A Day in Madeira and Then Out to Sea for Our Atlantic Crossing

Solstice in Madeira

Our day began with room service breakfast, a special order of eggs Benedict, sausage and bacon. Then we enjoyed the views as our ship pulled into port at Funchal Madeira. Docking was a bit of confusion with the construction going on in the Funchal port. They are building a huge terminal so it really left only one spot for our large ship to dock. The other ship that was in port today, the Aida Luna was slightly smaller and it was able to dock at the new town side dock. We docked on the far side it meant a two mile walk into town.
Once in town we headed to a couple of the gifts shops we had visited last year. First we had to replace my son’s Madeira House snow globe that I broke last year, and then we picke up a few t-shirts and nick nacks. We walked down the street to some of the other shops that were open on a Sunday and found a Madeira made pancho for me and an Madeiran embroidered circle linen that I will put out at Christmas time. We also bought some Madeira wine and a cookbook that utilizes the Madeira wine in many of the recipes. From there it was a quick trip by some of the in town gardens and the waterfront area where we had lovely views of the ship and back onboard. It was a short visit, but we are trying to relax on this vacation and not go go go all the time. Some the guests on the ship to more extensive tours of the island that included mountain views, hidden valleys, and more extensive wine tasting.

Back on the ship we enjoyed sitting on our balcony and watching the activities in the harbor which included a sailing club, winder surfing and kayaking. We could even hear faint music come from a group somewhere in the town of Funchal.

Since Madeira was our last port of call before we cross the Atlantic to Ft. Lauderdale, we decided to make it a memorable one. The weather was cooperating, so we headed to the Sunset Bar and the Lawn Club where we enjoyed bocce ball , views of Madeira, and a beautiful sunset. Our daughter even picked up her glass guitar that was handmade for her previously in the hot glass show.

After a beautiful sail away it was time to decide what to do about dinner and a show. They boys knew that they didn’t want to stay up late to see the 10:45 show and the girls thought it would be nice to possibly try and earlier dinner at one of the ship’s specialty restaurant. My daughter loves Asian food and wanted to try the ship’s silk harvest restaurant. We didn’t have reservations but decided to walk down there and see if they could accommodate us. They were not full and were able to seat us right away at a table with a few of Madeira, lit up at night as we began our Trans Atlantic journey. We had appetizers of wonton soup, barbeque ribs, cream cheese puffs, and spring rolls. We could tell there was a great deal of care and skill taken in preparing these dishes. My daughter felt the ribs were the perfect combination of sweet and savory. For our entrée’s we had Orange Chicken and Pad Tai. Both were fresh and flavorful, and we felt many times over better than what one might get at a typical neighborhood Chinese restaurant. We felt it was well worth the cover charge of $20 each for the delicious food and attentive service. At the end of the meal the waiter made and origami rose for my daughter.

The guys choose to take advantage of the fairly nice in room entertainment system and the room service menu and enjoyed dinner and a movie on demand “A Night at the Museum II”.

After dinner my daughter wanted to go to the kids club and my son to the teen club, and my husband just wanted to “re-charge his batteries.” So I went to the production show “Pulse” on my own. This fun show utilized a central character, kind of an “everyman” who was transported through a magic doorway to places where different types of music and dance came alive. The gentleman who played the central character communicated through pantomime with the audience. My guess is that he might have some theatrical circus clown experience. My favorite part of the show was probably the aerialists who performed rope tricks. As a whole the show was excellent, though in a few places they might have been able to step of the difficulty of the choreography. Throughout the show, the dancers did a great job maintaining the energy and mood of the piece.

After the show the staff hosted a karaoke session, and I got to perform two more numbers, classic rock and a Broadway piece. It was a nice combination of experienced performers and first time karaoke singers. I was drinking water the whole time I was there, but the waiters were very good about bringing me a new glass whenever mine was empty.

It does seem to be that the one thing that is done very well on this ship is attention to detail. I’ve noticed it in little things like the way the adjoining rooms are configured. Rather than having a door connecting the two rooms, all the rooms are set up with recessed v shaped doorways off the hall. When two of the rooms that have the ability to be connected are booked, the door that would complete a triangle with the existing V is then set up with a false wall and a door that is straight onto the hall way. The beauty of this arrangement is that the adjoining is actually done outside the room rather than occupying any space in the room.
The activities staff on this cruise, compared to last year’s Summit cruise also seem eager to provide more entertainment activities than what was scheduled last year. This year’s daily seems to be filled with interesting things to do throughout the day and not all crammed into a few blocks of time with overlapping activities.

Music variety has been another outstanding feature of this ship. In just today’s schedule they have offered a classical string quartet, the Duo Brothers, two different piano performers, a guitarist, an A Capella group, the dance band, the variety show and karaoke.

We are looking forward to a “do nothing” day at sea tomorrow with a formal night in the evening.