Portugal’s largest cruise operator threatens to ditch Portuguese flag

Douro Azul, the largest cruiseship operator in the country, is threatening to ditch the Portuguese flag because of the time it takes to get business done in Portugal.

DGRM, the national authority responsible for naming, launching and renovating ships suffers from an “enormous lack of resources”, Douro Azul’s Hugo Bastos has told TSF radio.

Problems also stem from DGRM’s rules and regulations being ‘out of step’ with European legislation.

Indeed, the situation has promoted Brussels to threaten Portugal with legal action.

But this would arguably not be as bad as a cruiseship operator of Douro Azul’s standing ‘abandoning the country’s flag’.

As Bastos has explained, difficulties lie in simple things like giving boats ‘non-Portuguese names’.

Last week, for example, the company launched two new floating hotels named “Elegance” and “Serenity”. There are more floating hotels in the pipeline as “tourism doesn’t stop growing”, but the red tape involved is pushing Douro Azul to considering drastic options.

“We have to start thinking, as there are lots of other boats competing in the sector under foreign flags” said Bastos. “In the absence of clear changes to our own legislation or institutions getting more resources, perhaps the intelligent way forwards would be for us to change the flags on our entire fleet”.

The reason Douro Azul chooses ‘non-Portuguese names’ for its fleet has to do with the international nature of its business, Bastos added.

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