By Nicole Froio, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio is always a popular international tourism destination, and never more so than during the Carnival holiday. This year, in addition to seeing an increase in domestic tourism, broke new records in the number of travelers arriving by cruise ship – an estimated 80,000 people through the long weekend.
On Sunday, February 10th alone, 40,000 people disembarked from eight transatlantic cruise ships, a record number for a single day in Rio’s port. Américo Relvas da Rocha, director of Operations for Pier Mauá has estimated the boom in tourists arriving by sea has brought in around US$17.7 million to the state of Rio.
He said, “We had to more than double our staff to 700 people so we could make our services faster. The movement of passengers was so big that we had to enlarge our infrastructure with the support of micro buses to transport the tourists from the ships.”
Of the eight liners, Azamara Quest, Costa Favolosa, Costa Fortuna, Costa Fascinosa, Grand Holliday, Maasdam, Sovereign and Grand Princess, three are foreign-flagged. For the Grand Princess, it was its first time in Rio, coming in from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“The pier is a babel today, we have tourists from all over the world, from almost every continent. Apart from the three foreign ships, other ocean liners also brought tourists from abroad. We have passengers from the United States, several European countries like Spain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey and several countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa,” said Rocha.
Sophie Crockett, an Irish-Brazilian living in Rio who recently took a cruise from the port says the renovated buildings look good, but that the service in passport control and the port in general have to improve. She said, “The port itself was okay, it has been renovated and things were relatively modern. The general structure of the gates and check-in was well reformed.”
“The service at passport control was very bad. One of the many problems of Brazil is the lack of skilled labor and it took me and my family two hours in the queue to get through passport control and that’s after having spent one hour waiting to get checked into the cruise.”
“There were very few people working and that meant they could not handle the sheer amount of passengers trying to get onto the cruise.”
The Pier Mauá is expected to receive almost 180,000 passengers this month. In March an estimated 110,000 more will arrive and then in April its forecast is reduced to 13,500 tourists disembarking from ships in the city.
Currently Pier Mauá in Rio’s Port Zone is the port of call for cruise ships docking in Rio. The area in front of Armazém 6 – one of the historic former warehouses that flank the port – was originally slated as the construction site for the new Y shaped pier.
The Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro (Dock Company of Rio de Janeiro) shifted the future site to an area between Armazém 2 and 3, making the new pier only 500 meters from the future Museu do Amanhã (Musuem of Tommorow).