17th January, 2019
After a magnificent 7 day Atlantic crossing from Barbados we made our approach to Funchal, Madeira from the south; we really did have superb weather, with calm seas and 7 days of sunshine – my nickname as “Sunshine Captain” was brought back to life. I have always enjoyed arriving in Madeira as it’s such a spectacular setting and this morning was no exception. As we approached the pilot station at 0715 the whole of the hillside at Funchal was “twinkling” with orange lights – no doubt enjoyed by our early morning risers on deck to watch our arrival.
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.
We were alongside by 0800 and by 0820 our Guests were heading ashore to sample all the delights of this great port. Our Shore Excursion Team headed up by Nat and Jacquie offered a variety of tours including the light and easy excursions Cabo Girao and Madeira Island Delight, and by contrast the more active excursions like the ‘Levada Trail Walk’, the ‘Four-wheel Drive Safari’ and the RIB Adventure – this has got to be a must for another call. For those going ashore independently there was also a complimentary shuttle bus service which took passengers into the heart of Funchal.
I decided to get my bike out for the first time this trip and followed the coast road out to the west – yes Madeira is very hilly, but it was a great ride with the sun shining and superb views of the coastline!
With everyone back on board by 1630 we slipped our moorings and Staff Captain Matt took the ship out to sea. Once clear of the port and with the pilot away we set a NE’ly course towards Southampton.
Captain Julian Burges
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