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7 Best Cruise Ships in the Canary Islands

Contributor
Lucy Mowatt
Contributor
Kerry Spencer

Last updated
Feb 29, 2024

Read time
5 min read

With year-round sunshine, spectacular scenery and stunning beaches, it's not hard to see the appeal of the Canary Islands. This Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa is far enough away to soak up some vitamin D, but close enough for a seven 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 and experience the island of Madeira, too.

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

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1. Spirit of Discovery is a Sophisticated Option for a Solo 50+ Traveller

Saga Cruises' new ship, Spirit of Discovery, is set to be christened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in Dover
Saga Cruises' Spirit of Discovery, debuted in 2019. (Photo: Saga Cruises)

The 999-passenger Spirit of Discovery, one of Saga Cruises' two custom-made ships, is a superb choice for over-50 travellers, including solo travellers, with a glorious Art Deco-style pool deck, cabins all with balconies and marble-clad bathrooms and complimentary room service.

Spirit of Discovery is a beautiful ship and feels more like a luxury vessel, with a large number of inclusions, including all dining, including speciality restaurants; unlimited drinks; WiFi; gratuities and a taxi to and from the port, within 250 miles.

The ship offers a selection of no-fly Canary Islands including "Capitals of the Canary Islands" and "Christmas in the Canary Islands" departing from Portsmouth. As well as visiting several of the Canary Islands, the ship calls to Funchal in Madeira, with a selection of included excursions.

A boon for solo cruisers: There are 109 dedicated solo occupancy cabins — 20 percent of all accommodation onboard.

2. Marella Explorer is a Top Choice for All-Inclusive Fun in the Sun

Marella Explorer Pool Deck
Marella Explorer Pool Deck (Photo: Marella Cruises)
With Marella Explorer, passengers get return flights, airport-to-port return transfers, all drinks and gratuities included within the cost of a cruise. In the Canary Islands, this means returned charter flights to Tenerife or Gran Canaria from a range of UK airports.

The 1,924-passenger ship has some lovely amenities, including a Champneys spa, a gin- and whisky-tasting bar and a large number of new shows.

There are 20 restaurants and bars, including the seaside-themed Snack Shack for casual poolside meals and Kora La for Indian. There's an indoor cinema, a Sports & Family Deck, kids clubs and nighttime entertainment including movies shown on a big-screen under moonlight and excellent West End-style shows.

Seven-night itineraries cover Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma and Madeira, offering plenty of opportunity to delve into the region's volcanic national parks, golden beaches and quaint old towns.

3. Queen Victoria Offers the Best in the Canary Islands for a "Golden Age" Experience

Having undergone a $40m refit in recent years, Cunard took the opportunity to extend Queen Victoria, 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.

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.

Cunard's Canary Islands voyages are no-fly itineraries from Southampton. Typically 12-nights or more during the winter season, they are a fantastic winter sun option without needing to fly.

Look out for the line's Canary Islands voyages on Queen Anne, Cunard's new ship debuting in May 2024.

4. Celebrity Apex is a Chic Ship that's Well-Suited to Couples

C E L  A X  Retreat Sundeck1a
C E L A X Retreat Sundeck1a

We adore Celebrity Cruises' Edge-class series, which strikes the right balance with a relaxed vibe and fanciful design, including chic Kelly Hoppen-designed spaces.

The 2,190-passenger Celebrity Apex — based in Southampton for a long summer season — features nifty innovations such as the ground-breaking Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform that juts from the side of the ship and can move up and down, from where you could sip on cocktails as you watch the sunset while sailing from island to island.

Then there's Eden, a light-filled space for entertaining, a plush resort-style sun deck with padded loungers and a lively Grand Plaza. The spa is decadent, the cabins are spacious and food is, generally, excellent. Oh, and there are a range of flight-free cruises to the Canaries from Southampton. What's not to love?

5. P&O Azura is the Best Ship for Home Comforts in the Canary Island

Azura (Photo: P&O Cruise Line)
Azura (Photo: P&O Cruise Line)

This much-loved Brit-centric ship is one of P&O Cruises' family-friendly vessels offering failsafe fly-cruises to the Canary Islands. While Azura is now close to 15 years old, it remains in great condition. Currency is in pounds sterling. There's Brodie's sports bar to keep up with Premier League football (as well as evening bingo and pub quizzes). Ballroom dancing lessons take place in the atrium. A fancy curry is available at Sindhu and kettles are in cabins for a morning brew.

Highlights of the 3,100-passenger Azura include the extra-fee Retreat, an uncrowded sun deck area with healthy breakfast and lunch options, fantastic kids' clubs, the Oasis Spa and the Glass House, a bar serving wine selected by expert Ollie Smith.

6. Fred. Olsen's Bolette is the Best for a Regional No-Fly Cruise to the Canaries

Bolette Departing Dover (Photo: Fred. Olsen)
Bolette Departing Dover (Photo: Fred. Olsen)

With capacity for 1,338 passengers, Fred. Olsen’s Bolette is a mid-sized ship offering a traditional cruise experience and reasonable fares to the Canary Islands. Bolette has a wide selection of cabins, including 50 rooms dedicated to solo travellers, plus wheelchair accessible options.

Bolette has six restaurants, and 11 bars and lounges include a split-level show lounge for after-dinner entertainment and smaller bars and lounges; some of them also featuring live music and comedy. There are two pools — one with a retractable roof and the other overlooking the aft of the ship — two hot tubs and a spa with a thermal area, providing plenty of facilities for languid sea days and sun-soaked afternoons in port.

There's afternoon tea, a culinary theatre for cooking classes, ballroom dancing and kettles in cabins for a morning brew in bed. What's great for fans of Fred. Olsen is the line's regional departures — meaning there's no need to schlep down to Southampton if you live in Southport. Simply, book one of the Liverpool departures.

7. Anthem of the Seas is the Canary Islands Ship for Whizz-Bang Amenities

More floating resort than cruise ship, you might be tempted to stay onboard Anthem 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.

It was the first Royal Caribbean ship to debut the Ripcord by iFly, North Star and Bionic Bar. It also boasts the Two70 venue, a Seaplex and Music Hall for show-stopping entertaining and fast-paced sports. There are rock climbing walls, FlowRider surf simulator, outdoor movie screens, four pools and the Vitality at Sea Spa, and among the 18 dining venues are Jamie's Italian, Johnny Rockets and Chops Grille.

What's more, Royal Caribbean has no-fly sailings direct from Southampton to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, plus La Coruna, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal.

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