Ports in northern Europe are hoping to extend their season – and promote their diversity by Susan Parker
The Baltic and Norway were hot topics at Seatrade Europe, held in Hamburg in last September. At the Cruise Itinerary and Shorex Development in Europe session, there was much discussion about extending the cruise season in northern Europe.
Claus Bødker, director Cruise Baltic and Cruise Copenhagen Network, commented that destinations in the Baltic were prepared to offer discounts to encourage cruise lines to call off season. “One cruise line has said during Seatrade that they will give it a go,” he said. Extending the season by just 14 days in spring and again in autumn, he added, would give more opportunities to passengers and destinations alike.
As such, Cruise Baltic, which has 28 member ports, has created a brochure entitled ‘Theme Cruises in the Baltic Sea’ for itinerary planners. “We believe by taking this initiative and producing this new ‘Theme Cruises’ brochure we aim to succeed in conveying to itinerary planners the richness and diversity of our Baltic Sea region, together with the many appealing attractions it has to offer,” said Bødker.
“We hope our recommendations featured will prove inspirational to our cruise line partners and that this tool will be a ‘first’ in a series of themed brochures.”
The marketing tool includes information on suggested target groups; local maps; illustrations; suggestions for activities on board ship; and a contact list of Cruise Baltic partners in the region. Each of the themes works with a sevennight itinerary and includes topics such as wellness; history; lighthouses; Viking heritage; design; and UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as 13th century centre of Tallinn, or Malbork Castle in Gdansk. The Viking cruise highlights attractions such as the Viking Museum in Oslo and the Viking Village at Frederikssund, while design ideas include the Design District in Helsinki and the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg. The ‘Baltic Wellness Cruise’ features Rønne in Denmark, with its enormous Diamond Spa, and Kotka in Finland, for yoga at a seaside fortress.
Norway, too, is looking at a longer and more diverse cruise season. Sandra Bratland, managing director of Cruise Norway, explained that the Gulf Stream prevents Norwegian ports from freezing up in the winter. This year and last there were 14 cruises to Norway in February and March (aside from the regular Hurtigruten service that operates yearround). “We do winter as winter should be,” she commented, highlighting snow, the Northern Lights, dog sledding and other winter sports, but adding: “Winter cruising is not for everybody, it is exclusive.”
German line AIDA is visiting Norway this winter and P&O Cruises’ Oriana is returning. Bratland said: “We have just had a request for an 11-day cruise in December. Yields in winter are sky-high in Norway, as opposed to the Mediterranean, where yields drop in the winter months.”