This ship, now home to a museum and floating youth hostel, was once an important vessel to the Portuguese economy.
The Gil Eannes was used primarily as a hospital ship designed to support the “White Fleet.” This Portuguese fishing fleet often operated in dangerous waters off the coast of Newfoundland and Greenland. The ship also served as a supply and flagship for the fleet.
The massive vessel was constructed in Viana do Castelo around 1955. In 1963, it was utilized as a passenger and refrigerated cargo vessel in between fishing seasons. In 1973, the ship made its last voyage in the waters around Newfoundland. That same year, it was sent to Brazil on a diplomatic voyage under the sponsorship of the Portuguese ambassador.
The Gil Eannes went out of service in 1973. After a stint in a storage facility in Lisbon, the ship was sold for scraps. In 1998, the vessel became the property of the Gil Eannes Foundation and was extensively refitted before being placed on display in the commercial dock at Viana do Castelo.
It’s possible to visit the bridge, galley, bakery, engine room, doctor’s office, treatment room, and several cabins aboard the ship. There are also several rooms for temporary exhibits.
Parts of the ship, such as the wards, were converted into a youth hostel.
Know Before You Go
The youth hostel is open all year round.