Escape to Iceland & the Azores with Fred. Olsen for stunning whale watching

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Portugal, the Azores and Iceland have become sought after destinations for whale and cetacean watching. Now Fred. Olsen is offering the perfect cruise to sate appetites.

Fred. Olsen is putting on an incredible Whales & Volcanoes of Iceland & the Azores itinerary next year.

The voyage down to the Portuguese archipelago then up to Iceland sees passengers experience the contrasting scenery of the latter's snow-capped mountains and gushing waterfalls with the Azores’ subtropical volcanic landscapes. How's that for a change from your own four walls during lockdown?

The no-fly sailing is undertaken in the stylish, spacious and comfortable new ship Borealis.

With capacity for fewer than 1,400 guests, she’s in keeping with Fred. Olsen's commitment to offering a more traditional style of cruising.

The sailing is also perfect for wildlife lovers – the itinerary has been crafted to follow various species of whale as they migrate to their summer feeding grounds.

Passengers will be joined by whale and dolphin charity, ORCA on board to help guests spot, and learn about the different species of whale.

Steve Jones, Head of Partnerships at ORCA commented: "This unique voyage will not only give guests an unforgettable experience, but they will also have the chance to actively help us keep them safe by studying these important habitats with our ORCA Cruise Conservationists. This promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we can’t wait to set sail on Borealis next year."

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Whales & Volcanoes of Iceland & the Azores itinerary

Borealis sets sail on April 19, 2022, for three days at sea before arriving at Praia da Vitoria, the former capital of the Azores.

The historic town boasts the impressive 16th century Fort of Santa Catarina as well as a bustling, modern harbour, vibrant town centre and gorgeous sandy beaches.

Next up is Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores archipelago and the main town on the island of São Miguel.

The island boasts beautiful lakes, mountains, sandy beaches and the stunning crater lakes of the extinct Sete Cidades volcano. There are plenty of opportunities for canoeing, horse riding or cycling (perfect for combatting any onboard feasting and stretching out your sea legs).

Horta on the Azores island of Faial is the next stop - one of the most colourful marinas in the world. The emerald-green, volcanic island is an unspoilt environment of craters, lakes, sheer cliffs and lush valleys, to which only picturesque whitewashed houses and stately little baroque churches have been added.

Fred. Olsen cruises: Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores archipelago
Fred. Olsen cruises: Horta on the Azores island of Faial is one of the most colourful marinas in the world

With the warmth of the islands behind you, Borealis will then sail for four days up to the chilly wonders of Iceland.

First stop is Reykjavík – Iceland’s coastal capital and cultural centre. Here, the National and Saga Museums trace Iceland’s Viking history, while the restaurant scene offers a broad mix of creative cuisine, including some intriguing local delicacies such as fermented shark. Yummy.

Reykjavík is also in easy reach of several must-see geological attractions including the iconic Golden Circle Trail and the Blue Lagoon Spa, the Thingvellir National Park, the renowned Gullfoss Waterfall, and the incredible Geysir hot springs. The scenery here is simply breathtaking.

Day two in Iceland means onwards to Ísafjörður, perched on the peninsular of the Westfjords and featuring a fine natural harbour. The port is also the best spot from which to discover nearby Vigur, The Paradise Island.

From late May through to August the island is home to thousands of puffins, arctic terns, eider ducks, black guillemots and more.

The famous Blue Lagoon is just one highlight of a round-Iceland cruise.
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Next up is a voyage through Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland, onto Akureyri in Northern Iceland.

The beautiful town is best known for its spectacular landscapes, lush vegetation and its diverse wildlife - the waters surrounding the town are teaming with rare, native species such as humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins and porpoises. Yep, definitely worth packing your binoculars for this trip.

The last stop on the itinerary is Eskifjörður, a charming town in the middle of Iceland’s Eastern Fjords.

Eskifjörður faces magnificent Mount Holmatindur and from its summit there are superb views across some of the tallest mountains in Iceland, while the town itself boasts historic buildings, piers and a Maritime Museum.

Then, after two more days sailing, holidaymakers return to England.

Luckily these times at sea provide the perfect opportunity to make the most of the amazing Borealis. So, what can passengers expect onboard?

Jump onboard Borealis to discover the Norwegian Fjords. Credit: Fred. Olsen

Inside Borealis

Borealis bars and lounges

The ship is home to eleven stylish, spacious and comfortable bars and lounges.

Included in the sailing is a tempting choice of cuisine every day. Expect five-course à la carte dinners, casual breakfast and lunch buffets, and late-night snacks.

The grand, two-tiered main dining room - Borealis’ Restaurant at the lower level, and The Aurora Restaurant on the top tier - features classical, elegant décor.

You can also tuck into unlimited, self-service tea and coffee available 24 hours a day at selected venues, complimentary afternoon tea with sandwiches and cake as well as in-room sandwiches and snacks (see, told you that you'd want the canoeing).

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Borealis entertainment

The ship's facilities include an all-weather pool and hot tubs and an impressive spa with a thermal spa, aroma room, hydro pool, two saunas and nine treatment rooms - perfect after a long day of exploring.

There are also sports courts and an auditorium which will host fantastic cookery classes and demonstrations.

You’ll find a selection of live shows ranging from music and cabaret to quick-fire stand-up comedy, with both matinee and evening performances, all enjoyed in the space and comfort of stylish lounges and the beautiful two-tiered theatre.

Borealis cabins

Borealis’ cabin grades range from Inside to Balcony Suite to suit all budgets. This includes more than 50 single cabins, available across all grades.

The suites feature two single beds that can be converted into one queen-size bed, while the bathrooms feature a bath and shower (unless indicated as shower only). There is also a sitting area with floor to ceiling windows that lead to a private balcony. A mini-bar and refrigerator are also included in Balcony Suites.

Meanwhile, Interior cabins consist of two single beds which can be converted into a queen-size bed plus a shower.

So, whaley interested? O-fish-ally keen to get onboard? Why not get this amazing wildlife-packed cruise in the diary to really have something to look forward to when Covid is well and truly behind us?

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