Time for a vacation? You deserve to go somewhere memorable and conquer more than just one little corner of the globe.
On a transatlantic cruise, you’ll sail to New York City from London or Barcelona, and enjoy unforgettable stops at picturesque, coastal ports like Ponta Delgada along the way.
When you take a cruise to Ponta Delgada, an autonomous region of Portugal, you are visiting the main city of the nine Azores Islands, an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic.
Once you arrive in this charming Portuguese city, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make this trip sooner.
With whitewashed buildings trimmed with black volcanic rock, Ponta Delgada has lush vegetation, a few active volcanoes and an abundance of marine life.
This location has a combination of natural features you are unlikely to find anywhere else. While you’re exploring this unique area, check out these 15 things to purchase as mementos of your time here.
1. Basalt Jewelry
The Azores Islands have 26 active volcanoes which provide an abundant supply of basalt, a black volcanic rock. Black volcanic rock is a great material for road and construction projects, yet it is also used to create beautiful jewelry. You can find basalt jewelry including bracelets, rings and gold or silver necklaces in shops around Ponta Delgada.
Just outside of Ponta Delgada in the town of Lagoa, ceramic artists have been crafting blue and white pottery and mosaic tiles by hand for over 150 years. Signed and dated by the artists who create them, you’ll want to pick up one of these one-of-a-kind handmade bowls, vases, teapots, address tiles and more before you leave.
3. Fish-Scale Flowers
Most often, we find that fish scales are relegated to the garbage bin. However, some artists in the Azores utilize these scales to create decorative flowers on canvases made from velvet and wood. These beautiful works of art are ones you have to see to believe. You can find fish-scale flower in various handicraft shops in Ponta Delgada to bring home with you.
4. A Barcelos Rooster
If you’re looking for a good luck charm as a souvenir, purchase the ever-popular Portugese Barcelos rooster. Legend has it that a traveler long ago was wrongly accused of theft and sentenced to hang. While pleading for his life, the traveler asked the court if he could speak to the judge.
Dining on roasted rooster, the judge stopped to hear the traveler’s plea. The traveler told the judge that if he was innocent, the rooster would stand up and crow. It did, and the traveler was spared. Today, these whimsical roosters feature a white or black body with brightly-colored blue, red and yellow designs.
5. Something Woven
Weaving is one of the oldest industries in the Azores Islands, and artists are still creating these products by hand with wooden looms today. If you love hand-woven products, pick up a beautiful blanket, shawl, tote bag or scarf featuring your favorite colors and geometric designs.
6. Woven Baskets
Basket making is a centuries-old practice in the Azores Islands, especially in Ponta Delgada. Today, local artisans still use traditional methods to create woven baskets of all shapes, sizes and designs.
When it comes to basket design, the Azores offer specialized features helping to create a wide selection of baskets to choose from. You can pick up one, or several, of these interesting, handmade baskets at various shops and markets throughout Ponta Delgada.
7. A Laphina
If you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift, consider shopping for a laphina, a miniature nativity scene that is displayed during the Christmas season in many Azorean homes. Set inside decorative boxes or glass domes, these delicate creations feature tiny figures and bits of seashells, moss and dried flowers.
8. Canned Tuna in Olive Oil
Another savory food item unique to the Azores Islands is canned tuna in olive oil. Local fishermen catch the tuna with live bait on individual poles, and then sell them to grocery stores and specialty shops in Ponta Delgada.
Take home this Portugese delicacy to relive the decadent, flavor-filled experience of your travels throughout the Azores Islands.
On the Azores Islands of Pico and Faial, local artisans produce beautiful, handmade lace featuring rosettes connected with delicate stitch work. This traditional Azorean lace creates intricately-designed napkins, tablecloths and table runners. Bring a few of these beautiful textiles home to help make your dinners with family extra special.
While volcanic soil in the Azores Islands assists the high-quality grapes for winemaking grow, the Azorean methods of wine production are uniquely specific to the archipelago’s location in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. On Pico Island, the archipelago’s main island for wine production, vines are grown inside rustic, stone walls to protect them from the sometimes-stormy sea.
These vineyards have been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO. With 33 grape varieties grown in the Azores Islands, you can be sure to find a variety of robust and flavorful red or white wines to bring home.
11. Matiz Embroidery
More a fan of embroidery than lace? Artisans in the Azores Islands are known for hand-stitching Matiz embroidery. These embroidered handkerchiefs feature blue thread on white fabric and a matiz stitch. Common designs on these textiles include clovers, carnations and entwined hearts. You can find matiz-embroidered items at shops throughout Ponta Delgada.
Fruits like pineapples, passion fruit, bananas, figs and blackberries flourish in the mild Azores climate. So it’s not surprising that these fruits are commonly used to make delicious liqueurs. With a variety of liquor stores in Ponta Delgada, find a tasty, fruit-infused liqueur to bring back home to your family and friends.
Don’t forget, cruise shoppers are entitled to one, duty-free bottle of alcohol per adult, and any alcohol purchased will be stored safely with your Carnival crew until the end of your voyage.
Europe’s only coffee plantation can be found on the Azores Island, Sao Jorge, which is northwest of the main city of Ponta Delgada. Sao Jorge Island’s steep, sea-level terrain and fertile soil create the perfect environment for growing coffee beans. Pick up a bag of whole beans or ground beans in coffee shops throughout Ponta Delgada to bring home with you.
14. Pineapple Products
Of all the ripe fruits grown in the Azores Islands, pineapple reigns supreme. Grown in greenhouses on Sao Miguel Island near Ponta Delgada, the pineapple has a plump body and small crown that becomes ripe and more flavorful over time, as it visibly ripens from green to yellow.
If you’re a fan of anything pineapple, you can bring back a variety of pineapple-infused items such as pineapple liqueur or pineapple jam.
Within close proximity to Ponta Delgada and located on San Miguel, the largest of the Azores Islands, you’ll find the two remaining, working tea plantations in all of Europe. These tea plantations produce excellent teas of all kinds including: black, green and orange pekoe teas.
One of the plantations was built in 1883. The plantations harvest the tea leaves, send them to the factory next door, the factory produces the tea, and then processes the leaves on vintage, 19th-century English machinery. While visiting San Miguel, take a tour of the factory, taste the high-quality teas and perhaps purchase your some of your favorite varieties to take home.
If you’re looking for the vacation of all vacations, consider a European cruise across the Atlantic Ocean, with a stop in the breathtaking and unforgettable port of Ponta Delgada. Once you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a few souvenirs along the way to relive your trip for years to come. Any of these 15 items will be treasured as a truly authentic keepsake or gift.