Funchal, Madeira, (Portugal)
Cruise Port Guide: Review (2021)

Photo by IQCruising of NAME at Funchal, Madeira, cruise port

Overview for cruises to the port of Funchal (Madeira): where ships dock and the cruise terminal, top things to do, attractions, sightseeing and shore excrusions.

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The cruise port in Funchal in the Portuguese island of Madeira is a delight for cruise visitors that like to discover enchanting towns and villages, contemplate spectacular landscapes, and visit gardens with unique flora.

Contents

  1. Where is Funchal cruise port
  2. Where cruise ships dock
  3. Shuttle bus in Funchal
  4. Cruise terminal
  5. How to explore Funchal on a cruise
  6. Sightseeing in Funchal
  7. Things to do in Funchal
  8. Top attractions in Madeira
  9. What's within walking distance
  10. Shore excursions (Shorex)
  11. Must-know: tourist info and language
  12. Safety, emergencies, and basics

Overview

Funchal is one of the most visited cruise port of call in the South European Atlantic itineraries during the Spring-Summer season with 597.818 passengers and over 300 cruise ship visits in 2019.

The cruise port of Funchal has a very appealing character. The port area is neat and well kept. On the whole, Funchal is safe. The local population is friendly, polite and speaks English very well. For those cruising with families, there are just a few things to do. Cruise passengers with walking difficulties will find it straightforward to wander around in Funchal on their own.

Where is Funchal cruise port

Funchal, the capital city of Madeira’s archipelago (with a population of around 111,900), is located in the Southern European Atlantic region. The city and the cruise port are on the South coast of Madeira Island, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Funchal is 608 miles (979 km) southwest of Lisbon on the coast of Portugal, 295 miles (474 km) north of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and 603 miles (970 km) southeast of Ponta Delgada.

Where cruise ships dock

Ships dock on a small dedicated cruise port with a breakwater parallel to the coast with quays for up to 3 vessels to berth. A fourth cruise ship may dock on a smaller pier on the shore, close to the CR7 Museum.

There is a terminal building in the port of Funchal. At the cruise terminal or just outside, passengers will find almost all essential services and amenities. Cruise visitors can walk to the heart of Funchal, which is no more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the port. But you will find taxis right outside the cruise terminal charging €7.50 euros per taxi one way. And there is also a shuttle bus.

Shuttle bus in Funchal

There is a shuttle bus in Funchal cruise port provided by the port authority charging US$9.00 (return). However, most upper-premium and luxury cruise lines offer the shuttle bus complimentary. The shuttle bus pick-up is just outside the terminal. The shuttle drop-off is in the historical city center, either or on the main street or a square. The shuttle bus drop-off locations have changed in recent years, and it would be misleading to specify one in particular.

Cruise terminal services and amenities

The cruise terminal is at the center of the long breakwater pier. Cruise passengers will find at the cruise terminal or right outside on the long breakwater the following services and amenities:

  • ATM and Money Exchange kiosk
  • Brochures and maps
  • Cafetaria
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Souvenirs, gifts, and local crafts vendors
  • International Press Kiosk
  • Taxis with sightseeing fares
  • Hop-on hop-off buses
  • Tuk-tuk sightseeing
  • Self sightseeing small electric cars

How to explore Funchal on a cruise

Cruise visitors can enjoy many attractions in Madeira independently, but cruise excursions are advisable to sites where a qualified guide will add extra awareness. You can easily explore the historical center of Funchal on your own, either on foot or with sightseeing services. Simply put, there are four possible ways to discover Funchal (Madeira):

  • Book a Shore Excursion
  • Sightseeing services
  • Taxi, Uber or Lift
  • On foot

Sightseeing in Funchal

At the time of publishing this review, both City Sightseeing and Yellow Bus Tours have been suspended due to Covid-19. However, both operated very successfully in Funchal in the past. And it is expected these services will be operational once cruising resumes. Click on the links below to check schedules and prices. Here are the sightseeing services for cruise visitors that usually run in Funchal:

Things to do in Funchal

The following are the top things to do on a cruise to the port of Funchal in Madeira (Portugal):

  • Tour scenic landscapes and viewpoints
  • Enjoy stuning gardens with unique flora
  • Stroll quaint villages
  • Explore the historical center of Funchal
  • Experience the thrill of a Toboggan Ride
  • Taste Madeira Wine
  • Visit embroidery factories
  • Treat yourself with Afternoon Tea at Reid's Hotel

Top attractions in Madeira

The island of Madeira has quite a few sites for those that enjoy nature gazing. Cruise visitors that appreciate quaint landmarks will be able to discover enchanting towns and villages. And the historical city of Funchal has many attractions. Here are the top attractions cruises visitors can enjoy in Madeira on a call to the port in Funchal:

  • Madeira Cable Car
    Climb the slopes of Funchal to the top of the city Monte parish. Must-see: Monte Palace Tropical Gardens and Museum of Semi-Precious Stones; the Church of Our Lady of the Mount, Monte Municipal Park. To do: take a ride on a two-seater wicker toboggan. How to visit: on a shore excursion or on your own. Read more on the official website: madeiracablecar.com
  • Church of Our Lady of Monte
    In the Monte parish, you can reach the Church of Our Lady of Monte with the famous Madeira Cable Car. The church was built on the foundations of a 15th-century chapel and completed in 1818. It is the burial site of Charles I of Habsburg, the last emperor of Austria, who died in exile in Madeira in 1922. The church is open Tuesday through Saturday 09.00-19.00 | Sunday and Monday 09.00-18.00. How to visit: on a shore excursion or on your own with the Madeira Cable Car. Read more: Visit Madeira Website
  • Madeira Botanical Garden
    Open to the public since 1960, the Jardim Botânico da Madeira (in Portuguese) has 6.6 acres with over 2500 exotic plants. The views from the garden are spectacular. How to visit: on a shore excursion; or on your own with the Botanical Garden Cable Car. Read more: Wikipedia
  • Câmara de Lobos and Cabo Girão
    Câmara de Lobos is a quaint fishing village on the south-central coast of Madeira, celebrated by Winston Churchill's paintings. Close by, Cabo Girão is a popular lookout point with the highest cliff skywalk in Europe - 1,900 ft (580 m) above sea level. How to visit: on a shore excursion. Read more: Wikipedia
  • Funchal Cathedral
    The modest facade with a Gothic portal of the Cathedral, in the heart of Funchal, hides the richness of its interior. Must-see: gilded woodwork of the altarpiece, stalls of the chancel, oil paintings on wood, Mudejar ceiling. How to visit: on your own. Read more: Wikipedia
  • Machico
    Once the capital of Madeira, Machico is a small bay where, on 1 July 1419, Portuguese explorers João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira disembarked in the Island for the first time. Must-see: museums, landmarks, churches. How to visit: on a shore excursion or on your own. Read more: visitmachico.com
  • Santana
    Santana is a unique quaint village nestled amid forested hills. Must-see: traditional stone houses characterized by their steep, triangular-shaped thatched roofs. How to visit: on a shore excursion. Read more: Wikipedia
  • Village of Ribeiro Frio
    This rustic village less than 10 miles (around 15 kilometers) from Funchal is known for its colorful trout farm. How to visit: on a shore excursion or on your own.
  • Pico dos Barcelos
    Viewpoint with fantastic vistas overlooking the entire city of Funchal, its charming harbor, and alluring cliffs. How to visit: on a shore excursion or on your own. Read more: www.visitmadeira.pt
  • Eira do Serrado
    The views over the Curral das Freiras from an observation in Eira do Serrado are stunning. How to visit: on a shore excursion. Read more: Wikipedia

What's within walking distance

Within walking distance of the cruise port, the historical center of Funchal has many attractions to explore and enjoy. Some of these are relatively close to the cruise terminal, but others (like the Cable Car and the old town) are over 1.5 miles (2.2 km) away. Cruise tip: take a taxi (€7.50 euros one way) to the farthest area of the city and walk back.

Attractions in the city of Funchal

Here are the top attractions, sites, and landmarks cruise visitors can enjoy on foot or with sightseeing services in Funchal, listed by closeness to the cruise port.

  • CR7 Museum
  • Reid's Palace Hotel
  • Royal Savoy Hotel
  • Casino da Madeira
  • Santa Catarina Park
  • 3D Fun Art Museum
  • Madeira Optics Museum
  • Blandy's Wine Lodge
  • Madeira Cable Car
  • Bordal embroidery factory
  • Funchal Market (Mercado dos Lavradores)
  • Quinta das Cruzes Museum
  • Church of St. John the Evangelist
  • Sacred Art Museum
  • Madeira Story Centre
  • Toy Museum

Cruise shore excursions and tours

All cruise lines calling at the port of Funchal offer shore excursions to the top highlights of Madeira island and Funchal. Typical cruise excursions include tours to major attractions such as the Madeira Botanical Garden, Câmara de Lobos, Cabo Girão, Machico, Santana, the Village of Ribeiro Frio, and viewpoints like Pico dos Barcelos.

Royal Caribbean offers 14 shore excursions, Norwegian Cruise Line has available 10 shore tours, and Carnival lists 13 cruise excursions.

Celebrity Cruises offer as many 10 shore explorations, Holland America lists 17 shore tours and Princess has available 14 excursions.

The upper-premium cruise lines like Oceania, Viking, and Azamara visit Funchal regularly. Oceania Cruises organizes 20 shore excursions in Funchal cruise port.

Although most luxury cruise lines include shore excursions with the cruise fare, Regent, Seabourn and Silversea offer unique and diverse explorations ashore in Funchal. Regent lists 18 excursions, Seabourn has 12 excursions, and Silversea offers 8 excursions.

There are also excursions offered by the following reputable private online services and local tour operators:

Must-know: tourist info and language

Tourist Info

Although you will not find a Tourist Office in the cruise terminal or at the pier, there are many official and private tourist information kiosks along the walk to the city center.

Language

Portuguese is the official language but English is widely spoken. The English speaking cruise passenger will easily communicate with locals pretty much everywhere.

Business and commercial opening hours

Museums open from 10 am to 5 pm but close on Mondays. Shops are open on weekdays from 9 am to 7 pm, although some may be closed for lunch between 1 pm and 3 pm. Many shops close on Saturday after 1 pm. Shopping malls are open 7 days a week and on holidays from 10 am to 11 pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 3 pm.

Safety, US travel advisory, and basics

For comprehensive and updated information about traveling to Portugal see the U.S. Department of State website page evolving advisory.

Covid-19 advice for cruises to Funchal, Madeira (Portugal)

For updated coronavirus (Covid-19) information and travel advice to Portugal and Funchal (Madeira) visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Portugal. For more Traveler's Health advice to Portugal see the CDC Website.

Funchal, Madeira, Basic Info at a Glance

 Entry Requirements:A valid passport is required for American, Canadian, and British citizens. EU and EEA visitors need valid national ID cards.
Emergencies:Medical Emergency, Police, Fire Rescue - 112
US Emergencies:US citizens may call the US Dept of State (+1-202-501-4444) for emergencies abroad.
Pharmacies on duty:Website Directory
Driving:Driving is on the right.
Electricity:The standard voltage in Portugal is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Typical European two round prongs are used.
Telephone Code:+351
Cell phones:T-Mobile US plans offer unlimited data at up to 2G and text at no cost. Calls to the US cost 20 cents/min. Calls to other countries (including Portugal) may be costly. It is advisable to check for International plans before departing the US.
Drinking:Legal drinking age is 18 years.
Smoking:Smoking is prohibited in restaurants and public buildings. Bars may allow smoking outdoors.
 

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