'It is a big increase following of the pandemic, even though it is other tragic circumstances that are behind the upturn to a large extent,' said Nicole Brattåsen, cruise operations manager, Gothenburg Port Authority. She referred to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which sent cruise lines scrambling to find alternatives to Russian ports, particularly St. Petersburg.
30 additional calls
Brattåsen reported solid bookings going into 2022, but in the spring Gothenburg picked up 30 more calls as a result of the geopolitical situation. Cruise passengers numbered around 80,000, with occupancy of about 70% on the ships.
Disney Magic, at 300 meters, was the largest ship while Mein Schiff, Disney Magic and MSC Poesia had the greatest passenger capacity.
Germans, Britons and Americans are the top cruise visitors, in that order, and Gothenburg offers them both classic picturesque attractions and destinations outside the city center such as farm visits.
'We are selling Gothenburg as a bit of a break in the regular cruise range, depending on the target group. For big city cruisers, for example, we are a slightly more relaxed city with a nice vibe. For expedition cruisers, on the other hand, we are a fun detour from fishing communities and smaller villages where we can offer a little more pulse and a big city feel,' Brattåsen said.
2023 even better
The 2023 cruise season looks set to be a new record year with 92 calls booked to date. New callers booked include, at the America Cruise Terminal: Ocean Odyssey, Clio and The World, at Arendal: Renaissance, Seven Seas Navigator, Caribbean Princess and Explora I.
In long term, Brattåsen said Gothenburg needs to continue to strengthen its competitiveness as a destination in a global cruise industry that is facing several challenges.
'On the one hand, we have a recession coming that affects all the experience industries. On a slightly more regional level, we need to find a new identity for the Baltic region needs without St. Petersburg,' she said.
Sustainability is another challenge and ships increasingly are connecting to shore power while alternative fuels such as biogas and methanol are under consideration.
'The destinations also need to do their part, and Gothenburg is at the forefront,' according to Brattåsen, adding the city has been named the world's most sustainable destination six times in a row, and 'we receive indications from tour operators that guests want to learn more about it and what Gothenburg concretely does to be sustainable.'
When it comes to alternative fuels, the Port of Gothenburg claims to be first in the world to introduce operating regulations for bunkering both methanol and biogas, and it is investing heavily to become a hub for supplying alternative fuels.