Wednesday, January 18, 2023 - 11:01 by ce-press
With the arrival of Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Borealis on December 17, the Port of Bilbao closed a successful cruise season, with a record number of calls and passengers.
In 2022, cruiseships (between 126m and 348m in length) made 78 calls to port’s cruise terminal in Getxo. A total of 108,154 passengers arrived in the Basque Country, of which 1,066 embarked and 1,022 disembarked, whilst the remainder were transit passengers. The majority were British, followed by Americans and Germans.
“In addition to these post-pandemic figures on traffic flow - of great value for the economy of the area - the recovery has been rapid, and with figures previously unheard of in the Basque Country,” stated the Port Authority of Bilbao.
In 2019 50 cruiseships called, but in 2020 - due to the Covid-19 pandemic - cruises were suspended in Spain as they were in most other countries. These services resumed in August 2021, with 14 cruiseships stopping over. Last year saw more cruiseships arriving but with fewer passengers on board until later in the season.
Throughout 2022, cruiseships arrived both from companies that are regulars to the port and from those calling with ships for the first time. These included 20 cruiseships on a first call and a number of days where there were two or three ships calling on the same day.
Passengers sailing on an itinerary out of Bilbao contribute significantly to tourism in the region, often spending a night in the city prior to embarkation which gives them the opportunity to enjoy local attractions.
Facilities and services on offer include Wi-Fi, flexible and helpful management and turnaround handling at the terminal. The proximity of the Getxo terminal to the airport makes it possible to offer turnaround operations.
Passengers are able to visit Bilbao and the immediate area, as well as the different attractions on offer in Bizkaia, Donostia-San Sebastian and Alava-Rioja Alavesa.
Despite the difficulty of forecasting, the goal for 2023 is to exceed the number of calls in 2022, presently estimated at over 80. As the Port Authority of Bilbao points out: “This is a type of traffic that needs to develop over time. If we are going to attract, little by little, new business and new companies, we need to demonstrate repeatedly that we are capable of offering a good service.
“One stand-out consequence of our efforts in this field for this year is the May turnaround of Oceania Cruises’ Sirena on a 25 night itinerary to Israel. Another is the six calls to be made by MSC Cruises, a company whose confidence and trust in the Port of Bilbao is progressively consolidating”.
In addition to meetings, contacts, visits and intense commercial activity, the Port Authority will continue to take part, as they do year after year, in different fairs and events in the sector, including Seatrade Cruise Global in March, to promote Bilbao/Bizkaia/the Basque Country as a cruiseship destination. Bilbao Tourism will also be attending.