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2nd November, 2019

Funchal, Madeira

Blessed with yet another beautiful morning, we approached our final Atlantic island for this cruise. Madeira has long been a favourite port of call for many a reason, and today we would be lucky enough to spend much of the day here on this marvellously diverse Portuguese rock.

We berthed in front of another enormous floating block of flats (a ship upon which, I must admit, I used to work) and were ready to allow everyone to head ashore by 08:00. Now of course, today held a very important rugby game for the English amongst us, and kick-off was to be at 09:00, therefore I found myself at the gangway shortly this hour with a few fellow rugby supporters and we headed off to a local bar for some breakfast and to watch the game.

With all of us more than aware of the end result to the game now, I shall choose to end this story here – however suffice to say it was still a pleasant run ashore for a bacon butty and in preference to sitting in my office staring at my computer, of course…

Those less interested in the rugby (or perhaps sensed that luck would not be on our side that day) headed off around the beautiful island hosting our visit today. Organised trips by our Explore Ashore team ran excursions entitled “A taste of Madeira,” “Towering Cabo Girao Sea Cliff,” “Levada Walk” and “Madeira Cooking Experience” among many others to choose from. My favourite had to be “Madeira Sidecar Experience” – an interesting sounding jaunt which promised an unforgettable way to see the sights of this grand and mountainous island, by riding either pillion or in a sidecar of an old motorcycle.

Larger groups of people might prefer the “4x4 Tour” which promised to take guests in jeeps on and off road, through hidden valleys and mountain tracks, to see all the flora & fauna on offer as well as the island’s varied wildlife. For those who chose the cooking tour, a visit to the local market to pick fresh fish, meat & veg would be followed by some local cooking instruction, and then what would be my favourite part – eating it all.

For those not interested in any of the tours on offer, the complimentary shuttle bus of course drops one in the town centre, where there is plenty to see & do. For example, the famous “toboggan” ride (basically an exhilarating ride in a wicker basket, guided down the steep cobbled streets of Funchal by 2 athletic ‘steerers’) is lots of fun and always an option at any time of the day.

Well, as always all good ports have to come to an end, and in the mid-afternoon sun we set sail from Madeira, rounding her southern coast before commencing our 3 day north Atlantic transit back north to the UK. The cruise is far from over though, with more food and entertainment than one could care to shake a stick at, on offer for the next three relaxing (although slightly wintery) days at sea….

Captain Kim Tanner

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