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West Africa Archipelago Cruise

Roundtrip Dakar - Example 14 Day Cruise aboard MS Spitsbergen
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Join MS Spitsbergen on this 14-day cruise Roundtrip Dakar to the West Africa Archipelago aboard MS Spitsbergen. Your adventure begins on the colorful streets of Dakar. Next, visit two island archipelagos, home to historical sites, contrasting cultures, and varied landscapes. Explore the volcanic landscapes of Cape Verde as you cruise to Santiago, Fogo, Santo Antão, and Boa Vista. Watch different bird species, rare saltwater hippos, manatees, and more in the Bissagos UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Then meet the Bijagós people, who retain their nature-based spiritual beliefs and traditional culture. Your final stop before returning to Dakar is Banjul, Africa’s smallest capital city.

Boa VistaVolcanic FogoAfrican Renaissance MonumentÎle de GoréeSanto AntãoDakar
  • See landscapes of lava on Fogo, an island dominated by an active volcano.
  • Explore Santo Antão largely untouched wilderness sanctuary.
  • Visit Boa Vista and see the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like desert.
  • Meet the Bijagós people, a tribal society organized in clans.
Places Visited
  • Africa
  • West Africa
  • Gambia
  • Senegal
  • Banjul
  • Boa Vista
  • Cape Verde Islands
  • Dakar
  • Fogo
  • Guinea-Bissau
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Dakar, Senegal

  • 1 Lunch
Dakar is colorful and captivating—the perfect place to start your West Africa expedition. The capital of Senegal is an exciting and diverse mix of cultures. It is also a showcase for stable African democracy. Take some time to adjust to a new culture and get ready for the exciting voyage ahead.

If you want to explore more the area before your expedition cruise, you can book a Pre-Program excursion to visit the Bandia Nature Reserve. Ride an open vehicle safari through the African savanna for some exciting wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for giraffes, buffalo, monkeys, gazelles, ostriches, rhinos, and more.

Day 2: Visiting Île de Gorée | Embark

After breakfast you’ll visit the historical UNESCO site of Île de Gorée. This island was once the largest slave trading center on the African coast. It is now filled with forts and museums and is a memorial to the suffering of the countless enslaved peoples who passed through this tragic place.

Learn more on a visit to the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House) Museum. Also tour the baobab-shaded streets of the town, where local artisans sell their crafts.
MS Spitsbergen is waiting for you back on the mainland to depart to Cape Verde in the late evening.

Day 3: Bound for Cape Verde

Today you continue the voyage west toward the Cape Verde Islands. There are be plenty of time to get acquainted with your fellow passengers and Expedition Team.

Enjoy the onboard comforts, from delicious meals and drinks in the Explorer Lounge &Bar to relaxing in the panoramic sauna or a hot tub on deck.

To learn more about what’s ahead, join the Expedition Team for fascinating lectures in the Science Center and pick up pointers from the professional photographer as you watch for marine life and seabirds.

Day 4: Diverse Santiago

Santiago embodies the spirit of the Cape Verde archipelago. Here, you can enjoy a little of everything, from historical sites and bustling markets to lush valleys and jagged mountains.

The capital of Praia is a dynamic city that attracts immigrants from the rest of Cape Verde and the African continent.

Explore Praia’s vibrant culture on a city tour. Visit the museums and buildings around the Plateau, which displays artifacts recovered from the islands’ shipwrecks. Stop by viewpoints, the local market, and more.

Day 5: Volcanic Fogo

Today's expedition day takes you to Fogo, an island dominated by a cone-shaped active volcano. Centuries of eruptions, the last in 2014, have left an incredible landscape for you to explore.

Enjoy a tour of São Filipe’s cobbled streets and charming historic center. Don’t miss the stunning lava fields of Chã das Caldeiras.
Fogo doesn’t have any natural harbors, you only land if conditions allow you to launch the small boats (RIBs).

Day 6: Rugged Santo Antão

Santo Antão’s landscapes of peaks, gorges, and canyons have benefited from their unsuitability for agriculture. Largely untouched, this wilderness sanctuary is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.

You land in Porto Novo, the island’s main port, which has spectacular views across to São Vicente. Enjoy a ride around the island, which takes you on a nature tour through the island’s ribeiras. These are deep, narrow canyons with near vertical walls.

Or you could take a nature walk and admire the beauty of these local spots up close. Walk along trails through mango and almond groves, punctuated by the delicious aroma of roasting coffee wafting through the villages.

Day 7: Boa Vista

You've now reached Cape Verde’s easternmost island, Boa Vista.

You’ll be awed by the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like desert formations and landscapes of this volcanic island. The sand dunes and oases found here are in stark contrast to the other islands you visit on this cruise.

Stroll the streets of the island’s capital, Sal Rei, where you can explore its history and traditions, and visit Santa Isabel Church. The Ponta do Sol nature reserve is within hiking distance of the town and a great way to enjoy the scenery.

Day 8: Bound for Guinea-Bissau

You say goodbye to Cape Verde as your expedition cruise continues to Guinea-Bissau. As you sail, your Expedition Team is going brief you on what lies ahead.
Learn about the extraordinary biodiversity of this tropical region, the traditional culture of the Bijagós people, and the historical impact of Portuguese exploration and the slave trade.

You can also participate in the Citizen Science projects and contribute data to important ongoing research projects. You could also brush up your photography skills with your onboard photographer to prepare for the sights to come.

Day 9-12: Bissagos Expedition

Over the next four days, you’ll explore a maze of islands and channels, seeking out mangroves, tropical forests, savannah woodlands, and coastal lagoons. The small boats (RIBs) can take you down the smaller channels and on-shore landings with the Expedition Team. You may also launch the kayaks.

You’ll meet and learn more about the local Bijagós people, a tribal society organized in clans. Practicing a life that is in balance with nature, they hold the world around them as sacred and have retained their ancestral traditions.

Local conditions determine when and where you can land and explore, but whatever you do you can be sure you’ll experience the rich diversity of the archipelago up close.

Day 13: The Gambia and Banjul

Today, you reach The Gambia and Banjul, its tiny capital. It may be a small city, but its location at the mouth of the Gambia River means it is an important trading hub.

Banjul played a role in ending the slave trade, as its garrison was used by the British Navy to uphold abolition laws. Close by is the birthplace of Kunta Kinte, the protagonist of Alex Haley’s famous book, Roots.

This city is easy to explore on foot. Visit the lively Royal Albert Market and the National Museum, which contains historical documents and displays about the country’s history. Back on board, you’ll enjoy a cultural performance, introducing you to The Gambia’s music and traditions.

Day 14: Return to Dakar | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
End your expedition in Senegal’s colorful capital. Your expedition cruise ends in Senegal’s kaleidoscopic capital, Dakar. After you disembark MS Spitsbergen, you are going take an included city tour to explore this fascinating city.

Listen out for the many languages of West Africa, such as Wolof, Pular, and Serer. Undoubtedly, seeing the diversity of local cultures here is a wonderful way to round off your trip.

With the tour complete, you’ll be taken to a hotel for lunch and spend the rest of the day relaxing in comfort at the hotel, before transferring to the airport for your return journey home.


MS Spitsbergen

Dates & Prices

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Rates are subject to change without notice. Book early to get the best rate.
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Polar Inside - B
Outside cabin, 193 sq ft. With limited/ no view, queen bed, kettle, TV, bathroom with shower. Accessible to guests with limited mobility
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Polar Inside - I
Most cabins have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, some have a double bed or upper and lower berths, shower/wc
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Polar Inside - K
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Polar Outside - AJ
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Polar Outside - J
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Polar Outside - A
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Polar Outside - N
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Polar Outside - O
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Arctic Superior - P
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, kettle, coffee/tea, shower/wc
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Arctic Superior - U
Some cabins have a double bed, some have 3 or 4 beds, some have a seating area, kettle, coffee/tea, TV, mini bar, shower/wc, limited/no view
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Arctic Superior - QJ
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, kettle, coffee/tea, shower/wc
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Expedition Suite - Q
One room with a double bed, some with seating area, some with 3-4 beds that can be upper beds, TV, mini bar, kettle, coffee/tea, shower/wc, view
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Expedition Suite - MG
One or two rooms with seating area, double bed, TV, stereo, mini bar, kettle, tea/coffee, shower/wc, some with bathtub, most with private balcony or bay window
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Expedition Suite - MX
Two rooms with a double bed, seating area, dining table, TV, mini bar, kettle, coffee/tea, stereo, shower, w/c, private balcony
  • 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 12 Dinners
  • 13 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Gratuities
  • Complimentary Reusable Water Bottle 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Loan of Boots, Trekking Poles, & All Equipment for Activities
  • Use of the Ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • In-depth lectures and discussions hosted by experts on the Expedition Team
  • Citizen Science Program where you can assist with ongoing scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Transfer from Dakar airport to the ship on day of embarkation
  • Overnight at a hotel in Dakar, including lunch and breakfast 
  • Dakar City Tour, day room at a hotel in Dakar, including lunch
  • Full-day tour to Gorée Island, including lunch
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Mandatory medical evacuation insurance
  • Optional shore excursions with local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with the Expedition Team


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.


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