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1st April, 2015

Funchal, Madeira

Being the date it was I could expect the cruise director to ‘spice up’ the Today programme, and I wasn’t disappointed. Apart from his ‘tour of the funnel’ and numerous other little gags, I also invited passengers to sign up at the Pursers desk for a tour to take a look through the ‘reinforced glass section’ that had been put into the ship’s bottom during the last refit. Over twenty did and of course I had to disappoint them later.

As we entered the delightful harbour of Funchal we had to manoeuver past a new and very large British passenger ship (that shouldn’t be named) and the passengers over there seemed to be suitably amused when I had played through the deck speakers some rather stirring British film music. There was much waving from the numerous balconies that looked down at us as we passed. Our folks had been issued with small Union Jack flags so that they could express their ‘admiration’.

Once ashore the town was rather popular with cruise ship tourists on the main street however, just a block away there was some degree of normality. Mrs R and I reached the old market in time to purchase a dozen ‘Bella Donna’ for the garden and two new orchids for the conservatory, ‘Cattleya Amarel’ and Cattleya Rosa Escuro’. They’re the one type of plant that seems to survive on the neglect they unfortunately receive when we are both away.

The tours went off as usual, including a ‘Magic Moment’ to the Botanical gardens followed by a very Portuguese lunch overlooking the sea. We returned in time to see British passenger ship leave. Rather slowly I thought, but then with a brand new charge such as that, I should imagine the Master would be taking particular care to ensure all the computer controlled stuff was doing exactly what was anticipated.

Three days at sea remain before returning to Southampton, and all the indications are that the seas will be fair to us.

Captain Philip Rentell

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