Portimão port opens for larger cruise ships

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Portimão is due to host 60,000 cruise ship passengers this year, more than double the number who passed through the Algarve port in 2009.

Part of the expected increase is due to the opening of a new port facility next month, which will allow large ships to dock.

According to Portimão Camâra, the port will now be able to handle ships of more than 210 metres, with the new facility allowing almost all vessels to dock in the port rather than anchoring offshore.

Already confirmed for this year are 68 ships, 30 more than in 2009, which are expected to bring around 60,000 passengers, a large increase on the 23,588 visitors last year.

The season began with the visit of the cruise ship Silver Wind, with 296 passengers aboard, on March 12.

water quality

Meanwhile, the port administration, conscious of its role in the environmental management of the area, has called on the help of the National Institute of Biological Resources, which has established a programme that includes the monitoring of the quality of the water.

Improvement works in Portimão were prompted by the increase in the number of ship-borne tourists visiting Portugal in 2009.

Overall, the country recorded a marked increase in passenger numbers, with Portimão, Lisbon and Leixões leading the way.

According to the port authority, Porto de Lisboa, the number of passengers on cruise ships visiting the Portuguese ports of Leixões, Lisboa, Portimão, Funchal, Açores, Viana do Castelo and Cascais in 2009 was 945,034, an increase of more than 40,000 over 2008.

Leading the way was Funchal with more than 430,000 passengers.

The number of passengers embarking and disembarking at Portuguese ports, rather than just visiting, also increased last year to record levels.

Last year saw this figure rise from 50,223 in 2008 to 97,439 passengers, with 49,928 passengers leaving, up 102 per cent, and 47,511 arriving, up 86 per cent.

For the first time, cruises started and ended from the ports of Portimão and Leixões, both through the ship Princess Danae.

Although there was an increase (around four per cent) in the total number of passengers who visited Portugal, there was a fall of three percent in the number of cruise ships visiting, 719 last year compared with 739 in 2008.