Creating a distinctive destination for cruise guests

Vigo’s port authority is turning aspects of local life into exclusive experiential tourism activities that will delight cruise guests of all ages

Creating a distinctive destination for cruise guests
Cruise guests can take a short ferry ride from Vigo to the Cíes Islands to enjoy the spectacular scenery, beaches and hiking trails

Located in the north-west of Spain, the port of Vigo has been receiving sea-going passengers since it became a regular port of call for ships sailing from England to the British colonies in the early 19th century. Vigo’s popularity grew further in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it became the preferred departure port for Spaniards emigrating to America. Today, the city remains a top port of call for multiple cruise operators and their guests, all of whom are welcomed with open arms and invited to immerse themselves in local life by Vigo’s citizens.

Cruise ships dock in the heart of the city using 1,000 metres of berthing lines, while guests disembark and re-embark via two well-equipped passenger terminals. The port authority works hard to provide all the services cruise lines and their guests need. It also acts as an ambassador for Vigo, promoting the varied tourism and shore excursion options the city and the surrounding areas have to offer.

As part of this, the port authority has led the way in developing the European Union’s Blue Growth 2016-2020 project and is now president of the European Sea Ports Organisation’s Blue Growth Network. In this role, Vigo’s port authority is responsible for fostering synergies between the different maritime sectors to build a strong network of connected, innovative, green and inclusive ports.

To achieve this, Vigo’s port authority has strengthened its relationships with cruise operators and nearby ports and has also developed innovative new IT solutions to digitise processes, both at a local level and as part of the Spanish State Ports’ Puertos 4.0 project. This enables Spanish ports to provide real-time information to cruise operators so they can plan calls easily. Meanwhile, environmental policies and new projects to explore the feasibility of providing shore power or LNG refuelling facilities to cruise ships are making port operations more sustainable.

In an effort to improve inclusivity, Vigo’s port authority has introduced training programmes for locals who are involved in the cruise tourism industry and developed the ViGOreal & local project. Through this project, the port authority aims to turn aspects of local life into exclusive experiential tourism activities that make Vigo a distinctive cruise destination. This will enable guests to enjoy a range of cultural, historical, natural and gastronomic shore excursions options, such as tours of the Albariño wineries, Santiago de Compostela, the medieval village of Baiona, or National Park of the Cies Islands.

Other new shore excursions allow visitors to learn about the pivotal role the Ría de Vigo estuary plays in the lives of locals by joining fishermen to collect seafood or heading to the floating bateas (rafts) to taste mussels and oysters with an Albariño wine. In addition, they can search for sunken galleons from the Battle of Vigo Bay in 1702.

While Vigo may not be a marquee port in the traditional sense, the port authority’s commitment to building a connected, innovative, green and inclusive cruise destination that offers a wide variety of authentic shore excursions certainly makes it a stand-out option for any European itinerary.

This article was first published in the 2019 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
17 February 2020

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