According to figures from the Norwegian ports, ship calls are set to increase from 1,809 to 1,887 (+ 4.31%) and day visitor numbers from 2.7m in 2016 to 3.0m making 2017 the best year ever, and will beat the 2013 record of 2.78m day visitors with good margin.
The boost in visitor numbers is first and foremost due to a strong autumn and winter season increase.
‘Norway has become an all-year-round cruise destination, with ships calling all 12 months of the year,’ said Sandra Diana Bratland, md at Cruise Norway.
‘The June, July, and August peak season is stable, whereas the May and October shoulder seasons have seen a significant increase,’ she added.
‘We receive more and more enquiries from cruise companies looking to visit Norway during winter, and it is clear that the main attraction is the possibility of experiencing the Northern Lights.
‘The chances of seeing the Northern Lights along the Norwegian coast are quite good in October, and this year there are as many as 27 scheduled calls – compared with two in 2016.’
Traditionally, this is a quiet time of year up and down the Norwegian coast, and visitors will have the fjords and the Aurora almost to themselves, says Bratland.
Winter destinations for 2017 are Alta, Bergen, Bodø, Harstad, Haugesund, Kristiansund, Narvik, Nordkapp (Honningsvåg), Molde, Åndalsnes, Stavanger, Tromsø, Trondheim, Sortland, and Ålesund.
It is a market dominated by British tourists, but this year there are also three scheduled visits for AIDA Cruises carrying German-speaking passengers.
Norway is a popular travel destination amongst Germans in general, and Germany is a market we believe offers great opportunities in terms of winter cruises to Norway, says Bratland.
Main source markets are Germany, UK, and US, followed by France, Italy, and the Netherlands.