The Port of Kiel’s 2010 cruise shipping season gets under way last week when the first cruise ship of the year, Hurtigrute’s “Fram”, set sail around 8 p.m. for the Norwegian fjords. The “Mona Lisa” had been docked at the Ostseekai Terminal after arriving from Vancouver on Sunday, April 24.

 Final preparations are being made and provisions are being taken on board prior to her departure on May 1st for the first Baltic cruise of the year. Dr. Dirk Claus, the Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co KG) said “This year, Kiel is once again Germany’s most popular cruise ship port. For the first time we expect as many as 350,000 cruise ship passengers.” Last season there were 114 calls by cruise ships. So far 137 calls have been registered for the 2010 season involving 27 different cruise ships – an increase of 20%.

The biggest ship docking at Kiel this season will be the “Costa Magica” of more than 100,000 GT, while MSC is putting two ships into service out of Kiel at the same time - the “MSC Orchestra” and the “MSC Poesia”. The “AIDAcara” will be a frequent visitor this season, offering 21 cruises from Kiel. “Mein Schiff” from TUI Cruises will also regularly visit the port again this year. Dirk Claus noted that “for the first time we are the base port for all four big cruise brand names on the German market. Alongside the DWCD awards, with which our services have already been presented, this is yet another important confirmation of the first class position which we and our partners, now enjoy”.

During the Kieler Woche at the end of June, fourteen calls are scheduled – among them is one by the “Sea Cloud II”, which will take part in the Windjammer Parade. Dirk Claus commented: “We also have succeeded in bringing the Kieler Woche more attention to cruise shipping organizers”. One date that should be noted is July 2nd, when the brand new cruise ships “Le Boreal” and “Seabourn Sojourn” are introduced in Kiel at the same time.

Innovations at the Port of Kiel this year include a second large luggage hall at the Ostseekai Cruise Terminal, a development which will improve logistics and speed up passenger processing. In addition, there is increased space for passengers on two levels at the terminal, meaning expanded waiting and check-in areas. Two new features introduced to the port include a play corner for children and a free Internet access point (Hot Spot), which already is showing a steady draw. Internet pre-booked “Port Parking” is also increasing in popularity among those guests who arrive in their own cars. For the first time, the port is also making spaces available in a nearby multi-storey car park this year.

The SEEHAFEN KIEL operates Kiel’s commercial port on behalf of the Schleswig-Holstein state capital of Kiel, of which it is a 100% subsidiary. Kiel boasts three modern passenger terminals for cruise ships at the Ostseekai, Schwedenkai and Norwegenkai, all of which are in attractive Stadthafen locations close to the city centre. Further ship berths are available at the Sartorikai and at the Bollhörnkai-Süd. With the support of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein and the EU, more than 60 million Euros have been invested within just five years in expanding Stadthafen terminal facilities.