Zeebrugge opens new terminal
Every year Zeebrugge, the port of Bruges, welcomes more than 140 cruiseships bringing some 400,000 passengers to discover the manyfold tourist attractions Flanders and Belgium have to offer.
Currently Zeebrugge is a transit call but with the help of the city of Bruges it will now have the capability to offer soft and full turnaround opportunities, depending on the number of passengers.
On June 15 the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal was inaugurated. This is part of a series of new services available through the construction of the multi-purpose ABC-Tower. Both lower floors as well as the top floor will be used to allow both transit and turnaround passengers a comfortable and smooth terminal experience. The other floors will be occupied by private companies and the ‘cruise’ floors will also be available for MICE-initiatives.
The building is located next to the marina, a few hundred meters from the quay. A fleet of complimentary port shuttle buses will transport passengers between the ships’ gangway and the terminal.
The terminal building will comply with Schengen legislation border inspection as required, together with the ISPS-code. The correct and timely supply of the passenger and crew list, preferably in the AnNa 1.1 spreadsheet, will be the basis for a risk analysis, which will determine the level of border inspection.
Security services including luggage scanning, four lines for hand luggage screening/scanning and walk-through detectors will be available.
Turnaround capacity is set at 1,000 passengers. The use of an additional marquee will make it possible to increase this number.
The cruise building terrain will have both secured ISPS zones and publicly accessible zones including a 6,000m2 (65,000ft2) staging area to organise transport to and from the terminal. The taxi lane will accommodate 19 taxis and public transport is available close by. Every ship is entitled to a complimentary port shuttle bus between the gangway and the terminal.
Cruise passengers, officers and crew will be welcome on the ground floor, which will have separate arrival and departure areas, toilets, information counters, check-in facilities and a gift shop. Free wifi is available throughout the building. The first floor (1,600m2) offers a waiting lounge for departing passengers and a separate crew lounge.
A multitude of video screens, including a giant video wall, will provide continuous inspirational imagery of tourist attractions in the region. In addition works of art will embellish the iconic architecture.
The seventh floor has a rooftop brasserie where passengers can indulge in local delicacies, such as Belgian waffles, beer and chocolate, whilst enjoying a panoramic view of the ship and the Belgian coastline.
With a growing drive-to source market in Belgium, northern France, Holland and western Germany, passengers will be able to start their cruise closer to home in a cost-effective way. Those interested can prolong their trip with a pre- or post- in the Unesco World Heritage City of Bruges.
Zeebrugge has the transport connections and local or nearby hotel accommodation to succeed as an embarkation or disembarkation port for a cruise. Bruges itself hosts 98 hotels offering 4,400 beds in addition to many options available in the popular coastal resorts like Knokke or Ostend ranging from five-star hotels to more affordable rooms.
Belgium is a small country with excellent road and rail connections. Brussels is just 75 minutes away from Bruges and 90 minutes from Zeebrugge and both are served by (at least) hourly train services. With high-speed trains linking Brussels to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Lille and Koln in just a couple of hours, millions of potential passengers are within reach.
The Port of Zeebrugge and Brussels Airport are working very closely together in order to offer cruise lines an integrated air-sea policy. This comprehensive partnership aims to jointly develop inbound cruise tourism and create a seamless airport experience.
Brussels airport offers a worldwide network to and from the heart of Europe with over 200 destinations served by some 70 passenger airlines. There are frequent flights to all European capital cities and major regional centres. The network also includes daily direct flights to and from North American origins like Atlanta, Chicago, New York (JFK), Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, Montreal and Toronto. China is served with daily flights to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
In addition to the Brussels hub, the close proximity of the hassle-free regional airport of Oostende-Bruges could potentially be instrumental in convincing passengers to start a holiday on the Belgian coast.
Alternatively Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow are just over three hours away from the cruise berth in Zeebrugge.
*Next year’s Cruise Europe Conference will be held in Bruges/Zeebrugge March 5 to 7.