It’s early in the cruise and, no doubt, our enthusiasm will abate, but the challenge today was to fit in all the things from the daily programme which we wanted to do.
As usual, I was up early and had coffee in the Kings Court before queuing, at nine, for tickets for the first of the Planetarium Shows at 12.30. There were already plenty of people waiting and, as is so often the case on Cruise Ships, the atmosphere was a little febrile, with passing cruisers observing the queue and anxiously asking what we were waiting for in case they were missing out.
We had a late breakfast in Kings Court (I can’t continue having Kedgeree and Corned Beef Hash. Delicious as it is the salt will kill me) before taking advantage of the arrival of our first sunshine and spending an hour by the Pavilion Pool. The glass roof was closed, and we were fully clothed, but it was a pleasant foretaste of things to come. Some braver passengers swam both in the covered pool and the exposed pool at the back of the ship.
After that we went to the Planetarium Film – about Asteroids – which was impressive (we queued again as the better seats are at the back. We were right at the front but the experience was still very good). Jan then went to her second French lesson and I went to the Theatre to listen to Overture a tribute band that had been very popular when they played on our first night. And they were indeed excellent with very good copies of stuff from the Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel, The Tornados and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The theatre was packed and the audience were very enthusiastic:
I walked my nine laps in cool and watery sunshine before watching some live Premiership Football in the cabin (there were live matches on at three and at five thirty and there are a couple more on tomorrow). We had some afternoon tea, which is served for World Cruisers in our dedicated lounge before resting, reading and getting changed. It was again a formal night. We went first to the Carinthia Room to hear a Dixieland Jazz Quintet and then had a very enjoyable dinner (excellent roast pork). We seem to have lost Wilf from our group of six, who didn’t turn up for the second night running. But the five of us are getting on fine. After dinner, at 10.30, we went to listen to the comedian, Mick Miller, whose presence on the cruise circuit is probably evidence of his sliding career. He was funny in parts but at times seemed to be as tired as most of the passengers. It was notable that his humour was very British, reflecting the fact that we’re the biggest group on the ship. We rather regret that, as we have always enjoyed the presence of large numbers of Americans and Canadians. I had a late night wander, but we were both in bed by midnight and ready for our first port call tomorrow.
We docked at seven and just as the sun was rising. Madeira looked beautiful from our berth right on the promenade in Funchal. We know Madeira quite well having been here for a week in September and we took our time leaving the ship, waiting for the sun to gather a bit of strength: as we docked the temperature was just 6 centigrade.
We had our first breakfast in the formal dining room managing to get a table for two (vital for breakfast) quite easily. Service and the food was excellent and we then had an hour – still under the glass roof – at the Pavilion Pool before wandering into Funchal at about 11.30. We walked along the promenade and turned into the old Town, had a pleasant coffee and beer there and meandered back to the newer area. We sought out The Golden Cafe which we knew well and which is, in our view, much the nicest stop in Funchal for lunch or a drink. By this time, the temperature was about 16 and warm enough for us to sit outside and have excellent coffee along with Madeira’s wonderful speciality; Pastel De Nata. We did a little functional shopping for water, lemons (anticipating gin and tonics on the balcony when things get warmer) and some wine. But most of the shops were shut on this Sunday.
We returned to the ship for afternoon tea in the Queen’s Room: as ever, as much a performance as a culinary event, and then I watched Liverpool v Manchester City before Margaritas in the Commodore Club and another excellent dinner.