Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
10th February, 2018
A beautiful sunny afternoon heralded our arrival into one of our favourite ports of call, Madeira. Swinging the ship off the breakwater just after afternoon tea, we backed down onto our berth and were all tied up nicely by 18:00 for anybody wishing to head ashore into Funchal in the early evening. I ran my ‘last passenger back on board wins a bottle of bubbly’ competition, to encourage those party animals on board to go “wild” on Friday night…
As with Gran Canaria, ‘Carnaval’ season was in full flow here, and this provided some great events for everyone to view on the waterfront promenade in Funchal. There were processions, bands, magicians, stalls, food, drinks, music, and a great party atmosphere. The Spanish and Portuguese do take their carnivals seriously. However, nobody had thought to inform the Captain that tonight’s theme was…cross dressing. As I popped off for an evening walk with a view to a quiet seafood supper in the old town, on my approaches to the centre I started coming across more and more women that looked like men, and vice-versa. In fact, the whole town was dressed up as the opposite sex. If only I had known, I think the Chief Engineer has some ideal outfits hidden in his wardrobe on board to suit such occasions…
I did enjoy a superb evening meal sitting out in the pleasant outdoors on the cobbled old town’s streets. The passing entertainment only added to the enjoyment factor, watching large men wobbling precariously around on high heels and women carefully adjusting their stick-on moustaches after each swig of their drinks. The atmosphere in the town was excellent, with streets filled with people dancing, chatting and laughing.
The following day Saga tours whisked everyone off to various points of the island – there was a hike in Levada de Serra, the island’s interior forest area. For those wanting to see some wildlife a RIB (boat) adventure promised dolphin-spotting. There was even a “Madeira Sidecar Experience” offered as something different, which promised to transport one around the island by traditional motorcycle sidecar. This personalised tour offered a choice of route, and the option to stop when and where you wanted, to take photographs for example.
Evening came, and with the sun still shining and a cruise ship full of Germans due to arrive on our berth shortly, we headed out of the harbour and hovered off the entrance, pirouetting to give the sail-away party attendees on the Verandah deck aft a great view of the sloping landscape and Funchal old town. A surprise guest arrived by pilot boat shortly after departure, in the form of our well-known Hotel Operations Director Horst Pint. He is to travel back to Portsmouth with us to help celebrate a special occasion – our much loved Hotel Director Eddy Denaeghel is finally hanging up his old sea boots and retiring, so we will send him off in style with a few special little events on our passage back home during his final few days on board.
Well ladies and gentlemen, faithful blog readers, the time has come for me to head off on my holidays. I shall be handing the ship back to Captain Nick Sunderland again on the 14th February, so until the next time – happy cruising and reading!
Captain Kim Tanner
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