Monday, May 22, 2023 - 09:47 by ce-press
There are many cruise ports around the world that regularly enjoy calls in excess of 200 per year, including even the largest ships.
Then there are others, such as Harlingen situated north of Amsterdam, in the Friesland region of Holland, which is so tiny, it has to fight every step of the way to receive just one call.
Harlingen is unique. The port was integral to the Dutch Golden Age of shipping and exploration going back to the 1300’s. In addition, the approach is from the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right, due to the thousands of species of sea-life that make the area their home.
Such is the approach to the port, only ships of up to a maximum of 160m length overall can call, making it ideal for specialist small-ship and expedition companies to call. Due to the Wadden Sea approach, the nearest suitable tendering point is 15 nm away, which is too far for passengers.
Harlingen is , therefore, celebrating receiving three different cruiselines in a single week: on May 1 Hurtigruten’s Fridtjof Nansen called, to be followed two days later by Plantours’ Hamburg, and soon afterwards Grand Circle’s Clio.
Kathe Kuperus, managing director Cruise Port Harlingen, comments: “We are very fortunate to have the backing of the municipality which is very keen to receive ocean going cruiseships in addition to our regular river cruise programme and supports the operation accordingly. In addition, because the port is so small, the ships all stand out magnificently and so residents are keen to come out and welcome the guests.”
Joint managing director Janneke Nieuwhof adds: “Everything in the town is so close for people to go on guided walking tours of the old town but, more popular with expedition lines, is the ability to tour the town on the canals using the ships’ own zodiacs. In addition, there are so many sites close by, ranging from the world’s oldest planetarium to Leeuwarden - European Capital of Culture 2018 - and the 32km Afsluitdijk, keeping the people of the Dutch lowlands dry.
UK-based port and destination consultant David Selby, who is helping the port, adds: “I only work with destinations that I believe have potential and where I know the cruiselines can make it work and guests will have a great time. Covid got in the way of progress, but our efforts are really starting to pay off. It’s not just one call per season, but several, which makes a significant difference.”
Next year is already starting to look like it will outstrip 2023, so its onwards and upwards for Harlingen.