Aboard the MSC Preziosa

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The newest addition to the Italian Cruise fleet, MSC Preziosa arrived in Madeira yesterday on its Maiden Voyage. It stopped in Port for the day before sailing off onto the next leg of the journey, six days at sea before it will arrive in Brazil.

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I had the opportunity to be invited again, by MSC to see the insides of the massive liner, and accompanied by my author friend Irena, we set off early on a Sunday morning in the pouring rain to board the ship.

Seeing the Cruise liner up close is literally quite breathtaking as it is simply enormous. As most people can only see the sleek and shiny new ship from the coast, sitting majestically in the port, its size is lost against the back drop of the Marina and pontinha.  Preziosa is a monster and equals its sister, MSC Davina!

Once our passports were swapped for guest boarding passes we were escorted to the Top Sail Lounge where we were treated to a glass of bubbly and caviar canapes. After a short speech from the Captain and a few gifts and prizes were handed out to the good folks from the tourism board, port and companies that deal with the cruise liners in Madeira, we were split into small groups and given a tour of the ship.

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This five star luxury liner is a sumptuously appetising way to travel. A floating hotel with every convenience and comfort packed into the decks, so that the 3,502 passengers can utilise the facilities onboard in style. 14 of the 18 deck ship are for guest use, with 17 elevators to connect them.

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The MSC Preziosa is the 12th ship in the MSC Cruises fleet and the fourth and final addition to the Fantasy class. Each of the 18 decks are named after precious stones, it holds a 1,600 seat theatre, Casino and several water parks and pools. This ship is equipped with the largest waterslide in the fleet which stands at 12 ft high.

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There is no shortage of restaurants from fine dining, to self service and snacks, bars, nightclub, a spa and gymnasium. Kids of all ages can be entertained with a 4D cinema, F1 simulator, video machines, play area and a water playground.

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At the end of our tour we were served a delicious lunch, chosen from their Italian menu and even managed to sample their mouth watering home made ice cream! But despite the hours we spent on board with the tour we probably only saw 1/10th of the vessel itself.  And as it was destined to leave our island for a 6 day adventure at sea, on its voyage to Brazil, I couldn’t help feel a teeny bit jealous as the passengers going there, who could enjoy so many features of the ship during their time at sea.

Some technical information for the Cruise enthusiast:
Gross registered tonnage = 139,400 tons
Length = 333,30 mt
Height = 67,69 mt
Maximum speed = 24,05 knots
Passenger capacity = 3,502
Total Cabins = 1.751
Decks = 18
Environmental technology = AWT Advanced water treatment, enerysaving and monitoring system

http://www.msccruises.com 


Is Madeira just a quiet place to relax? Definitely not, when you can take to the skies and see it from a birds eye view!

Is Madeira just a quiet place to relax? Definitely not, when you can take to the skies and see it from a birds eye view!

Published by: Samantha C on 10th Jul 2014 | View all blogs by Samantha C
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Is Madeira just a quiet place to relax? Definitely not, when you can take to the skies and see it from a birds eye view!


In the first of a series of articles…inspired by an 18 day stream of visitors (family and friends)….I discovered the lost sense of what Madeira is all about. As someone who lives here, we take it for granted. When family and friends come over to visit, the car gets a much needed run and I become a tourist again, along with my companions.

At first, the decision of what is on the (long) list of the MUST see……to someone who has never been here before it is simply EVERYTHING…..in my case with family, it is what did you enjoy last time and want to do again?

My last batch of visitors were my parents and youngest sister who came over from the States….my daughter and future son in law who came over from Scotland. So the first ports of call, were the trips down memory lane, when the kids were all younger. Trips to bars and eateries took up the first few days, then my daughter and sister wanted to get extreme and relive their Paragliding experiences.

So, in this first batch of articles on what to do in Madeira, I will take you down the path of what is considered an ‘extreme sport’ and a very popular thrill for all ages…who wants to whiz down a mountain in a wicker basket when you can fly with the birds and see the island and all its glory from above, with a sheet of nylon and the wind to experience some spectacular scenery!

Not content in letting my tribe have all the fun, I indulged in it myself this week. My second flight and definately not my last!

Paragliding is a sport that has become very popular in the last few years. Hartmut Peters operates ‘Madeira Paragliding’ from Arco da Calheta and is one of a few liscenced pilots who can take passengers (tandem flights). He arrived on the island around the same time as me and his business has grown over the years, as more ‘younger’ visitors seek out new ways to see the island! Madeira has become a favourite destination for proffessional and competition pilots, due to its mini micro climates and fantastic scenery. Flying in Madeira is a challenge, as well as fun and because our weather is good all year round, those guys in the biz get a lot of flying time when they visit!


My daughter was the first out of us to go. She did this 2 years ago with her fiance and pleaded with me to arrange it for their visit last week. The weather was over cast on land and blue clear skies out to sea. A few days before there had been a back wind, so we had to wait for that cloudy day…perfect for good thermals.

This year promised a top landing, which meant touch down on take off. Hartmut’s takeoff site is situated not far from the Miradouro and restaurant Costa Verde on the highest point of Arco…..standing on the takeoff offers spectacular views of the plateau of Paul de Serra from the rear and Calheta and the Marina over the edge.

Most people who do not know anything of the sport and cringe at the thought of doing it, have the idea that one has to jump off a cliff, and although the take off looks pretty edgy, with a cliff drop to turn any person’s stomach with a fear of heights….it simply isn’t like that. Safety is always top priority and Hartmut simply won’t fly if the weather is not right……taking off is a very gently experience. A little bit of running to start with until your feet are running without ground to run on…..one is already up in the air before the edge of the cliff takes your feet from you!

Once in the air, the scenery from a birds eye view immediately takes away any fears or worries about flying. Personally – I did a small reality check in my head when I flew on Monday, as I sat in the harness with my legs dangling over the landscape, attached to Hartmut by two sturdy clips and a network of pretty colourfull but skimpy strings that attached us to the wing that held only air to keep us up in the sky. To feel the vibrations as we hit a thermal whilst we circled in it to gain height and my eyes feasting on the spectacular landscape below. The vibrations along with the wind noises is quite comforting, although not peaceful….. hanging there, above the rest of the world, most certainly is!

Hartmut, forever the joker, is definately not to be taken seriously when he calls you a victim before take off, or says ‘shall we land here’ when he glides towards to a steep cliff edge or ‘shall I drop you off here?’ When you are gliding over the restaurant……usually a landing is at Madelena do Mar…where he can guide the wing/canopy/glider onto a small stretch of beach, with wind socks and flat ground. Top landing is great too as it is grass and in my case was a fast BUTT skid through a few young trees which just added to th thrill of the flight. Last year he landed on Calheta beach with my daughter onto the sand, with an audience of bathers …which is all good for business.

This year she had a top landing and as you can see by the picture, a very happy lass! Hartmut on the other hand looked quite tired as he had been flying passengers before we had descended on him. I wanted to wait for my flight till after the weekend and coincide it with my sisters second flight of the trip at sunset….something special, and it was. That day was very cloudy and the mist descended over arco in an eery version of ‘The Fog’. We feared that she wouldn’t fly after me, but being the daredevil they both are…took off and lived for the moment. The plus side was that the landing was going to be at the drinking hole we all favour this year…a small private area of beach at Anjos and a cool bar called The Zion Project. After they took off, we raced down the hill to meet them at the other end with a round or two of beers and a few caiperinhas to celebrate at the end!

If you are interested in taking a flight and having the experience of a life time, message me here and I can arrange it for you. it costs 75 euros for a tandem flight with Hartmut. For more info email me at sammy@themadeiratimes.com


Todays news in the Diario….

Madeira now has its own snow plough! It belongs to the military and is being kept in installations in Pico do Areeiro, where the new radar was built. The military  man responsible for the machine says it will be kept there to clear snow around the radar installations, when needed, but could also be made available for use elsewhere. As the radar, built for arial vigilance, has not functioned properly since its construction (it was switched on in 2012), bets are on to see which is working first … the snow plough or the radar? Various reports say that the radar will be working before this year end, so it’s probably the better bet. The article did not have a photo of the machine, but I thought the ‘pedal power’ version above might be the appropiate size for our island.
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Probably the most useful item in the Diário today … Pingo Doce is selling from today until Monday, Golden Delicious apples for just 0.59€ / KG.
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A 30 year old woman, who has a lump in her left breast made an appointment at the hospital in Funchal in 2011, and as yet has not been called. The article was in yesterday’s newspaper as well, but as an appeal for solidarity to pay for the treatment of this poor lady, but as the Diário failed to say what the medical problem is it didn’t really add up to the full story, so I didn’t mention it. For the rest of the news report please go to http://madeira-active.network-maker.com/magazine/read/from-todays-dirio-de-notcias-thursday-_19.html
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Launch of new social media website is looking for testers

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A new social media website has been launched by The Madeira Times and is looking for people to join it in its 2 week test phase. Membership is free, which provides members with full access to the website. Madeira Active is a new platform that is designed to become a social hub for visitors to the island as well as for those who live here. It has a forum board, a magazine where contributors can submit their articles and an area for groups. By signing up, you can create your own profile and connect with other members. The test phase will end on February 28th, and it is hoped that during the test phase it will produce an area that will become a valued addition to The Madeira Times website which has now entered it’s eighth year of service.

To join please visit Madeira Active 


Weather turns chilly and snow settles on peaks

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After a day of blustery winds, rain and even hail on some parts of the island, the excitement grew over the last 24 hours as temperatures dropped, clouds cleared, to reveal a spectacular image of snow! More snow fall is expected tonight, in the highest regions of the island. Even though Madeira is a sub tropical island that enjoys a constant level of warm temperatures throughout the year, it isn’t unusual for snow to reach the highest peaks, Pico Ruivo and Pico Aeriero respectively. It is however, unusual for Paul de Serra to be covered and this year has been no exception as snow settled in Loretto (Calheta), much lower than normal.


BBC, ITV & C4 already migrated to new Satellite

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Most of the popular channels have now migrated to the new Satellite leaving expats with little or no TV to watch. Paid Sky viewers still have some channels available, but not BBC, ITV or C4. Although Sky is set to move their entire program schedule it is unknown as to when this will happen. It is still possible to receive some lesser known channels, such as Movies for Men, true movies and some advertising programs on Free Sat boxes. Some parts of Europe with dishes over 3m are able to receive weak signals of BBC, but due to the narrow footprint of the new satellite, changing dish seems a fruitless exercise at this time.

Most people are looking at internet TV as a substitute and can currently view BBC, ITV and C4 on Film On for free and with no subscription…for more information see www.themadeiratimes.com


Madeira & Europe set to lose all UK TV as channels migrate

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The disappearance of UK channels started on Friday with BBC moving first to the New Astra 2E satellite. According to sources, the Astra 2D/N satellite is being decommissioned. Most of Europe will be affected (and some parts of the UK) as the Astra 2E will only broadcast channels using a narrower beam, to reduce the footprint to only cover the UK.

ITV and Channel 4 are expected to follow suit in the early hours of Tuesday morning, 11th February. It is still not clear as to the situation with SKY subscribers, who may be able to receive their paid Movies and Sports packages for a while longer.

 


Calling all writers…Madeira Retreats to offer writing and Meditation Retreats in Madeira

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Madeira Retreats are offering stunning locations with their accommodation and a  range of activities during their retreat weeks. The retreats are aimed at writers of all abilities to give them a calm, ambient and friendly environment to work in. The holistic retreats offer Meditation and Visualisation as part of the program. Retreats will start in June, with the first called ‘From Little Acorns’ which is aimed at writers who are ‘blocked’ with their writing process or procrastinate more than they would like or for writers new to the craft. A range of meditation techniques and tools to take home are part of the program. This retreat will be held at the beautiful Quinta da Vinhas in Calheta and runs from June 19th to 26th. Booking early is advised and attracts a 10% discount as places are limited.

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To find out more about their retreats and the others on offer throughout the year visit www.madeiraretreats.com


New website just launched that fills a gap in the Madeiran market

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A new website has just been launched that fills a gap in the Madeiran market. It has already attracted media attention and was featured this week in a German magazine. The content in the site provides a selection of useful information about the island, events and accommodation.

Visit www.gaymadeira.com to check it out!


Welcome…..

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Welcome to the new Blog for the Madeira times😉


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