Ports of Call

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Tristan da Cunha, Saint Helena

Tristan da Cunha is the largest island of a mid-Atlantic volcanic archipelago known collectively by its name. Together they comprise the most remote inhabited place on earth. It lies 1,200 miles from the nearest land, St. Helena island, over 1,500 miles from the nearest continental shore and over 2,000 miles from South America. At last report, there were 266 inhabitants, all on Tristan, composed of 85 families and descended from about 15 original immigrants. Almost from the beginning, the islands have been very infrequently visited. During the decade after 1909, reportedly not one ship called at Tristan. Finally in 1919 a British ship stopped by to inform them of the outcome of World War I. In their extended isolation, they have developed a unique patois of 19th Century English, Afrikaans slang and Italian. The island is mountainous, with only a small flat area where the capital Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is located. All land on the island is communally owned, with each family granted a parcel for farming and grazing. The other main industry is fishing, including harvest of the local crayfish when weather permits. There are 13 species of seabirds on the islands, including penguins, albatrosses, petrels and skuas, and two species of land birds. In 1961 the highest volcano, Queen Mary’s Peak erupted and forced evacuation of all Tristan’s inhabitants. They were eventually taken to England, from where they mostly returned in 1963, including two Tristan women who brought with them newly acquired English husbands.




Tristan da Cunha, Saint Helena