Canaries Cruise: Sailing on Santa Maria de Colombo

One of the high points of my holiday was the opportunity to sail on the Santa Maria de Colombo.  This is a replica of Christopher Columbus’ flag ship on his 1492 journey of discovery.

Arriving at Santa Maria

Arriving at the Santa Maria (the MV Columbus in background)

We set off on our 3 hour (or so) tour of the coast of Madeira, and it was great to experience the sense of sailing on a vessel of this type.  There is a very small free-board, and spray, even on a calm sea came over the railings.

Santa Maria 7


We hadn’t been out long when we came into contact with bottle-nosed dolphins, and we spent some time watching them before once again moving along the coast in route to a quiet bay, where passengers were able to have a short swim in the Atlantic.

View from Santa Maria


After this we began the return journey to Funchal under sail.  As we went tastes of Madeira wine and slices of Portuguese honey cake were served.

Madeira Wine and Honey Cake

Madeira and Honey Cake

There was a bit of “everything” for those on board.  Sailing, scenery, dolphin watching, swimming, and taste treats.  The Santa Maria also has a ship’s parrot in the galley (bar), and the ship’s dog wanders about making himself comfortable among the passengers.

Santa Maria Parrot 2

Ship’s Parrot


While many of the children (and some of the adults) take this as a cruise on a pirate ship, it is in fact a ship of exploration.  It is that historical detail that fascinated me.  The details of the rigging, and the religious iconography of a late medieval sailing ship were wonderful to explore.


This is a highly recommended excursion for anyone visiting Madeira.  It offers it all.


Link to the Santa Maria’s tour page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s