls, a voyage on the Saga Sapphire is a stylish way to experience life on the open seas. Exclusively for the over fifties, this ship has a maximum capacity of 720 passengers, resulting in an intimate, relaxed atmosphere onboard. Foodies rave about the eateries in particular. The award-winning fine-dining experience at Pole to Pole often gets a mention in Cruise Critic reviews thanks to its mouth-watering menu, which is influenced by cuisines from around the world. The chilled-out Verandah restaurant is also highly rated for its excellent casual-dining options.

Saga Sapphire will leave the Saga fleet in 2020.

  • Homeport: Southampton.
  • Ports: Cadiz; Santa Cruz; Puerto de la Estaca; Las Palmas; Santa Cruz de la Palma; Funchal.
Canary Exclusives
  • A full-day in Cadiz and Funchal.
  • DIY workshops and VIP talks from an expert gardener.
  • Make-your-own-tapas experience available during a shore excursion in Cadiz.
Ship Wows
  • Chauffeur-driven travel to Southampton (within 250-mile radius).
  • All-inclusive dining, including room service.
  • Unlimited onboard drinks during 2019.

2. Marella Dream

Marella Dream (Photo: Marella Cruises)

Marella Cruises is popular with a wide range of holidaymakers, from young couples and families with children to older, retired couples. This classic ship is not without options onboard: With free kids’ clubs to keep smaller guests entertained, you could take the opportunity to unwind by the pool and enjoy some much-deserved me-time. There's nine bars, six restaurants and two pools spread out over 12 decks, with plenty of space for Marella Dream's 1,506 passengers to explore at their leisure.

  • Homeport: Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
  • Ports: Las Palmas; San Sebastian; Funchal; Arrecife; Puerto del Rosario.
Canary Exclusives
  • Nearly all destinations have a full day in port for onshore exploring.
  • Unlike many other Canaries cruises, the itinerary includes stops in San Sebastian in La Gomera and Puerto del Rosario in Fuerteventura.
  • Add a seven-night stay in any destination to your cruise with Marella.
Ships Wows
  • Broadway-style shows and top UK acts to keep you entertained.
  • The superb Kora La restaurant.
  • The ship's artwork -- carried over from its time sailing as Holland America Line's Westerdam -- is stunning!

3. Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria (Photo: Cunard Cruise Line)

Having undergone a $40m refit, Cunard also took the opportunity to extend Queen Victoria in 2017, increasing the number of cabins to 1,035 and adding a new dining room to the ship. As a result, it can now host more than 2,000 passengers on each voyage. And although the facilities are modern, the ship retains the classic charm you’d expect from Cunard, recalling the heyday of the 1930s. With stunning chandeliers and polished-wood finishes, there’s an air of elegance throughout the public areas. In keeping with the luxury vibe, you could choose to indulge in wine-tasting experiences, afternoon teas, gala dinners and fine dining during your voyage.

  • Home port: Southampton.
  • Ports: Funchal; La Palma; Tenerife; Lanzarote; La Coruna.
Canary Exclusives
  • Highly immersive, with expert talks on topics such as wine, nature and exploration.
  • Passengers can try their hand at fencing while sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Expert-led tours let you get under the skin of your destination.
Ship Wows
  • The stunning two-floor wood-pannelled library with a gorgeous spiral staircase.
  • The new Winter Garden is light and airy and provides fantastic views.
  • Live music throughout your stay, creating an ambient backdrop to your trip.

4. Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette (Photo: Celebrity Cruise Line)

Although this ship can accommodate nearly 3,000 passengers it rarely feels crowded. Thanks to the large number of public spaces onboard, you can always find space to unwind. As one of Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships, it places an emphasis on excellent food. As such, you can sample Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisine at Silk Harvest, steaks at Tuscan Grille and modern gastronomy at Qsine, to name just a few of the options on offer. The entertainment is top-notch, too, with live music at the Rooftop Garden, circus shows and even an onboard cinema, so you can watch the latest blockbusters while you travel.

  • Homeport: Southampton.
  • Ports: Funchal; Tenerife; Las Palmas; Gran Canaria; Lanzarote; Vigo; Southampton.
Canary Exclusives
  • Onboard Destination Concierge available to provide useful information.
  • Independent local tour companies run tours and excursions.
  • Private excursions can be arranged, allowing you to see the sights at your own pace.
Ship Wows
  • The Lawn Club: A half-acre, grass-covered deck at the top of the ship.
  • 25 different accommodation types to choose from.
  • A multi-million dollar art collection.

5. P&O Ventura

Ventura (Photo: P&O Cruises)

Big, bold and modern, P&O Ventura is perfect for a family getaway. And while there are child-friendly dining options and activities on offer, there’s also an adults-only solarium and spa, so you can escape from the hustle and bustle. And just because it’s family friendly, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury; there are plenty of occasions to get dressed up for black-tie galas and upscale dining. If retail therapy’s more your thing, make the most of the duty-free. With brands including Liu-Jo and Longines onboard, you can take home something special.

  • Homeport: Southampton.
  • Ports: Madeira; La Palma; Tenerife; Lanzarote; La Coruna.
Canary Exclusives
  • Full days in each destination, so you can explore at your leisure.
  • Some evenings in port, so you can experience the local nightlife.
  • Legends at Sea: Special talks and coaching sessions from sporting celebrities.
Ship Wows
  • A range of kids’ clubs catering for children from two to 17.
  • The vast Oasis Spa.
  • Two-tier theatre hosting West-End-style shows.

6. Braemar

Braemar (Photo: Fred Olsen Cruise Line)

With capacity for 924 passengers, Fred. Olsen’s Braemar is a small-ship option in the Canary Islands. As such, you’ll get off the beaten track and call in at some smaller ports, such as La Tarajal in Spain. And although the Braemar is on the petite side, it has all the facilities you’d expect from a cruise ship, including four restaurants, a pool, jacuzzis and a hot tub. On the whole, Braemar is a relaxed ship, with a more casual approach to cruising, which I reflected in the line's dress code.

  • Home port: Southampton.
  • Ports: La Coruna; La Tarajal; Las Palmas; Santa Cruz de Tenerife; Funchal; Lisbon.
Canary Exclusives
  • Incorporates Lisbon and La Coruna.
Ship Wows
  • A well-stocked library.
  • Four restaurants to choose from.
  • A broad range of enrichments activities and talks.

7. Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

More floating resort than cruise ship, you might be tempted to stay onboard Explorer of the Seas for the duration of your holiday. There’s so much for guests of all ages to enjoy, you’re unlikely to get bored while at sea. With activity clubs for children and teens, three swimming pools, a rock-climbing wall, a gym, a casino and lots of shops, the hardest part will be knowing where to start. Food more your thing? Take a tour of the restaurants, which serve up everything from fresh sushi to authentic American hamburgers.

  • Homeport: Southampton.
  • Ports: Funchal; Santa Cruz; Arrecife; Las Palmas; Vigo; La Coruna.
Canary Exclusives
  • A full day in port at most of your ports of call.
Ship Wows
  • FlowRider surf simulator.
  • A variety of dining options, including sushi and Italian cuisine.
  • A substantial art collection, featuring the works of well-known personalities, Tony Curtis and Annie Leibowitz.

8. Sapphire Princess

Sapphire Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)

Refurbished in March 2018, Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess is a modern-looking ship, with onboard activities catering for guests of all ages. From sports like basketball and bocce, to Movies Under the Stars, you can get involved with as much or as little as you want. At full capacity, the ship can accommodate more than 2,000 passengers, but it rarely feels cramped or crowded. In general the atmosphere is relaxed and the dress-code is smart-casual -- although there are opportunities to get dressed up on formal nights.

  • Homeport: Southampton.
  • Ports: Vigo; Arrecife; Las Palmas; Santa Cruz; Funchal.
Canary Exclusives
  • Destination-themed events.
  • Princess Cruises has worked with local experts to compile destination-specific content, so you can learn about your ports of call while at sea.
  • Small-group excursions are available, so you can really get to know your destination onshore.
Ship Wows
  • Recently refurbished Lotus Spa & The Sanctuary.
  • Private balcony dining .
  • New kids’ facilities, including a basketball court and several swimming pools.

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