Leixoes' mixed-use terminal reaps returns
On a visit in July, Marta Lemos, head of cruise department Port Authority of Leixoes, told Cruise Europe: “We wanted to build it also for the population, for the community.” She also offered up this advice to those considering development: “I would advise ports to have other activities when planning a terminal because it is good to have a living terminal not only when the ships are in but throughout the year.” It also makes sense commercially.
This year the Portuguese port will receive 106 calls and 105,000 passengers, an increase on last year’s 100 and 95,000 respectively.
The other major contributing factor is that 300 researchers from the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research which is part of the University of Porto are accommodated in the building. On hearing of events held by the university, the community requested the same and last year 97 events were held at the terminal with 54 already taking place this year so far. These range from exhibitions to concerts. On Sundays it is open for visitors from the community and on September 15 there is an open day to both educate and entertain the community.
The terminal is situated on an area which was not in use but did have existing wall support. More room was needed for cargo which is the main activity of the port, hence the terminal is located away from the central port. A shuttle takes passengers from the terminal to the gate whereafter there is a metro or bus to the charming city of Porto.
Lemos commented: “The [main] port is surrounded by the city. Sometimes the bridge is open and there is noise from the cargo so we are trying always to compensate the community and this building was part of thinking of that. The cargo benefits the economy of the region but the cruise activity has a direct benefit for local economy.”
The decision to build the pier to allow for longer ships to call and the terminal was taken in 2009. Together with the dredging of the turning basin, the cost of the pier was €24m (completed in 2011) and the terminal €25m (2015) which was paid for by the Port of Leixoes ad EU funding.
The terminal was built to be able to have more calls and also to encourage turnaround operations as Porto international airport is only 15 minutes away. Pullmantur and Bremen do make these calls and MSC has interported 250 passengers whilst Saga came in due to a problem with a vessel. Lemos commented: “Turnarounds are starting to become a reality here. The region and municipality want to have more turnarounds because they generate more revenue.”
There is also a boutique terminal for transit calls from ships up to 250m located in the main port. It is a refurbished immigration terminal from the turn of the 19th century when the Portuguese were setting out for Brazil.
The port is now investing in marketing to attract more turnaround calls. It is also working with the municipality to improve the surroundings for the passengers. There is a small shop open during calls but with a limited selection so that passengers are encouraged to make purchases in the town.
Lemos concluded: “It is good to have a living terminal and one where the crew and the passengers are both welcome.” Having visited I can see why. The building is stunning and an attraction in its own right.