Funchal Cruise Stop
We were onboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines Epic on a repositioning cruise from
Port Canaveral, FL to Barcelona with various stops along the way - the second stop
Funchal is 3,797 sea miles from Port Canaveral and 648 sea miles southwest of Portugal. It is the largest city and the capital of Madeira. It’s population is about 111,892 and it has been the capital of Madeira for more the five hundred years. The name is derived from the Portuguese word "funcho" (fennel) and the suffix "-al", to denote "a plantation of fennel".
Madeira is sometimes called the “Floating Garden”. Flowers bloom year round on the island and there are gardens and parks all over the city of Funchal. My camera captured a few of the flowers and flowering trees as we toured the city. I kept thinking about my grandmother while I was there. She was from Portugal and plants and flowers were a big part of her life; lovingly caring for them on her front porch. I conjured an image of her in my mind…a big smile on her face, happy to see the flowers that adorn the city.
The ship took 36 hours to travel from Ponte Delgada to Funchal. It’s only 607 miles so we suspect that the ship slowed down to arrive early in the morning to allow us time to visit the city.
We didn’t book a ship excursion. Everything there is to do in town is close distance to the port and it’s easy enough to walk or take taxis which was more cost effective than the ship excursions.
If you have never been to Funchal & either you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;
Teleferico Do Funchal
We took a taxi to the Teleferico Do Funchal (cable car) so that we could head up to Monte to take the famous
toboggan ride back down. Since we weren’t going to come back down we got a one way fair to the top which was 11 euro
per adult. If you wish to see the botanical garden (via another cable car from the top) the cost would have been 31,40
euro per person. We didn’t do the garden but it hindsight I wish we had.
This building is where you purchase your tickets for the gondola ride to the top of Monte, and the queue seen in this picture gives you a pretty good idea of how popular this cable car is!
The cable car views allowed us to see the layout of the city and the harbor below. Mostly white houses with orange tile roofs make up the city. The hills are steep to the point that I’m not sure I’d be comfortable driving until I got used to it. Think San Francisco on a smaller scale, with narrower streets and sometimes steeper hills.
At the top, there was an overlook to get more photos and some gardens. It was a short walk down around the corner to the toboggan area and the Church on top of Monte.
The area at the top of Monte is partially surrounded by the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and above that is a suburban area where we hiked up along the Caminho do Ferro. The road quickly ascends to where it is above all the houses on the city-side, so the views (all the way to the harbor) were superb.
Open daily from 9:30AM to 6PM everyday and the entrance fee is €10 per person and children under 15 are free. We did not have time to enter & explore the gardens, but we did see quite a bit of it while waiting for our toboggan ride. If we had not been time limited, we would have spent more time here, as it is beautiful.
The toboggan run is about 2Km long and you can reach 48km per hour in spots. You can see in one of the above images where we had just started the toboggan ride, as well as one of the places where we slowed to turn a corner. Be sure to take a look at our videos (below) of our toboggan ride!
It may not look like we were going fast in the videos, and I admit that since the toboggan was low to the ground that our perspective might have made it seem faster, but it definitely felt like we were flying!
We caught a taxi from the end point of the toboggan ride to the edge of the city and did some exploring. We found ourselves at Praca do Carmo plaza at lunch time where there were numerous restaurants. We ate lunch at Restaurante Sabores where we sat outside. We endulged ourselves with a bottle of Vinho Verde, some fresh fish, french fries and I had an excellent omelete.
After lunch with headed over to Mercado dos Lavradores - which is a combined shopping center and open air vegetable and fish market. There were tourist shops with things made out of cork, local crafts, and the obligatory t-shirts. We saw many people from the ship here. Note that we didn’t have a map or anything we just wandered into these places. The town is pretty compact and it was not difficult to find interesting things to see.
- The Norwegian Epic Trans-Atlantic Cruise Overview & Guide This is a large ship; 1,081 feet long, 155,873 gross tons in weight, and 133 feet wide. We cover the ship from end to end in our overview page, click here to read more.
- Ponta Delgada Portugal: 3,198 miles from Port Canaveral. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago. 137,856 (2012) island population and 62.1 kilometers in length by 15.8 kilometers in width. Click here to view our Ponta Delgada page.
- Funchal Madeira Portugal: 599 miles from Ponta Delgada. Population of 267,785. The island is 35 miles long and 13 miles wide and has 99 miles of coastline, but the shore is all rock and cliffs. It's a mountainous island; the highest peak is 1862 meters/6,100 feet high. Madeira is all mountains, no beaches. Click here to view our Funchal Madeira page.
- Cadiz & Seville Spain: 659 miles from Madeira. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, with archaeological remains dating to 3100 years and was founded by the Phoenicians. Click here to view our Cadiz/Seville page.
- Malaga Spain: 141.5 miles from Cadiz. With a population of 571,026 in 2018, it is the second-most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth-largest in Spain. The southernmost large city in Europe, it lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean. Click here to view our Malaga page.
- Cartagena Spain: 199 miles from Malaga. With a population of 213,943 inhabitants, being the Region’s second-largest municipality and Spain’s sixth-largest non-Province-capital city. Click here to view our Cartagena page.
- Palma de Mallorca Spain: 334 miles from Cartagena. The capital and largest city of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands in Spain. Population of 409,661. Click here to view our Mallorca page.
- Barcelona Spain: 153 miles from Palma. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits. Click here to view our Barcelona page.
NOTE: After liking what we saw on our short visit to Madeira Terry did some deeper research and found that there are some beautiful hikes and scenery outside of the city of Funchal and much more to see and do - and we both agreed that we should place Madeira onto our list of places that we would like to revisit & spend more time there.
As an example, go to YouTube and enter "Madeira Hiking" and you will get a large list of some amazing videos, below are several good ones - and there are many more;
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