After years of failed attempts, the port of Natal finally will have a passenger terminal because of the realization of the 2014 World Cup in the city. With an appropriate location for embarking and disembarking, the capital of RN will be able to enter the route of the main marine cruises.
The bid is scheduled for the first half of 2011, and the completion of work, for 2013. The project is part of the Growth Acceleration Plan 2 (Plano de Aceleração do Crescimento – PAC) and is budgeted at R$ 53 million.
Expectations are encouraging. But for now, who embarks and disembarks in Natal is forced to deal with the improvisation. The port is still far from providing the minimum conditions for the tourist.
Check-in and check-out of passengers are made in an improvised shed, under the supervision of Companhia Docas do Rio Grande do Norte (Codern) and the travel operator, in partnership with the ship's crew and government agents. Part of the shed will be utilized in the construction of the new terminal.
Outside, the taxi drivers compete head-to-head the passengers in a disorderly way that sometimes frightens who arrives in town by ship.
The port is located in the Ribeira district, one of the oldest of Natal. And in the area, especially near the entrance gate and the exit of cruise passengers, the space is small and tight for the amount of taxi drivers, buggy drivers and tour bus that park on the narrow streets.
However, it is pointless to construct a passenger terminal without investing in the depth of the Potengi River and in the retro area of the port. The port of Natal has 31,000 m² of area and can be extended in over 14,000 m². With the removal of Maruim community (small slum located in the vicinity of the port), provided for by the government, there will be an increase in the retro area of 7,000 m².
"This expansion will facilitate the mooring of vessels operating cabotage lines. Thus, products that today are landed in other ports and come through highways to the state may be disembarked directly in Natal, in a much cheaper way", says Emerson Fernandes, CEO of Companhia Docas do RN (Codern), which administers the port of Natal.
Paving and dredging works are already in progress, which will allow, by mid-2011, that larger ships mooring at the port. Currently, only the midsize ship Blue France, that makes coast tours through the Northeastern and Fernando de Noronha, docks in the port of Natal in high season.
The port of Natal will have its depth expanded from 10 to 12.5 meters and its basin of evolution, from 280 to 300 meters. Fernandes also cites the works for expansion of the pier, which will be incremented by 220 meters.
With the work completed, the marine passenger terminal at the port of Natal will have the necessary infrastructure to receive large cruise ships: convenience stores, pharmacies, coffee shops, restaurants, travel agencies, offices of the Department of Tourism of Natal and RN, customs posts (Civil and Federal Police, in addition to Federal Revenue agents), metal detectors, scanners and more security for carry-on.
Still there is no project to turn the cruise ships in beds during the World Cup – because, according to the government, the hotel chain of Natal meets Fifa’s requirements.