This was a pleasant stop, and I had done enough research in advance to avoid an organised tour, but we had pre-booked a shuttle bus which took us into town, but not to a particularly useful location. We took one of the ubiquitous antique yellow trams to the old quarter, and then a more modern one to the Geronimos monastery in Belem - it dropped us off outside the door! This tram was pretty crowded, so not entirely pleasant (you know, the armpit in your face scenario) but efficient and a day's travel pass was a cost-effective way to travel around the area. The monastery was stunning - it looks great from the outside but my jaw literally dropped when I saw the inside. It wasn't too crowded (end of October) so there was plenty of space to look and take photographs. The church is impressive too.
Before leaving Belem you must join the queue for the little cakes for which the town is also famous - you will see Pastelerias selling pastries everywhere, but the most famous are the Pasteis de Belem. They are little custard tartlets and absolutely delicious. We bought a 'tube' of six which we ate over the next couple of days - yum!
We took the tram back towards the ship and walked the few hundred metres to the ship, so the second half of our shuttle ticket was wasted. In actual fact, you really don't need this, as you can access the public transport system very close to the ship, but navigating something like this just off the ship can be a little daunting.
Lisbon itself is showing some signs of its economic problems, with plenty of graffiti and some people 'hanging around' so I wouldn't go too far off the beaten track, but we did feel safe there.
When we arrived in the town initially we looked for a cafe with WiFi and there were not many to find. We sat at one on Rua Augusta, a main street, which offered this service, and it was very noticeable that this particular cafe was busy and lively, where none of the adjacent cafes had any customers!
This was a pleasant port, apparently fairly affluent. We just wandered around, our initial need was to find a cafe with WiFi access to allow DH to submit a paper by the internet. Despite seeing many, many cafes, we were reduced to going to a McDonald's in a shopping centre to do this! We did look around the small market hall, Mercado del Puerto, on Calle Albareda and wandered around, and would be happy to come back to this town.
This tour was another casualty of the seasons - or our choice to book this late in the year. It was a fairly long coach trip up into the Las Canadas National Park and we did see some spectacular views from our side of the coach when we ascended, but all was lost in mist on the return journey. There was a photostop on the way up and a brief comfort stop / chance for a beverage even higher. At the highest point we reached the views were stunning - and would have been more so if it wasn't for the hill fog and rain which had set in! On fascinating aspect was the huge numbers of pickup trucks parked on the side of the roads, which I guide pointed out were for the men and their dogs hunting rabbits in the very short season! Even they were giving the day up as a bad job and heading home when the weather turned. The actual trip was well organised and reasonably good value.
Once back on the ship we warmed up and relaxed rather than venturing out into Santa Cruz de Tenerife again.
We were fortunate to have good weather on this day, which we spent wandering around the centre of Arrecife, visiting the Iglesia de San Gines and a pretty little municipal Recova (market) in an historic courtyard. We wandered through the town and then back around the Charco San Gines, stopping to eat a fabulous tapas-style lunch at La Puntilla, watching a local come ashore and send his boat back into the middle of the water using a rope pulley system.
We had ordered shuttle tickets for Funchal as we know it is quite a walk into the centre of town, but planned to walk around the town, which we know quite well. However, the weather was awful and we were unable to make it into the port. We were still disappointed, although we had at least been in Madeira last year, but many passengers were devastated as this was the port to which they were most looking forward. However, all accepted that the safety of the ship was the first priority, and everyone accepted the captain's judgement. The money for the shuttle tickets was automatically refunded to our shipboard account.
Sadly, I was unwell and unable to take our booked tour, but my husband went and found it very interesting (and even took some photographs for me!). The tour guide was most informative, and gave a lot of background and cultural information. As it was a public holiday / Catholic Holy Day of Obligation the tour had to work around services in the cathedral, but he was very happy with the whole tour.
I did manage to walk off the ship for a short time, and was pleasantly suprised at how picturesque Vigo is - I had expected a fairly industrialised port but found delightful buildings and picturesque squares. I gather Vigo is the third largest fishing port in the world, but it is obviously zoned to protect their historical heritage. I would be very happy to visit this port again on another cruise. However, because of the public holiday most of the shops were closed - except many 'tourist traps' selling entertainingly bad-taste souvenirs, the likes of which I have not seen in many years in other resorts!