Good times ahead: ports that are set for success

Ports worldwide are developing cruise offerings to help them match pre-Covid passenger volumes

Good times ahead: ports that are set for success
Thessaloniki and the broader region offer cruise visitors unique and unforgettable cultural, historical, archaeological and gastronomic experiences

By Rebecca Gibson |

When the Covid-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, it wreaked havoc on the global cruise industry, forcing brands to cancel all operations, spend weeks repatriating both guests and crew members from stricken ships, and rapidly rethink health and safety protocols. For almost a year, cruise brands battled against ever-changing restrictions at a local, national and international level to gain approval to safely resume operations.

Now, more than two years on from the start of the pandemic, the global industry is largely back up and running. We asked selected ports to tell us share their forecasts for the seasons ahead now that they are able to welcome cruise traffic again.

JAXPORT, Florida, USA 

Cruising from Jacksonville, Florida, provides a seamless experience for travellers looking to get away to the Caribbean or Mexico. The port’s location ensures efficient sailing times – it takes less than 20 hours to sail from Jacksonville to Nassau, The Bahamas, and little more than 36 hours to travel from Jacksonville to  

Cancun, Mexico. 

More than 98 million US residents live within a day’s drive of JAXPORT and travellers can easily connect to the cruise terminal via major roadways I-95-, I-75, and I-10. There are also dozens of daily flights to Jacksonville International Airport. 

A tourism study reported that 60 per cent of travellers cruising from JAXPORT cited easy access to the port as the primary reason for sailing from Jacksonville. 

Cruise Liverpool, UK 

With more than 100 cruise calls booked for 2022, Liverpool has demonstrated a strong return post-Covid. Future bookings and tourism numbers are on the rise and the city will welcome its one-millionth international visitor by the end of the 2022 season.  

Owned and operated by Liverpool City Council, Cruise Liverpool manages alongside berthing for ships right in the heart of the city, just footsteps from its iconic waterfront. The organisation actively promotes Liverpool as a world-class cruise destination while working closely with partners to drive economic impact through cross-sector spend. It expects to generate more than £30 million for the regional economy in the next two years.  

Whilst sustainable tourism, social value, job creation and community pride remain high on the agenda, the team in Liverpool has its sights set firmly on the future as it continues to drive innovation and resilience through every aspect of the business.  

Scrabster Harbour, Scotland 

Scrabster Harbour has opened a new cruise berth, reflecting the port authority’s confidence in the future of the cruise industry. Constructed during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic but delivered on time and below budget, the £19 million ($21.5 million), 250-metre berth has a water depth of nine metres and is already benefiting the port and surrounding area. It has hosted the largest-ever cruise vessel to call at Scrabster and the port has secured record bookings for 2023.  

Scrabster’s strategic location on the north coast of the Scottish mainland makes it an ideal port of call for many itineraries, particularly as it offers short transit times to and from many other cruise ports. It is ideally positioned to serve the continued growth in the small to medium market, and those passengers seeking a more intimate atmosphere. 

Port of Thessaloniki, Greece 

Thessaloniki is a modern European and multicultural city at the centre of Northern Greece, which makes it the main gateway for the Balkans and the broader Southeast, Central and Eastern European region. Today more than ever, Thessaloniki and the broader region offer cruise visitors unique and unforgettable cultural, historical, archeological and gastronomic experiences. In fact, there are more than 15 Unesco World Heritage sites and over 30 museums within walking distance from the port.  

The destination is experiencing spectacular growth in the cruise sector and the port has already secured 79 calls for 2023. More than half of these are homeporting calls, as leading companies in the cruise industry have included Thessaloniki in their itineraries. 

Zadar Cruise Port, Croatia  

Soon after opening in April 2019, the new Zadar Cruise Port welcomed record numbers of cruise ship calls and passengers. Despite further growth being abruptly disrupted by the pandemic at this crucial stage of development, the port’s post-Covid recovery has been remarkable, with cruise ship calls in 2022 equalling those achieved in 2019.  

The port and the terminal have established a reputation for being safe and secure, and for offering the highest level of service excellence and health protocols. In future, the port will invest in achieving ISO certifications and strong marketing activities, which should help it to support the forecasted growth of cruise ships calls and passenger volumes. 

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

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