Welcoming back cruise ships to ports and destinations

CFR asks ports and destinations worldwide to share updates about the return of cruise ships

Welcoming back cruise ships to ports and destinations
Cruise Gate Hamburg, Germany, will host over 300 ships this year and is also looking forward to hosting the christening ceremony of AIDA Cruises’ AIDAcosma

By Alice Chambers |

Portsmouth International Port, UK  

Portsmouth International Port is embarking on a major transformation this year, building an extension to its terminal to accommodate the predicted future increase in cruise passengers. The terminal, which is expected to be completed by spring 2023, will feature green facilities and veranda space with views across the port.  

Portsmouth is expected to welcome a record number of cruise vessels in 2022, with maiden visits from a wide range of cruise lines and the arrival of Salamanca, the first Brittany Ferries ship powered by LNG. 

Portland Port, UK 

Portland Port was fortunate to be involved in the restart of cruise operations from the beginning, welcoming calls from MSC Cruises and Viking at the end of May 2021. The port had welcomed over 60 calls by the close of the 2021 season and the restart gave a boost to the local area. The return of operational cruise calls was an early sign that things were improving after the Covid-related lockdowns. The focus has now moved onto the 2022 season and there is much excitement for a return of normal operations and services, including the welcome team and tourist information being available on the quayside, as well as music and entertainment on departure. 

Málaga Cruise Port, Spain   

After a 15-month break, Málaga Cruise Port opened its doors to welcome the passengers of TUI Cruises on 15 June 2021. Together with the port authority and representatives of the destination, the team organised a warm welcome event for the passengers. “After dark and tough times, we, the employees as representatives of Málaga, are delighted with the restart,” says Rafael Jiménez, head of operations and port facility officer at Málaga Cruise Port. “The cruise industry is about joy, exploring new cultures and creating long lasting memories. We are very proud to be a part of this journey.” 

Ports of Toulon Bay, France   

After so many months of inactivity, the port and local community at Toulon Bay, on the Mediterranean coast of southern France, were emotionally moved to see a cruise ship with guests onboard entering the Bay of Toulon in September 2021. “For the whole community, who is passionate and committed to welcoming cruise guests, to greet the call of Mein Schiff 2 last September was a real celebration, leaving everyone indescribably happy,” says Delphine Beudin, head of business and development at Ports of Toulon Bay. “This happiness was shared with passengers, who stepped off the ship with broad smiles on their faces!” 

Cagliari Cruise Port, Sardinia   

For the time being, Cagliari Cruise Port is committed to managing the continuous changes to its cruise ship arrivals schedule. Both the city and cruise passengers are excited to resume visiting the destination independently. Cagliari hopes that the pandemic has not diminished its visitors’ passion for cruises and is optimistic that this type of holiday is more popular than ever. The port is looking forward to a busy 2022 season, expecting 120 calls to bring a total of 190,000 cruise passengers to Cagliari. 

Taranto Cruise Port, Italy 

Taranto Cruise Port, which was established in May 2021 as part of the Global Ports Holding group, was probably one of the few ports in the world that saw increased cruise activity during the pandemic, thanks to intense promotional work. Located in Puglia in southern Italy on the coast of the Ionian Sea, Taranto welcomed 28 calls and 80,000 passengers last year. Both figures are expected to almost double in the 2022 season, which begins on 27 March. Visiting cruise passengers are immediately welcomed by locals, who consider them as a hopeful signal for the future of the port’s business.  

Cruise Gate Hamburg, Germany 

Cruise Gate Hamburg will host over 300 ships this year and is also looking forward to hosting the christening ceremony of AIDA Cruises’ AIDAcosma, which is the second LNG ship to arrive in Hamburg. This, alongside eight maiden calls, is keeping the port busy in the upcoming year, a welcome relief after the effects of the pandemic on the cruise industry.  

Hamburg has shown that with strict safety protocols in place and a mandatory double-testing strategy by cruise lines, business can be opened up safely and sustainably. The many happy faces of guests returning from cruises in the past months speak for itself. 

Ports of Stockholm, Sweden 

After the impact of the pandemic, Ports of Stockholm is looking forward towards a record season of cruise ship visits. An impressive 300 calls are already booked for 2022, including 25 maiden visits. Ports of Stockholm is open all year around and, for the first time, cruise vessels are also calling at Stockholm during the winter season. 

Stockholm is a very popular destination for international cruises and surveys show that nine out of ten passengers are “pleased” or “very pleased” with their visit. 

Hardangerfjord, Norway 

For years, Hardangerfjord, the ‘Queen of Norwegian Fjords’, has welcomed more than 100 cruise ships at the ports of Eidfjord, Ulvik and Rosendal in Norway. Many suppliers to the cruise industry, some of them family companies and young entrepreneurs, suddenly lost their business in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now, finally, they are looking forward to a brighter future.  

This year Hardangerfjord is expecting close to 150 ships to call with a total of around 250,000 passengers. The small villages along the fjord, which have less than 1,000 inhabitants, plan to create new attractions and activities to entertain these passengers.  

Port of Turku, Finland 

Port of Turku, 170 kilometres east of Helsinki in Finland, was typically a quiet port pre-pandemic but is gearing up to welcome cruise passengers in the foreseeable future with a range of excursions organised for both onshore and offshore exploration.  

“Except for the regular daily liner traffic, Turku has been a quiet cruise port before the pandemic, but now we hope cruise ships will find their ways to small destinations like us,” says Annika Schulman, executive assistant at Port of Turku. “We are slightly off the beaten path but have so much to cruise passengers and can do so in safe surroundings.” 

Port of Turku gives each cruise ship the best possible service by arranging an authentic welcome ceremony on the pier. Safe travel, enjoyable sightseeing such as the archipelago from ship’s own zodiacs or tender boats, and travelling in bubbles are possible in Turku, which contribute towards the growing interest of the city. 

Tura Turizm, Turkey 

The variety of offerings available at ports in Turkey make them ideal destinations on Eastern Mediterranean cruise itineraries. However, Turkey has seen a decline in cruise calls since 2016 due to domestic turmoil and its unstable political situation, meaning that the pause in cruise operations at many ports began just before the pandemic. 

In 2022, cruise operators will be able to schedule calls at Turkey’s 17 established ports, as well as the new Galataport Istanbul in Turkey’s capital city, which is designed with a unique hatch system connected to an underground terminal, creating a temporary customs area while a ship is in port. Through the use of its hatch system, Galataport converts Istanbul’s historic port into a unique promenade and leaves the coastline free after a ship departs from the port.  

In total, four million guests are expected to visit the country during almost 1,000 cruise calls across all Turkish ports, beginning in April 2022. Due to Turkey’s varied ports, cruise lines are able to cater to the needs and interests of a wide range of guests. 

Port of Los Angeles, California, USA 

Port of Los Angeles is gearing up for its busiest cruise season in over a decade with more than 200 ship calls scheduled for 2022. Vacationers can choose itineraries from 11 unique cruise brands, such as Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. In addition, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Viking Cruises, Seabourn, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises and NYK also have scheduled sailings from the city this coming year. Los Angeles remains a top market for cruises, widely recognised as a convenient embarkation and disembarkation point for sea-going travellers. Cruise travel is a valuable component of Los Angeles tourism economy since a busy cruise weekend brings as many as 20,000 travellers to the city and each cruise ship call generates more than $1 million in economic activity.    

Port Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA 

Port Milwaukee welcomes the return of cruising on the Great Lakes with several cruise lines planning to call at the port. Great Lakes cruising is a growing market and Milwaukee, situated on Lake Michigan, can be a perfect day visit or an overnight turn-around port for cruise passengers.      

The pandemic-related setbacks to the cruise industry have increased the demand for locally accessible vacations that provide the same luxury as international cruising abroad, with the added benefit of remaining close to home for North American passengers.   

“Not only are the cruise lines excited to restart cruising – the destinations are too,” says Jazmine Jurkiewicz, trade development representative at Port Milwaukee. “Visits to Milwaukee from esteemed cruise lines such as Viking Cruises, Pearl Sea Cruises, American Queen Voyages and Ponant will grow our local economy and tourism industry.” 

Port of Cleveland, Ohio, USA 

Port of Cleveland, located on the south side of Lake Erie, which is the fourth largest lake out of the five Great Lakes in North America, is looking forward to a busier schedule now that the cruise industry is beginning to recover from the effects of the pandemic. 

“Sit down and grab a drink,” says David Gutheil, chief commercial officer at Port of Cleveland. “You’ve got to hear about Cleveland. This is a lakefront city where the local brews flow just as easily at chef-owned eateries as they do at old-school, mom-and-pop joints.”  

Attractions such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Playhouse Square will entertain visiting cruise-ship passengers as well as the 50,000 acres of parks, which provide picturesque views and a chance for guests to get close to nature. “Cleveland offers world-class experiences without the world-class ego,” adds Gutheil.

Port of Muskegon, Michigan, USA 

When cruise ships arrive again in Muskegon, it will mark a fresh beginning for West Michigan’s vacation season.  

Residents look forward to chatting again with visitors about the rich history and new happenings in Muskegon. The museums are hosted by volunteers, so passengers have ample opportunities to talk to and get to know the locals. “Locals will enthusiastically talk about the historic district, the Victorian homes, the public art and the craft markets,” says Cindy Larson, president of Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. “Muskegon is a big, small town, where everyone enjoys the splendour and beauty of visiting cruise ships!” 

BVI Ports Authority, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean 

In the last quarter of 2021, BVI Ports Authority witnessed the successful return of the cruise ship industry to the British Virgin Islands amid an ongoing pandemic. This achievement was accomplished by the hard work, dedication and support of many both locally and abroad.   

Reviving this sector significantly helped to restimulate the local economy, putting people back to work and reopening businesses. From BVI’s ship agents to tour operators, taxi drivers, beach and retail vendors and many other stakeholders, the benefits have been substantial. 

Antigua Cruise Port, Antigua and Barbuda  

The return of cruising to Antigua and Barbuda was an emotional time for those working at Antigua Cruise Port and its surrounding businesses. Each cruise line’s return to Antigua was celebrated with a welcome ceremony, a plaque exchange and steel pan entertainment.  

With the completion of the fifth berth under its belt, Global Ports Holding is now focused on the landside development of the port and will commit an estimated $35 million to the creation of the Antigua Port Day Club. The modern waterfront playground will feature several pools, a casino, local food and beverage outlets, and approximately 70 to 100 retail spaces for local entrepreneurs. 

The day club project will also include the implementation of solar panels to supply power to the area. Construction of the day club will begin in July 2022 and is scheduled to be completed by July 2023. 

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

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