Cruise Norway has reported 1,647 cruise calls in 2010, up 5.5 percent from 1,478 in 2009, according to Wenche Nygaard Eeg, director of the marketing organization for Norwegian cruise destinations.

The season runs from February/March with three winter cruises and ended this week, except for one Christmas cruise to Oslo in December.

The top cruise ports in Norway in 2010 in terms of calls were:

1. Bergen, 241 calls, and 291,877 passengers

2. Geiranger, 157 calls and 210,105 passengers

3. Oslo, 151 calls and 261,000 passengers

4. Stavanger, 111 calls and 175,325 passengers

5. Flaam, 106 calls and 136,908 passengers

6. North Cape, 97 calls and 98,170 passengers

7. Tromsoe, 92 calls and 85,397 passengers

8. Molde & Aandalsnes, 84 calls and 86,902 passengers

9. Hardanger, 79 calls and 92,099 passengers

10. Aalesund, 74 calls and 76,709 passengers

11. Lofoten, 68 calls and 52,076 passengers

12. Olden/Nordfjord, 60 calls and 66,702 passengers

13. Trondheim, 52 calls and 58,076 passengers

Nygaard Eeg said the cruise season is becoming longer, following the first winter calls in 2009. “In 2010, we had three winter calls,” she said, “and in 2011 we will have four.” She said winter cruises are particularly attractive to the British market. In addition, Northern Norway will have its first Christmas cruise call in 2012 with German passengers.

All told, more than 1.8 million passengers were counted in Norwegian ports in 2010, up 7.1 percent from 2009. While an encouraging increase, it is less than the growth rate of 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in 2009 and 2008.  This year, Hardanger – with the ports of Eidfjord, Ulvik, Jondal and Rosendal – saw a 104 percent increase.

According to Nygaard Eeg, the majority of passengers visiting Norway come from the UK and Germany. She added Norway is the single most popular cruise destination in Northern Europe and ranks number five among all European cruise destinations with a market share of 7 percent.

The forecast for 2011 is for 1,679 calls, with 265 to Bergen, 179 to Oslo and 168 to Geiranger. However, Nygaard Eeg noted that cruise reservations for next year can be made until the summer, so in 2010, she said, there were 1,647 calls compared to 1,560 reservations on the books in February.

Also, several cruise lines are boosting their capacity to Norway, including Costa with 14 percent to Northern Norway and 22 percent to Southern Norway. Holland America will be increasing its calls by some 70 percent.

The trend is toward shorter cruises, according to Nygaard Eeg, who said the average cruise length is 9.8 days. Ships are also increasingly staying overnight. There were 16 overnight calls in Oslo this past season.