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The history of Santa Maria Manuela

The launch of SMM

10 May 1937

This was a special day in Lisbon. Hundreds of people gathered on the docks of Rocha do Conde de Óbidos, in Alcântara, to witness the launch of two ships that had just been built: Santa Maria Manuela and Creoula. On that day the shipyards of Companhia União Fabril (CUF) closed for business to allow its employees to attend the ceremony. The workers climbed to the gantry cranes and filled the banks of this harbour on the Tagus waters. Everybody wanted to witness the launch of these twin ships that had been built in 62 days only and were destined to the cod fisheries in Newfoundland and Greenland. This was a solemn occasion, attended by the Head of State and a number of ministers, and represented a unique feat for the Portuguese naval industry.

Vasco Albuquerque d’Orey

Vasco Albuquerque d'Orey was the shipowner of the company Empresa de Pesca de Viana who commissioned the Santa Maria Manuela to the CUF shipyards. The hull is made of still, an important detail as it enables the ship to sail through ice-filled seas. The ship was baptised with the name of the wife of the shipowner, Maria Manuela, mother of 16.

The adventures in the Northern seas

Santa Maria Manuela was built for the cod fisheries. The departure of ships to the banks of Newfoundland and Greenland was a very emotional moment when the families gathered to bid farewell and relied also on the presence of personalities from the high ranks of the Church and the Government. The tears of the relatives contrasted with the feeling of expectation of the fishermen who had high hopes of returning to Portugal with the ships' holds full of codfish. Fishing was their only means of living.

The campaigns

Campaigns lasted around six months and began with the departure from Lisbon. The ship accommodated 70 experienced men and was prepared to face the hardships of the northern seas. One of these men had far more responsibilities on his shoulders than the others. It was up to the captain to make big decisions: to beat the storms; to manage the spirits of the crew and to find codfish. "During one these journeys a fisherman was seriously wounded while we were performing a sails manoeuvre on the ship's prow", Vitorino Ramalheira, captain of SMM in 1966 recalls. "When we got to the harbour of St. John in Newfoundland the fisherman had just passed away. It was very dramatic and sad." This moment was captured by the film crew of the National Film Board of Canada who was on board to film the documentary The White Ship. Cod-fishing by line was then among the more risky professions.

Captain Vitorino Ramalheira, with the dory boats on the background

The dory boats

On the deck of Santa Maria Manuela followed dozens of dory boats – small boats of flat bottom. These vessels were only lowered onto the waters after the captain checked the necessary conditions and gave the order: "Let us lower these boats and may God be with us." Each dory boat carried one fisherman. After touching the frozen seas each man followed his own destiny with the help of rudders or a small sail. Sometimes they sailed miles away from the SMM and disappeared amidst the heavy fog. The fishermen spent 13 consecutive hours on the dory boats and launched hundreds of metres of line with hooks and bait into the water. If all went well a single fisherman could fish half a ton of codfish. There are reports of dory boats that sank with excess weight, such was the will and enthusiasm of the fishermen. Upon their return on board men had dinner – soup, fish and a mug of wine – and proceeded to scale and salt the codfish. SMM would only return home when the ship's holds were full of fish. "The moment when the national flag was hoisted and the journey back to Portugal began was the happiest day on board", captain Vitorino Ramalheira recalls.

The Portuguese White Fleet

Santa Maria Manuela is one of the last ships of the legendary Portuguese White Fleet. The name white fleet was given by the communities of Newfoundland during the II World War. During this period some ships were hit by torpedoes launched from submarines. Following these tragic episodes the Navy Chief of Staff ordered the hulls of the Portuguese fishing fleet to be painted white. The cod fishing ships sailed in convoy from Lisbon to Newfoundland and Greenland with the name and flag of Portugal clearly visible on the hull – Portugal remained neutral during this world conflict. From this mythical fleet – immortalised in the book The Argus Campaign, by Alan Villiers – only the Santa Maria Manuela, Argus, Creoula and Gazela I remain.

A ship is born out of a hull

Santa Maria Manuela underwent a number of structural changes throughout the years, from the removal of the masts to the installation of a navigation bridge. The ship followed the evolution of time that would dictate the end of fishing by line and of the dory boats. In 1993 the ship was considered obsolete, it was dismantled and only the steel hull was left. The next year the Foundation Santa Maria Manuela was created, a project joining 17 institutions under one purpose: to recover the ship. But only in 2007, after the hull was bought by the company Pascoal would the renovation begin. This project took four years to finish. On 10 May 2010 – on its 73rd anniversary – the SMM approached the Aveiro harbour with its sails up and hull painted white and proceeded to dock in its new pier in Gafanha da Nazaré (where the Pascoal company is based). This was the first day of the new life of this ship. On November 2016, Santa Maria Manuela was bought by the company Recheio, part of the Jerónimo Martins Group. The SMM now has unique conditions for ocean travel, events, parties and training on the seas.

  • It is built in 62 days only, together with the ship Creoula

  • The documentary film The White Ship is filmed on board this ship during a journey during a journey to Newfoundland and Greenland

  • Suffers profound changes such as the removal of the masts

  • Faced with imminent disposal only the hull is left

  • The company Pascoal starts the recovery of SMM

  • Returns to the sea, fully renovated

  • It is bought by the company Cash&Carry, part of the Jerónimo Martins Group

General Conditions

Article 1. – Definitions

Definitions used in these General Terms:

  • a. Carrier: Recheio cash & carry S.A.
  • b. Client: A natural or legal person who enters into one or more contracts covered by these General Terms with the carrier.
  • c. Contract: All contracts signed between the carrier and the client under these General Terms.
  • d. Guest: third parties whose entry into the ship is authorized by the carrier pursuant to the contract signed with the client.
  • e. Ship journey: the entire cruise, including stay on board during the period foreseen in the contract.
  • f. Luggage: luggage which is easy to carry by the client and/or guest; suitcases, travel bags and/or backpacks.
  • g. Ship: the ship identified in the contract.
  • h. Price: the price referred to as such in the contract.

Article 2. – Scope

2.1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, these General Terms apply to all contracts, including all offers made under this agreement, entered into between the carrier and the client and relating to the transport and/or catering services and other related services.

2.2. These Terms also apply to guests. The client shall be responsible for its guests and indemnify the carrier for any damages caused by such guests.

2.3. These Terms are written in Portuguese and translated into English. In case of any divergence between the original version and the translation, the Portuguese version shall prevail.

Article 3. - Offer / award

3.1. All of the carrier's offers, including offers contained in brochures, advertisements and websites are optional and may be cancelled by the carrier. Such cancellation, if it occurs, will be notified to the client as soon as possible.
3.2. The offer mentions:

  • a. The overall amount of the trip and the percentage that shall be paid in advance;
  • b. The means of payment;
  • c. The maximum number of guests per ship;
  • d. The place, date and time of boarding and landing;

These General Terms are an integral part of the first offer.

Article 4. - The contract

4.1. Except in case of a cancellation as provided for in article 3.1, the contract is concluded after the client accepts the offer. The carrier shall send a written or electronic confirmation to the client, after the agreement has been concluded.

4.2. The client provides to the carrier in advance or, at the latest before departure, all of his/her information as well as that of the registered guests.

Article 5. - Cancelation

5.1. In the event of the contract's cancellation, the client must inform the carrier as soon as possible, by letter. The valid date for the contract's cancellation is the date of receipt of said letter by the carrier.

5.2. The contract's cancellation by the client requires the payment of a fixed amount to the carrier, in the following terms:

Compensation - ship:

  • 15% in the event of cancellation up to 6 months prior to departure;
  • 20% in the event of cancellation up to 5 months prior to departure;
  • 30% in the event of cancellation 4 months prior to departure;
  • 40% in the event of cancellation 3 months prior to departure;
  • 50% in the event of cancellation 2 months prior to departure;
  • 75% in the event of cancellation 1 month prior to departure;
  • 90% in the event of cancellation 1 day prior to departure;
  • 100% in the event of cancellation on the day of departure.

Compensation - catering and other services:

  • 15% in the event of cancellation 2 months prior to departure;
  • 25% in the event of cancellation 1 month prior to departure;
  • 50% in the event of cancellation 2 weeks prior to departure;
  • 75% in the event of cancellation 1 week prior to departure;
  • 95% in the event of cancellation 1 day prior to departure;
  • 100% in the event of cancellation on the day of departure.

Whenever the losses incurred by the carrier, as a result of the cancellation, exceed 15% of the fixed amounts mentioned above, the carrier shall be compensated by the client who shall pay such additional amounts.

Article 6. - Suspension and termination

6.1. In the event of breach of the obligations provided in the contract, by either party, the other party has the right to suspend the fulfillment of its obligations, except in cases in which such non-compliance does not justify the suspension due to being based on matters of special or minor importance.

6.2. Failure by one of the parties to comply with the obligations provided in the agreement, gives the other party the right to cancel its respective pledge, except in cases in which such breach does not justify the cancellation due to being based on matters of special or minor importance.

6.3. The carrier reserves the right to terminate the contract at any time with immediate effect in case of:

  • - Bankruptcy, insolvency, initiation of a special revitalization process or receivership;
  • - If the client does not fulfil his/her obligations within 5 working days after receiving a written notification to do so.
  • - If there is a situation similar to that referred in Article 11, paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 below.
  • - If the ship is not available due to unforeseeable circumstances and if, despite the efforts made by the carrier, a similar ship cannot be made available.

6.4. The cancellation or suspension must be notified in writing, by one party to the other, stating the relevant reasons. The contract is deemed to have been settled amicably upon receipt of the cancellation letter by the client.

6.5. If the client is responsible for the cause underlying the suspension or cancellation, the resulting damages will be borne by the client.

Article 7. - Price and price amendments

7.1. Unless otherwise agreed, the price does not include port expenses, bridge or locks expenses, fees and other similar expenses, which shall be borne by the client who is on board the ship.

7.2. The referred price is subject to changes resulting from the unforeseen increase in government charges, taxes or surcharges on fuel, whenever these occur after the signing of the contract.

7.3. If, as a result of the increase in prices, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, the agreed price has an increase of more than 15%, the client has the right to cancel or withdraw from the contract.

Article 8. - Payment

8.1. Payment shall be made by bank transfer to the account designated by the carrier. The date on the carrier's bank statement is considered the payment date.

Article 9. - Late Payment

9.1. The client defaults after the agreed payment date has expired. In that case, the carrier shall notify the client granting him/her a period of five working days after receiving the notification to make the payment.

9.2. Failure to pay the amount due after the period stipulated in the payment notice entitles the carrier to charge interest calculated from the due date, at the applicable legal rate, plus 3% per year over the due amount.

9.3. If the client remains without paying the amount due after being notified to do so, the carrier has the right to add collection costs to the amount owed, which include the judicial and extrajudicial costs.

Extrajudicial costs amount to:

  • 15% over the first 2,500.00 euros of the outstanding amount, which shall amount to at least 40 euros;
  • 10% over the following 2,500.00 euros of the outstanding amount;
  • 5% over the following 5,000.00 of the outstanding amount;
  • 1% over the following 15,000.00 of the outstanding amount, Unless the amount spent by the carrier is less than such amounts.

9.4. All billing claims shall be made in writing, clearly defined and documented, and sent promptly to the carrier upon receipt of the invoice.

Article 10. – Carrier’s obligations

10.1 The carrier performs the cruise according to its best practices and efficiency rules.

10.2. The carrier shall ensure that the ship and the crew comply with the legal requirements of the country where the ship is registered.

10.3. The route shall be defined by consulting the client, unless it has been previously fixed by the carrier and/or by the captain of the ship.

10.4. The carrier and/or the captain of the ship may change the cruise for navigation reasons.

Navigation reasons include, but are not limited to, all aspects relating to weather and sea conditions, blocking of sea lanes, state of the ship, force majeure, strikes and the salvage of lives and property at sea.

These reasons may also include the amendment of the place of departure and/or arrival and/or the decision not to set sail.

10.5. In the cases mentioned in the previous paragraph, the carrier and/or the captain of the ship shall always try to find, together with the client, an alternative solution. All reasonable additional costs, shall be borne by the client.

Article 11. – Client's (and guests) obligations

11.1. The client and his guests are to have their personal documentation duly organised and updated and the carrier declines any responsibility for the failure to comply with these duties.

11.2. Children travelling with their parents or authorised by them to travel with other adults are required to have their own personal identification document.

11.3. Unless otherwise agreed, at the end of the cruise, the client shall deliver the ship under the same conditions as the client found it upon boarding.

11.4. During the duration of the cruise, the client and the guests must maintain appropriate behavior towards the crew and other persons on board.

11.5. The instructions given by the carrier and/or the ship's captain and/or crew must be strictly followed for safety reasons and to maintain order on the ship.

11.6. If, in the opinion of the carrier and/or the captain, the client fails to comply with paragraphs 2 and 3 above, the carrier and/or the ship's captain may terminate the contract immediately and/or deny the client and/or his/her guests access to the ship, unless such breach does not justify the termination of the contract due to being based on reasons of special or minor importance.

11.7. The client and the guests are not authorized to carry other goods on board other than the luggage mentioned above, unless prior authorization is given by the carrier and/or the ship's captain.

11.8. The client and guests may not carry pets on board, unless prior authorization is given by the carrier and/or the ship's captain.

11.9. The client and guests may not bring on board or be in possession of materials or objects that may endanger the health, well-being and/or safety of third parties, such as hazardous substances, explosives, radioactive and/or toxic substances, contraband, weapons, ammunition and drugs.

11.10. The client must deliver to the ship's captain a list with the name of the guests, no later than the day of their arrival.

Article 12. – Force Majeure

12.1. Force Majeure are unforeseeable circumstances that can lead to delays or the inability to comply with the contract, whenever these circumstances cannot be avoided by the carrier due to legal, contractual or social issues.

12.2. Force Majeure includes damage to the ship that causes the ship to be unable to perform. These damages must be caused by circumstances that the carrier could not anticipate or prevent.

12.3. The termination of the contract for reasons of force majeure gives the carrier the right to be reimbursed for expenses incurred before the occurrence of such force majeure that led to the termination of the contract and provided that the client benefits from the services provided.

Article 13. – Carrier's liability

13.1. The carrier shall not be liable for damages resulting from death or injury and/or property damage that is caused by circumstances whose consequences any diligent carrier could not have avoided.

13.2. Any compensation to be paid, as a result of the inability to comply with its obligations as set out in Article 10 above, shall be limited to the agreed price for hiring the ship.

13.3. If the carrier proves that the damages were caused by the client's and/or the guest's fault or negligence, or if such fault or negligence contributed to the damages, the carrier's liability shall be removed, in full or in part.

13.4. The carrier shall not be liable for damages caused by delays due to meteorological reasons, the time the cruise starts and/or finishes or the availability of a replacement ship due to unforeseen circumstances.

Article 14. – Client's (and guests) liability

The customer is liable for the damages caused by himself or his guests on board the ship, except in cases where the damages are due to the carrier's acts or omissions.


Article 15. – Claims

15.1. Claims relating to the performance of the contract shall be clearly presented to the carrier and/or to the captain of the ship immediately after the relevant facts have occurred.

15.2. All claims for invoices must be submitted, in writing, within a maximum period of 10 days after receipt of the invoice.

Article 16. - Disputes

16.1. All disputes relating to this contract are governed by Portuguese law, with the exclusive jurisdiction of the Maritime Court of Lisbon (Tribunal Marítimo de Lisboa).

Article 17. - Cork fees

17.1. Aboard the SMM we serve a range of wines, beers and spirits. If you wish to bring your own alcohol our cork fees per bottle are:

  • Spirits & Wine €20.00
  • Beer €2.00

Artigo 18. - Special Diets

18.1. Santa Maria Manuela will always seek to accommodate guests needs and preferences, but since our infrastructure space is limited we can only accommodate allergies and intolerances. In our daily menu there is some options including salad, soup and vegetables.

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