A year-round destination: experience hygge in Denmark

CruiseCopenhagen is encouraging cruise lines to schedule calls during the off-peak season to achieve its environmental goals and improve the onshore experience for guests and locals

A year-round destination: experience hygge in Denmark
Cruising to Copenhagen during the off-peak season allows guests to visit attractions such as Krongborg Castle without the crowds

For centuries, Scandinavians have been striving to achieve hygge, a feeling of warmth, cosiness, conviviality and contentment derived from enjoying simple pleasures and spending time with loved ones. Over the past few years, this concept has spread worldwide, enticing people to visit countries like Denmark to discover for themselves why Scandinavians routinely top the charts as some of the happiest people in the world.

While hygge can be found throughout the year in Denmark, autumn and winter are the prime time to experience it, with Danes using open fires, candles, festive lights, blankets and gløgg (mulled wine) to brighten the darker days. And that is one of the many reasons CruiseCopenhagen, a business-to-business network of cruise ports, destinations, attractions, hotels and suppliers, is encouraging cruise operators to visit the Danish capital of Copenhagen during the off-peak season.  

Visiting Copenhagen during this season enables cruise guests to take advantage of the fact that there are fewer tourists in the city, giving them the opportunity to explore popular attractions, shopping areas, and food and beverage venues without the crowds. In addition, they can participate in wide range of shore excursions and tours that are only available in the autumn and winter months.

For example, cruise tourists can take a bus trip to North Zealand to see picturesque coastal views and autumnal foliage, as well as to explore Denmark’s history in places such as Kronborg Castle (the setting for William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet) and Frederiksborg Castle. Other attractions, like Christiansborg Palace and Amalienborg Palace, are also more magical during these months. Elsewhere, Tivoli Gardens, the third-oldest operating amusement park in the world, hosts a Halloween exhibition from mid-October to the beginning of November. This is followed by an annual Christmas experience from the end of November to the start of January.

Other unique experiences exclusively available to cruise guests during the festive season include pre-arranged trips to Christmas markets on the outskirts of Copenhagen, visits to the homes of local Danes who will serve gløgg and home-baked cookies, and dining experiences at local restaurants offering traditional Christmas food and schnaps. In addition, Strömma provides daily canal tours on boats adorned with festive lights and decorations, and The Royal Copenhagen Flagship Store hosts the Royal Copenhagen Annual Christmas Tables exhibition. Meanwhile, cruise guests calling in February can attend the Copenhagen Light Festival.

The highlight for many visitors, however, is the opportunity to immerse themselves in Copenhagen’s diverse and innovative gastronomical scene. Known as the Scandinavian capital of gourmet and sustainable cuisine, the city boasts 23 Michelin stars distributed between 14 restaurants, including more than seven sustainable stars – the most in any European city. It also offers a range of bistros, cafes, dining venues and eateries that cater to all tastes and budgets serving everything from classic Danish dishes to fresh seafood, sustainable meals and craft beer. In addition, Copenhagen is the epicentre of the New Nordic cuisine, which was pioneered by renowned restaurant Noma and focuses on creating meals made from fresh, simple and seasonal local ingredients. All the restaurants are quieter during the off-peak season, offering cruise lines the ideal opportunity to arrange gastronomical shore excursion experiences for guests.

Calling during off-peak months offers logistical and cost benefits for cruise lines too. Not only can they access discounts on port dues and charges, but they will also have more space to berth at the Port of Copenhagen, which is one of the biggest turnaround and transit ports in Northern Europe and can accommodate the largest cruise ships currently at sea.

By encouraging cruise operators to schedule calls throughout the year, rather than only during peak season, CruiseCopenhagen also aims to reduce air and noise pollution, helping to alleviate locals’ concerns about the industry’s environmental impact. It is also part of the network’s multifaceted efforts to help the Nordic Council of Ministers achieve its goal of making Northern Europe the most sustainable cruise destination in the world by 2030.

CruiseCopenhagen’s members work with more than 60 partners to make it easy for cruise lines to schedule calls and plan shore excursions throughout the year. It also offers a website showcasing destinations across Denmark and pages for each of the country’s 12 cruise ports with essential information about berthing facilities, waste management, popular attractions, shore excursions, hotel and dining recommendations, and local transport.

In addition, CruiseCopenhagen is developing a new microsite, which will showcase the benefits of off-peak cruising in Copenhagen and will be linked to an events calendar. This will enable cruise operators to plan their itineraries around upcoming festivals, exhibitions and other events.

CruiseCopenhagen’s strategy, which was implemented before the pandemic, is already showing signs of success. For the first time ever, Copenhagen expects to host cruise calls throughout the year in 2022 and forecasts that it will see similar visits during future off-peak seasons.

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
07 January 2022

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