This remarkably diverse excursion presents the many facets of Funchal through cable car and toboggan rides and leisurely tours of a botanical garden and embroidery factory.
Depart from the pier for a short drive to a seaside cable car station, where you'll enjoy a ride of about 15 minutes to the hilltop village of Monte. You'll soar over the Old Town, along a rugged ravine and on to the summit, where Funchal stretches out before you. Take in the panoramic views and then tour Monte Church, built in 1818 on the site of a former chapel.
The descent from Monte is particularly memorable as it's via a wicker toboggan, a ride Ernest Hemingway once described as a "most exhilarating experience." Powered by two men who use their rubber-soled boots as brakes, the toboggans are pushed downhill along the winding streets at a brisk, yet safe pace. It's a 10-minute ride, but seems much faster.
Then you'll drive to Madeira Botanical Gardens, one of the island's most serene destinations. Opened in 1960, the gardens soon gained a reputation for its indigenous plants, trees from as far away as the lower Himalayas, and rare water-storing succulents. It's a wonderful oasis and fine prelude to the final stop at an embroidery factory that produces more than 200 handmade items such as linens and clothing. The embroiderers follow traditional production techniques that haven't changed in nearly 100 years. Afterwards, you'll return to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes over 2-hours of moderate walking that includes uneven and cobblestone surfaces. There will be a few steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and not recommended for those with mobility concerns. Weather appropriate clothing; a light sweater or jacket; sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.