The 2013 cruise year started in Kiel on Saturday (April 13) when the first ship of the season, AIDAcara, arrived at the Ostseekai.

A total of 128 calls by 21 different ships have been registered this season, according to Dirk Claus, managing director of the Port of Kiel, who said: “The trend of previous years is continuing: ships are getting ever bigger. As a result we expect an increase in passenger totals this year of more than 5 %. The northern Europe route is also becoming increasing significant when seen in a global context.”

The AIDAcara has spent the winter months in South America and will use Kiel as her base during the summer season. She has scheduled a total of 24 northern Europe cruises until early October. They range from three-day to 17-day cruises in June and July. Itineraries range as far as Iceland, Spitzbergen and the North Cape.

The most frequent visitors to Kiel this year will be the vessels of MSC Cruises. Both the Poesia and the Musica (making her debut on April 25th) will begin and end cruises in Kiel.

The biggest ship to call at the port this year will be the Costa Pacifica, which will turn around eight times.

 “On summer weekends we always have at least one big cruise ship visiting the Ostseekai Terminal,” said Claus.

“During peak periods, we expect as many as 11,000 passengers and a correspondingly large amount of luggage at the cruise terminal,” he added.

The highlights of the season are when several cruise ships visit all at once. On no fewer than five dates this year, three cruise ships will be in the port – and that’s not counting the giant ferries of Color Line and Stena Line. And four cruise ships will be in the port on June 29, the final Saturday of the Kieler Woche regatta week.

 To keep abreast of the growing demand, Kiel is investing in the expansion of its handling capacities, according to Claus. From June, very big cruise ships will be able to tie up at the new Berth One in the Ostuferhafen. Work on expanding Berth One has already begun. Claus added: “Initially Berth One will help ease stop-over traffic at the existing Ostseekai Cruise Terminal; from next year passenger turnd-arounds will also be possible on this berth”. The Ostuferhafen marks its debut on June 9 the Eurodam ties up.