Lanzarote (Photo:Marques/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By K Reinikainen
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Lanzarote

Lanzarote is the northernmost of the Canary Islands, situated just 70 miles off the coast of Africa. The island is 37 miles (60km) long and 12 miles (20 km) wide, making it the fourth largest island in the Canaries. Because it is just four degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer, it enjoys a sub-tropical climate that remains fairly stable year-round with average daytime temperatures ranging from about 21°C in January to 29°C in August. Annual rainfall is just 5.5 inches.

About Lanzarote


Pro

View jaw-dropping geothermal activity at nearby Timanfaya National Park

Con

You'll need to take a shuttle bus to get to town; the walk isn't pleasant

Bottom Line

Come for the beaches with crystal clear water. Stay for the dramatic volcanic landscapes


Find a Cruise to Canary Islands



Lanzarote is volcanic in origin. Due to eruptions during the 18th and 19th centuries, many parts of the island appear to be from another world, often described as "lunar" or "Martian," so much so that parts of the 1970's science fiction series Planet of the Apes was shot on the island. The dry climate and lack of erosion means that the volcanic landscape appears much as it did just after the eruptions; the local tourist industry capitalizes on this fact.

Amongst the many volcanic features of Lanzarote is the longest volcanic tunnel in the world called the Atlantida Tunnel, which is over 7 km long and includes the La Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua. Today, the volcano park at Timanfaya is the islands number one tourist attraction. But 270 years ago it was the scene of the world's longest ever volcanic eruption. Father Lorenzo Curbelo, the priest of the nearby village of Yaiza, witnessed how the events started to unfold: "On the first day of September, 1730 between nine and ten o'clock at night, the earth suddenly opened near Timanfaya, two miles from Yaiza. An enormous mountain emerged from the ground with flames coming from its summit. It continued burning for 19 days. Some days later, a new abyss developed and an avalanche of lava rushed down over Timanfaya, Rodeo and part of Mancha Blanca.

"The lava extended over to the northern areas to begin with, running as fast as water, though it soon slowed down and ran like honey. On September 7th a great rock burst upwards with a thunderous sound and the pressure of the explosion forced the lava going northwards to change direction, flowing then to the north west and west north west. The lava torrent arrived, instantly destroying Maretas and Santa Catalina in the valley. On September 11th the eruption became stronger." The situation had obviously aggravated in the first week since it started, but the ordeal of the islanders had only begun and it would take six years before the eruptions finally came to an end.

Despite the history rocked by eruptions, there have been plenty of earlier visitors on the island. These include a Genoese sailor by the name of Lancelotto Malocello, who arrived here in 1312 as the first European. Some people say the island got its name from him, but other legends co-exist by its side. Another one suggests that after conquering the native inhabitants, Jean de Bethencourt, a Norman knight who arrived in 1402, celebrated his victory over the natives by throwing his broken lance into the air and shouting "lanza rota," which means broken spear.

The islanders finally surrendered on February 27, 1404, and on that day, their king Guardafia was baptized and christened Luis. Bethencourt was granted the title of king of the Canary Islands by Pope Innocent VII.

Bethencourt died in Normandy in 1422 and was succeeded by his nephew Maciot, who later turned out to be a tyrant. He established Teguise as the capital and seat of governor, but he was suspected of trying to sell the Canaries to the Portuguese, who had also laid claim to the islands, but at arbitration the pope decided in favour of the Castille. The constitution of Cadiz of 1812 abolished feudal system, and the Canaries became a province of Spain with Santa Cruz, Tenerife as the capital. In 1852, the law of free ports granted the islands immunity from customs and excise duties. They hold this status even today.

Cruise ships dock at Arrecife, which is capital of the island with 50,000 inhabitants. The island has several resorts, such as Puerto del Carmen, which is located some 20 km to the south from Arrecife, or Costa Teguise 7 km to the north.

Where You're Docked

Your ship will dock at Puerto de Naos, which also handles cargo vessels. However, there is usually a shuttle bus service to Charco de San Gines, close to the town center. The journey takes about 12 minutes depending on traffic. It is hardly a scenic ride and includes some busy roads and roundabouts, so walking to town is not very pleasant.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The currency in use is the euro. There are ATM's in the town center, i.e. on Calle Leon y Castilia, which is also where you will find most of the ships.

Language

The language of the islands is Spanish, but as the islands receive visitors from many parts of Europe, you will get on with English quite well.