Sandra Bratland joined Cruise Norway as managing director in January this year and says she is thoroughly enjoying her new role. “I would really like to provide an umbrella for the Norwegian ports and destinations – I see my job as a facilitator for them so that they can promote themselves the way they want to,” she says. Whether attending the big global and regional cruise events or teaming up with Innovation Norway to talk to decision makers in the UK or Germany (she’s very keen to help Norwegian members tap into the latter market), Bratland has a very full schedule.
Having worked with the European Cruise Service for almost two decades, Bratland is no stranger to the immersive nature of the cruise industry. Chairman Ingvar Mathisen remarks: “With Sandra on board it is great because she has such a long tenure from the industry, so she needed very little time to get up to speed.” Both praise the solid framework set up in previous years by Bratland’s predecessor, Wenche Nygård Eeg. “The strategy and marketing plan were established, so it is easier to focus on the core business.”
Bratland says that she is looking at new arenas in which to promote the association. “We’re always trying to see if there’s anything we can do to benefit our member ports and what we are doing seems to be working – it’s very popular. We have a small administrative team so we need to focus our work on certain aspects.”
Several Norwegian ports are located within the Northern European Emission Control Area (ECA) and so this has been one of the major issues Bratland has been dealing with this year as destinations prepare for the harsher emissions requirements to kick in from January 2015. “I have been asking a number of cruise lines how they look at this with regard to their sailing schedules in future and while some are saying it will have no effect at all, others are saying it will, but they just don’t know yet quite what the effect will be. Our member ports are saying calls are coming in as usual, maybe with a slight decrease but nothing major.”
Mathisen adds that the ECA is also prompting creative itinerary planning that may create new opportunities. “The ECA line runs south of Ålesund, so some lines from the UK market are looking at itineraries via the Irish Sea to avoid entering the ECA.”
Another theme for Bratland is the need to encourage cruise traffic beyond the ever popular fjords of Norway. “With 70% of traffic going to the fjords, we want to see more spreading to northern Norway and elsewhere. We really have something for everybody and there’s room for new sailing schedules, but the danger is that ships will stay in the south, bringing even more traffic.” Mathisen says: “We don’t want people to have to stand in line to see nature so we have started working with shareholders to look at the number of ships and how many calls are comfortable for each destination. We want to have sustainable cruising.”
With its Early Warning System cruise calendar that shows cruise lines when other lines’ ships will be in port, Cruise Norway helps minimise port congestion and balance numbers of visitors on any given day. Bratland says she would like to see wider use of this tool, which has worked well for the association so far.
This article appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2014 edition of International Cruise & Ferry Review. To read other articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.