1. Disney Magic Transatlantic Cruise: Day Four – Funchal, Madeira

    After another good night’s sleep, I woke up about 7:00am. Due to no annoying squeak in the cabin I guessed we were already docked in Funchal however when I went out onto our verandah, we were still very slowly heading towards the harbour. I felt incredibly grateful that we had a stateroom on the starboard side of the ship as we would never have seen the view otherwise without going out to the open decks. The sun was just starting to rise too so the view was beautiful.

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    We grabbed some breakfast from Cabanas to eat in our stateroom whilst we showered and got ready for the day. Captain John had announced the previous day that our stay in Funchal had been extended from 1:45pm to 4;45pm which meant we now had a few more hours to do everything. We were still planning on doing everything we wanted to do in the morning but it also meant that we did not have to rush to get ready anymore to be first off.

    After making sure we had packed everything we needed (including our passports and wallets which we had not needed since Barcelona) we headed to Deck 3 Midship to disembark – they were also disembarking from Deck 1 Forward for anyone who could not manage the angle of the gangway from Deck 3.

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    After having our Keys to the World swiped, we disembarked and started the short walk along the dock towards the town. The Aida Sol was also docked in Funchal that day however at this time, there were not too many people out and about. Plenty of taxis were available outside the terminal building if needed. We had already planned our route and would be walking along the waterfront towards the cable car.

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    Once you leave the port, there are plenty of signs for the cable car (teleferico) that it is impossible to get lost. This however does not stop all the local tour vendors from approaching you to offer you tours of the area. They will tell you (as they tried to several times to us) that it is several miles to walk to the cable car and it’s impossible to walk to which is absolute rubbish – you can see the cable car station from the ship and I wasn’t born yesterday. They were fighting a losing battle trying to get me to take one of their tours – never going to happen as I can spot their bullshit a mile off and I’m certainly not the gullible tourist they are hoping to find. When in Funchal, please just ignore them and carry on walking.

    To get to the cable car, you just need to take the path along the waterfront so you cannot go wrong. You will also pass plenty of those awful hop-on/hop-off buses that will also try to get you to buy tickets so they can take you to the cable car. Again ignore them and keep on walking.

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    Twenty minutes after leaving the port and being told that the walk was impossible, we arrived at the Cable Car station where there was a great view of the Disney Magic across the water. We took a few minutes getting some photos before heading inside.

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    There was only a few people ahead of us when we arrived so it only took a few minutes to buy tickets which were 10 Euros each one way – we were planning as most people do to get the toboggan back down. We then waited just under ten minutes to actually board the cable car during which I spent most of the time of trying to avoid a dog that was near us in line as I have a bad allergy to them. Each cable car holds six people and thankfully the dog was not with us – I would have refused to ride with it anyway.

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    After boarding the cable car, they go to take your photo sitting there to try and sell it to you when you get to the top. Why do they think you would want to buy a photo that has you and four strangers in it – again another thing that’s never going to happen. I just sat back as far as I could in my seat where I could not be seen in the picture.

    The journey to Monte takes sixteen minutes and the views are amazing. I took too many photos as per usual.

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    We had considered going to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden which is situated opposite the exit to the cable car (it only costs 10 Euros) but when we got there, we decided not to bother as what we could see did not look too impressive – maybe it was too late in the season. There were plenty of signposts so again you would never need to worry about getting lost. It was less than a five minute walk to the toboggans.

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    The Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte church is right next to where you get the toboggans. We did not go inside but did climb the steps to it to see the awesome views of Monte and Funchal.

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    As we arrived at the toboggans at the same time as a tour group, it was a little busy for a few minutes so we stood back and waited for the area to clear. Watching the tour group reinforced my thoughts as to why I dislike them as much as I do – the constant being shouted at to go here or there, the having to see everything on someone else’s schedule and not yours, being with people you wouldn’t necessarily choose to spend any time with but the worst thing – having to wear a stupid sticker. I do not get why people are okay with having a number stuck to them so they can be herded like sheep this way or that way. This tour group had obviously already been taken to an “approved gift shop” due to the number of stupid hats that some were wearing.

    This tour group was from our cruise and as there was only one excursion offered that included the toboggan, I know what they paid and it wasn’t cheap. In comparison our day in Funchal cost 55 Euros total for both of us – I think we got the better deal.

    The toboggan costs 25 Euros for one person, 30 Euros for two people and 45 Euros for three people. The 2km journey goes from Monte to Livramento and takes about seven minutes.

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    We paid our 30 Euros and before I knew it, we were off. It actually feels a lot faster than what it looks when you watch the videos of it. Even in my video, it looks slower than what it was. Two men are waiting with cameras at different spots during the ride to capture that photo to try and sell to you at the end. As soon as we had booked the cruise, I had been looking forward to this and I loved every minute of it.

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    Once your ride is over, someone is waiting with the photo they took of you all printed ready to sell to you. We kept refusing as firstly we had no interest in buying it and secondly, one of the two Carreiros which we tipped at the end of the journey had already taken our photo for us.

    As with any tourist attraction, there are several gift shops as soon as you get off the toboggan. I bought a fridge magnet (has to be done) as well as a couple of cold drinks before spotting more of those stupid multi-coloured hats that I had seen some of the tour group wearing.

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    My favourite sight though was seeing all the toboggans being loaded onto the back of a lorry to take them back up the hill to Monte.

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    I had read online that there would be lots of taxi drivers waiting to offer to drive you back into Funchal which there were. They had the usual sales pitch ready of it being too far and a two hour walk back. Again we had done our research before getting there (Google Maps is a wonderful thing) and after a slow leisurely downhill walk through some beautiful old streets, we were back at the waterfront in Funchal within thirty minutes. It was a little steep in a few places but it was not a difficult walk at all.

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    It was only just past 12:00pm at this point so we would have had plenty of time had we had still been departing Funchal at 1:45pm. As we had no other plans, we took a slow walk through the beautiful gardens along the waterfront before getting some more photos of the Disney Magic before heading back onboard for lunch as we were both getting hungry at this point.

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    The walk back to the ship did not take very long at all – there was a few people heading back but equally just as many people heading back into Funchal.

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    Getting back onboard the Disney Magic took seconds after entering the terminal building as there was no one else around. We headed up to our stateroom to grab a quick shower before heading to Cabanas for lunch. We were there at the perfect time as it was empty and enjoyed a great lunch sat out on one of the outdoor tables overlooking the harbour. Towards the end of our lunch, it started to get busy as more people were arriving back onboard.

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    After lunch it was a great time to explore the ship as many people were making the most of the extra time in port and were not yet back onboard. We noticed that the new Concierge Lounge had opened that day. It looked like a lot of the contractors on the ship that had been working on various bits and pieces since we left Barcelona disembarked in Funchal.

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    We took the opportunity to get some photos of Funchal in the sun with blue skies in the background. The view was beautiful and it was a strange feeling knowing that we would not be seeing any land for the next six days after this. We also made the most of using our cellular data to chat to some family and friends at home knowing that apart from using the wifi on the ship, we would be out of reach until we got to Miami.

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    Before boarding our cruise, I had been looking at Personal Navigators from previous Transatlantic cruises and on all of them was something called the “Transatlantic Sailaway Deck Party.” I had tried looking for any information about it but I could not find a single photo, video or even a description of it online. So at about 4:00pm we headed up to Deck 10 to grab a good spot of the pool stage ready for this seemingly mystical party.

    The Personal Navigator had said that the characters would be out for this so I was hoping for a sailaway party like Adventures Away. Sadly it was not to be. The party started off with some live music provided by the singers who were usually in the Promenade Lounge every night as well as the cruise staff trying too hard to get the crowd involved. The Cruise Host was also doing her usual of shouting into the microphone way too much.

    Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Max and Donald (but not Mickey) did appear but not on the stage – they were just moving around Decks 9 and 10 dancing to the music so you could not even see them half the time. I tried taking a video of the whole thing but it proved impossible. No wonder there are no videos online – I was contemplating uploading a few of the clips I had but I think they would bore even the biggest Disney fan so I am not going to bother. Even the Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director joined in the dancing on stage at one point as you could tell people were quickly losing interest and leaving the area to go off and do other things on the ship.

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    I managed to get a few photos of the characters whilst they were walking around on Deck 10. It wasn’t easy as they were being chased by people in their wet swimming costumes trying to get photos with them. One person was even chasing them around with her phone at the end of a selfie stick trying to get them to stop for pictures – she wasn’t being successful but she was successful in hitting a lot of people with the stick as she was running after Goofy.

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    When the horn eventually sounded to signal us leaving Funchal, there was hardly anyone left paying the party any attention compared to what there had been at the start of it. Even the kids had pushed the Cruise Host into the swimming pool at this point. We headed to the front of Deck 10 to watch sailaway before moving around the ship to take in all of the views.

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    We left Madeira very quickly so it did not take long before we were once again sailing very fast and heading back out to sea. We had been told two days beforehand that the Transatlantic pin would be available to purchase in the shop once we left Madeira so we headed down to Mickey’s Mainsail which had just opened. The shop was empty so we were able to buy several of the pins without waiting – they were not limiting the number you could buy so as well as buying two for our friends who collect them, we also bought one each.

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    On our way back to our room, Chip and Dale were out in the lobby so I waited to get a photo of just them in their Spanish outfits. The small line moved fast until it got to the family in front of us who took forever. The mother of the three children insisted they could spend as much time as they wanted with them – even when the kids went to get up she pushed them back towards Chip and Dale keeping the whole line behind her waiting forever. I think the term “helicopter parent” could easily describe her.

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    The show that night in the Walt Disney Theater was “The Comedy and Ventriloquism of Taylor Mason” – again something we had zero interest in watching. We might not have seen a single show so far but we much preferred sitting on the balcony with a drink than rushing to see a show for the sake of it that we probably would not enjoy.

    We took our time getting ready for dinner which tonight was back in Animator’s Palate. I was stupidly excited as it was the Drawn to Magic show dinner. I was interested in seeing what changes they had made to the show since I saw it on the Disney Wonder. The restaurant itself is much brighter than before and the new HD screens make such a huge difference compared to the old ones. I loved that our table was right next to a screen so we had no one blocking our view.

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    I ordered a Blueberrilicious cocktail to drink and for my starter I had the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes which I had heard so much about which were heavenly as well as the Butternut Squash Soup. For my main course I had the Sesame Halloumi Parcels from the vegetarian menu which were incredible followed by the Chilled Mango Mousse for dessert.

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    The drawings on the screens around the restaurant were much more elaborate than last time – the characters drawn on our screen included the Beast, Dopey, Bambi as well as Remy amongst others. Towards the end of the main course, whatever character was being drawn on the screen was then coloured in. All of the different characters then started coming to life one by one. The montage of Disney animation that plays is different to before as it includes a lot of the newer films including the awesome Tangled.

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    This time Sorcerer Mickey Mouse appears in the restaurant during the show instead of after it like before and once again, the serving teams change from black and white costumes into colour as well. The restaurant itself still changes colour too but this time the colours are being projected onto the walls instead of appearing from behind them.

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    We headed back to the lobby after dinner to get our photo with Chip and Dale as I had only taken a picture of them by themselves earlier in the evening. Not long afterwards, Mickey in his Matador costume turned up as well as Pluto – I loved that his name tag was in the shape of the Sagrada Familia.

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    It was about 10:45pm at this point and we were both pretty shattered after such a long day so after getting a drink, we headed back to our room to get some sleep. Our latest towel animal which I think was a dog was waiting for us and I added him to the dinosaur from the previous day to start my towel zoo.

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    We had another note to remind us to set our clocks back another hour again tonight. Our next stop would be Castaway Cay after six full days at sea and I remember wondering if it would go by quickly or slowly – only time would tell.

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