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4.3 million cruise passengers in the Baltic

Alan Lam reporting from Fort Lauderdale

Cruise Baltic, the association of cruise ports in the Baltic region, has revealed that a total of 4,297,841 passengers visit the Baltic Sea region in 2015, a 0.5% increase on 2014.

On 13 March, the association presented the comprehensive results of its Market Review 2016 at the Seatrade Cruise Global. Beside its 29 partner ports, the review also included figures from St. Petersburg, Kiel and Riga.

Despite the slight increase in overall passenger number, for the same period, however, the total number of calls has fallen by 8.7% and that of turnarounds by 3.1%.

On average, between 2000 and 2015, there was a 9.7% increase in annual passenger number, from 1.1 million in 2000 to nearly 4.3 million in 2015; the number of calls increased by 2.6% per year, from 1,479 in 2000 to 2,174 in 2015; and the number of turnarounds increased by 6.9% per year, from 106 in 2000 to 422 in 2015.

Stockholm, Tallinn, Copenhagen, Rostock and St. Petersburg were the top five ports in terms of passenger throughputs, with Stockholm having experienced the biggest increase y-o-y, at 12.8%, while, disappointingly, Copenhagen - its biggest port - suffered a 8.4% contraction. Rostock and St Petersburg also experienced declines in 2015.

Most notably, the numbers of calls in all of the top five ports fell substantially in 2015, with Copenhagen fell by 9.6%, St Petersburg by 9.5%, Tallinn by 5.7%, Stockholm by 5.3%, and Helsinki by 2.7%. Together they received 1,351 calls, representing 62.1% of the total for the region.

As expected, Copenhagen continued to be the largest turnaround port, with 125, but suffered a 3.1% fall compared to 2014. Rostock and Malmo both experienced falls of 4% and 30%, respectively, while Kiel and Stockholm grew by 8.3% and 26.2%.

Cruise Baltic envisages 2016 to be a significantly better year, with increases in turnaround for all ports: by 11.2% for Copenhagen, 10.2% for Kiel, 4.2% for Rostock, 5.7% for Stockholm and 14.3% for Malmo. Total passenger number is expected to increase by a moderate 2%, the number of calls by 1.2%, and the number of turnarounds by an impressive 11.1%.

“I believe 2016 will prove to be a particularly significant and positive year for our Baltic Sea destinations,” said Claus Bødker, Cruise Baltic Director. “We are committed to offering our guests a truly great experience, with added value; and are dedicated to bringing more ‘industry firsts’ to the marketplace in order to match the competition from the new, emerging cruise destinations.”