Ports of Call: Madeira, Mallorca, Malaga and more!
After our six days of our cruise on P&O Cruises’ Ventura, we visited Funchal on the lovely, colourful island of Madeira, it was lovely to be on terra-firma again and enjoy the delights of Madeira. The cable car is a must, but beware if there is more than one cruise ship it is a very popular tourist attraction and you may have to wait a long time in a queue to get to the cable car entrance, but once you are on and up it is a great way to see this green and pleasant island. At the top of the cable car turn left and go towards the Botanical Gardens which are a delight and full of interesting flora and fauna, then visit the church, it is a steep climb up some steps but well worth it for the view of the island, also this is the area of the Toboggan Ride – no visit to Madeira is complete without this ride, but remember it only goes half way down the hill and you have to walk or get a taxi the rest of the way, if you turn right out of the cable car, there is another cable car ride to another section of the Botanical Gardens and an excellent, small cafe that has lovely views across the valley.
Another day at sea, then on to Malaga, our crossing of the Atlantic was good with no rough seas, but as we approached the Mediterranean the sea got rather choppy, so take your sea sick tablets with you. Malaga, the capital of the Costa Del Sol, is a busy port, the shuttle bus provided free by P&O cruises takes you into the city – another plus for P&O Cruises. It is the home town of Picasso and has many interesting features, an amphitheatre next to the Cathedral, plus the Picasso Museum, in the Cathedral Square pop into the Cheers Bar, yes Cheers as in the American sit-com programme and look out for Norm sat at the bar!.
Our next stop was Palma the capital of Majorca, whatever you do don’t miss the Cathedral, you are taken out side by the shuttle bus and if there is a queue, wait it is well worth it tip: the side door is the entrance – don’t follow the group line. It is a stunning piece of architecture. As you walk out of the Cathedral turn right and walk up the Avenue Born at the end of this really attractive avenue on the right is the famous coffee and cake shop the Cafe Bar Bosh the cakes, called Esmeralda are baked on the premises and are delicious, to see most of the city a Red Bus is a must, as with most cities to see as much as you can in the 9 hours you have in the city – P&O Cruises are very generous with the times on shore.
Back on board to lovely food, drink and entertainment, then on to Toulon in France. This time it was a water taxi to the port – this alone was good to see this Naval Port, it is where the French Mediterranean Fleet is based, it is a lively harbour with lots of cafes and restaurants. It is a market town more for locals rather than tourists but very interesting. There is a large Shopping Mall, next to the Rugby Club ground – famous for the English Rugby Star, Jonny Wilkinson, who still plays for them. You can take a taxi to the Cable Car, which is about 20 minutes away or join a ships tour around the area.
Our next stop was Monte Carlo a small principality – small and beautiful, but it can be difficult to navigate. As you walk off the ship a single-decker bus takes you around the city: tip; it is best to stay on the bus to the end, people do not tend to get off at some stops and stay on for the duration, the only place that is a hop on hop off passengers do definitely get off is at the Casino. This is the place to see and be seen, I have never seen such wealth in such a small area, a coffee in the Cafe de Paris cost 6 euros each but it is worth it for a ‘ring side’ view of the cars, the people, not all going to the Casino but doing business over coffee or just being ‘seen’. Tip: if you go to the Casino at 2pm they let you in free, and you can play on the tables, be warned two cups of tea cost us 17 euros.
If you do walk off the ship it is a good walk around the harbour to the Casino looking at all the unbelievable boats, yachts and ships that belong to the rich and famous. If you do decide to walk you will get to the tunnel and it does look very daunting, but on the right at the beginning of the tunnel is a lift, it goes down then you walk along a tiled walk way to another lift and you come up right outside the Casino, that is the trick in Monte Carlo the city has lifts situated so that you can get to the street above, just ask people they will help you. We caught the number one local bus and visited the home of the Grimaldi Family made famous by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier, it is the ‘old town’ and well worth a visit.
Our voyage was over – yes voyage across the Atlantic sea, this was more than a cruise, an experience. Pleasure and Organisation carried on the good organisation work by providing all passengers leaving the ship with their seating and boarding cards ready for the return aeroplane journey before we got off the ship, we have done many cruises but this is the first time this had happened. If you are thinking of going on a cruise and want an English speaking ship, with good entertainment, good food and wonderful ports of call then P&O Cruises is for you!
Read Chapter 1: Getting to Barbados and life on board