Creating a compelling cruise itinerary can be challenging. Not only do operators need to evaluate the appeal and shore excursion opportunities provided by a particular destination, they must also consider where their ships can be berthed easily and cost-effectively at the corresponding port.
Located on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in south-western France, the Port of Bordeaux recognises the importance of effectively marketing its facilities and services to ensure it attracts cruise calls.
“When operators are developing a cruise itinerary, they are more likely to look for a group of ports in close proximity, rather than a single port,” says Laurence Bouchardie, head of development and marketing at the port of Bordeaux. “To capitalise on this, Bordeaux has become a member of the Atlantic Alliance and Cruise Europe. Both organisations work with their member ports to ensure they can meet the requirements of the cruise lines and market their services, facilities and nearby attractions effectively.”
Bordeaux also communicates the benefits of its terminals directly to cruise lines. “Representatives from Bordeaux attend all of the major industry events – such as Cruise Shipping Miami – and visit the cruise companies to ensure they have all of the information they need to plan a call at one of our terminals,” says Bouchardie. “Our pilots’ organisation can provide companies with tidal information and berthing schedules up to two years in advance.”
The port has three cruise terminals including Le Verdon, which caters for cruise vessels of any size; Bassens; and Bordeaux Terminal, which is located in the city centre and can cater for two ships of up to 255m at the same time. Bouchardie explains that the multiple terminals, and the fact that operators pay the same fees regardless of whether they visit more than one terminal or stay in port for more than a day, have contributed to a rise in cruise calls.
“We are starting to welcome more and more overnight calls because there is so much to do and see in Bordeaux,” she says. “This year, cruise ships will spend more than 70 days berthed at our quays, while almost every other ship will stay overnight in the city.”
According to Bouchardie, the port also has plans to build a new cruise quay in Pauillac, in the Medoc region of France. She says: “This would enable us to better segregate cruise and container ship operations, especially for operators calling at Le Verdon.”
Renowned as one of the world’s most prolific wine-producing regions, Bordeaux is already a popular destination with many tourists. However, Bouchardie explains that the port also needs to ensure it highlights the other attractions the city provides for cruise passengers.
“While many wine lovers would be attracted to a cruise in Bordeaux, we need to ensure that operators are aware that the city has a range of other activities for their passengers,” says Bouchardie. “Bordeaux is a beautiful 18th century city with lots to see and do. It is the second largest UNESCO World Heritage-classified city in France, enabling cruise passengers to visit sites such as the Grand Théâtre or the Place de la Bourse.”
However, securing cruise visits is only the first step. “Providing a seamless experience for both operators and passengers when the ships arrive is essential,” says Bouchardie. “Bordeaux’s tourism board provides onboard information to passengers via English-speaking guides, while passengers can access free wi-fi at the city centre quays. They can also embark on tour buses at the terminal.”
To help the port improve the services it provides, it obtains feedback from both the cruise operators and the passengers. Bouchardie concludes: “We are very proud of our Bordeaux terminal ratings. Passengers just love our city, its attractions, the views and the experience they have when they disembark the ship. Being able to berth in the heart of the city is a unique experience.”
This article appeared in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. To read more articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.