Hello Ladies and Gentlemen! It is a pleasure to welcome you all to my blog while on the Ruby. I recently returned from my vacation and joined this beautiful ship in Madeira at the tail end of her Grand Voyage.
I have not sailed on the Ruby as Master and so it was most worth while spending a few days with my friend and colleague Captain Alistair McLundie before I assumed command in Portsmouth and bid Alistair farewell on his extremely well
The last time I sailed on this ship was as Staff Captain 4 years or so ago. Despite the lengthy break it’s amazing how quickly things return to you and within 24 hours I found that I no longer had to ask the crew and officers to point me in the
With our newly arrived passengers onboard and our storing operation successfully completed, we set sail from Portsmouth harbour in the early evening of the 27th April. We made our way out into the English Channel and then south across the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean towards our first port of call, Funchal on the Island of Madeira.
The weather was kind to us on our cruise south and with the sun beaming down on her the Ruby sailed into the scenic port of Funchal at noon on the 1st May.
Due to our later arrival, many guests were out on deck with the cruise staff watching as this beautiful ship sailed in, with musical accompaniment from the Kodex Trio.
As this was my first official docking of the Ruby, most of my attention was focused on the ‘driving’. That being said, I never tire of making the approach into this stunning harbour.
Formed by a volcanic eruption, Madeira lies in the Gulf Stream, about 500 miles due west of Casablanca. Discovered by Portuguese explorer Joao Goncalves Zarco in 1419, this beautiful island became part of Portugal’s vast empire and was named for the dense forest which cloaked it (‘Madeira’ means ‘wood’ in Portuguese.)
Today’s travellers come to Madeira for the varied and luxuriant scenery, from mountain slopes covered with vines to picturesque villages and a profusion of wildflowers.
The natural beauty of the island has earned it many pseudonyms such as ‘The Floating Garden of the Atlantic’, ‘The Island of Eternal Springtime’ and ‘God’s Botanical Gardens’.
This is why many of our guests took the opportunity to choose from a selection of excursions on offer in this port. These included ‘Leisurely Madeira’, ‘Palheiro Gardens’, ‘Levada Walk’ and
The most popular of the these was ‘Leisurely Madeira’. This excursion took our guests from Funchal, through the popular suburb of Sao Martinho, to Pico dos Barcelos. From here they could look out over Funchal and the south coast, perhaps catching sight of the Desertas islands.
They rejoined the coach and continued along the winding, scenic road to Eira do Serrado where they could relax with refreshments and enjoy the superb views of Madeira’s highest Peaks. Below lays a secluded valley and the village of Curral das Freiras where the nuns from the Santa Clara convent hid during a 16th-century pirate raid.
Our passengers resumed their tour and travelled to a viewpoint at Terreiro da Luta where they could view the largest statue in Madeira. Created as a result of the islanders’ vow to build a statue if peace was restored to the island after the bombing in 1917, this impressive monument was built in honour of Our Lady of Monte.
They ended their tour with a drive back to Funchal, passing through the village of Monte, home to a handsome baroque church, tropical garden and the island’s famous toboggan run.
Guests who stayed onboard this afternoon could join social hostess Rebecca & Explosive production vocalist Dan with games and activities such as carpet bowls, shuffleboard and ring toss.
From 5.45pm guests could join the bar and cruise staff out on deck in the sunset with a cocktail, as we sailed away from Funchal and danced to the sounds of the Kodex Trio.
Following dinner, the Britannia Lounge was host to a ‘name that tune’ quiz provided by our cocktail pianist Dave, testing our guests’ musical knowledge.
Dave played classical music along with pieces from films to find a winner at this fun quiz.
The entertainment continued through to the ballroom this evening as we invited the Explosive Production cast to open tonight’s show, followed by more fun and laughter with TV comedy star Mickey Zany. Being Mickey’s second show this cruise, he never fails to entertain having most of our guests in fits of giggles!
After the show couples took to the floor with music for dancing with the Ruby Orchestra and our gentlemen hosts.
Following the show some guests enjoyed a cocktail in the South Cape bar with Dave Peterson playing the keys until late.
Others carried on to the preview for late night dancing with the Kodex Trio and a chat with the cruise staff as we embarked upon our journey to our next port of call, Santa Cruz, Tenerife.