On the eve of Seatrade Cruise Global 2018, members of Cruise Baltic, Cruise Norway and Stockholm joined together to host cruise line executives and media at a well attended reception Sunday evening at Fort Lauderdale’s Hilton Marina.
2017 saw the highest ever number of cruise passenger movements in the Baltic amounting to 5,054,849 according to statistics compiled by Cruise Baltic which cover its 29 cruise destination members plus three additional destinations (St Petersburg, Kiel and Riga) to provide a full view of the region.
The record represents an increase of 16.6% in visitors by cruise ship, and a 15.4% jump in ship calls.
Turnarounds also increased by almost 4% and whilst these will likely decrease slightly in 2018, the overall picture is another year of positive growth in the number of guests and calls, noted Cruise Baltic director, Claus Bodker.
In 2018, the region expects passenger numbers to rise by 8.4% and calls to grow by 6.4% resulting in almost 5.5m visitors.
Copenhagen is the top port in terms of passengers with a 14.9% increase to 850,000 last year, followed by Rostock with 641,000 guests a jump of 15.9% and in third position Stockholm which grew by 20% from 500,000 in 2016 to 600,000 in 2017.
St Petersburg recorded 581,422 visitors and Kiel 513,909 and all five are expecting further growth in 2018 with Copenhagen remaining the busiest port in the Baltic with 870,000 guests anticipated.
For some of the region’s smaller ports (0-24 calls) strong growth in passengers was also recorded namely: Karlskrona and Elsinore up 300%; Kalundborg from 706 in 2016 to 7,850 last year; Saaremaa from 720 to 1,500 and Kotka received its first calls in several years bringing 8,600 guests.
To meet rising demand Copenhagen and Stockholm are both planning new cruise infrastructure: with the former due to start work on a fourth terminal at Ocean Quay next year. The 10,000 sq mtr building set across two floors should be ready to open in 2020.
In Stockholm, a new berth will open this year providing two quays at Vartan and looking further afield a new berth will be freed up for cruise ship handling at Frihamnen in 2021 when the container terminal is relocated and there are also plans to build a new cruise terminal alongside.
The picture is also bright in Norway where ports are expecting 2,168 calls and 3.6m day visitors in 2018 representing a 14% hike in ships and 20% jump in passengers. Bergen remains the top port with 332 calls and 6660,000 passengers.
Winter calls are steadily increasing with calls rising 21% this year and passengers expected to be up 14%, noted Cruise Norway's managing director, Inge Tangeras.