Monday, September 15, 2014

PORTUSCALE CRUISES first year of operation

PORTUSCALE CRUISES has been operating successfuly for one year by now. I have seen in several recent Facebook posts comments of the possible demise of the company and the sale of PORTO and LISBOA for scrap.
Nothing of such things are correct. One should not try to explore the possible doom of such a good cruise operator as PORTUSCALE CRUISES. It just is not fair, PORTUSCALE and the FUNCHAL should be named "BEST NEW CRUISE OPERATION of 2013-2014". To start with, let's have a look into the overall operation of FUNCHAL under the guide of PORTUSCALE CRUISES that started in August 2013, and has been improving all the time as we - the devoted friends of the M/V FUNCHAL - see her immediate future with great enthusiasm. Bookings have been growing steadily all the time, the number of repeat passengers is solid and we can say that FUNCHAL has fully recovered her prestige.
To start a new small cruise company like PORTUSCALE did in such a short time is a bold fate. By December 2012 the FUNCHAL was abandoned and fit for scrap, but the following January her fate was reversed by Mr. Rui Alegre purchase and commitment to return the FUNCHAL for service, and so he did in a remarkable short time, and in August FUNCHAL was back at sea looking like new and better than ever. This has not been an easy task and it seems that a lot of people and interests did not want to show their support to the reborn FUNCHAL. If you enter a travel agency in Portugal, and ask for booking on a FUNCHAL cruise, the chance they'll try to put you on another ship is significant, and a series of small initial teething troubles received major press coverage to the point of full lies not being corrected later. And the big cruise companies that at the moment find more and more difficult to fully book their megaships do whatever they can to have small niche players killed on the road side. Another fact is associated to the results the current economical environment in Europe that led to the sale for scrap of a significant number of passenger cruise ships built in 1970s and 1980s, including former Classic International Cruises PRINCESS DANAE.
In an effort to build a solid operation, PORTUSCALE CRUISES' owner Mr. Rui Alegre has invested millions of Euros to refurbish a fleet of four old classic ships. On the FUNCHAL only, 22 millions have been necessary to update and improve the FUNCHAL and make her the best classic cruise ship currently in operation and the only still very much with the original look as built, the original name and flag.
There is no other ship like FUNCHAL as we write this note. But the purchase of FUNCHAL back in January 2013 was tied to another three ships then under arrest in the Mediterranean and efforts have also been geared to have AZORES, PORTO and LISBOA back in cruise service. AZORES has just finished her first season in Europe and arrived Lisbon on 13 September for further improvements, a 5 year survey and further refit at the Navalrocha yard is due to start in a matter of days before she returns to service in January 2015 on a joint operation with CMV in tip top condition to replace DISCOVERY.
Their smaller fleet mate PORTO ex-ARION is ready to leave Lisbon and I dare to say she is not already cruising in the Med and Black Sea due mainly to the dark clouds spotted in Ukraine at the moment, but the perspectives of her returning to service soon are significant. And now the LISBOA, ex-PRINCESS DANAE situation: more than 10 million euros have already been spent on her upgrade but during the refit at Navalrocha it was found that the real situation of this sturdy but very old hull built in 1955 demanded a lot more attention and costly investment than at first expected and so it was decided to hold on her refit. It is a fact that the final times of previous operator CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL CRUISES proved to be hard for the fleet with technical care and proper maintenance totally out of the scene, and this attitude had the most serious results on an already old even if graceful lady like DANAE / LISBOA.

We all wish PORTUSCALE CRUISES to fully succeed not only with their current four ships, but with future developments of their magnificent classic cruise product and fleet, so let's defend FUNCHAL and her sisters from negative outlooks, let's ban talking about failure or scrapping ships with yellow funnels and black hulls, and let's all go cruising on the FUNCHAL, let's book also on the AZORES and let's wait with the utmost interest for the next developments on PORTO and LISBOA. For myself I must say I have already cruised on the NEW FUNCHAL and look forward for the next one and the next...

Photographs of AZORES arriving Lisbon on 13 September 2014.
Texto e imagens /Text and images copyright L.M.Correia. Favor não piratear. Respeite o meu trabalho / No piracy, please. For other posts and images, check our archive at the right column of the main page. Click on the photos to see them enlarged. Thanks for your visit and comments. Luís Miguel Correia
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