Yes, you can have it all — wild, escapist, UNESCO-protected islands plus all the champagne you desire!
Most cruises that visit the Canary Islands dock at a couple of the larger islands. But Seabourn Cruise Line takes in five of the seven main Canaries, including pint-sized El Hierro, where goats outnumber tourists and forests are bliss for nature lovers. And it does so in style.
Bonus: You also get two days in Morocco on Seabourn's port-intensive Canary Island cruises. Here's why you should book this bucket-list cruise itinerary.
Refurbished in 2017, the all-suite Seabourn Odyssey carries just 458 guests in all-ocean-view suites (90 percent with glass balconies). Stewardesses pamper you with turndown gifts (spices from the local souk, sleeping masks) and warm scented baths sprinkled with rose petals. The Grill, a new specialty restaurant from three-Michelin-star chef Thomas Keller, serves iconic American faves from the Mad Men era — order the garlicky Caesar salad prepared tableside and lobster Thermidor. On this itinerary, uniformed waiters can't wade through the sea to serve you caviar on a tropical beach (Seabourn's hallmark "Caviar in the Surf" experience). But never fear. You need only ask, and caviar will appear. And did we mention the unlimited champagne?
Of course, you can shake out your towel on dozens of beaches (many with black sand). But the real appeal to this Spanish archipelago off the west coast of Africa? The lunar landscapes and towering emerald peaks you'll find inland.
Gran Canaria, the third largest island, is dubbed a "mini continent" for its potpourri of desert, tropical and mountain scenery. One moment, you're driving twisty roads up craggy slopes to view the yawning volcanic hole of Bandama Caldera (almost 3 miles around). The next, you're buying marzipan in the red-roofed village of Tejeda overlooking a valley of poppies and nasturtiums.
Then there's El Hierro. The "end of the earth" before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, it's stuck in a time warp (electricity only arrived on the island in 1975). Peer into centuries-old huts made from lava rock and dung at the Ecomuseo de Guinea to learn how the original Bimbach native settlers lived. And see hang-gliders float down from dizzying 4,000-foot heights over the lush Golfo Valley.
Hike through the mists of a fairy-tale laurel forest in Garajonay National Park on La Gomera island. The forest is so ancient and rare (an example of what a Mediterranean forest looked like before the last Ice Age) that it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gawk at canopies of tree heather dripping with lichen, 60-foot high laurels and giant gnarled roots with a mind of their own, as birdsong sweetens the air. You'll burn plenty of calories on this moderately challenging, 6-mile hike. But your guide does take mercy and stops for a break — by a pretty white WWII chapel hidden in the trees.
Seabourn Odyssey combines the Canary Islands with Madeira; Casablanca and Tangier (Morocco); and western Mediterranean ports (like Lisbon and Malaga) on various cruises in November 2018 and April 2019. Visit Seabourn.com for more info.