Madeira, Portugal cruise holidays
When you embark on one of our Madeira cruises it will become clear why this destination is known as the Garden Island - it is simply awash with colour from a breathtaking display of sub-tropical plants and flowers. So it is hardly surprising that large and colourful flower markets are one of the most arresting features of Funchal, Madeiras capital.
Cruise visitors here will discover that the market town is easily walkable although, the further inland you explore, the steeper and narrower some of the streets become. Locally made wicker furniture, lacework and tapestries all make good buys along with the ubiquitous Madeira wine. Funchal is also the base for tours to the islands botanical gardens; the fishing village of Camara de Lobos where Churchill went to paint; Camacha, the wicker centre; the levada walks, part of an ancient irrigation system; and to Reids Hotel for traditional afternoon tea, making cruises to Madeira a must see.
Perhaps the most famous association is the world-renowned Madeira wine. Fortified and bottled on the islands using specific grape varieties, Madeira wine is aged using a unique heating process and is produced in a variety of styles – from dry wines that make the perfect aperitif to sweet wines to complement desserts.
The Portuguese islands of Madeira have a long winemaking history, dating back to the 15th century when they were a standard port of call for ships heading to the New World or East Indies. Legend has it that on one particular round trip to India, unsold barrels were returned to a producer in Madeira, who discovered that their contents had improved considerably thanks to the heating of the wine by the high tropical temperatures during the trip. And so the story of Madeira fortified wine began.