Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2024

193 The northern lights are one of Norway’s most popular attractions for cruise guests their itineraries in the far northeast of Norway. The port is open year-round, can handle vessels of approximately 300 metres and close to Kirkenes’ international airport and other transport links. The town offers multiple shore excursions throughout the year and will soon have double the hotel capacity, making it ideally suited for pre- and post-cruise stays. Turnaround calls are also set to increase in Tromsø, with more airlines introducing direct international routes to the city’s airport in the summer months and new hotels opening over the next couple of years. The tourist board and local businesses are diversifying available activities to provide more options in the summer. The port will also open new shore power facilities in the city centre from January 2025 and in another location by 2027. Alta is also planning to build a shore power facility and either extend one of its two cruise piers, or construct a new one, to accommodate larger vessels. It aims to begin construction for both projects in 2028. Hammerfest’s new town centre cruise pier, which can host 280-metre-long vessels will be operational in summer 2024. The port is also working to become a year-round cruise destination and host ships for two days, so it is expanding its shore excursion offering with a particular focus on the winter months. The Vesterålen region now has four cruise ports, including one in Sortland, another in Melbu, one in the centre of Stokmarknes and a new facility that has just opened five minutes’ drive from the town centre. Melbu also has a new tender pier. These infrastructure improvements mean the region can now accommodate larger cruise vessels. Other ports are prioritising sustainability. For example, Harstad, which opened a new quay in the city centre in 2023 and can now accommodate 300-metre-long vessels, began using the Environmental Port Index in 2024. Meanwhile, Lofoten is implementing a comprehensive new sustainable tourism strategy. It aims to attract more environmentally cruise ships, spread calls throughout the year, increase the number of tour guides, explore partnership opportunities with nearby ports and improve its existing infrastructure. Longyearbyen in Svalbard is also focused on making cruise tourism more sustainable as it awaits a report from the Norwegian government about a possible cap on cruise visitors. Currently, cruise guests account for around half of the total number of tourists, so the port and destination authority is conducting an economic survey to calculate the benefits of cruise tourism and determine the optimal number of cruise guests to have in Longyearbyen at any one time. Photo: Visit Tromsø