Note to future cruisers; we found out about how to do a private tour from cruisecritic.com …Look in the Forums for your cruise line’s Roll Call section, and find the thread for your voyage. About a month before sailing, or earlier, people will start to organize private tours. You find these by just Googling, for example, “Gibraltar tour.” Also check TripAdvisor. You can organize it yourself, or for the first time maybe join someone else’s tour. You end up usually in an 8-passenger van, see more in less time, and can get dropped off for shopping or food on the way back to the ship. And it’s usually about half the cost.
Madeira is a volcanic island that reminded us of Kauai but more populated. The housing style was Mediterranean ( white walls and tiled roofs) and full of large trees and flowers. The tour guide Lionel was informative about the island and its history. As you can see from the photos we went up to caldera of the former volcano and looked down into the little villages that are isolated in the valley. To get to those villages you needed to walk down a trail ( I took a photo of a man walking down the trail) I think you stay healthy with all the walking up and down the hills.
The tour was 2.5 hours long and Lionel dropped us off at the center of the city’s (Funchal) main market place. We went inside to a cornucopia of fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. It was beautiful. Lionel had told us the every free space on the island is gardened and that the island is self sufficient for many food items. They especially grow bananas.
Dave and I walked through the city and came upon some young women all dressed for the flower festival that was happening that weekend. In the main square of the city there were stunning flower displays on the sidewalk. If this is the preview the festival must be something else.
We each had a gelato cone and shared a steak sandwich and Dave had a beer at an outdoor cafe across from the ship. Amazingly the total cost of the meal was only; 11 euros with tip ( at the current exchange that translates into about $12).