Journeys of the canaries – from volcanoes and hot drinks to life-size chocolate and fried cheesecake Cristiano Ronaldo


I was waiting as I watched a volcano erupt with pungent gas and eerie, echoing sounds filling the air.

But I ate all of those onions the night before… I was less than two miles from Cumbre Vieja’s main vent, on La Palma in the Canaries, receiving nature’s mesmerizing wrath.

Even at this distance, I could see clouds of gray ash spewing from the cone, with rocks flying hundreds of feet into the air. Through binoculars, glowing lava spills downhill toward the Atlantic Ocean like a doomsday scarlet river.

Add a monstrous, eerie roar with every ash vein and I can imagine a giant angry dragon awakening in the bowels of the island.

I witnessed this remarkable event with my family on a one-time cruise ship excursion from TUI’s Marella Explorer 2 – and although it was a special sight for us, the mountain Fire has had a terrible effect on the people of this delightful island.

Nigel Volcano at Cumbre Vieja on La Palma

The ash clouds caused many flights to be canceled, severely affected the tourism industry, 95% of the area planted with bananas – the main crop – was ruined and thousands of local people had to leave their homes, many people were injured. buried or burned. Although the eruptions stopped after 97 days in late December, it will be a long way back.

TUI has launched an appeal and you can find more information and contributions at

While our pyroclastic pilgrimage was memorable, it wasn’t the only highlight of our seven-night stay on the Canarian Flavors winter sunboat from Santa Cruz, Tenerife. But we’re not done with the volcano yet…


The adults-only, all-inclusive Explorer 2 is one of four ships in the Marella fleet, with a fifth joining next year. With a total tonnage of 71,545, it carries 1,814 passengers, although we have reduced capacity for Covid.

Much refurbished before joining Marella in 2019, she’s average size in modern cruise ship condition – but packed a lot.

Topping the list is the Champneys spa, which offers all you could wish for.

Marella Explorer 2 at the port in Santa Cruz, Tenerife

While our adult children Charlie and Alexandra both appreciated their personalized massages, we all enjoyed an hour in the Hot Water Suite (£15/person).

Pores are opened up in the steam and heat rooms, skin is cooled in the shower and we soak in the Jacuzzi-style infinity pool overlooking the ocean. A lovely treatment.

We considered taking classes in skipping rope, or taking part in lively songs and quizzes by the pool, but found it hard to escape reading and playing games in the sun at Quiet reception area.

That’s the beauty of a cruise ship, and if you’re looking for a quiet getaway, there’s always a place for you, though the pool area also offers blockbusters on the huge HD screen.

However, head to the four decks above the pool, and you can hit the putt at the mini golf course and admire the ocean views, or the five decks below the pool, which is a complex fairway challenge. more complicated at 19 Hole bar’s impressive simulators. Being more jungle than Tiger Woods, we stuck with the action outdoors.


No one goes on a cruise to lose weight and we had a wonderful dinner. Explorer 2 boasts 11 locations – both inclusive and inclusive – and the Thompson Tasting Team is ready to plunge into the food wars:

Vista – the Italian section of the main Latitude 53 restaurant (included) wowed us on our first night with shrimp, pasta, Florentine steak, gelato and cheese. We have returned.

53 latitude – a good selection and lots of quality for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A big shout out to the breakfast eggs Benedict, good tea and ‘proper’ bacon.

Food Club – the venue charges a premium premium (from £29.95 per person) and the chateaubriand is magnificent. The delightful treat is a mango, crunchy pomegranate and smoked peach mousse.

Market – your multi-course buffet (Covid means no self-catering, not a problem) and we succumbed to some afternoon tea and quick beers before we started early excursion.

Beach Cove meat skewers on Marella Explorer 2

Cove . Beach – a beachside vibe by the pool and the Portuguese shrimp and meat skewers were amazing (loved the incredible pickled cucumber salad). Our only complaint is the lighting: too bright to create the right atmosphere (daytime included, £11.95 evening).

Surf & Lawn – the lobster and steak are lovely and you’ll never have a better New York cheesecake (from £23.95).

Kora La – this Asian place is our favorite, with its absolutely exquisite Japanese-style tenderloin. There is also a range of curries and adventurous desserts including tempura cheesecake (fried in dough) and green tea fondant (from £19.95).

Also a nod to shake the Flutes bar, where you press the ‘bubble’ button by your seat for a glass of mist. We have thoroughly tested it working.

NB: in the restaurants and bars, and from the hard-working crew across the ship including our flight attendants Jonaisy and Allister, the service was outstanding.


We’ve spent so long enjoying our leisurely dinners, we haven’t seen many live shows. But as someone who doesn’t get all of the Adele hype, I enjoyed a tribute show at the upscale Squid and Anchor bar and watched David Bowie’s life story at the Broadway Show Lounge.


Debbie and I were fortunate to stay in a Junior Suite, which had plenty of space, ample storage, a bathtub, plush toiletries, a flat-screen TV, and a large balcony with sun loungers, desks and chairs. chair. If we had a split, it would be not to have many plugs.

Alex and Charlie’s balcony cabins are, obviously, smaller than a suite, but still great.


One of the things that many people love about yachts is the ‘new day, new destination’ aspect.

Our first stop was La Palma before spending the night in Funchal, the beautiful capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Here we took a wonderful Land Rover tour of the colorful port of Camara de Lobos – painted by Churchill in 1950 – and into the mountainous interior.

Local beer Madeira and Poncha

Our wonderful driving guide Sandro is a non-stop Madeira information festival participant as he traverses steep and narrow roads to stop at breathtaking viewpoints and take us on off-road through the forest to a village bar for a hot local drink Poncha. Locals claim it can cure colds, I think it could power a spaceship to Mars.

Our overnight stay gave us time to explore the busy fish and flower market, the church and fortress of Sao Tiago along with a museum commemorating the island’s most famous son, Cristiano Ronaldo.

If you like football, it’s worth 5 euros to see CR7’s many artefacts, including the championship trophy, his facial massage device, and many life-size statues, including one chocolate painting! I think he’s wearing the Portugal KitKat away shirt.

Ronaldo’s Chocolate Statue in Madeira

After a relaxing two-night boat ride from Madeira, we arrived at Lanzarote, a Unesco-designated Biosphere Reserve island, known for its secluded low-lying tourist developments and volcanoes (yes).

An excursion not to be missed is to visit Timanfaya National Park, a 20-square-mile world region of lava fields and volcanoes that was once used as a filming location for science films. Fiction.

It’s a ravishing and breathtaking landscape and the tour includes a visit to the Islet Hilario visitor center, which features geothermal games with lava balls, fire and water, and a restaurant with a built-in grill. powered by volcanic vents. You don’t get it on MasterChef.

Hot games at Timanfaya Volcano National Park, Lanzarote

Our last excursion was in Gran Canaria, but there was too much time in the car. The 3,300-meter-wide, 700-meter-deep Bandama Crater is impressive, but we would have preferred to have spent more time in Las Palmas’ pleasant Old Town going up to the church tower and checking out the Christopher Columbus museum.

Returning to the ‘lava boat’ for the final night, we all came to the same conclusion: where can we store it for our next excursion?


Marella Cruises offers an all-inclusive 7-night Adriatic Affair round-trip on Marella Explorer 2 from £919 per person. Sails from Dubrovnik, Croatia, call at Rijeka, Croatia; Ravenna (for San Marino), Italy; Koper, Slovenia; Venice, Italy; and Split, Croatia. Flying from Cardiff on 5 May, other UK airports available, including transfers and tips. Use code CRUISE300 to save an extra £300 on every booking.

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