The World, AIDAdiva, Thomson Destiny, Aurora, Albatros (II), Van Gogh, Black Watch (III), Athena, Princess Danae, Saga Ruby, Saga Rose & Costa Serena in Madeira
New Year's Eve 2007 and one reason I paid an arm and a leg for this cruise - the ships!  Where else can you find so many together on a single day?  Fort Lauderdale, I hear you say.  Well yes, if it wasn't mainly arrivals and departures.  Funchal on New Year's Eve is something quite different.  So many ships calling purely for the celebrations.  It baffles me why it never gets a mention on the news for its own firework display.  It's just as good if not better than the ones which do.  The World had already arrived on the 29th.  AIDAdiva on the 30th.  Diva is a brand new ship for the former German subsidiary of P&O, now run by Costa and registered in Italy.  This 69,200grt ship had her maiden voyage on the 30th April 2007 and replaced AIDAblu (I) (currently Ocean Village Two) on the Canaries run.  Thomson Destiny had arrived an hour before us.  She began life back in 1982 for Royal Caribbean as Song of America, coming in at 37,584grt and was an inspiration for their Sovereign class ships.  She still retains her original Viking Crown Lounge.  In 1999 she was sold to Airtours to become Sunbird.  From 2005 she had been chartered to Thomson cruises but owned by Louis Cruise lines.  Well as we were due in for 8am it was an early start.  Albatros was following us before anchoring.  I make no apologies for so many photos of her and her former Royal Viking sister, Black Watch, as I love them almost as much as Aurora.
I got the shuttle bus into Funchal and walked back so I could get photos of the ships.  By now Athena had arrived.  We were meant to see her in Southampton on the 9th December then this month and again next.  However, as Cruceros Vision of Spain cancelled the charter of Jules Verne (which was meant to be in Madeira) from the 27th October 2007 due to her being chartered by Phoenix Reisen as Alexander von Humboldt II from 2008, they instead got Athena from Classic International Cruises.  The 16,144grt Athena began life in 1948 as Stockholm (IV) for Swedish-Amerika Line and was their first post-war newbuild.  In 1956 she collided with Andrea Doria off New York resulting in her sinking.  In 1960 she was sold to East German company VEB Deutsche Seereederei and renamed Volkerfreundschaft until 1985 when she was sold again to Neptunus Rex Enterprises as Volker and laid up in Southampton.  She became a refugee hostel in Oslo from 1986 under the named Fridijof Nansen until Star Lauro bought her in 1989, intending to rename her Surriento but she was further laid up as Italia I until bought by Nina Cia. di Navigazione in 1993 and had her appearance changed.  She cruised as Italia Prima until chartered in 1995 for three years to Neckermann Seereisen.  From 1998 to 2001 she was Valtur Prima for Air Martim Reisen but the planned Cuban cruises had problems and she was laid up in Havana.  She then became Caribe for Festival Cruises but they went bankrupt.  From 2004 she was chartered by Classic International Cruises under her current name and, due to SOLAS 2010 requirements only her hull is original.  Classic International Cruises went bankrupt in 2012 and she was bought by Portuscale cruises, renamed Azores in 2013.  So quite a long history for a little ship!
By the time I got back on Aurora, we had no been joined by Black Watch who was anchored near her sister Albatros and what a magnificent sight it was seeing them together.  All we needed was having Boudicca then my joy would have been complete although I knew I would be seeing her on the 6th somewhere in the English Channel.
Diva had a tree on top of her mast.  When we arrived it was lit which is more than ours had been as far as I know.  It hadn't been when we left Southampton anyway.  I bet it also didn't take a battering like ours had which had survived force 12 during the Christmas cruise and force 10 on this one.
I went back on deck before the excursions I saw we had now been joined by the adorable 16,531grt Princess Danae who had anchored near Athena.  She had been listed to call in Southampton in 2006 but for some reason didn't come so it was lovely to see her at last.  Another old girl with a chequered history, although not as much as Athena.  Originally entering service as cargo ship Port Melbourne in 1955 doing UK-Australia runs for Port Lines, she and her sister Port Sydney (now Princess Daphne for Classic International Cruises, formerly Ocean Monarch for Monarch International Cruises) were sold in 1972 and Port Melbourne was renamed Therisos Express until 1974 when they both became passenger vessels called Danae and Daphne respectively until a Costa charter in 1979 before buying them in 1984.  Six years later in a joint venture between Costa and Sovcomflot of Russia they were transferred to Prestige Cruises.  While undergoing a refit in 1992 Danae was badly damaged by fire and her remains sold.  She was Anar for a short time in 1992 for Harbour Maritime of Monrovia then Starlight Princess that same year for Capricorn Maritime in Kingstown.  Two years later she was sold again to Flax International of Panama and called Baltica before being bought by Arcalia Shipping, also known as Classic International Cruises, in 1996 renaming her Princess Danae which she retained until 2013 after Classic International Cruises went bankrupt in 2012 and she was bought by Portuscale cruises, renamed Lisboa in 2013.  Sadly, due to no offer of a charter, it was announced on the 28th February 2015 that she had been sold for scrap and eventually left for the beach in Turkey on the 5th July, arriving the 23rd.
The first stop on the excursion was the observation point which overlooked Funchal and the harbour.  Unfortunately The World was partially obscured while Thomson Destiny was completely hidden.  It did however give a terrific view of the Royal Viking sisters almost in parallel with each other, as well as a great one of the gorgeousness that is Aurora!
As we went to the final stop on the excursion I noticed Saga Ruby was steaming her way towards the others.  So while others either got off to look at the monument or stayed on the coach, I walked down the road to get this adorable little ship arriving.  We only had ten minutes so I made the most of it.  There was another lady with me more interested in the ships.
Our driver made an illegal stop so we could take photos from the coach of the ships below.  I couldn't see if Van Gogh had arrived or not.  So we headed back to the port and I would soon find out.
There was Van Gogh, the last of the trio of small ships.  The ship had been in the news just before Christmas when Travelscope, the company chartering her, went bankrupt.  This cruise was safe but there was a world one afterwards up in the air.  The owners had talked about still going ahead with it.  Oddly enough they had previously chartered Athena and this was apparently the cause of their financial woes during 2007.  This 15,420grt ship is a sister of the current Delphin and Island Adventure we have on this site and began life as Gruziya in 1975 for the Black Sea Shipping Company of the Ukraine.  In 1992 she became a cruise ship and renamed Odessa Sky.  Due to the company's debts the ship was arrested, first in Montreal in 1995 then Wilhelmshaven in 1996.  She was bought in 1998 by Eltek Europe B.V. and underwent a major refit,  She was renamed Club from 1999 and did one season.  At the end of the year the French Nouvelles-Frontieres chartered her giving her the current name.  From 2002 she was chartered by Travelscope and 2009, was sold to Salamis and renamed Salamis Filoxenia.  Well all we needed now was Saga Rose to arrive later that night and they'd all be there.  Saga Rose wasn't originally listed as attending, either on the Saga itineraries or Port of Madeira site, and had been due only on the 1st so she would be a lovely bonus.
At around 6.10pm an announcement came that The World was moving out of her berth to anchor to be replaced by Black Watch.  Mad dash onto the Sun Deck.  Several people on her yelled, "Happy New Year!" as she passed which we reciprocated.
Unfortunately I could only get Black Watch on video from the restaurant.  By 11.15pm Saga Rose had arrived and was anchored near her sister Saga Ruby.  But then something else was coming - Costa Serena!  Another due on the 1st so another surprise making it twelve ships that year.  Heaven for a ship nut like me!  Of course it now meant we weren't the largest one there.  Boo!
Once all those at anchor left after the New Year fireworks, apart from Saga Rose, we departed for Tenerife.  AIDAdiva followed us out but was too far away for any decent photos.  It was nice passing little Rosie though.
So that was that and a wonderful day and night for ship lovers.  I want to go again!  To read the review of my cruise click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 31st December 2007 & 1st January 2008
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  Updated
24th July 2015