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The cruise industry is back

Hamburg, Germany's largest seaport, will record the highest number of cruise ship calls to date in 2022.

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The cruise industry is back

Hamburg, Germany's largest seaport, will record the highest number of cruise ship calls to date in 2022. With a total of 280 calls by 49 different ships, around 750,000 cruise passengers will have been in the Hanseatic city by the end of the year. For the year 2023, the terminal operator Cruise Gate Hamburg (CGH) expects 284 calls with up to one million passengers. For comparison: In 2019, immediately before the start of the pandemic, Hamburg had 210 calls by cruise ships with a total of around 900,000 passengers, which is the previous record for the number of travelers. "The cruise in Hamburg has made a strong comeback after two years of corona-related restrictions," said CGH boss Simone Maraschi on Tuesday.

The cruise industry weathered the pandemic faster than expected. This is surprising, also in view of the massive economic damage in recent years. "We estimate that the cruise industry has burned around 50 billion dollars in the pandemic," said Bernard Meyer, head of Papenburg Meyer Werft, one of the world's two leading manufacturers of cruise ships, in Wismar last week. CGH boss Maraschi reminded that the cruise business in Hamburg had largely come to a standstill after the beginning of the pandemic and only started again more than a year later in the summer of 2021.

From Maraschi's point of view, a major reason for the rapid revival is a significantly larger range of cruises than before. “Shipping companies are also relying more on smaller, more specialized ships, for example on expedition cruises. And they are now increasingly offering cruises in winter, such as the shipping companies Aida Cruises and MSC in particular.” You can now reach more destinations directly from Hamburg, in addition to the popular destinations in the Baltic Sea, in Norway or on the British Isles the shipping companies also offer cruises to the Caribbean or the Canary Islands.

The river cruise business in Hamburg has also grown significantly, with 41 calls this year. These are, for example, tours from Hamburg along the coast to Bremerhaven or Stralsund, said Maraschi. For the coming year, CGH expects 37 calls by river cruise ships.

The cruise business, which is regaining strength, is likely to lead to controversial discussions with the environmental organizations about the exhaust gases of the ships again. All three Hamburg terminals should therefore be equipped with shore power systems by 2025. Hamburg's first such system at the Altona cruise terminal went into operation in 2016, where Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' "AIDA Sol" and "MS Europa 2" in particular are regularly supplied with shore power. The system was used a total of 30 times this year, 14 times with a full shore power supply while the ship was in port. For 2023, 50 attempts using shore power are expected in Altona. This year, four ships have carried out so-called "integration tests" for the use of shore power, and in 2023 there will be another twelve ships.

The cruise terminal on Steinwerder is also getting a shore power system, which is scheduled to go into operation in the second half of 2023. The cruise terminal in Hafencity, which is currently being built, can offer shore power from the 2025 season. "With the rapid expansion of the shore power supply, the Port of Hamburg is sending a clear signal for more environmental protection - and also meets the expectations of the people of Hamburg of a port close to the city," said Jens Meier, head of the Hamburg Port Authority. “We look forward to being one of the first ports in Europe to offer shore power at berth for both cruise ships and container ships from 2025.”

It is still controversial how the large European ports can harmonize their shore power connections in terms of technology and pricing - an important prerequisite for the shipping companies to quickly equip more ships for the purchase of shore power. "I am sure that we will find a good solution with the help of the federal government and the EU Commission," said Meier. One talks about it again and again with other large European ports such as Antwerp or Le Havre. Cruise Gate Hamburg is a subsidiary of the Hamburg Port Authority.

Parallel to the cruise business, which is growing again, the major cruise-related events are returning to Hamburg. CGH is expecting seven cruise ships for the 834th Port Birthday from May 5th to 7th, 2023, and eight cruise ships are to come to Hamburg for the Hamburg Cruise Days from September 8th to 10th. Eight ships are scheduled to visit Hamburg for the first time in the coming year, including Albatros Travel's "Ocean Albatros", Norwegian Cruise Line's "Norwegian Dawn" and MSC Cruises' "MSC Euribia" and "MSC Fantasia". The cruise fair Seatrade Cruise Europe will also take place again in Hamburg in 2023, from September 6th to 8th.

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