The The Hamburg Cruise Center has commissioned its new mega berth in Altona after seven months of construction.

On Aug. 15, the new berth went into operation. The first ship to dock at the refurbished and extended Edgar Engelhard Quay was the AIDAaura. The Queen Mary II docked simultaneously at the HafenCity cruise terminal.

Plans call for 50 ships a year to call at the Altoba berth and terminal. The berth can accommodate vessels up to 300 meters in length.

Senator for Economics and Labour Axel Gedaschko commented: ‘For Hamburg it is a matter of major significance that the new berth for cruise ships has been able to go into operation without a hitch. The new facility means that Hamburg will be in a better position to establish itself in the highly competitive cruise sector. This will now give rise to further opportunities of employment for our local service industry. And last, but not least, it results in a new point of call for Hamburg as a centre of the tourist industry.’

The range of companies involved in this value creation chain is wide, extending from port operators to entertainment companies and technical supplier firms. In terms of economics, the importance of the cruise industry is thus far more than the sales revenue from the tourist industry that has been quantified so far.

Gerd Drossel, managing director of the Hamburg Cruise Center, said: “The demand for cruises is high; it is a steadily growing market. With the additional handling facilities for big ships in a prestigious building that CC II now offers, we can continue to boost Hamburg’s image as a cruise destination.”

For the moment ships are still being handled by a provisional facility. The actual terminal building is currently in the planning stage, but the request for planning permission has already been submitted. Construction operations will be completed in the summer of 2010.