That a ferry service is going to recommence between Madeira and mainland Portugal. Unfortunately though the rumours have yet to come true. When we first visited Madeira in 2004 there was a service, and it was something we thought of doing on a return trip. We never though got round to booking the trip, and now of course it is too late. The service we saw in 2004 has long since gone, and others that began life more recently have also been discontinued. This is despite when a service did exist it being used by over 22,000 passengers and 4,500 cars annually. The ferry companies blame the port authorities and the port authorities the ferry companies. Whilst the debates continue the only boats entering and leaving Funchal are the many many liners which don’t appear to allow you to use them like ferries, a few fishing boats, the daily Porto Santo ferry, the occasional small freighter and of course the Santa Maria de Colombo for tourists.
Last year there was much talk of a new service from Faro to Morocco, apparently commencing in 2017 after a 20 years hiatus. However ‘talk’ is all that seems to have been. There have also been rumours of services to mainland European ports, but again nothing has started. For the next few years at least the only things which will be using Faro sea port are birds and the occasional freighter. My desire for a renewal of a service to the Atlantic islands is probably a pipe-dream.
In fact I cannot find a seagoing ferry service from any mainland Portuguese port. It would seem the days when the Portuguese discovered the world by sea are long gone. The closest ferry ports are all in Spain – Santander, Bilbao and Huelva. I was hopeful for a while there could be a solution as there are ferries from Huelva to the Canary Islands, and I had seen somewhere there was a Tenerife/Funchal service. However the link took me nowhere as that 300 mile service has unsurprisingly also been discontinued. Atlantic scheduled boat travel from Portugal is simply not to be. I’ll just have to daydream of ferry travel instead, helped by my Madeira photographs of a calm Atlantic ocean.
If you know of an active scheduled ferry service, then do leave a comment below!