The 17 member ports of the Atlantic Alliance are expecting an increase of nearly 8 percent in cruise calls for the 2010 season over the previous year. The passenger volume is expected to grow to 1.8 million from 1.6 million in 2009, an increase of more than 12 percent.

Lisbon tops the Atlantic Alliance ports with the most passengers at 460,000, followed by Dover (325.977 passengers) and Vigo (230.000 passengers). Hamburg is expecting more than 100 calls for the first time with passenger traffic in excess of 200,000.

The association, which held its recent-most meeting in Lisbon on July 1, said in a prepared statement that it is not all about large ports, and there are also notable changes among smaller ports. Antwerp expects nearly four times  the passenger volume over the previous year (2009: 8.000 passengers/2010: 30.000 passengers), while Portland is doubling the number of calls and seeing nearly three times as many passengers as in 2009.

The Atlantic Alliance is positive about future growth. With the mutual understanding that each port is only one element of the “product” and that cruise lines are constantly searching for new destinations, the 17 member ports are focused on further developing the Atlantic concept. "The Atlantic Alliance is a perfect example of how an innovative idea can be packaged and marketed as a new product. What could be more exciting than visiting Western European capitals on a cruise ship?" commented Michael Ungerer, senior vice president operations AIDA Cruises

AIDA has scheduled three ships in the region for early 2011, offering cruises between Hamburg and Lisbon.

To attract more business and to increase the awareness of the Atlantic Alliance, the port representatives took the opportunity of the meeting to define their marketing strategy for the future. Beside the already existing tools, such as an Itinerary Planner, Destination Videos and different theme cruises, the Atlantic Alliance is now looking to further promote its offering through new avenues such as social media.

The Port of Lisbon, hosting member for meeting, is investing in a new 670-meter long pier, which will be linked to the 400-meter Santa Apolonia pier, according to Manuela Patricio of the port’s cruise and nautical department. The depth will be 12 meters and there will be no restrictions in the turning basin. A new terminal is also to be built in the same area.

The founding members of the Atlantic Alliance are: Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Ijmuiden, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zeeland, Antwerp, Dover, Portland, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Nantes, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Santander, Vigo and Lisbon