As this year’s cruise shipping season draws to a close, Dirk Claus, the Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co. KG), reported that it has been a positive one. The season ends on Monday September 21st with the visit of Marco Polo. Dirk Claus said at the Seatrade Europe Trade Fair in Hamburg that “this year Kiel has been visited by many especially big cruise ships. We were able to well exceed our passenger target of 250,000 passengers.” During the season, 21 different cruise ships called a total of 117 times and more than 290,000 passengers boarded or left a cruise ship in Kiel, compared to 222,000 in 2008. The biggest ship to call this season was the 102,600 GT Costa Magica, followed by the 92,400 GT MSC Orchestra and the 86,000 GT Eurodam.
In order to cope smoothly with the handling of up to 9,000 passengers inside a few hours, passenger areas at the Ostseekai cruise ship terminal were almost doubled in size and two luggage halls were added to the terminal building. One novelty this season has been the new electronic traffic guidance system which was in permanent operation for the first time and further improved orientation for passengers driving into Kiel by car. Also new was the Port Parking system: since this summer it has been possible to reserve port parking slots in advance and online for the period of an entire cruise. This is in addition to the port’s already proven Valet Parking system and has already been well received.
According to currently available information, Kiel will experience yet another increase in the number of cruise ship calls next season. Along with Costa Crociere and TUI Cruises, AIDA Cruises will also once again have a regular big cruise ship departure from Kiel. AIDAcara is expected to call 21 times in 2010 to change passengers. The nearly 98.4 ft long MSC Poesie will make her maiden visit and will, for the first time along with sister ship MSC Orchestra, use Kiel as the port of departure for Baltic and North Land cruises. Known mainly as a cruise ship port of call, Kiel also expects to host many one-day berth and excursion visits from a series of luxury vessels. They include ships like Holland America Line’s Eurodam and Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony. Already advised for the first time for 2010 is also Fred Olsen’s Balmoral. Claus said, “considerable economic spin-offs emanate from the Port of Kiel to the city and its surrounding area. In 2010 we expect more than 300,000 cruise shipping passengers.” Next year’s season starts on April 22nd.