The best way to experience Madeira is definitely by jeep. The beauty of the island lies in its overwhelming natural heritage. You'll experience Madeira from a whole new perspective and see parts of the island that are otherwise inaccessible.
We got to Funchal at 1PM on Nov 7th. We booked a shore excursion (4x4 adventure) with Royal Caribbean. The tourv stated we would go to areas most tourists do not vvisit and they were right! We went up steep roads and around the island for about 4 hours. The tourguide was very knowledgeable and knew the area well. We really enjoyed the tour. This was the only day that we did not have dinner on the Ship - we were uin Funchael till 10PM so we ate at the Golden Gate Restaurant downtown. The food was deliciious - I had roast pork with, what else? Madeira Sauce. We did try Madeira wine (semi-dry) which was potent, but delicious.
Be careful of one thing - they tell you it's a 10-15 minute walk from the ship to downtown - It's more like 45 minutes!! Take a Cab!!
Provider: Royal Caribbean International
This was a very enjoyable tour and a splendid way to see the island as although it was a group of jeep (6 in all), each jeep was effectively separate. The climbs up the tarmacked roads were thrilling - just wide enough for the jeep and it was usually a 2-way road. The off road bits were equally spectacular and the refreshment stop was also excellent. The only drawback was the seating layout in the jeeps. It was fine if you were in the normal forward facing seats (3 people) but there was sideways facing bench seats at rear for 4. This was cramped and not easy to get in / out of vehicle and restricted views too. Seat belts were provided for all and due to terrain were essential.
Provider: Saga Holidays