PORTIMÃO PORT received two cruise liners on the same day last week, an event that brought the highest ever number of ships’ passengers to the area.
Counting the ships’ crew, together with the tourists aboard, more than 5,000 people disembarked the two cruise liners, Legend of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) and the Oceana (P&O).
It was the first time ever that two cruise liners of around 260 metres in length had both docked in Algarve waters on the same day. The arrivals brought welcome news for the tourism industry with the passengers taking excursions to Sagres, Silves and the local water parks.
The cruise ships had both begun their journeys from the British port of Southampton, before setting sail for Praia da Rocha (Portimão). The Oceana was then due on its way to Grand Canaria, while the Legend of the Seas was en route for Gibraltar. The liners arrived at Portimão early morning and departed at 6pm for their onward destinations.
It is hoped that Portimão will become a major port on the itinerary for international cruise liners in the future, but first a number of changes have to be made in order to satisfy the requirements of the big operators.
In total, 1.5 million euros are being spent on a dredging programme to remove sand and create more depth, a project being wholly financed by the Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos (IPTM), the ports and maritime transport institute, which is expected to be complete before next summer. In addition, among other improvements, a new passenger terminal must be built and it is hoped this will be ready by July 2006.