Cruise ship abandons visit. New PM for Portugal. Christmas Fair.

More Pier 8 questions

A cruise ship with 2000 passengers which was waiting to enter Funchal harbour yesterday decided instead to abandon its planned visit and head off to Las Palmas. The Diario reports that potential visitors on the Royal Caribbean ‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ (above) awoke yesterday morning with the landscape of Funchal in the windows of their cabins but the view turned out to be their only experience of Madeira. At the Pontinha, the main pier was reserved for regular visitors ‘MSC Splendida’ and the ‘AidaSol’. The Raphsody had threatened to cancel last month, when it became evident that there would be insufficient space to use the main pier, but then decided that it would anchor offshore and ferry passengers ashore using the lifeboats. The Captain deemed wind and wave directions unsuitable for this operation yesterday. The 40 passengers waiting to board the ship in Funchal were flown on to the Canaries on a SATA flight.
A group of MPs in the Regional Assembly continue to raise questions about why so much money was spent on the new central “Pier 8” when some vessels are declining to use the facility, which is considered too open to the seas in certain conditions – one of the last attempts took three hours before eventually docking successfully (previous post). The Raphsody, after consultation with the much criticised port authority, APRAM, is apparently returning today, when there will be sufficient space to dock at the main Pontinha pier.

New Portuguese Prime Minister

Antonio Costa, former mayor of Lisbon, has pledged to pay down Portugal’s debts in a sustainable way.President Cavaco Silva, who recently visited this island, has asked PS leader António Costa is set to take office as Portugal’s prime minister and to form a cabinet. The Socialist leader has already unveiled a list of 17 ministers, including four women, who are expected to be sworn in by the President before the end of the week. Despite coming second in last month’s elections, the Socialists managed to remove the centre-right coalition and move into power with the support of the Communists and the Left Bloc (previous blog).
The previous government, led by Pedro Passos, lasted only eleven days, and the Guadian reports that “Portugal’s political saga is being closely watched in Brussels, with Costa seeking to allay fears over his vow to “turn the page on austerity”. whilst reports that guarantees have been given: Portugal president insists new government complies with EU rules

English Church Christmas Fair

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TAP “high demand”. Everjets. Santa Cruz sculpture. “Funcho”.

TAP to increase Christmas flights

JM (Journal da Madeira) reports today that TAP have announced additional flights to both Madeira and the Azores over the Christmas period due to “high demand” – adding a total of 20,000 seats to the two destinations. The period between 18th December and the 5th of January will see 16 more (round-trip) flights between Porto and Madeira, and an additional 45 flights from Lisbon. In 2014 TAP transported 244,000 passengers on the Azores route and 725,446 on the Madeira route.

Everjets commences operation

Again reflecting increased demand for travel to and from Madeira, Everjets commenced their new flights last Sunday using two A320 aircaft. Headquartered in Porto, Everjets started operations with a daily return flight from Funchal to Lisbon (two on Monday and Friday) and two weekly flights to Porto. “Competitive rates” are promised and there will be no charge for hold luggage.

The new aircraft have required an investment between four and five million euros and the company is still recruiting additional staff. Everjets began operations in late 2011 with just one helicopter and an executive jet and has expanded rapidly since, with its fleet now including over 30 helicopters. Apparently, according to both the Diario and JM, not all went perfectly smoothly during the first week, as a couple of flights were technically cancelled when their status was changed from passenger plane to cargo plane. Reservations can be made online at

New Santa Cruz memorial

The Diario reports that this Thursday will see the inauguration of a new memorial on the seafront promenade in Santa Cruz to commemorate the 131 people who died in the plane crash at Santa Catarina airport on 19 November 1977. The sculpture is designed in the shape of a tree formed from aircraft parts, and has been supported by TAP, the Municipality of Santa Cruz and the parish of Santa Cruz. The crash of the TAP flight with 164 people on board, led to the extension of the runway from 1400 to 1600 metres (the current runway is 2781 metres) – the plane had already attempted to land twice in wet conditions.

“Funcho” chosen as swimming Euros mascot name

image reports that “Funcho” has been chosen as the name of the mascot for the 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships to be held in Funchal next year. Funcho is of course the vernacular name for the once abundant fennel that gave it’s name to the city

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Paris. President to visit. Tuk-tuk bans in Lisbon.

This morning I am sure that everybody’s thoughts are with the people of Paris. The Portuguese Foreign Ministry have announced that a 63 year-old Portuguese working in tourism, who was near the Stade de France last night, died in the terrorist attacks.

Portuguese President to travel to Madeira on Monday

Image result for Aníbal Cavaco Silva

Portugal News Online reports that Portugal’s president, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, is to travel to Madeira as planned on Monday for a two-day visit to the autonomous region, according to a statement issued by his office on Wednesday – even as his decision is awaited on who is to be the country’s next prime minister. The trip is part of a project to encourage “economic dynamism”. Meanwhile Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho pushes for a constitutional amendment after his government was brought down after 11 days.

Tuk-tuks restricted in Lisbon

Os tuk-tuk viraram ponto de discórdia para os lisboetas Foto: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / NYT

Various sources report that the movement of “tuk-tuks” will be prohibited in certain areas of central Lisbon, together with restrictions placed on their hours of operation. “Tourist entertainment vehicles” as they are officially termed, have apparently become a noisy and smelly nuisance for local residents. Remains to be seen if similar measures are introduced in Funchal , as the numbers here appear to be increasing exponentially. I guess the taxi drivers are increasingly unhappy about them as well. In a parallel story authorities in Mombasa recently ruled that diesel tuk-tuks will not be registered as they are deemed to be too polluting – only the petrol versions will be allowed.

Christmas lights company makes staff redundant

The Jornal da Madeira reports that Luzosfera, the company which had originally been awarded the contract for installing the Christmas/New Year lights in Funchal for 2015/16, but subsequently had the agreement revoked, will have to lay off up to half of its seventy staff. Looks like the controversy surrounding the €2 million contract will never go away. What is for certain, however, is that there will be a return to the more traditional theme this year – the authorities cannot risk another adverse public reaction

National Maritime Day

The lighthouse at Ponto do Pargo will be open to the public on Monday 16th November as part of the National Maritime Day. A series of events are organised over the weekend, mostly on the mainland, by the National Maritime Authority and the Portuguese Navy to commemorate Portugal ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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