thomson spirit.jpg

33,000-ton cruise ship runs aground trying to leave Portimão port

Portimão’s capability to welcome large cruise ships is yet again at issue after the 33,000-ton ‘Thomson Spirit’ ran aground in the middle of the Arade River.

The 215-metre long cruise ship, with over 1,000 passengers aboard, was trying to leave the town’s port on Tuesday morning (October 18). In the process, it got stuck due to the low tide that had exposed the river’s sandbanks.

A witness told Correio da Manhã tabloid that a tugboat struggled to help the cruiser back into the port’s docking area. Once it was docked, it had to wait until high tide to leave safely.

As CM explains, the silting of the Arade River is a well-known problem.

Dredging work was carried out this summer to remove sand so that Portimão could host its powerboat racing championship. But it has been 10 years since the river underwent major dredging work, and it is becoming clear it may not be able to receive such large ships anymore.

The captain of the huge Seven Seas Explorer was aware of this when he decided against docking in Portimão in August (click here).


Coincidentally, on the same day that the ‘Thomson Spirit’ struggled to leave Portimão, José Luis Cacho was named new president of the Sines and Algarve Port Administration (APS).

Formally president of port administrations in Aveiro, Porto and Figueira da Foz, as well as of the Association of Portuguese-Speaking Ports (APLOP) and the Association of Portugal’s Ports, Cacho has “no connection to the Algarve” and this is now being used as a complaint by the regional party of the PSD.

The party said it a statement that it fears the Algarve will yet again “be overlooked” when it comes to future investments – and if this is the case, much-needed dredging work may be delayed “causing millions of euros-worth of losses for local tourism”.