Known as “La Isla Bonita”, the Beautiful Island, the alluring Tenerife is rapidly becoming a main cruise port of Europe. Its recent two major cruise facility developments have made the entire Canary archipelago a focal point of cruising, transforming it into an undisputed top year-round destination.
A few years ago, in response to the increasing number of winter calls, the port authority had opened a second, 1,000m2 cruise terminal in Santa Cruz de Tenerife; almost immediately after that, it started building another new, 8,473m2 facility, which was opened in September 2016 to join the existing two terminals. One of the most attractive features of Tenerife is that it has a modern cruise terminal right next to the city centre.
Today, with three world-class facilities, Tenerife has become Europe’s ultimate year-round cruise port. Santa Cruz is now the third largest cruise port in Spain, after Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca in terms of ship calls and passenger throughputs. In 2016 it received 524 calls and 884,179 passengers; this year, 2017, its passenger number will surpass 910,00, well on its way to join the “one-million-annual-cruise-passenger league”.
Major brands like MSC Cruises has a homeport operation from here; the island receives regular calls by such other cruise lines as Costa, Thomson, Fred. Olsen, and Hapag Lloyd. It recently added Pullmantur to its list of clients. The Spanish cruise brand is selling a Spanish destination to its mainly Spanish customers; this is probably the most powerful stamp of approval and demonstrates the magnetic attraction of Tenerife. Major liners like Britannia, Anthem of the Seas, Norwegian Epic, among others, have all been among its callers recently.
As a perfect winter escape, Tenerife has long been a favourite among European holidaymakers of all ages. But its cruise ambition has gone beyond this source market. As a key member of MedCruise, the Canary Islands as a whole is benefiting from the association’s unrelenting marketing drives in Asia and North America. Via Madrid, it has 14 daily air links – and many more via other European cities - with North America, thus accessing the biggest cruise market. Currently the regional government of Tenerife is working hard to introduce direct flights to and from the USA. Canary Islands can therefore source passengers from all three major source markets – Europe, North America and Asia year round.
As it becomes one of the most forward looking cruise destinations in the world, the port authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is working tirelessly in attracting cruise traffics, as well as promoting and developing the other five cruise ports in the Canary Islands chain under its management. Its facility upgrades and development are unrelenting. This year, Santa Cruz de Tenerife will be among the first cruise ports in the world to introduce LNG bunkering services. By 2019, the berthing line in Santa Cruz de la Palma will be lengthened to accommodate larger ships. Plans are being drawn to develop the port of La Estaca, on El Hierro, into a special expedition port on account of the island’s outstanding features and its UNESCO Geopark status.
Tenerife is often a port of call for many transatlantic voyages. “As we are situated in the middle of the Atlantic,” Airam Diaz, Commercial Manager of Tenerife Port Authority, told us, “we are easily connected with North America East Coast, the Caribbean, and Brazil with Europe for positioning calls. In addition, we are the gateway to circumnavigate Africa from Europe.” The port of San Sebastian on the island of La Gomera was the last port of call made by Christopher Columbus before crossing the ocean towards the Americas.
On the whole, the temperate Canary Islands archipelago of “Eternal Spring” – with year-round temperatures fluctuating between 16oC and 21oC – not only attracts holidaymakers, but also the attention of the international scientific community, which has based one of its most important astrophysics observatories of the Northern Hemisphere here because of its unique climatic pattern, clean air, and clear sky.
Among its many attractions is the “silbo gomero” of La Gomera Island, the whistling language communicating though ravines; a most touching and enchanting remnants of human culture found nowhere else. Next to the island of El Hierro, a newborn volcano has risen from beneath the waves, populated by an ancient species of lizards, closely related to dinosaurs. The UNESCO World Heritage listed volcano mountain of El Teide on the island of Tenerife is Spain’s highest peak, commanding a spectacular view over the Canary Islands.
Tenerife, and its sister islands, is more than just a winter escape; it is a perfect year round cruise destination.