Porto, Lisboa, Funchal & Royal Princess (III) in Lisbon

Three beauties were in Lisbon when I arrived on Royal Princess on the 19th June 2013.  I knew the old Funchal had been laid up for a couple of years after Classic International Cruises ran out of money during her refit but hadn't been able to find her.  I had done a boat tour while on Independence of the Seas in November 2011 but hadn't seen her.  So imagine my surprise when I saw two cuties a little bit behind us.  In the red corner, the adorable little Porto, freshly painted with the livery of Portuscalecruises.  She began life in 1965 as the 5,888grt Istra for Jadrolinija in Yugoslavia, doing various cruises, where she remained until chartered by Neckermann in 1991, becoming Astra then Astra I in 1997.  Classic International Cruises purchased her two years later, renaming her Arion where she remained until they went bust in 2012.  She was arrested in Montenegro in September that year over unpaid wages and fuel costs.  In early 2013, she as well as Athena, Funchal and Princess Danae were bought by Rui Alegre.  She arrived in Lisbon in March 2013 and was the first to undergo drydocking for her new role and was renamed Porto. She has been luckier than her sister, Dalmacija, who was sold to Pakistani breakers in 2009.  

Meanwhile, Princess Danae had been arrested in Marseilles along with Athena.  She returned to Lisbon in May.  I had only seen her in 2007 down in Madeira but she was adorable so I was glad to renew my acquaintance.  She would be third in drydock and, although she was still showing Princess Danae on her bow, she had been officially renamed and transmitted on the AIS as Lisboa.  And so we come to who was currently being worked on - Funchal!  The 9,824grt beauty began life in 1961 for Empresa Insulana de Navegacao going from Lisbon to Madeira and the Azores, expanding to other ports until turned into a full time cruise ship in 1973, replacing her troublesome boilers with diesel electric engines.  Due to other changes her tonnage dropped to 9,563grt.  When her owners got into financial difficulty, they merged with Cia to become Cia Portuguesa de Transportes Maritimos and she was given a new livery until that was liquidated in 1985 and she was sold to Great Warwick Inc of Panama and reflagged.  She eventually became fully owned by Arcalia Shipping and operated her under the Classic International Cruises banner from 1995 and reregistered in Portugal during the 1997 refit to bring her up to SOLAS standards.  

This is the ship I was beginning to think I was destined never to see.  I missed her in Harwich back in May 2009 thanks to the crappy port schedule not giving times so she left after dropping passengers while I was still at the hotel before my own cruise on Vision of the Seas.  Then each time I had been to Lisbon during her lay up I had no idea where she was.  Thanks to Vitor Francisco and Luis Miguel Correia, I was about to find my personal Excalibur!  When I arrived, I had no idea she was in the dry dock until Luis asked if I'd seen her on Facebook.  Later, Matt Sudders, who I knew from the Ocean Liner Society, pointed her out to me.

Luis Miguel Correia was visiting the Royal Princess that day but he had agreed to show me these beautiful ladies after Vitor Francisco asked him.  As our departure time was an annoying 4pm, it didn't leave much time.  I saw Luis on the pool deck as I was chatting with my table companion, Ron, and we arranged to meet on the dockside at 2pm.  Once Luis had taken his own photos of the new ship, it was time to visit the old!  We began with the Porto and Lisboa, which were easier to get to and it was interesting seeing our block of flats in comparison behind Porto.  Lisboa looked in a sorry state so I was looking forward to her receiving her own new paint job, although it would be sad to say goodbye to the Princess Danae name I've always known her as.  Luis then drove the other end of town to a couple of places to photograph Funchal in her current home.  He made me do a crazy thing which I still can't believe I did with my bad back, knee and fear of heights but he looked after me well and made me feel safe.  The things we do for photos!  It was very exciting.  And so back to the port after an all too short visit.
And so it was time to say goodbye once more to beautiful Lisboa and this time, the trip of gorgeous ladies just sitting there waiting for a bright and successful future.  Funchal is scheduled to re-enter service in August and already there are cruises available for her.  As we sailed, I was concentrating so much on her, I was almost missing the 25 Abril bridge which is always my highlight of Lisbon.
I shall always be grateful to Vitor and Luis for this day.  For regular update on the futures of Funchal, Porto and Lisboa, do keep an eye on Luis's blog while photos of Princess Danae in Madeira back in 2007 are here.  I returned to Lisbon the following October and was fortunate enough to visit Funchal, now back sailing, and those photos are here.  The review of my Royal Princess cruise is here.  Sadly Lisboa arrived in Turkey for scrapping on the 23rd July 2015 while Porto arrived on the 5th November 2018.  Funchal was put up for auction on the 5th December 2018 and was bought by Signature Living and would be taken to England.

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© Patricia Dempsey 19th June 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission
5th December 2018