We first came to Madeira in January 2004 on the Queen Mary 2 Maiden Voyage. Madeira was the first port and our arrival in Funchal was dramatic, with thousands of people lining the harbour to welcome the worlds largest liner. There were even larger crowds when we left.

On that and subsequent visits to the island, we have taken tours from the ship, but as the tour offered this time, with an adapted vehicle, was identical to the last time we were here, we decided to do our own thing. It worked out really well because the taxi driver who was next on the rank was a charming man called Martin.

Martin had a nice shiny yellow Mercedes. Our original plan was for him to take us to the Santa Catarina Park

and another botanical garden and then to return us to the ship. But he was so caring and his English was so good that we asked him to take us a tour. We saw areas of Funchal that were new to us. He look us to a number of small villages in the hills and to Europes highest sea cliff where you stand on a glass platform with the water immediately below you.

Martin dropped us off in the middle of Funchal, which we explored for the first time. It was fascinating. We wandered up and down narrow streets, through the market and eventually walked back around the harbour to the ship. In total we had been away from the ship for just over eight hours.

We arranged for Martin to collect us from the ship at 9.30 next morning.


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