Sweden begins a cautious restart
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, cruise tourism globally was decimated, and Sweden was no exception. Throughout the crisis, the ports in Stockholm, Visby and Gothenburg have worked together to develop common policies and practices to enable the shipping companies to safely restart operations.
“By collaborating with the relevant regulatory agencies to establish joint protocols, unambiguous codes of conduct and practices for cruiseship calls, the shipping companies have had a common policy to adhere to, which has facilitated the restart of the important cruise tourism,” explained Joakim Larsson, City of Stockholm planning commissioner responsible for Ports of Stockholm.
On the first call, passengers stayed in their own ‘bubble’ by travelling in specially-chartered buses and had their own set times to visit museums, so that they did not not mix with members of the local communities.
All of the passengers have been Covid-19 tested, and there are significantly fewer passengers aboard than on a normal cruise. Strict codes of conduct also apply aboard the ship.
“It has been both educational and inspiring to work together with Ports of Stockholm and the Port of Gothenburg to facilitate a safe restart to cruise operations in consultation with border police, the respective County Medical Officer, The Public Health Agency of Sweden and the shipping companies. Now we have a very good solution in place and we are very happy to welcome the first disembarking cruise passengers to Sweden,” said Henrik Ahlqvist, sales director cruise, Copenhagen Malmo Port.
In the Stockholm region alone, the cruise industry contributes a total economic effect of €176 million, as well as creating 1,100 jobs, which is a significant proportion of the rapidly growing tourism industry.
Visby has had two calls so far from Mein Schiff 1, both times carrying about 1,200 passengers.
On June 12 the first cruiseship of the season, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 6, arrived at the Port of Gothenburg, taking about 1,000 passengers on a scenic cruise. On June 18, AIDAsol became the first cruiseship to berth, arriving at the Cruise Terminal at Aarendal in the outer port area, and also where passengers (700, ie about half the ship’s capacity) were allowed to go ashore on one of AIDA Cruises’ organised trips.
Martin Meriwall, cruise operations manager Gothenburg Port Authority, said: “We’ll only be offering sightseeing tours by bus with 50% reduced capacity, along with a number of walking and cycling tours. Guests will also be subject to the same immigration controls as other tourists entering Sweden, which means that for the time being they will need to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test result to the border police before going ashore.”
A total of 60 cruiseships are scheduled to visit Gothenburg throughout the remainder of 2021.