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11th February, 2015

Funchal, Madeira

Saga Sapphire berthed at 8.00am in Funchal, Madeira.

Formed by a volcanic eruption, Madeira lies in the Gulf Stream, about 500 miles due west of Casablanca. Discovered by Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves 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. Sugar plantations first brought wealth here, and when King Charles II of England granted an exclusive franchise to sell wine to England and its colonies, many British emigrants were drawn to the capital, Funchal. 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 wild flowers. 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’.

Our Tours and Travel team of Jacqui, Tom and Laura sent off five tours this morning. The first was the exciting 4 wheel drive Safari which took our guests off-road through some of Madeira's hidden valleys and mountainous roads. There was also the 8 hour Madeira Island Delight, the very active Levada Walk, the relaxing Scenic Madeira and finally the colourful Botanical Gardens and Monte tour. In the afternoon 21 guests enjoyed the exciting Rib Adventure.

In the Britannia Lounge this evening's entertainment started with music for dancing from the Saga Orchestra, and for our Main show time there was the comedy and artistry of Master Marionette Artists John and Joseph with their ‘Stars On Strings’.

The Late Night cabaret featured three gorgeous ladies. There was Michele and Danniella Mae from Explosive Singers and Dancers, while the third was our wonderful Cruise Director, Kayleigh McMahon, all singing their favourite songs from the great disco era of the 70’s and 80’s. This was followed by more toe tapping tunes from the Perfect Mood Duo until late.

Captain Alistair Mclundie

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.