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Ports & destinations

LCA members target Portsmouth

With new facilities at Portsmouth International Port helping to attract more cruise ships, Members of the Leading Cruise Agents of the UK took the opportunity, 23 November, to see for themselves how the Port has changed, and they were amongst the first travel professionals to view the recently completed canopy outside the new cruise terminal entrance.

The LCA delegation were in Portsmouth, not only to see the new passenger terminal, but also to view the Marriott Portsmouth Hotel, which is active in the pre and post-cruise market, and visit some of the city’s most famous attractions. The group, who began the day with a networking meeting and lunch, followed by a comprehensive tour of the Terminal, then visited the Historic Dockyard, Spinnaker Tower and Gunwharf Quays - all major attractions available to cruise travellers stopping off on a cruise, or embarking from the city’s port.

Ferry Port Manager, Phil Gadd commented, "We’ve invested more than £16 million in improving passenger facilities at the Port. It’s already paying off, with cruise operators like Fred. Olsen and All Leisure Group deciding to base some of their ships here. This was a great opportunity to show the people who actually sell these holidays to passengers just how the Port has changed, and what a wonderful city Portsmouth is to visit."

With the cruise market continuing to grow, the LCA has dedicated itself to offer expert, professional and unbiased advice on an ever-expanding range of holidays. Its aim is to make sure customers are matched with exactly the right sort of cruise, based on first hand knowledge of what is available. The LCA’s Kevin Griffin and his colleague-Directors were keen to show Members just what Portsmouth has to offer. He said, "LCA agents are focused on offering cruising with a difference - promoting new, exciting developments like Portsmouth, from a base of real expertise and experience. We’re delighted to be learning more about this superb new facility and its surrounding attractions."

Asia Cruise Terminal Association member ports expand and upgrade existing capacity

As cruise tourism takes off in Asia, established and emerging cruise port operators are already expanding or upgrading their port capacities to meet the cruise boom.

At the official launch of the Asia Cruise Terminal Association (ACTA) last week, member port Shanghai Wusongkou (WSK) International Cruise Terminal Development Co. announced that they are already building Phase 2 to double the length of their linear berths to 1500m by 2013, enabling four to five cruise ships to berth at the same time.

Their cruise terminal, strategically located at the mouth of the Huangpu River in Shanghai is already one of China’s largest cruise terminals. WSK is forecasting a passenger throughput of 300,000 in 2012, and this is expected to grow to 800,000 by 2016.

Similarly, in Taiwan, ACTA member port, Port of Keelung reported a four-fold increase in passenger throughput over the past five years. In 2006, throughput was 116,334 and by the end of 2011, throughput is expected to come in at 460,000. In addition to its current two berths, the Port of Keelung will be building a new harbour building to serve growing passenger traffic between Taiwan and mainland China.

Numbers at the two Japanese member ports – Kobe and Sakai – have spiked as well over the past five years. Kobe has almost doubled, while Sakai’s throughput has increased more than 10-fold.

Another ACTA member port, Port Klang Cruise Centre recently more than doubled the length of one of their berths. With a total of three berths, the terminal can now berth Oasis-class cruise ships that have gross tonnages of more than 200,000 and carry over 5,000 passengers. They are forecasting a throughput of 500,000 passengers by 2016, two and a half times of what they saw in 2010.

Singapore Cruise Centre (SCC) is also in the midst of a S$14 million upgrade of its cruise terminal facility at HarbourFront which will yield about 25% more space for embarking and disembarking passengers. Passenger throughput at SCC has exceeded one million per annum over the past two years, and is expected to be close to the one million mark at year end.

ACTA was initiated by SCC and WSK about one and half years ago as a regional alliance dedicated to grow and develop the region as a captivating cruise playground. Today in addition to SCC and WSK, ACTA counts among its founding members, Port Klang Cruise Centre (PKCC), Port of Keelung (PKL), Sakai Port (SP), Port of Kobe (PK) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Riding on this crest of growth, ACTA participated at the inaugural Cruise Shipping Asia 2011 where member ports networked with executives from cruise lines, shipping associations, travel and hospitality industries, national tourism bodies and other port operators.

Ms Christina Siaw, SCC’s CEO said: "Our vision at ACTA is to promote the region as a preferred cruise playground. We can only do this collectively, as we are inter-dependent on one another in cruising."

"We have to develop and grow at the same pace, subscribing to a common set of standards in design, security and safety, operations and customer service. We would welcome like-minded member ports to come on board with us."

ACTA member ports met in the Philippines two months ago to ratify the constitution and to agree on a work-plan. This work-plan will see member ports undertaking consumer surveys in their respective countries to find out consumer perceptions of cruising, and what they expect during a cruise vacation.

Survey findings will then be shared with cruise liners and will also help ACTA members to more effectively promote cruising in their own countries.

Member ports will also draw from SCC’s experience in setting up a cruise eco-system at each of their terminals to deliver best-in-class services to cruise ships. Cruise 360 was launched recently by SCC, and the partners include best-in-class service providers in food and beverage chandelling, ship repair and maintenance, crewing needs, shore excursions and marine bunkering. Other plans in the pipeline include media familiarisation tours, exchange visits, seminars and workshops. The sharing of best practices has already started. SCC is sharing what it has learnt from its 20 years as a cruise terminal operator with a team of five personnel from WSK in a month-long familiarisation training programme at its cruise terminal.

Port of Barcelona closes summer cruise season with passenger numbers up by 16%

The Port of Barcelona has closed the summer season with a 16% increase in cruise passenger numbers for the same period of 2010, confirming the Port Authority is on track to achieving its forecast of 2.5 million cruise passengers and 900 cruise vessel calls in the year 2011. By the end of October, the Port had received a total of 2.4 million cruise passengers and 785 cruise calls. 
Barcelona continues to consolidate its position as a turnaround or homeport with 58.5% of cruise passengers arriving at the port either beginning or ending their journey in the city. This type of traffic represents a significant boost to the economy of Barcelona and Catalonia as passengers regularly spend additional nights in the city or nearby areas with further spending on accommodation, restaurants, excursions and shopping etc. In 2010 alone, this type of tourism contributed 260 million euros to the country’s tertiary sector.

Client loyalty among shipping companies

This season, the three largest cruise vessels sailing in the Mediterranean chose Barcelona as their homeport: the Liberty of the Seas, (Royal Caribbean), the Norwegian Epic, (Norwegian Cruise Line) and the Carnival Magic (Carnival Cruises). All three shipping companies have located their most up-to-date and best-equipped vessels in the city. Excluding crewmembers, the three vessels can accommodate a total of 14,000 passengers. The Port is therefore maintaining its leadership in the cruise sector by strengthening its position as the leading cruise port in Europe and the Mediterranean and the 4th homeport in the world, surpassed only by the three large ports of the state of Florida.

Companies with a strong presence in the Port of Barcelona such as Costa Cruises and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) have experienced significant growth throughout the year. Operators such as Pullmantur, Iberocruceros and Holland America have also increased their calls in the city. Disney Cruise Line has also consolidated its presence in the Barcelona port area by initiating all its summer cruise schedules in the Port. The Seabourn Cruise Line chose to launch the vessel Seabourn Quest in the Port of Barcelona This ceremony usually takes place in the shipbuilders yard or a nearby port but on this occasion was held in the Port of Barcelona. 
Efforts made by the Port of Barcelona to break with seasonality trends in the Mediterranean cruise sector to have cruise vessels operating all year round, continue to bear fruits. In the specific case of November, a total of 74 calls are scheduled, some 27% up on last year’s figure of 58. 

Cruise passengers by nationality

In relation to cruise passengers, the 2010 nationality study revealed that Spanish passenger numbers (19%) had increased to occupy first place followed by North Americans (17%), British (16%) and Italians (15%). This type of tourism is also beginning to attract other nationalities such as South Americans who make up 7% of the total, an increase of 5% on last year. 
Growth in the Port of Barcelona over the last 10 years is due to a number of factors such as the firm commitment of the APB and the Barcelona Port Community to the cruise industry, which has materialised into excellent facilities of international recognition. It is also due to on-going commercial initiatives, the excellent services and professionalism offered by the Barcelona Port Community to both shipping companies and passengers, the attraction of Barcelona itself, support infrastructure (airport, HSR, etc.) and high security levels at the cruise terminals and the port as a whole. 

More efficient operations

This season the Port of Barcelona set out to improve the accesses to cruise terminals by implementing two key actions. Firstly, the Port Authority opened a dedicated entrance lane for public transport (taxis and buses),in use since 1st July to coincide with days of heightened cruise activity in the port. Also, the taxi area at Terminal A has doubled in size allowing 15 vehicles to operate simultaneously. These initiatives have allowed mobility to improve at the Adossat quay, speeding up entry and exit operations and reducing the amount of time tourists have to wait before reaching the city. 
The Port has also introduced changes to reinforce security at the cruise terminals. Since 1st March companies responsible for port services provided to cruise traffic have taken on the responsibility of monitoring the security of passenger and luggage under the constant supervision and command of the Guardia Civil, who are still present inside port facilities to carry out the official surveillance of these services. This approach is being implemented with two main objectives: to release police personnel to enable them to focus on other surveillance and security tasks and to better allocate resources in response to demand as terminals can contract the resources they require on the basis of passenger volume and time slots. 

Cruise visitors' views on Gothenburg: "A clean, green city with friendly people"

Gothenburg in Sweden is a clean city with beautiful green areas. The people have a good knowledge of languages and are friendly, particularly the taxi drivers. However, information at the quayside and transport into the city centre could be improved. These are just some of the views of the passengers on the cruise ships that put into Gothenburg during the summer.

There has been an explosion in the number of cruise visitors who have chosen to see Gothenburg in recent years. This year, 65,000 visitors arrived on 52 vessels. This can be compared to the 3,600 visitors who arrived on five vessels in 2002.

Jill Södervall, Head of Cruise Operations at the Gothenburg Port Authority, commented: "The increase is largely a result of focused collaboration between the Port of Gothenburg and Göteborg & Co."

The Port of Gothenburg and Göteborg & Co have for the first time conducted a major survey to find out what the cruise visitors felt about Gothenburg, and also to find out where they came from, what they did when they were in the city and their opinions on about how they were received.

The highest marks went to the green areas in the city, the friendliness and language skills of the people and the level of service among taxi drivers. The travellers also appreciated the many cafes and restaurants in the city, the range of shops and the fact that it was clean. On the other hand, they were not quite as satisfied with the transport to and from the city centre. Information at the quayside about what there is to see and do in the city could also be improved.

Jill Södervall continued: "The survey provides us with valuable information about areas in which we can improve to ensure visitors are even more satisfied."

Important source of income for the city

Cruise visitors spent a total of SEK 40 million in Gothenburg during the summer. Those who took a guided tour (37 per cent) spent around SEK 980, whilst those who made their own way around spent around SEK 480. The visitors spent most money on food, drink and shopping – and it was mainly clothes, local handicrafts and souvenirs that prompted them to open their wallets and purses.

First time in Gothenburg for many

The majority of cruise visitors to Gothenburg came from Germany, the UK, the USA and Spain although there were also visitors from Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and a number of other countries. Around 57 per cent had never been to Sweden before and for 77 per cent it was their first time in Gothenburg.

Sara Erikson, Head of Cruise Operations at Göteborg & Co, commented: "The survey shows how vitally important cruising is to the tourist industry when it comes to bringing visitors here for the first time."

Four out of five visitors were under the age of 65 years. The average age was 51 years. Cruise visitors to Gothenburg from Asia were considerably younger with an average age of 37 years.

British Columbia records 8% rise in passenger count 2011

British Columbia cruise ports recently wrapped up a successful 2011 season with an 8% increase in total passengers over the previous year.  The communities of Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Prince Rupert, Vancouver, and Victoria welcomed 1.2 million cruise passengers on a total 435 calls in 2011, generating a total economic impact of $1.3 billion to the BC economy. Direct passenger and crew spending added up to $185 million and cruise line spending was $367 million in the province while overall business tax contributions were $50 million, CRUISE BC said in a statement.

"The growth in this year's cruise visitations is a positive sign that the industry is turning the corner from the challenges of the previous few years" said Cruise BC Chair Doug Peterson.  "More cruise ships are being positioned on the west coast to take advantage of the strength of the Alaskan cruise theatre. BC cruise ports play a key role as both homeports and destinations during the summer cruise season.  The economic generation from the direct and indirect spending is a significant benefit to both the individual communities and also to the province as a whole."

The 2011 cruise season saw multiple highlights and benefits extending across different regions of the province:

*    Success in Nanaimo's 2011 cruise season came not only in the form of a 26% increase in passengers from 2010, but also in the form of permanent infrastructure upgrades to the community.  

 *    The city of Victoria also had multiple reasons to celebrate.  In addition to once again leading Canadian ports in the number of cruise calls, with a total of 206 calls and 440,000 passengers, Victoria also welcomed its 4 millionth cruise guest to the city in August 2011.  Victoria was also home of Disney Cruise Line's first ever call to a British Columbian port on May 2nd.  In addition to the Disney Wonder, Victoria also enjoyed inaugural calls by the Oceania Regatta, the Celebrity Century and the P&O's Arcadia.

*    The Prince Rupert Port Authority's 2011 season concluded with more than 50,000 cruise passengers arriving on 21 ship calls from May through September. Two inaugural calls were made by the Oceania Regatta and the Norwegian Pearl, with weekly calls by Norwegian Cruise Lines.  In the fall of 2010, PRPA engaged a study to evaluate Prince Rupert as a port of call on Alaskan itineraries.  The results of this report were used to enhance the port's facilities and tourism offerings. 

*    Vancouver recently concluded a successful 2011 Vancouver-Alaska cruise season, posting a 15 per cent increase in passengers over 2010. Between May and October 2011, the Port welcomed 663,425 passengers on 27 different vessels and 199 cruise ship calls.  New in 2011, Port Metro Vancouver welcomed Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder and Oceania Cruises' Regatta for the first time, with both vessels home porting in Vancouver during their inaugural seasons in the Alaska market.  Vancouver also saw the return of Crystal Cruises to Alaska with the Crystal Symphony making 10 port calls in Vancouver.