Transatlantic Cruise: The Azores

The Azores are a group of islands spanning a length of 373 miles.  The islands formed 50,000 years ago through volcanic eruption. Ten major islands surfaced and two were later joined through another eruption, leaving nine primary islands in the archipelago. The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, are 2100 miles from the US mainland and 900 miles from mainland Portugal. 

Flag of Portugal

Discovered in 1427 and settled in 1432, the primary language is Portuguese. The Azores dialect sounds slightly French because of the people who left Britannia during the Napoleon wars.

It took us six sea days to reach our first port –  Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel, The Azores, Portugal. 

The currency in the Azores is the Euro and we exchanged money on the ship.  This is really only a small sample of the denominations we eventually used both in bills and coin.  There are a lot!

As we were entering port, our captain commented on this ship, the Borealis of the Fred Olsen line.  She was launched in 1996 and christened in 1997 as part of the Holland America fleet.  She was the sixth ship in the line named the Rotterdam.  This ship was sold when the newest Rotterdam was planned.  The new, seventh, Rotterdam was in Fort Lauderdale with us and was in sight for much of of our journey across the Atlantic.

Our feet touched land for the first time in almost a week and we joined our guided tour – destination the Sete Cidades Crater.

However our first stop was at the A. Arruda pineapple plantation.  Originally brought from Brazil, pineapples are grown here in glass greenhouses.  A crop takes two years to grow as compared to six months in Brazil.

Smoke pots trick the plants to grow faster.

We tasted pineapple liquor. It was good.

On the drive up to the caldera crater, our tour guide told us a variety of things about his homeland.  

There are no snakes on the islands, but there are ferrets, weasels and rats.  They were stowaways on ships through time.

In the lush lands, they are able to grow food and sustain cattle.  As a result the Azores do not generally import foodstuffs.

Education for kindergarten through university is free.  All majors are available on the islands. Engineering, Medical and Law students transfer to the mainland to complete advanced degrees.

The United States still has an Air Force Base in the Azores, Lejes Field.

There are commercial flights from Boston every day.

At the top, we parked near to this abandoned hotel.   Built in the late 1980s, the Hotel Monte Palace was a five star resort and voted the best in Portugal, but lasted only eighteen months. It just couldn’t succeed financially.  The drab concrete seems like it could be featured on the TV show Mysteries of the Abandoned.

Just steps away was a viewpoint for Sete Cidades Crater.  We visited on an overcast day and, although still beautiful and lush, we didn’t see the lakes when the color differential was most vibrant.

This is a picture of an advertising photograph.

We passed another beautiful little lake on the way down into the caldera.

We journeyed to the town at the bottom and explored a bit.   There is always a church!

And there was food. This is fast food pizza – Azores style. It was okay, but cold. We didn’t know it then but it was foretaste of the challenge to come for us regarding the temperature of food in Spain and Italy.

After a good tour we had some time on our own at the port.  We walked to the Military Museum of the Azores, housed in the Fortress of Sao Bras  – a Renaissance military fortification.    

There were many interesting displays and objects throughout the museum,

The military objects and equipment spanned centuries.  We looked around and learned what we could but very few placards had information in English.

The Fortress had some lovely views.

After two more sea days we were to the part of the cruise that has a new port almost daily. Next up: Cueta, Spanish Morocco.

About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
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7 Responses to Transatlantic Cruise: The Azores

  1. Teri McClelland says:

    The little pineapples don’t look like they could ever grow into a full size fruit.

    It’s always fun to see money from other countries. It is usually more colorful and interesting than our dollar.

    Lucky you – no snakes!

  2. catie says:

    Once again thank you for the information. Always fun. hugs Catie

  3. Mark McClelland says:

    That abandoned hotel is interesting. Hard to believe that it was built without some certainty that it would be utilized!! How far away do you think you could see the Rotterdam on the open ocean? I’ll bet quite a lot way.

    • Serene says:

      According to a source, PhD in Geography on the internet, you can see 12 miles on the open ocean given the curvature of the earth. That corresponds with what I thought I remembered but wasn’t sure so I looked it up. We didn’t see her all the time so it probably was in that 6-20 mile range at any given time.

  4. Shari Keyes says:

    I love hearing all of your updates! This looks like a great trip.

  5. Dan says:

    Could you use google translate for the placards?

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