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Santo Antão

West Africa Archipelago Cruise

Dakar - Las Palmas - Example 18 Day Cruise aboard MS Spitsbergen
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Explore Banjul, Cape Verde, & Guinea-Bissau on this 18-day West Africa Archipelago Cruise from Dakar to Las Palmas aboard MS Spitsbergen. Your adventure begins in the colorful streets of Dakar and on a visit to UNESCO-listed Gorée Island. Travel through two island archipelagos filled with historic sites, contrasting cultures, and varied landscapes. Explore Cape Verde’s culture and wildlife as you travel to Santiago, Boa Vista, Santa Antão, and volcanic Fogo. Spot different bird species, manatees, turtles, and more in the Bissagos Islands. You can also visit the Bijago people, with their fascinating animistic and matriarchal culture. Then you have a second chance to see Dakar before you end the cruise in sunny Gran Canaria.
Cathedral Santa Ana Vegueta Las PalmasCathedrale du Souvenir Africain de DakarHippopotamusÎle de GoréeFogoGoree Island Dakar SenegalShipwreck Cabo Santa BoaSanto Antão
  • 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
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
A kaleidoscope of color envelops you on arrival in Dakar, where your West Africa expedition begins. You'll start the day in a centrally located hotel where you can relax and use its amenities after your long journey.

Refreshed after lunch at the hotel, you can head out and visit the Medina’s maze of streets, bustling Marché Tilène, and the imposing Grand Mosque. If you want to explore more before your expedition cruise, you can book an optional Pre-Excursion to Bandia Nature Reserve.

Join an open vehicle safari through the African savanna for some wildlife spotting. Keep your camera handy for giraffes, buffalo, monkeys, gazelles, ostriches, rhinos and more. Dinner this evening is at your leisure.

Day 2: Visiting Gorée Island | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After breakfast, you are going to cross to Gorée Island, a UNESCO-listed memorial and education center on the transatlantic trade in enslaved peoples.

You'll learn more on a visit to the museum and Maison des Esclaves, where captives were held before transportation. Their stories are movingly documented here. You'll also tour the baobab-shaded streets, where local artisans sell crafts in the markets and town squares.

Back on the mainland, MS Spitsbergen is waiting for you. Pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin and meet your Expedition Team before you set sail.

Day 3: Bound for Cape Verde

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
As your expedition cruise heads towards Cape Verde, you’ll have time to get to know your fellow adventurers, and your Expedition Team—chosen for their expertise on the destinations.

It's also a great time to get to know the ship. You’ll love the delicious dishes served up in the restaurants and the comfortable Explorer Bar. Try the on-deck hot tub or panoramic sauna, and watch the world glide by as you relax.

Your Expedition Team can tell you what's ahead in fascinating lectures in the Science Center. Discover more about the Citizen Science projects. Plus the professional photographer can give you tips on capturing your adventures on camera.

Day 4: Santiago, Cape Verde

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Santiago embodies the spirit of the Cape Verde archipelago. You'll see a little of everything—historical sites, bustling markets, lush valleys and craggy mountains.

African culture is all around and music follows wherever you go—from the Presidential Palace in Praia’s main square to the sandy beaches leading to Maria Pia lighthouse.

Take time to visit UNESCO site Cidade Velha, the first European city established in the tropics. And explore the area’s culture in the museums and buildings around the Plateau, displaying a trove of artifacts recovered from the islands’ shipwrecks.

Day 5: Volcanic features of Fogo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Fogo means ‘fire’, and this active volcanic island lives up to its name. Centuries of eruptions—the last in 2014—have left an incredible landscape that you'll discover on today's exploration day.

The optional excursion takes you to the eerily beautiful lava fields of Chã das Caldeiras. It's a challenging hike but worth it for the views. If that's not for you, there's plenty to see along São Filipe’s cobbled streets and the historic center of Meia Laranja.

With no natural harbors on the island, you can only land if you are able to launch the small boats (RIBs). If that's not possible, you can take in the spectacular volcanic scenery on a cruise around the island, or seek out another destination.

Day 6: Ribeiras of Santo Antão

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Santo Antão might be the most spectacular of the Cape Verde islands. With mountains, canyons and gorges, it offers some of the world's most breathtaking landscapes.

You can land in Porto Novo, the island’s main town, with wonderful views across the channel to São Vicente. It's the gateway to the island's stunning interior. You'll have the option to join a driving tour of the ridges and narrow canyons, known as ribeiras.

Or you can join an optional nature walk along the island trails. You’ll pass mango and almond groves, and small villages filled with the aroma of coffee that the locals roast themselves.

Day 7: Birds of Boa Vista

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You've now reached Cape Verde’s easternmost island, Boa Vista. While much of the island itself is dry and sparsely populated, it’s a haven for marine life.

In the winter, its waters attract breeding humpback whales. It's also a vital layover for migratory birds, and an important nesting site for loggerhead turtles between June and October.

Visit Boa Vista's capital, Sal Rei, where you'll find the church of Santa Isabel and has lovely examples of naïve paintings. The nature reserve of Ponta do Sol is within hiking distance and a great way to take in your surroundings.

Day 8: Bound for Guinea-Bissau

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You leave Cape Verde as the expedition cruise continues to Guinea-Bissau. As you sail, your Expedition Team can brief you on what lies ahead. You'll hear presentations about the extraordinary biodiversity of this tropical region.

You’ll learn about the culture too, like the matriarchal society of the Bijagos people, and the historical impact of Portuguese exploration and the slave trade.

You can take part in the Citizen Science projects and contribute data to important research. Now might be a good chance to brush up your photography skills with the onboard photographer in readiness for the sights to come.

Day 9-12: Bissagos' Biodiversity

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1996, you arrive in the Bissagos Islands, known for its saltwater hippos. A wildlife watcher’s dream, Bissagos also supports turtles, manatees, crocodiles and snakes, plus more than 500 types of bird.

Over the next four days, you'll explore this maze of islands and channels, renowned for their diverse ecosystems. You can go into mangroves, rainforest, savannah woodlands and coastal lagoons. The small boats (RIBs) can take you down the smaller channels. You’ll join shore landings with the Expedition Team, and perhaps go out in sea kayaks.

Learn about, and maybe meet, the local Bijago people—a fiercely independent, matriarchal society organized in clans. Practicing a subsistence lifestyle, they hold the natural world sacred, beliefs that have helped protect this area from exploitation.

Local conditions can 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: Banjul

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today your West African expedition cruise reaches The Gambia and its tiny capital, Banjul. It may be bijou, but its location at the mouth of the River Gambia made it an important trading hub.

It also 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.

The city is easy to explore on foot. The National Museum houses Gambia’s best archeological and ethnographical collections. Lively Albert Market is a great place to pick a souvenir, so treat yourself before you leave.

Day 14: Return to Dakar

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You return to Dakar where you'll have another chance to experience this vibrant city, known for its music and arts scene. Independence Square is a great place to start. As you explore, listen out for the many languages of Western Africa, such as Wolof, Pular and Serer. If you missed the Pre-Program to Gorée Island, you can visit on an optional excursion. This UNESCO site offers an important insight into the slave trade and early European history in Western Africa. Already been? Then why not join the optional panoramic Dakar city tour.

Day 15-17: Learn and discover at Sea

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
As you travel up the west coast to Gran Canaria, you'll have time to relax and reflect on your African island experiences so far. Join the Expedition Team in the Science Center learning about biodiversity, volcanoes and more. Or enjoy the sea air from the on-deck hot tubs.

As warm West African waters mix with the cold Canary Current, nutrients are pushed to the surface, attracting an array of marine life. You might spot bottlenose, spinner, striped and Atlantic spotted dolphins. Short-finned pilot whales, humpback and sei whales. Even elusive blue whales are seen in these waters.

Day 18: Arrival in Las Palmas | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Your West Africa expedition cruise ends in Las Palmas. Aside from miles of sandy beaches and buzzing city life, Gran Canaria offers UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, subtropical valleys, pine forests mountains and dunes. Walkers and hikers can explore 620 miles of marked nature trails.

The island is home to several archaeological sites too. Learn about the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the archipelago, at Museo Canario in Las Palmas.

You can also join the optional Post-Program for a half-day excursion to the Bandama Crater and Las Palmas city center to cap off an amazing adventure.


MS Spitsbergen

Dates & Prices

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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
Upper and lower berths, shower/wc
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Polar Outside - N
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Polar Outside - O
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, or upper or lower berths, shower/wc
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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
  • 17 Breakfasts, 17 Lunches, 16 Dinners
  • 17 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Photography Guide on Expedition Team
  • Complimentary Expedition Jacket
  • Loan of Boots, Trekking Poles, & All Equipment for Activities
  • Photos & Film/Video Footage from the Voyage Shared in The Expedition Logbook
  • Wine, beer, juice, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner on board ship
  • Coffee and tea are included throughout the day. Beverages (beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water in all ship restaurants)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests
  • Overnight at a hotel in Dakar, including lunch and breakfast 
  • Full-day tour to Gorée Island, including lunch
  • Gratuities
  • 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


When to Go

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


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