Funchal - Madeira, Portugal

Funchal is set on sheltered hillsides overlooking a wide bay, and is the gracious capital of Madeira. This bustling city with its narrow cobbled streets, mosaic pavements and outside cafes and bars, boasts a variety of markets selling local produce. Ships berth within view of the centre - it is about a 20 minute flat walk to the centre and a bit more to the cable car. There is sometimes a free ferry service across the dock and there are taxis available. The seafront area has several floating restaurants - one the converted Beatles yacht - and the Cathedral, the 17th century St Catherine's Chapel, Municipal Museum, Gardens and Theatre are worth a visit. You can take the modern cable car up to beautiful Monte to see the Church of our Lady and then take a wicker-work toboggan ride down the previously cobbled streets - part way only, you will need a taxi or tour bus to get all the way back down. If you wish to visit the Botanical Gardens you will need a tour or taxi. These tranquil gardens are beatifully laid out on terraces with views of the Ribeira de Joao Gomes Gorge and Funchal. While there are no real beaches and the hotels have large man-made pools, there are open air lidos. From Funchal you can also visit the second highest sea cliff in the world at Cabo Girao, the small fishing village of Camara de Lobos or Riveira Brava, high up into the clouds to Encumeada, Sao Vicente on the north coast, Pico do Arieiro and Santo da Serra. Madeira has been described as the "Island of Eternal Spring." Located off the coast of Morocco, Madeira Island is Portugal's other world. Entirely volcanic in origin, Madeira's peaks stretch out of the sea from the "valleys" in the ocean depths. The volcanic soil combines with the mild climate to produce an abundance of green as well as multicolored vegetation. Along the center of Madeira runs a mountain chain that provides a spectacular contrast to the fertile coastlands where the principal crops such as sugarcane, bananas and grapes flourish. Terraces of farmland extend into the hills, adding tiers of green beauty to the landscape. It is the rugged landscape, abundant vegetation and ideal climate that bring the island fame as a year-round resort. Madeira is renowned for its superb embroidery that carries the island's name, as does the wine, which many feel, ranks among the world's best. Wicker baskets and furniture also show fine Madeiran craftsmanship. There are more than 30 cruises calling at this port. Click the month or cruise line logo you are interested in to see details of the cruises.