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Setting sail from Ponta Delgada
Ponta Delgada is the capital of São Miguel, the largest and most populous island of the Azores. Founded in the 15th century, the city is home to elegant architecture and some excellent restaurants, though the main attraction is the tranquility and natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Portugal: Praia da Vitória (Terceira)
Terceira means ‘third’ in Portuguese - this was the third island in the Azores to be discovered, and it’s also the third largest island. The main town, the UNESCO-listed Angra do Heroismo, is the oldest in the archipelago, with some lovely historic buildings lining the cobbled streets.
The island of Graciosa has a sedate and rural feel, scattered with little villages and unique red-turreted windmills. There are some great hiking trails, and you can explore the remarkable lava cave of Furna do Enxofre, accessed via a vertiginous spiral staircase.
Portugal: Velas (São Jorge)
São Jorge is home to some of the most dramatic volcanic scenery in the Azores, with some fantastic walks along the coastal plains known as ‘fajãs’, which were formed by lava flows and landslides. The main town on the island, Velas, has a pretty harbour and some interesting churches and museums.
Pico is dominated by its eponymous volcano, a mist-shrouded cone that rises to the highest peak in Portugal. The seas off Pico are a whale-watching hotspot, and you can learn about the island’s whaling history at the museum in Lajes. Pico also has a strong winemaking tradition, and a bottle of Verdelho do Pico makes for a great souvenir.
Horta is the capital of the island of Faial, in the centre of the Azores archipelago. The harbour is a popular stop-off point for yachts crossing the Atlantic, and it’s also the base for whale watching trips and excursions to the spectacular Caldeira Cabeço Gordo volcanic crater.
Arriving in Ponta Delgada
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Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
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