This year’s cruise shipping season in Kiel opened on Saturday, April 5 when the first cruise ship of the year, the AIDAcara, berthed in the port after sailing through the Kiel Canal. During this year’s season, which will last until mid October, 22 different cruise ships are registered to visit Kiel a total of 125 times. The highlights of the season include the Kieler Woche regatta between June 21 and June 29 during which 16 cruise ships will be in the port alongside many tall ships. Dr. Dirk Claus, the Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co KG) said, “The Kieler Woche is growing year by year into an ever bigger attraction for cruise ship passengers. We are also particularly looking forward to the international cruise ship guests who will visit Kiel for day excursions ashore”. Along with Holland-America Lines well-known Eurodam and Fred Olsen’s Braemar, a P&O ship, the Adonia, will call for the first time with mainly English-speaking passengers on board.
The most frequent visitor this year to the Kiel fiord will be the AIDAcara and Kiel will be the starting point for 16 of her cruises, ranging from short cruises lasting three days to 17-day cruises to Iceland, Spitzbergen and the Northern Cape. Once again the biggest ship to visit Kiel – weighing in at 114,000 GT - will be the Costa Pacifica. She will call 12 times which is more than ever before. For the first time, TUI Cruises will be represented in Kiel this year with all three of its ships and in fact the first highlight of the season will be the premier visit to the port of TUI’s latest ship on May 26. Claus said, “Kiel will be the first German port to be visited by Mein Schiff 3 after she sails from her building yard in Finland.”
Along with the big cruise ships however, many smaller ones also have their regular places in the Port of Kiel. Amadea, Astor, Delphin and Hamburg are just as popular and welcome visitors as are Deutschland or Europa 2, which celebrates her Kiel premiere on June 11. Also to be seen on the Kiel Fiord this year are the Europa and the Artania, the latter well-known to German TV viewers from the series Verrückt nach Meer. There will also be another opportunity to meet up with a classic ship when the Azores berths at the Norwegenkai on May 15.
On ten occasions during the season there will be three cruise ships to admire at the same time, as well as the big regular ferries serving the Scandinavia and Baltic routes. “The demand in Germany for sea travel is bigger than ever before,” said Claus. “As both an arrival and departure port we benefit from this development and we are in the process of further expanding our capacities right now.” The port is working flat out at this very moment to build a passenger pavilion at Berth 1 in the Ostuferhafen. When it is completed at the end of May, it will be possible for the first time to process passenger exchange on three big cruise ships all at the same time in Kiel. To date that has only been possible with two. The new passenger area at Berth 1 is being opened on June 2 when the Costa Pacifica calls to exchange her passengers and begin a new cruise.
Over on the Ostseekai meanwhile, work on re-anchoring some of the quayside pilings on the facility’s southern berth is making good progress despite the fact that the overall job is more complicated than was thought, even just a few weeks ago. Claus said, “Our technical department and the construction firms involved are doing a great job.” To speed up the project even more a second drilling machine has now arrived at the site. However work will not be completed by May 10 as originally planned. Because of that, it has been agreed with her owners that the AIDAcara, which had been due to call at the Ostseekai before then, will now make four calls at the Sartorikai. Claus said, “The processing of passengers will take place as planned using the Ostseekai terminal building. The ship’s new berth is to the south and directly linked with the Ostseekai so this is a good solution to the problem.”
Parallel to this, the new Seafarers’ Lounge is taking shape at the Ostseekai for the German seamen’s mission (Deutsche Seemannsmission e.V.). Recreational, modern communications and other facilities will be available here soon for crew members.