Launched: 1961 originally, and joined Classic International in 1984.
Number of passengers: 550.
Where she cruises: Asia, Europe.
A veteran of the Classic International fleet as its first ship, Funchal’s pedigree is that of a classic ocean liner, offering guests a relaxed and informal style of cruising. Her styling is steeped in tradition, and her service highly personalised, and although she may not have many of the bells and whistles of modern cruise liners, she is a true grande dame of the high seas which has cultivated a loyal following.
Who Should Go?
Couples, families during school holidays.
Things You Might Not Know
Funchal has a proud Portuguese heritage and enjoyed a former life as the Portuguese Presidential yacht for state visits, and was also previously owned by one of the wealthiest families in the Azores. She also helped to pioneer Western Australia’s cruise market when she was based in Perth every summer between 2004 and 2007. When in the region, the on board currency is the Australian dollar.
Although many of the ship’s staterooms have ocean views, none have a private balcony. There are five categories of inside cabin including some dedicated to single travellers, and the decor is simple with white walls, orange carpet and bedspreads, and facilities including a safe, hair dryer, and flat screen television. There are two standard outside categories of stateroom, both of which have portholes and the same facilities and decor as their inside counterparts.
The remaining four categories are suites. There are Junior Suites have a porthole or a window, and the additions of a sofa and refrigerator, while Outside Premium staterooms have a window. Top of the range are Suites , which have a separate lounge room and bedroom with windows. The decor for these categories is similar with the orange theme, and more warm wood.
Facilities and Entertainment
For a small, older style vessel Funchal has plenty of public facilities. There are four lounges and five bars, including the intimate Porto Bar on the Promenade Deck adjacent to the casino, and the Gamma Lounge which doubles up as a venue for live music.
There is also the Gama Lounge used for screening of movies, the Ilha Verde main show lounge for live performances, a casino, a card room, and a decent library. There is also generous sun deck with an open air pool, and sporting activities including table tennis, deck quoits and shuffleboard. During school holidays there are specific children’s and teen activities.
Funchal has two stylish restaurants which both serve quality European style food in a traditional, fixed-table single sitting, and her chefs are long established members of culinary institutions such as Le Amis d’Escoffier and the Academie Culinaire de Lyon. The larger of the two is Lisboa Restaurant on the Azores Deck, which seats 386 and has an elegant, airy decor.
Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed in the main restaurants or at the poolside buffet, and complimentary morning and afternoon tea is provided as well as free midnight snacks. Other culinary traditions on board include the Captain’s Gala Welcome and Farewell dinners, and a Buffet Magnifique and deck barbecues.
The Low Down
Funchal is a small-to-medium sized ship based on todays standard, and oozes charm hailing from a bygone era. She may not suit everyone’s tastes, but if you are looking for a traditional and affordable cruising experience on a small ship, she is well worth considering.
Visit www.classicintcruises.com.[nggallery id=88]