Building a foundation for sustainable cruise growth in Norway

Norwegian ports and destinations are making enhancements to improve the cruise experience

Building a foundation for sustainable cruise growth in Norway

Hurtigruten_Espen Mills

Hurtigruten’s hybrid ship, Roald Amundsen, in Lofoten, which is becoming increasingly popular with cruise visitors

By Rebecca Gibson |

Ports and destinations in Norway are adopting the Environmental Port Index (EPI), building shore power facilities, extending the shoulder season and involving locals in shore excursions to create an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future for cruise tourism in the country.

In 2023, Ålesund opened one of Europe’s biggest shore power facilities, Haguesund connected its first cruise ship to the local power grid, and more passenger vessels plugged in at Bodø. The city is also using EPI and has 30 cruise calls scheduled for 2023, 35 for 2024 and expects further growth when it hosts more than 600 events as the European Capital of Culture next year.

Tromsø will provide shore power at its city centre cruise pier from 2024 and aims to offer the same facilities at the Breivika pier by 2027. The port, which has recorded a rise in both the time vessels remain berthed and the number of autumn and winter calls, is also collaborating with local stakeholders to make Tromsø a sustainable cruise destination.

Molde has already signed up to the EPI and intends to open shore power facilities in 2024. It expects almost twice as many calls in 2023 as in 2019 and has spread them out to reduce overcrowding. Similarly, both Hardangerfjord and Skjolden are planning for shore power, with the latter having already signed a letter of intent.

While it is currently unfeasible for Lofoten to build shore power facilities due to insufficient capacity in the local power grid, it is working on other sustainability initiatives to become a ‘green island’ by 2030. Lofoten will handle a couple of overnight stays and a record 16 maiden visits in 2023, up from four inaugural calls per year before 2020. The Leknes berth has 62 cruise calls booked for 2024 and 35 for 2025 and may be updated with dolphins and a cruise terminal.

Other destinations are upgrading their infrastructure to cater for an upswing in demand. In June 2023, Harstad opened a new cruise quay for 300-metre-long ships in the town centre and will receive 10 calls this year.

Trondheim has equipped its main quay with new fenders and will soon conduct feasibility studies to build a second pier in the city. The port authority will host 104 calls this season (up from 92 in 2023), including one in new destination Hitra and three to Frøya (an increase from one in 2023). Numbers are predicted to rise further when Trondheim hosts the Cooking Championship Bocuse D’or in 2024 and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2025.

Elsewhere, Hammerfest will open a new cruise port with a quay accommodating 280-metre-long vessels in the town centre in 2024, and Alta is finalising plans to build a new port.

Nordkapp is to install a new tender pier following feedback from cruise lines about difficulties reaching the current pier in the main port. The destination is focused on attracting more winter calls and targeting expedition cruise brands. Ponant will make a test call in 2024.

The destination is one of many Norwegian ports marketing to expedition cruise lines. Mo i Rana, which opened to cruise ships in 2016, initially aims to attract up to 20 annual calls from expedition vessels carrying 2,000 passengers maximum. It has secured two bookings for 2024.

Meanwhile, new Cruise Norway member Port of Hareid wants to attract expedition vessels accommodating up to 1,500 guests but is yet to secure its first cruise visit. The port has a 120-metre-long quay located 100 metres from the village centre, a tender quay around 800 metres away, and a small passenger terminal. It is discussing the feasibility of shore power and either building a deepwater cruise quay close to the village centre or installing a floating Sea Walk pier.

To reduce overcrowding, extend the cruise season and improve the cruise experience for both passengers and locals, Kristiansand has introduced a one ship per day policy. Flåm has also developed excursions for all seasons and will accommodate calls in 11 months of 2024. It plans to offer shore power too.

Port of Oslo has implemented measures to spread calls across the year and minimise disruption caused by cruise ships. On 1 June 2023, it reduced the number of cruise piers from four to two and will supply shore power at the main quay by 2026.

Several other ports are experiencing a resurgence in cruise calls in 2023. Sortland handled five to seven ships per year pre-pandemic but will receive 12 between March and November 2023. Egersund will welcome 18 calls, an increase from 10 ships in 2022. And Smøla will host a record four calls, thanks to a new floating berth being available in the summer season.

Although there will be fewer calls (19) in Kristiansund this year than in 2022, passenger numbers will be higher due to more medium-sized ships berthing. Vessels are also staying longer in port.

“Following two years of Covid, Norway’s cruise industry is on the right course after we welcomed more than one billion passengers in 2022,” says Inge Tangerås, managing director of Cruise Norway. “There are now more ports of call in Norway than ever before, and in general, there is stronger growth in Northern Norway than in other parts of country. Figures show the number of calls is expected to increase from 3,000 last year to 3,400 this year.”

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

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