Way out in the Atlantic lie the nine volcanic islands of the Azores. In spite of spectacular lush scenery, year-round perfect weather, pretty villages and gorgeous beaches, the islands are a world away from mass tourism.
See what's planned
- A walk on São Miguel in the Azores overlooking the calderas of the Blue & Green Lakes
- Exploring the backstreets of Lisbon
- Time in Horta on Faial, with its unique architecture, pretty harbour and views across to Pico Island
Our cruise visits five ports with strong associations with the sea. Our forays ashore mainly concentrate on seeing the sights with local guides, but we are also able to stroll along the coast, taking in the bracing sea air, and walk inland close to historic cities. Please see below the most visited port of call on this cruise:
Praia da Vitoria - On the island of Terceira whose mountainous interior rises to over 1000m and where cliffs surround the coast. We visit the UNESCO World Heritage city of Angra do Heroismo, built during the Renaissance. Its striking buildings painted white and one other colour make it unlike any other European city. Outside the town we climb the low hill of Monte Brasil for some great views.
Ponta Delgada - The capital of the island of São Miguel with a beautiful old town characterized by its black and white buildings. We visit and walk close to the amazing flooded caldeiras near Sete Cidades; the Vista do Rei view across the Blue & Green Lagoons is one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders.
Lisbon - Portugal’s capital is famously bathed in clear Atlantic light. A local guide takes us on a fascinating tour through the city’s old town, reaching vantage points only the locals know about. We visit the Alfama where the dilapidated charms of the past mingle with its fashionable artisan present. We visit the medieval Se Cathedral and the Casa dos Bicos (House of the Spikes).
Porto - Fast becoming a hot tip for a weekend break, Porto is another UNESCO World Heritage city. Its colourful buildings rise on hills above the Douro River. There are baroque churches dripping in gold, the maze of streets around Ribeira, the city’s historic centre, the ubiquitous smell of sardines and shellfish barbequeing, and of course the port wine maturing in oak barrels. The whole city is a feast for the senses.
Funchal - Madeira is an island of many contrasts, from banana palms and custard apples at sea level to extinct volcanic caldera at 1800m.
Please note, ports of call may change between different departure dates. It is important to check the individual tour date proposed itinerary for details of your cruise.
- Breakfast and dinner throughout your tour, plus lunch on sea days
- Complimentary tea and coffee at select locations throughout the ship
- All entertainment, sports & leisure facilities on board
- A programme of walks and excursions from our ports of call including any necessary transportation costs
- Tips to the ship’s restaurant staff
What's not included?
- All drinks on board
- Any local excursions not included in the Ramblers Cruise & Walk Holidays programme including entrances to museums, sites or Fred Olsen on shore activities
- Access to Wi-Fi on board the ship. At the time of writing Fred Olsen offer various packages from £16 for 30 minutes to £84 for unlimited access on a 14-day cruise. Please ask for more details at the Reception Desk on the ship.
- Personal laundry and dry cleaning, hairdressing, health, beauty treatments and selected fitness classes
- Holiday Insurance
- Occasionally a local guide or your Ramblers Cruise & Walk leader might suggest entering a site or monument in a city for which there is an entrance fee to pay. Please allow approximately £30 for this.
- Discretionary gratuities to the crew, drivers, guides etc both on board and ashore
This Grade 4 moderate holiday includes full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain and is likely to include an element of sightseeing as well. Half day walking will probably include about 3 hours of walking, with full days having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to about 600m. See the 'Proposed Itinerary' section for more information.
Our bottom line is happy travellers, and to that end we trust our tour leaders to use the itinerary below as a basis for providing you with a great holiday. We expect our leaders to make adjustments to the itinerary if the weather, group ability or other local conditions make that necessary. There are normally more options available to our leaders than those listed below and one or more of these options may well be chosen. All distances, heights & timings are approximate.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may unfortunately need to withdraw a tour that is currently confirmed to operate and we therefore reserve the right to cancel your booking. We would always do our utmost to give you plenty of notice should we have to do this. Selected elements of this tour, including local attractions and restaurants, may change at late notice. Please ensure you have valid insurance cover before you travel.
Sail from Liverpool
Black Watch (Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines)
Today we board Black Watch in Liverpool and set sail for the Azores. Check in for the cruise begins one hour prior to embarkation. Embarkation at the cruise terminal usually begins three hours before departure and closes one hour prior to sailing. At Liverpool you will be greeted by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ staff, including porters who will arrange for your luggage to be delivered to your cabin. There will be a letter from your Ramblers Cruise & Walk Holidays leader in your cabin informing you of the place and time for you to meet the rest of the group. Sailing time is usually from mid afternoon to early evening and will be confirmed on your travel documents.
Days 2 to 4
Days 2 to 4
Sailing to the Azores
We have three days at sea to relax and enjoy the ship’s facilities. There is usually a range of activities available on board – you may choose to join a fitness class or visit the onboard gym, attend one of the onboard lectures, treat yourself to a treatment in the spa or just simply relax in one of the lounges with a coffee and a book from the library. Each evening a Daily Times newsletter will be placed in your cabin, detailing events and timings for the following day
We come ashore in Praia da Vitoria on the east coast of Terceira. From here we travel to Angra do Heroismo on the south coast. The town was built during the Renaissance as a staging post for trade between the old and new worlds. It is rich in houses with wrought-iron balconies, has the world’s oldest military hospital and. splendid churches. We tour the town with a local guide and follow the short walk up Monte Brasil before returning to Praia da Vitoria.
We come ashore in Horta on the east coast of Faial. The town has a beautiful location, in a bay with hills rising behind. Characteristic white buildings with a black trim and red roofs rise up the hillsides. Today we take transport out to the beach at Almoxarife to the north of Horta. Our walk takes us along cobbled roads and field tracks back to Horta. It is a leisurely walk passing old farm houses and restored windmills. Returning to Horta we will have time to look around the town.
Exploring São Miguel
From where we come ashore in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel transport takes us out to the crater lakes in the west of the island. We walk from the spectacular viewpoint at Vista do Rei at a height of over 500m, initially following the crater rim, towards the coastal town of Mosteiros. The views over the Blue and Green Lakes are spectacular. Transport will pick us up and take us the final couple of miles into Mosteiros before we return to Ponta Delgada for free time.
Days 8 & 9
Days 8 & 9
Cruising to Portugal
We have a couple of days at sea to enjoy the comforts on board Black Watch as we cruise east towards mainland Portugal.
We enjoy a day in the Portuguese capital. A local guide shows us what makes Lisbon one of Europe’s most attractive and interesting capitals, with its steep cobbled streets, a waterside setting and imposing 18th century buildings.
On leaving the ship we meet our local guide and take the metro into the centre of Porto (Oporto in Portuguese). We then visit the market, the rail station to see the famous wall tiling, the cathedral and old town and have coffee in the square. After a walk along the river bank, dependent upon time, we may have the opportunity to visit a port cellar.
Days 12 & 13
Days 12 & 13
Sailing back to Liverpool
We have two final days at sea to enjoy the facilities on board Black Watch. If you have long hankered after playing quoits at sea, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
Arrival in Liverpool
We arrive in Liverpool at around 07:00 for disembarkation after breakfast.
Walks & Excursions
The described walks assume that the weather will be good and that the ship will keep to the planned schedule. We may have to change the walks if the ship’s schedule changes or there is poor weather.
Local Transport Costs
All local transport costs in conjunction with the advertised activity programme are included in the holiday cost. There may be occasions where additional visits or excursions are added to enrich your experience, these will be paid for locally by you if you choose to participate. Local transport can be a mix of private hire coaches, taxis, local buses and ferries depending on the itinerary.
A range of local excursions and activities may be available to book at your destination through a local operator.
We have no involvement in such activities or excursions which are not run, supervised or controlled in any way by
us. Your contract will be with the local activity supplier and we accept no responsibility for their actions or omissions.
Fred Olsen Paying On Board
The currency on board ship is sterling. A credit account system is operated onboard allowing bar drinks, wine in restaurants, laundry charges, purchases from the shop and any other incidental expenses to be automatically charged to your account. You will be required to register a debit or credit card at check-in against which to charge your onboard account. At the time of writing there is no charge for payment by credit or debit card. Onboard accounts can be settled in cash, however, a debit or credit card must still be registered at check-in to secure the on-board account balance.
The following credit cards are accepted: Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Fred. Olsen also accepts Visa debit cards but is unable to accept American Express, Solo, and Electron, travel agent debit cards or traveller’s cheque cards.
The ship operates a Bureau de Change onboard, where currency can be purchased or sold subject to local currency restrictions. All major currencies are stocked based on the cruise destinations with no commission charge and competitive rates.
Whilst sightseeing plays a part in our itinerary, no entrances to museums or monuments are planned, and therefore no entrance fees are included in the price of the holiday.
Currency in Portugal
The currency in Portugal is the euro. You may wish to take some euro cash with you until you reach an ATM. Credit cards may not be accepted in smaller towns and rural areas.
Fred. Olsen operates a system whereby the recommended level of gratuities will be automatically added to guests’ onboard accounts at the end of the cruise. Ramblers Cruise & Walk Holidays include the tips for the dining room waiters but £2.50 per guest per day will be added to all onboard accounts for cabin stewards. Anyone wishing to vary the amount given can do so via reception and guests are free to remove the charge from their onboard account and tip the relevant staff in the traditional ‘envelope & cash’ method if they prefer.
Tour Leaders & Local Guides
Your tour leader makes the world of difference to your holiday and ours are as passionate about discovering the world on foot as you are. They're resourceful, organised and widely travelled. They will handle all the local administration and other needs that might arise to ensure that you don't have to worry about planning your days and you can enjoy your holiday. Although leading group holidays, they won't forget that every group is made up of individuals. Each tour leader has their own individual style, talents and professional backgrounds and all are trained, qualified, experienced and dedicated to making your holiday as enjoyable, interesting and inspiring as possible.
Leader's Evening Briefing
Each evening, your tour leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. This will be your opportunity to discuss the details and ensure the planned activities suit your walking ability. If you have concerns on clothing or equipment, this can be discussed then also. If you do not wish to join the organised group programme, please let the leader know.
To enhance your experience, as well as your tour leader, each holiday will be accompanied in some centres by a well qualified and knowledgeable English-speaking local guide.
On arrival at the port you will need to produce both your ticket and a valid passport, so please ensure you have both ready to hand. When checking in you will be issued with your ship’s pass and boarding card. Your ship’s pass acts as your security pass and onboard account card for the full duration of the cruise. Each time you embark or disembark the ship your card will be swiped to record whether you are on board or ashore. In addition, your hand luggage may be subject to either x-ray scanning or a manual search each time you re-join the ship.
At least 24 hours before the end of your cruise the full disembarkation instructions will be placed inside your cabin. Please ensure you have settled all onboard accounts before leaving the ship.
Luggage Allowance & Travel Documents
Your luggage allowance is 200lbs or 90kg. For safety reasons, each piece of luggage should weigh less than 44lbs or 20kg.
Approximately 10 days prior to departure, we will send you your cruise tickets and luggage labels.
Please be advised that there are a number of items that are prohibited to be taken on board. To avoid any items being confiscated at check-in, please familiarise yourself with our prohibited items policy at www.fredolsencruises.com and search for ‘prohibited items’.
Personal Details Check
To ensure that we can accurately administer your holiday arrangements, please confirm that the personal details we hold for you are up to date and that you have provided the information we need to secure your holiday travel and accommodation arrangements. Please check your passport details, date of birth and any other important details necessary for us to properly manage your holiday booking. You can view and update information already provided, and add details not yet asked for, by using the Manage My Booking facility on our website www.ramblersholidays.co.uk, or by calling our Sales and Reservations team on +44 (0)1707 331133. When you receive your booking confirmation please check the details as soon as possible.
Passports and Visas
General Passport Advice
It is a good idea to carry photocopies of the personal details pages of your passport.
Should you lose your passport, this may assist with the issue of replacement documents
and your return to your home country.
Passport and visa requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility to
ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on, and comply
with, such requirements.
General travel and destination advice for UK nationals is available from the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office at www.fco.gov.uk/travel
and at www.gov.uk/travelaware.
Fred Olsen Holiday and Passport Info
Please ensure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity from the date you return from the cruise and have enough spare pages to accept immigration stamps/visas. Ramblers Walking Holidays will not be held responsible for any guest refused entry to a country/countries for non-compliance with the above, and passage will be refused to any guest at point of embarkation with insufficient passport validity. We would suggest a minimum of four clear pages excluding pages required for any visas you are required to apply for in advance of sailing. It is also a requirement of all immigration authorities that your passport is not damaged in any way or has no missing pages - we strongly recommend you check the condition of your passport prior to travel.
So, what’s on the menu? One certainty is that no one on board the ship will ever go hungry. All meals are included, and you start the day with breakfast, a buffet arrangement where you can choose from fresh fruits, cereals, yoghurts, a full English breakfast, cheeses, cold cuts, breads, pastries, fresh juices and unlimited tea or coffee.
We’ll take our lunches on board on cruising days and the choice is yours: sample the ample buffet in the restaurant, see what’s on offer in the informal café or choose an alfresco poolside affair. When we’re out for the day we’ll be provided with a packed lunch.
Dinner is a sumptuous five course feast. The choices are many, and the food is excellent. The menus are varied and mouth-watering, freshly cooked by award-winning chefs. Special diets such as fat-free, vegetarian and gluten-free meals can be catered for. Dinner is taken in a stylish restaurant with smiling courteous waiting staff creating a wonderful atmosphere for your evening meal. We are booked for dinner at 6.15pm to allow you plenty of time to also enjoy the evening entertainment if you wish. Wine can be pre-ordered from the Maître’d, over the interactive intranet in your cabin, or at the table.
If this is not enough, there is also morning coffee, afternoon tea and extensive late-night suppers to indulge in! We’ll also have an exclusive drinks party for our group one evening in addition to the Captain’s welcome and farewell parties and a traditional afternoon tea with waiter service on one of our sea days.
Complimentary tea and coffee can be found aboard the ship throughout the day, usually in the informal café. Other drinks must be purchased but the prices are very reasonable. No alcoholic drinks purchased ashore may be taken aboard the ship for consumption during the cruise.
If you have any special dietary requirements such as diabetic, gluten/wheat-free, dairy-free/soya, vegetarian, vegan, or low fat please advise us at the time of booking or no later than 14 weeks prior to departure.
Footwear & Kit List
Lightweight waterproof walking boots with a good moulded sole (such as Vibram or similar) and a deep tread and which provide ankle support are strongly recommended and may be essential for some walks.
General Kit List
Outdoor activities are always safer and more enjoyable if you are prepared.
If you have not travelled with us before the following list might be of use:
- Waterproof jacket (Goretex or similar) and trousers
- Lightweight quick-drying trousers
- Walking T-shirt/shirts
- Walking socks
- Fleece or jumper
- Sun hat, sunglasses, lip salve and sun block
- Warm hat and gloves (if appropriate)
- Swimwear (if appropriate)
- Day sack (this should be able to carry all you would need for the day's activity)
- Day sack liner
- Water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity (more than 1 bottle may be required)
- Basic first aid kit
- Walking poles (should you find them useful)
- Sit mat
This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.
Daytime wear is casual with comfortable shoes for walking around deck. A lightweight jacket or coat is recommended for the early evening when the sun sets. You may also like to take a towel and swimwear as Black Watch has two small swimming pools and Jacuzzis. Towels are provided at the poolside should you forget your own. During the day casual wear is allowed in the restaurant but not swimwear.
During your cruise, there will be formal and smart casual evenings. On formal evenings, gentlemen are encouraged to wear ‘black tie’, although a dark suit and tie will suffice, with ladies elegantly dressed in cocktail or evening dress. On smart casual evenings, men can wear open-necked shirts, chinos and dark coloured jeans, and women dress or trousers and a top.
Travel Documents Checklist
Documents and Information to take with you:
- Passport (make sure it's yours and valid)
- Your travel tickets or e-ticket itinerary
- Any visa or electronic travel authorisation (if required)
- Holiday money
- Credit or debit cards (and separate details of who to call if lost)
- Car parking ticket and car park directions (if prebooked)
- Coach or rail travel tickets (if prebooked)
- Your holiday Booking Confirmation document
- Your travel insurance details
- Alternative form of identification (such as a driving licence)
- Photocopy of the personal details pages of your passport
- A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if relevant
- Details of any medical condition or allergy your holiday leader should know about
Electricity on Board
The voltage on board is supplied at 220 volts (requiring a continental style 2-pin plug).
Water To Go
An alternative to bottled water from single-use sealed water bottles is
filtered water from a refillable bottle containing its own water filter
such as a Water-to-go bottle available from
Just fill up from any water source and save the environment from disposable plastic bottles.
We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount with our partners Water-to-Go
for you as a thank you for helping the environment. Please go to their website
at www.watertogo.eu and
enter the code RWH17 when ordering. In addition, Water-to-Go will match the
discount with a donation to our charity, Heart & Sole, which will allow us
to continue to make a difference in the countries you visit on our holidays.
Maps, Guidebooks & Other Information
The Map Shop
Maps and guidebooks relating to the areas you will be walking in may be bought before your holiday from The Map Shop at www.themapshop.co.uk
Visit the following websites for an idea of the climate in your destination:
Find out more
UTC, UTC +01:00
3hrs from UK
Visas and Passports
No Visa Required
Avg. Rain: 109mm
Avg. Rain: 93mm
Avg. Rain: 75mm
Avg. Rain: 66mm
Avg. Rain: 52mm
Avg. Rain: 26mm
Avg. Rain: 12mm
Avg. Rain: 16mm
Avg. Rain: 44mm
Avg. Rain: 91mm
Avg. Rain: 111mm
Avg. Rain: 120mm
Staying Healthy On Holiday
Health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility
to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on,
and comply with, such requirements at least 6 to 8 weeks before departure.
Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP.
Staying Healthy Onboard
Although most cruises experience calm seas, there is always the possibility of heavy weather. It is possible in these circumstances that some clients may be susceptible to sea-sickness. You may wish to consider packing some travel motion sickness medication which can greatly reduce any symptoms. Please liaise with your local pharmacist or doctor for advice regarding particular medication.
Whilst none of the walks is difficult you need to be comfortable walking over uneven and occasionally steep ground to enjoy them to the full.
Network and Centre website at www.travelhealthpro.org.uk, the NHS Fit for Travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and the Foreign Office Travel Advice website at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice or a local travel health clinic.
Further Travel Advice
For further advice please visit:
You might wish to take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you for times when you're unable to wash your hands.
We cannot stress enough the importance of good quality, comprehensive cruise insurance. Insurance is a mandatory requirement for all customers travelling on board. If for any reason you are yet to do so, please contact Ramblers Walking Holidays.
We do not insist that you insure with us, but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday. You will be unable to participate in our local walking and other activity programmes without being able to demonstrate that you have valid travel insurance. Your Ramblers Cruise & Walk leader will ask for this information locally and you will not be able to join our walking and activity programme without this information.
Please ensure that as a minimum your travel insurance policy covers you for travel to your holiday destinations (country and geographical region) and for medical expenses, mountain rescue (including helicopter rescue) and emergency repatriation to your home country in the event of illness or injury. Your policy should also provide adequate cover for the activities, included and optional, you are likely to participate in during your holiday. It is vital that you have disclosed all pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer. Please see our brochure or website for further advice regarding holiday insurance.
Whoever you insure with, please ensure that you take full details, and ideally the policy itself, with you on holiday and provide our tour leader with your insurer's name, the policy number and emergency assistance contact numbers.
Please note that it is very difficult to obtain travel insurance once your holiday arrangements have started.
Please take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you; it will help you in the event of you needing medical assistance during your holiday. Please note that the EHIC has an expiry date, so please check that your card is valid for the duration of your holiday. Please note however the EHIC should not be considered a substitute for medical or travel insurance.
Naturally, the safety and comfort of our guests and crew is always our highest priority. We would therefore like to reassure you that when in certain ‘hot spots’ around the world, additional and robust security measures are put in place. Whereas you will appreciate that we cannot divulge these plans we would like to pre-advise that additional safety drills will take place prior to reaching these waters and it may be necessary to close the portholes of lower deck cabins whilst in areas considered to be at a higher threat level. We thank you in advance for your co-operation and understanding.
Fred Olsen Plastic Policy
The use of single-use plastics on board Fred Olsen ships has been stopped wherever possible, including the banning of plastic straws, cocktail sticks, stirrers, cutlery and take away coffee cups. In addition, their officers and crew always consider how they can reduce the use of plastic further. All waste is collected, sorted and discharged by the ship’s staff following strict environmental regulatory requirements. This waste is subsequently landed ashore to approved recycling and receiving operators. The only waste that is discharged at sea is commuted food waste and wastewater.
We're committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations.
Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence
of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups
not only gives you an up close and personal experience of
your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate
environment. We feel that the most important starting point
to protect the environment is to be out in it.
For more details visit our website.
The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust
Unlike many tour operators we have our own trust through which RWH Travel’s profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects in the UK. The focus of the Trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and their role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public. In addition the Trust welcomes applications for small grants from local organisations in the UK who need support for walking-orientated activities. This includes the establishment of footpaths and bridleways, funding for rebuilding bridges and renovating huts, as well as bursary funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for children who could not otherwise afford to do it. Please visit the ‘About Us’ section of our website and click on the Charitable Trust link for more details.
Heart and Sole
We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able
to use our profits to help make a difference to people's lives.
Heart & Sole is a venture managed by our office staff, whose
aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries
we visit. Through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long
term, direct impact to these communities, particularly in less
developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way.
See our website for more information and details of some of the
projects we support.
Staying In Touch
Please do provide us with a mobile phone contact number. We will only use this to contact you with important information relating to your holiday arrangements.
Do keep your mobile phones switched on and readily available when travelling to the airport or if delayed in transit so that we can contact you with any last minute information relating to your travel arrangements.
As a matter of courtesy, please switch off your mobile phone during walks, or endeavour to minimise its use. Please also try to minimise the use of mobile devices during group meals.
We welcome all comments about our holidays and value ideas for the future. If you have provided us with an email address we will invite you to complete an online questionnaire or to add feedback to our page on the independent review site 'Feefo'.
Please note that this Holiday Information sheet may be periodically updated and reissued.
In most cases the revisions will be minor and the overall nature
of the holiday will remain unchanged. Should we make a major change
to your holiday arrangements between you booking your holiday and
your date of travel we will notify you to specifically draw your
attention to any significant change.
You may wish to review the latest version of this Holiday Information Sheet online prior to travel.
Please note that any advertised offers, benefits or initiatives may be discontinued at any time.
Ramblers Walking Holidays
Our office is open and our Sales & Reservations team are available to speak to you from:
- 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Please quote your Booking Reference number and Tour Code whenever contacting us.
We wish you an enjoyable holiday!
Our holiday walking grades
Grade 4 Sightseeing
Full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain. Half day walks will probably involve about 3 hours of walking, with full day walks having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to 600m. Some days of this holiday will be dedicated solely to sightseeing (or include an element of sightseeing). To enhance your experience, a knowledgeable local guide will accompany your small group for part (or the majority) of the holiday.
Discover more about our walking grades