27 years aboard the Lobo Marinho

“I have a second home and family here”

the Lobo Marinho ferry and Norberto Sousa, Porto Santo Line's oldest employee, and
Norberto Sousa, Porto Santo Line’s oldest employee

The Diario features an in-depth interview with Porto Santo Lines longest serving employee. After having arrived in Funchal yesterday from the Shipyards of Viana do Castelo, where it carried out its usual annual maintenance, the ship Lobo Marinho resumes, this afternoon, the maritime connection to Porto Santo, with the departure trip to be scheduled for 7 pm and the return trip is scheduled for 10:30 pm.

Among the various employees who guarantee the regular transport of passengers and goods by sea between the two islands of the Madeira archipelago, is Norberto Sousa, head of the ship’s ‘Hotel Staff’, that is, the person responsible for all professionals on board who deal closely with passengers and do everything they can to make them feel really comfortable during the two-hour journey.

The Portuguese-French, 49 years old, started working on the Porto Santo Line on June 21, 1995, having already spent 27 years on board the ship, that is, more than half of his life, which makes him the longest-serving employee in service.

It is an honour and a source of pride and is a sign of mutual trust. I feel every day that the company trusts my work and I feel fulfilled working here. After 27 years of service to Porto Santo Line and aboard the ship Lobo Marinho, I have a second home and a second family here
Norberto Sousa, Porto Santo Line’s oldest employee
27 years aboard the Lobo Marinho 1
Lobo Marinho returning to Funchal yesterday

Lobo Marinho 20th anniversary

As such, in his “maritime curriculum” in addition to the many miles already travelled between the two Madeiran islands, Norberto Sousa can also boast of being one of the few people who worked on the two ships of the Sousa Group, since the current Lobo Marinho completes, in June, its 20th anniversary. 

Therefore, the memories he keeps of these 27 years are more than many. However, he has no doubts when admitting that the interaction between the children who visit the Lobo Marinho and the mascot ‘Lobito’ is what gives him the most pleasure in his professional daily life and what gives him the best memories. “It is always rewarding to see the joy of the children when they board and Lobito is there to receive them”, he said.
However, his trunk of memories is not only made up of happy moments, there are also some “bad days”, especially those in which the captain and crew are forced to abort trips due to weather issues. 

Seeing the passengers’ frustration at not being able to board is a bad day for us. But, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do against this type of adversity, as this could jeopardize the safety of passengers and this is, for us, a point of honor. Fortunately, there are very few days when Lobo Marinho is forced to cancel the trip

And those who think that during this period of absence of Lobo Marinho, Norberto Sousa, took advantage of the break from his trips to rest, are wrong. On the contrary, the employee was a vital player during his stay at the Shipyards of Viana do Castelo, coordinating the catering team that was in charge of ensuring the food of the other employees who also travelled to the north of the country to carry out maintenance work. For this reason, as can be seen, Norberto Sousa’s ‘love for the shirt’ is more than a lot.

Technical data of the Lobo Marinho ship:

Lobo Marinho

112 metres

20 metres

Shut up
4.5 metres

Maximum speed
22 knots

1,200 passengers

160 cars or 18 containers or 18 containers and 100 cars

Maximum power of the 2 main machines
2 x 8,000 Kw = 16,000 Kw

Bow Thruster Power
500 kW

8,082 tons

Estimated travel time
about 2 hours

Means of security
4 lifeboats, 22 pneumatic rafts, 1 fast rescue boat and 1 service boat, and a helipad

Leisure spaces
1 beauty salon, entertainment, 2 multimedia rooms, 2 children’s rooms, 1 cinema with an amphitheatre, 1 games room, 4 bars, 1 restaurant, 1 self-service, 2 merchandising stores, 1 stationery store and 1 solarium salt water

Porto Santo Line sales forecasts for 2023 are “conservative”

Also speaking to Diario was Carlos Perdigão Santos, executive director of Porto Santo Line, who addressed the predictions for ticket sales for the Lobo Marinho this new year, considering them “conservative, but relatively optimistic”.

Forecasts are conservative, taking into account the economic scenario that emerges and will be presented to all Portuguese people in 2023. However, we are also relatively optimistic because in fact Porto Santo’s offer in itself is exceptional in terms of product.
Carlos Perdigão Santos, executive director of Porto Santo Line

Also according to the executive director, it is also important to emphasize that in 2023 passengers travelling to Porto Santo, residing in Madeira or Porto Santo, will enjoy the support of the mobility subsidy, making “there is a significant discount ” on trips, which the administrator sees as a “very big incentive for people to make this maritime trip this year”.

The Regional Government has decided to review the value of the social subsidy for mobility of Porto-Santenses, in view of the announced increase in the tariff of the maritime transport operator between the island of Madeira and Porto Santo.

Even so, despite being “a challenging year for family economies”, the expectation is that for the summer months, for the festive seasons of Carnival and Easter and also for some holidays, demand is higher, as already it is tradition, even being the “destination of choice” for Madeira residents.

There are things for which there is no natural substitute and there is nothing that compares a holiday and a few days in Porto Santo, because in fact there is great quality in the days spent there. The beach is absolutely fantastic, the restaurants that are starting to appear and the hotel offer end up ensuring that people can have a well-deserved rest day on the island. On top of that, with this additional attraction, which is the trip supported by the Regional Government, I believe it will be a destination of choice for Madeira residents
Carlos Perdigão Santos, executive director of Porto Santo Line

As for the approaching period of Carnival, Carlos Perdigão Santos highlights the existence of a promotion on a 4+1 package offering one passenger’s trip. “That’s why we are expecting a good receptivity from people to this promotion and now that the ship starts its activity today, we are hoping that there will be an ever-increasing demand until the time of the interruption of Carnival”, he concluded.

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