The traditional charm of Morocco, the vibrant florals of Madeira and an island-hopping experience to uncover the hidden gems of the Canary Islands. Bursting with natural beauty, fine architecture and intriguing pasts, soak up the diverse cultures of each, as you cruise the coast under the golden sun and an azure blue sky.
As a backdrop, Morocco’s vast geography is remarkable: from the Mediterranean coastline, through mountain ranges to the empty wilderness of the Sahara Desert. Roman ruins, Berber kasbahs, superb Islamic architecture and the foothills of the Atlas Mountains are all bathed in a unique shimmering light. On the other hand, Madeira may be tiny, but this subtropical paradise offers world-renowned gardens, spectacular coastlines and jagged peaks, while picturesque Funchal boasts an architectural charm and rich maritime heritage to match the island’s natural splendour. Lastly, we uncover parts of the Canary Islands that don’t always come to mind. Discover wildly beautiful islands of incredible diversity, charming colonial towns, other-worldly landscapes and remote mountain villages.
Fly to Tenerife, where you will meet your tour manager and transfer to your fantastic small ship in Santa Cruz. The dedicated crew are there to welcome you on board, ensuring you settle in and familiarise yourself with your contemporary surroundings.
With a day of cruising, today is the perfect time to settle in on board and make use of the excellent facilities. Perhaps unwind in the spa or simply enjoy the warm sunshine on deck, taking in the ocean views with a cool drink in your hand.
After a wonderful breakfast and relaxing morning on board, this afternoon we arrive in the coastal city of Casablanca, founded by the Berbers in the 7th century. Arab tribes also settled here and the Portuguese, Spanish and French followed, all leaving their distinctive mark on the culture and architecture. Moorish white houses, which give their name to the city, are scattered along the coastline, contrasting with the elegant 1930s architecture of the French epoch.
The French were heavily influenced by Art Deco and the unique style often seen in Casablanca is known as Mauresque – French for the local interpretation of Moorish design. Some fine examples of this style and other Art Deco buildings can be seen along Boulevard Mohammed V. Casablanca which was immortalised in the famous 1942 movie, starring Humphrey Bogart, but was actually wholly shot in Hollywood.
Begin your day with a tour of Casablanca, one of Africa’s largest cities. Start your visit with a drive around Casablanca's most important attractions, the residential district, the Royal Palace esplanade, the typical Moorish architecture of Habous District and the central market.
The highlight of your tour, however, is a visit to the truly spectacular Hassan II Mosque, the largest religious monument in the world after Mecca. It took 3,300 traditional Moroccan artisans to create the beautifully intricate mosaics: it really is a sight to behold from the opulent marble floors up to the splendid wood ceilings. The mosque also has the world's tallest minaret, soaring 200 metres above the city.
This morning our ship has moored in spectacular Safi, one of the ancient cities of Morocco. Founded by the Almohads the city became an important religious and cultural centre and is still the largest of five historic Atlantic ports. However, little is known about when it was founded, as the city was inhabited by the Carthagians who named it Asfi, then Romans, Goths and finally by Muslims. One thing is for sure, Safi's history is bound to the sea, so it’s no wonder the RA Expedition was launched from this city.
Today we step back in time as we explore Safi on foot. Your walking tour begins with the fishing port, one of the world's largest sardine ports, and its unique grain silo built in 1956. Your walk continues to the Corniche to admire the Ksar El Bhar, the sea castle an edifice dating back to 16th century built on the waterfront.
Immerse yourself in the Medina and visit a small private museum where a selection of old handicraft items, jewellery and clothing are on display, giving an insight to why the people of Morocco pride themselves on their traditional artisanal skills. Rue du Souq, as the name might suggest, perfectly sums this up, a bustling market brimming with the sights, sounds and smells of local food and crafts. Bab Ecchaaba is particularly famous for pottery, and as we walk passed you’ll get the chance to see the potters at work. Morocco is of course world renowned for its incredible mint, so why not enjoy a refreshing mint tea at a local café before you return to ship?
Today we cruise from Morocco to Madeira, so what better time to make the most of your well-appointed small ship? Early risers may want to head to the fabulous observation deck to enjoy a spectacular sunrise, or even head to the 135m running track for stunning views to accompany a morning run.
After breakfast, perhaps indulge in a pamper at the spa, relax in the sauna or simply take a dip in the outside pool. There are sun loungers and a pool bar too – perfect for unwinding with a book as you enjoy your favourite drink. There’s more entertainment inside too, so look out for the auditorium timetable, for the latest lectures and film screenings. After a day recharging, be sure to round it off with a trip to the second observation deck, which becomes a lounge each evening, as the fully glazed dome makes for spectacular views to accompany an aperitif.
Madeira is home to an array of year-round plants and flowers, owing to its nutritious, volcanic soil. And so of course the first stop on our tour of Funchal is host to a profusion of plants and flowers, the Botanical Gardens. Found in the grounds of a former private house, discover flora from all parts of the world, which thrive in the island's temperate climate. There is a herbarium, as well as terraces and greenhouses with many rare and indigenous plants. The gardens provide an excellent view over Funchal, a perfect opportunity to snap some stunning photographs.
After our horticultural experience of fine Funchal, it’s onward to the Old Town itself, popular for its historical, architectural, gastronomical and artistic aspects. The picturesque setting of narrow cobblestone streets lined by aged buildings, some dating back to the 15th Century. The next stop will be to visit the local market, where an impressive variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and flowers endlessly line the stalls. Be sure to try some fresh local fruit – which will of course be in season. The lower half of the market is dedicated to fish; depending on the season you may see fresh tuna or black scabbard fish. A visit to the market is always interesting and varied, and you will catch a glimpse of the day to day life of the Madeiran people.
Embroidery was introduced to Madeira in the mid-18th Century and has remained as significant cottage industry since. We will learn more about this important craft with a visit to a local factory. What’s more, you’ll be able to take home memories of Madeira, as examples of their handmade craft are available as souvenirs. We round off the tour with a complimentary glass of Madeira wine. Later this afternoon our ship sets sail for Lanzarote, so why not head above deck and watch the sunset as we effortlessly cruise to destinations new.
This morning, we have arrived in the stunning port of Arrecife, in Lanzarote. From here, we will go to the southern part of the island passing the picturesque villages of Macher and Uga and crossing a huge black lava stream before you get to the Timanfaya National Park - a natural museum of unique beauty. Bizarre craters, streams of lava and fields of ash are mixed here with an almost-lunar landscape, all of which formed during the last eruption in the 18th century.
On the hill of Islote de Hilario, you will learn about geothermal heat power, as demonstrated with some fascinating experiments. The geothermal energy is so strong that water fountains gush up, dry weed catches fire within seconds and a natural grill works with the heat of the earth below.
Next, we head to the heart of the National Park to experience the ‘Lunar Route’. Here you will learn about the history of the volcanic eruptions and see how slowly life conquers the inhospitable landscape with rare plants. On the southwest coast of the island we will stop to view of a small green lake called El Golfo, a natural phenomenon formed by natural filtrations from the ocean. But there’s more, as we continue to Los Hervideros, where the sea water seems to boil in a volcanic cave and to the natural lagoon of Janubio.
On your way back passing by Yaiza, one of the most beautiful villages of the island, you will continue to the valley of La Geria, where famous Malvasia wine is cultivated in a unique way, passed down through generations. We return to the ship, moored until evening, where you can enjoy views of the charming port over dinner.
Today we uncover the hidden gems of another Canary Island, Gran Canaria. Our tour of the south side of the island begins with views of Maspalomas Beach, which stretches 2,710 metres along the southernmost point of the island. Declared a natural protected area, the amazing sand dunes, which resemble those found in the Sahara, provide a habitat for a number of rare plant species, some of which are exclusive to the Canary Islands.
After leaving the dunes, we will pass one of the newer towns on the island, Puerto Rico. Once a small fishing port, Puerto Rico was built on the terraces of the steep slopes rising from the coastline. The small but beautiful village of Mogan will be our final stop. Admire the pretty bridges and canals found here, which have earned Mogan the nickname of 'the Venice of Gran Canaria', and enjoy some time to explore the village at your leisure.
Although one of the lesser-known of the Canaries, La Gomera really is a jewel waiting to be discovered. Our trip starts at the pier at San Sebastian and, heading south, climbing up to the Degollada de Peraza with striking views of the ruggedly harsh landscape.
At a height of 600 metres we will be able to see the changes in vegetation caused by the horizontal rain. We continue to the Roque de Agando, an eroded volcanic chimney. After these first impressions we accede to the centre of the island where we can enjoy the views of laurisilva, fayal, brezal, aceviño, all endemic varieties of the island forming the National Park of Garajonay and included in UNESCO's World Heritage Centre.
Next, we head for La Laguna Grande for a short stop to admire yet more stunning views on our way to the incredible Valle Gran Rey, home of the island's last 'Guanche' Chieftain. Here, we’ll delve into the past with a chance to learn about the conquest of Gomera at the beginning of the 15th century. Dominated by the surrounding curtain of mountains, you'll discover remote communities and terraced farms that cling to the valley walls all around. After a though provoking afternoon, we’ll head back to our ship in San Sebastian, stopping for refreshments along the way.
Today we arrive at our final port back in Tenerife, where we disembark before heading to the airport with our tour manager.
Plus, of course:
Please note, this sailing operates on a non-exclusive basis, whereby guests of other nationalities may be on board. Announcements will be made in German and English. You will be accompanied by a Riviera Travel tour manager throughout your cruise and all included excursions will be exclusive to Riviera Travel guests and conducted solely in English.
Cruise gratuities are not included. The amount you give is entirely discretionary, the recommended amount is €13 - 17 per person, per day.
In the event of unsatisfactory weather or tidal conditions the Captain reserves the right to alter the itinerary.
Embarkation and disembarkation is in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, with return flights from the UK included.
Single occupancy: A limited number of Infinity & Veranda Cabins are available for sole occupancy with 50% supplement. All other cabins are available at a supplement of 85% for sole occupancy.
There is a lift on board. We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Why not upgrade your cruise experience to include either a Classic drinks package for £269 or Premium drinks package for £449 which must be purchased by all guests in the cabin.
The classic beverage package includes:
Price: £269 per person
The premium beverage package includes:
Price: £449 per person
To purchase either drinks package, please call our reservations team.
Please note: Beverage packages can only be booked for the entire duration of the cruise and for all persons sharing the cabin. They are not transferrable to other people. Our beverage packages are valid only during the cruise. You cannot book parts of a package and they are non-refundable. Our beverage packages may not be booked for persons under 18 years of age.