Travel writer Jo Kessel filmed her voyage from Lanzarote to Tenerife on French cruise line CroisiEurope’s recent addition to its fleet - La Belle des Oceans. The footage shows how, despite the 130-passenger ship’s boutique size, it packs a punch with a pool, gym and spa where Jo enjoys her first-ever reflexology massage. Plus, the video has the inside scoop on the ship’s gourmet cuisine, complimentary wines and a spellbinding bartender called Jester who conjures up an ‘Electric Blue’ cocktail.
There’s a romance about the Canaries. Each of this volcanic archipelago’s seven main islands has a different character and their location off the west coast of Morocco makes them feel more tropical than European.
Many a cruise itinerary includes a couple of the Canary Islands, but CroisiEurope’s new voyage is a trailblazer, stopping at a new island each day.
The ship sailing this itinerary is La Belle des Oceans and, while new to Croisi’s fleet, it’s not actually new. The vessel was built in 1989 and previously belonged to the upmarket cruise line Silversea.
When I hopped on board I hoped to capture the characters of the individual islands as well as the personality of this bijou seven-deck ship. The video starts on La Belle des Ocean’s sun terraces, found on top deck as well as at the back of the ship where there’s a pool.
Jo Kessel on her seven-night cruise around the Canaries aboard French cruise line CroisiEurope’s recent addition to its fleet - La Belle des Oceans
La Belle des Oceans was built in 1989 and previously belonged to the upmarket cruise line Silversea Cruises
No matter that the ship is more than 30 years old, it sparkles and gleams like new. Cabins are luxuriously appointed and furnishings in mine are decadently oversized, from the bed to the dressing table to the sofa suite. The film shows me checking out the gym and visiting the spa to book an appointment – more of which later.
The seven-night voyage starts in Lanzarote or Tenerife, depending on the week booked. Sea and weather conditions play a part in the itinerary too and on the first night, we’re warned that high winds might prevent us from stopping in La Palma. Despite a murmur of discontent the captain remains firm: 'Your safety is my priority.'
Croisi provides optional excursions in every port – I join one in Fuerteventura. This is a desolate island, bar an abundance of one succulent: aloe vera. Known for its healing properties (it’s great for cuts, bruises and burns) it’s the key ingredient for umpteen lotions and potions. On a visit to a plantation we learn how Aloe’s leaves contain an inner sticky substance and in the film, I expose the plant’s interior to show how this gel looks before it ends up in a tub of body cream. Rub the neat jelly onto forearms and its stickiness vanishes, leaving skin taut and smooth.
Jo goes for a dip in the ship's outdoor pool. 'Be warned, it’s unheated,' she says
Jo says that the furnishings in her cabin (pictured) are 'decadently oversized'
Fuerteventura is famed for its award-winning goat’s cheese, with samples to taste during a visit to a cheese farm. It comes fresh, smoked or spicy and I try some with a dollop of local cactus jam. It’s a delicious combination.
Mostly I explore independently. The footage moves to Lanzarote where it’s fun to mooch round capital Arrecife’s castles - one’s called Castillo de San Jose. It was given a makeover by local artist Cesar Manrique and is now an art gallery with an impressive roof terrace. Next up is a spot of R&R in La Gomera. This is one of the archipelago’s lesser-known smaller islands and its volcanic black-sand beaches are refreshingly quiet.
It’s always a pleasure to return to La Belle des Oceans where drinks – soft or alcoholic – are included. Wine flows freely (think Spanish riojas and Chardonnays) and there’s even a cocktail menu. Bartender Jester flaunts his moves while making a cocktail called ‘Electric Blue’. Watch the video to see him sucker a can of Sprite onto his palm and turn it upside down to pour. Unbelievable! Ditto the electrifyingly blue beverage.
There’s never a dull moment on board, from dance classes to a sunset boogie to daring to dip a toe in the pool. Be warned, it’s unheated.
While on the island ofFuerteventura, Jo pays a visit to an aloe vera plantation
The seven-night voyage starts in Lanzarote or Tenerife, depending on the week booked
The surprises keep on coming. I book a reflexology massage in the spa and it’s a strange sensation – especially for the ticklish amongst us – to surrender one's feet to be prodded. Once the ticklishness is overcome (it takes a while) I allow masseuse Joana to apply pressure to the soles and toes and find it unexpectedly enjoyable.
The high winds predicted by the captain come to pass which means we do not stop in La Palma. To compensate I book adventure hikes for our final two ports with a company called Tours by Locals.
Tenerife is home to Mount Teide, a volcano that last erupted a century ago. At 3,718m (12,190 feet) in height, it’s Spain’s loftiest mountain. The volcano looms over us as guide John leads a trek across the Teide National Park – a high-altitude desert whose otherworldly, lava-coated landscape has made it the film set for many a spaghetti western. It’s also where the movie Clash of the Titans (starring Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes) was made.
'I book a reflexology massage in the spa and it’s a strange sensation – especially for the ticklish amongst us – to surrender one's feet to be prodded,' Jo reveals
Mount Teide (pictured), Spain’s highest mountain, looms over Jo during a guided trek across the Teide National Park in Tenerife
Every dish the ship's chef prepares 'looks – and tastes – like a work of art', Jo reveals
CroisiEurope’s all-inclusive seven-night Canary Islands cruise costs from £2,089pp. Visit croisieurope.co.uk or call 020 8328 1281.
Jet2 offers return flights from the UK to Tenerife or Lanzarote from £59 each way. Visit jet2.com or call 0800 4085599.
Hikes run by 'Tours by Locals':
<!- - ad: https://mads.dailymail.co.uk/v8/gb/travel/none/article/other/mpu_factbox.html?id=mpu_factbox_1 - ->
In Gran Canaria the hike is more hardcore. Instead of walking around a volcano, this time we go inside one, tracking a path to the bottom of Bandama Crater. It is mind-blowing to be standing on the floor of where a volcano erupted 2,000 years ago.
This cruise offers a bit of everything: beach, culture and adventure as well as gourmet cuisine. While English is widely spoken on its ships, CroisiEurope is a French cruise line and our chef hails from France. Every dish he prepares looks – and tastes – like a work of art. As the video draws to an end it features a trio of his amazing creations from Pumpkin and Shrimp Velvet to Fillet of Beef with Morel Sauce to Chocolate Mousse Cake.
Everything’s so delicious that even though I was very happy with the airline that brought me here (my Jet2 outbound flight was smooth as could be) I’m not ready to go home.
Eventually, however, it’s the last night and a Canarian folklore group performs in the ship’s lounge. Their last song is a fitting finale to the video and voyage.
And so it’s farewell to La Belle des Oceans - Beauty of the Seas - the perfect name not just for the ship, but for each and every Canary Island visited too.
For more from Jo visit her YouTube channel, Go with Jo.
LA BELLE DES OCEANS AND THE CANARY ISLANDS BY THE NUMBERS
- La Belle des Oceans has 65 outside cabins and can sleep 130 passengers.
- It has seven decks and is 338ft (103m) long.
- CroisiEurope has 47 other vessels in its fleet, including one coastal ship, six hotel barges and 40 river ships.
- The Canaries archipelago consists of seven main Islands. From largest to smallest these are: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro.
- The most recent volcanic eruption on the Canary Islands was on the island of La Palma in September 2021. Villages were destroyed and hundreds of islanders fled their homes, but there were thankfully no fatalities.
- At 3,718m (12,190 feet) in height, Tenerife’s Mount Teide is the third tallest volcano in the world.