Lisbon's Lady - Funchal
I was fortunate enough to visit the beautiful Funchal on the 28th October 2013.  I had last seen her in dry dock four months previously and now she was back sailing the seas again, her maiden being the 2nd September from Göteborg.  I met with Óscar Moura of Portuscale Cruises and we drove across the city to where she was berthed.  My first sight of her almost brought tears to my eyes.  Having seen her rust-streaked in the dry dock, she now looked a proud, grand old lady.  We walked up the gangway, handed over photo ID then Óscar began the tour.  She had been back in the city two days and preparing for more dry docking to fix a few things they hadn't been able to, so many rooms were covered.  Vitor Francisco has since told me they decided they could do the work alongside.  The covers and stacked chairs didn't bother me.  I was just happy to be there and subconsciously formed a fixed grin during the entire visit.  Despite being a baby at under 10,000grt, she feels much larger, which is due to all the wonderful space inside and out.  There is a door to the forward outside deck from the Gama Lounge.  I certainly didn't expect anything so large.  For smokers there is the Havana Cigar Club, which Óscar informed me was for cigarettes too.  As a former smoker I find this a wonderful idea.  Too many lines only allow cigars when it would be safer to have all smokers in a controlled, comfortable environment.  My favourite room was the Porto Bar.  It looked so cosy with the sofas.  Funchal doesn't look anything like she did originally inside but Portuscale have invested a lot to make her still beautiful.  Her old tapestries are hanging in the Lisboa Restaurant.  Unfortunately they too were covered but Óscar raised the sheet partly on one so I could see.  The deck by the funnel used to be closed off but Portuscale have opened it to passengers.  The cabin doors have modern locks but I was unable to see any inside.  All too soon it was time to leave.
Portuscale have done a fantastic job resurrecting this beautiful lady, which you can see walking around.  I wish her many years of success.  She deserves it.  Many thanks to Óscar Moura and Vitor Francisco.  Photos of Funchal from June 2013 can be found here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 28th October 2013
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