So far, 305 ships have registered visits to Copenhagen, compared with 289 last year, but cruise-ship manager Per Schmidt expects that the season may well end up with a total of 310 or 312 stops. A handful will also dock in Malmö. The 300 mark will be reached this year, and the next target – 400 ships in a single season – is expected to be reached in 2011.
This year's record is being set with the help of the travel agents and shipping companies who are concentrating on European cruise-ship guests, including Ibero Jet, Pullman Tours, MSC and Costa. Southern Europeans want to head north, it seems.
"This year, Americans appear to be slightly more reserved about taking cruises in Europe. It's probably due to the weak dollar and general stagnation in the American economy," says Per Schmidt.
CMP will have 147 turnarounds this year, compared with 116 in 2007. Turnarounds are cruises where shipping companies call at Copenhagen to change passengers, who usually arrive via the airport.
"The competition for turnarounds is fierce, and there is no doubt that our natural competitors, Stockholm and Helsinki, would very much like to make inroads into this market. However, we are feeling greater pressure from Kiel, and the German market means a lot to us. Some of the guests who previously drove to Copenhagen are more and more inclined to start their trips in Kiel," says Schmidt. He is currently negotiating a couple of extra turnarounds, which will probably be allocated to Malmö – where the target is 10 calls in course of a season.
In several contexts, the Baltic seaports are not competitors but share the same passengers, and so all the ports can be delighted that the Baltic Sea has overtaken Alaska as the world's third-biggest cruise-ship destination after the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
In order to accommodate the increased number of turnarounds, CMP has taken an extra quay into use this year – the Fort Quay in Copenhagen Freeport. Copenhagen is now able to cope with four turnarounds in the Freeport at once, which Schmidt calls "a huge relief".
Fort Quay is only a temporary measure. The owner of the land in the North Harbour, the municipally- and state-owned company By & Havn, has just invited submissions for a competition to revamp the North Harbour, in which 1.8 km of new quays will be built towards the Sound, and the southernmost part will be reserved for turnarounds. The current container quay, Levant Quay, will at some point be reserved for cruise ships in transit or for day stops.
CMP will continue to use Ndr. Toldbod for turnarounds and Langelinie for transit. Both quays are highly popular with shipping companies because of their close proximity to the city's attractions.
New airport services
The airport also plays a key role in turnarounds in Copenhagen.
This year, the airport will again use the Vilhelm Lauritzen Terminal to accommodate large numbers of passengers on their way home from cruise-ship holidays. The idea is to avoid queues and to enable a smooth departure.
As an experiment, SAS is processing check-ins and baggage handling on board selected ships. If the trial is a success, then the new service is expected to be greatly appreciated by passengers. "It's absolutely fabulous that the airport and SAS are helping to develop the cruise-ship product," says Schmidt, who also chairs the cruise-ship industry network in Copenhagen.
The cruise-ship industry is not only finding new customers in the South of Europe and Germany – it would like to teach Scandinavians to enjoy cruising too. The advantage for Scandinavian passengers, of course, is that they can get on board without having to catch a flight.
Next year, Royal Caribbean is deploying two ships on the Copenhagen–Oslo–Bergen route. Prices on Vision of the Seas will start at SEK 3,050 for five days. The Swedish public are also being tempted with cruises to St Petersburg on board Jewel of the Seas.
"I think the Danish and Swedish public will find it a fascinating experience, and will enjoy the shows, casinos, swimming pools, wellness centres, top restaurants and everything else that you find on board. And the prices for cruises are now at a level that's affordable for a lot more people," says Schmidt, who is looking forward to a bigger proportion of Scandinavian cruise-ship passengers.
Cruise-ship season 2008
Calls: 305, compared with 289 in 2007. Two in Malmö.
Three most regular guests, number of calls:
1. MSC Opera: 21.
2. MSC Lirica: 18.
2. Costa Mediterranea: 18.
3. Crown Princess: 13.
Biggest and smallest cruise ships
2. Biggest: Crown Princess at 113.651 BT (3,080 passengers).
Smallest: Ocean Nova at 2,183 BT (96 passengers).
Busiest cruise days: Six calls on the same day: 7/6, 29/6, 19/7, 20/7, 14/8, 24/8, 30/8. Five calls on the same day: 24/6, 25/6, 5/7, 15/7, 27/7, 2/8, 18/8, 6/9.
Turnarounds: 147, compared with 116 in 2007.
Four turnarounds on the same day: 29/6, 19/7, 2/8, 24/8, 30/8.
New ships: Visited Copenhagen on their maiden voyage: AIDAbella, Eurodam and Carnival Splendor. Called at Copenhagen for the first time: Azamara Journey, Balmoral, Clipper Adventurer, Costa Mediterranea, Costa Victoria, Crown Princess, Empress, Grand Voyager, MSC Armonia, Ocean Nova, Royal Princess, Sea Princess, Spirit of Adventure and Ventura.
3. Unusual calls: Azamara Journey, which called at CMP for the first time, offers its passengers a special butler service. Sea Cloud, a cruise ship with sails, calls at Ndr. Toldbod four times. Celebrity Constellation: Gay and lesbian cruise.