Pierside in Santos

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The 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup served as a stimulus for the Brazilian government to invest in infrastructure for the local cruise market.

Cruise lines chartered ships to be used as hotels during the games, allowing cities to host matches and meet the hotel room number requirements.

That prompted investment in several cruise ports and terminals around the country, in an attempt to attract the ships.

"We invested R$700 million in several cities," said Alber Furtado de Vasconcelos Neto, director of port modernization, safety and management of the Secretaria Nacional dos Portos (SNP), the governmental entity responsible for the country's ports.

"Cities like Manaus, Fortaleza, Salvador and Natal received resources for new terminals or other infrastructure works," he noted.  

The work and improvements were performed for the World Cup, but according to the director, everything was thought for the long term.

"We don’t do huge infrastructure investments like that for only a few weeks of use. Those jobs are what we call legacy of the World Cup, and will be used for a long time to come," he noted.

Yet, three years after the soccer event, much of the infrastructure is underused or even incomplete. In cities like Recife and Fortaleza, for example, cruise ships can't dock in front of the newly built cruise terminals, as the berths were never dredged. Instead, they need to use cargo piers.

Neto promised that solutions for those, and other problems, are coming soon.

“In Fortaleza, we are in the bidding process for a dredging contract. The terminal’s berth will be available for the ships soon. In Recife, this process will take a little longer, as we still need to reinforce the cay before dredging," he noted.

The country’s main homeport, Santos, also received World Cup money, which called for a huge expansion to take six ships around a dedicated cruise terminal area. Those plans are also still in progress. Most cruise ships still use cargo piers in Santos.

Still, only part of the work was concluded and the area closest to the terminal remained untouched.

“We plan to bid out pending work next year. The remaining part of the work is probably the most important one, and we are making an effort with the national government to make it happen," Neto added.

"We are currently living with budget restrictions, so we are making efforts to keep working on the ongoing projects. New projects will be studied next year, when we have a new budget," he continued.

“We, the government, are moved by demand. If the cruise market and the ports are able to communicate their needs, we are able to work together on solutions. This kind of synergy is necessary, and positive for all the involved parties."