In 2016, National Geographic Traveler elected the Azores archipelago the most beautiful place in the world and there can be no better way to reach these islands than on board the Santa Maria Manuela.
This 800 nautical mile blue water crossing is a great tall ship sailing experience. The usual wind is from the north throughout this voyage so we hope to sail all the way with the wind on our beam just as she was designed to 80 years ago when she sailed to Newfoundland on the cod expeditions.
There´s nothing our crew like more then to share their knowledge of sailing with our guests, and they will encourage you to get actively involved with all aspects of the ship’s life. Volunteers to hoist the gaff tops and trim the sails for best speed are always welcome, and the feeling of helming a 67m sailing ship with the sensation as she responds to the command of the wheel is something to savor forever.
Knot classes are a great way to learn a new skill whilst sharing sailing stories with shipmates, and if the weather allows there's the opportunity to go up the mast or relax in the bowsprit netting. A drink at sunset on the deck is the perfect way to round off each day.
2019 marked the 35th anniversary of the ban on whaling in the Azores. Since then, whale numbers have grown, and they have returned to their old feeding grounds of the Azores. As we near the islands we might get lucky and catch sight of one of these magnificent creatures. Sperm whales are the resident species, with blue, fin and sei whales, and bottlenose, Atlantic spotted and common dolphins are also common at this time of year.
As you spot for whales at sunset you may find it impossible not to be captivated by the beauty and power of the ocean. As we venture further into the Atlantic Ocean it may seem equally impossible that man could have had an impact on such a remote stretch of water. It is at this point that, thanks to the support of our partners at Waste Free Oceans, we invite our guests to participate in our citizen science project to help assess the purity of the waters in which we sail. At intervals during the voyage, we will trawl a small net to capture what is floating in the ocean; be it plankton, fish or small pieces of ocean litter and microplastics. Many find it shocking to find evidence of mans impact on the environment hundreds of miles offshore, but seeing this has a powerful effect, inspiring us to take action. Your contribution will help raise awareness, and inspire change.
We finish our voyage in São Miguel, the largest of the Azorean islands, where, if you have the time after disembarking, it’s worth planning a few extra days to visit Ponta Delgada's mosaic cobbled streets. Great fish restaurants abound, and the Furnas with its colorful crater lake and hot springs are a lure for the adventurous traveler. It is here where "cozido", a rich meat and vegetable stew, cooks slow one meter deep for seven hours in the soil's geothermal heat. The legend goes that the twin crater lakes of the nearby Sete Cidades were formed by the tears shed by a pair of star-crossed lovers: a green-eyed princess and a blue-eyed shepherd. Then there's the option to swim in Caldeira Velha waterfall pool and wander in the Lagoa de Fogo nature reserve.