&O Cruises’ Oriana in Alta. Photo credit: Henriete Bismo Eilertsen

Cruise Norway is expecting a record year with more than 3 million individual passenger visits to its ports, up 13.5 percent from last year. It is a new record, beating the previous all time high from 2013, said Sandra Diana Bratland, managing director.

The largest increase will come in Hardanger/Eidfjord, which will see a 64 percent increase year-over-year. Second on the growth list is Tromsø in Northern Norway with a 47 percent increase. Bergen remains the busiest port with 510,000 passengers forecasted this year.

In Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen also shows an increase, from 41,614 last year to 46,000 this year. And in Lofoten, Leknes jumps from 43,956 to 65,520.

On a monthly basis. October will see the biggest change going from two calls in 2016 to 27 this year. According to Bratland, the ships calling in October will most likely have the destinations to themselves and the chances are good that their passengers will experience the northern lights.

Winter cruising in February and March is also up this year, with 12 cruises, compared to six last winter. A newcomer this year is AIDA, otherwise it is mostly British ships calling during the winter months.

This year’s winter cruises will call at Alta, Bergen, Bodø, Harstad, Haugesund, Kristiansund, Narvik, Nordkapp (Honningsvåg), Molde, Åndalsnes, Stavanger, Tromsø, Trondheim, Sortland and Ålesund.

“We are working hard to build up year-round cruising along our entire coastline,” Bratland commented in a prepared statement.

She estimates that passengers spend an average of NOK 860 (approximately $100) per day during calls. That would mean a total of NOK 2.6 billion (approximately $306 million) going into the Norwegian economy this year. On top of that are port charges, estimated at NOK 300 million (approximately $35 million) per year.

In terms of traffic, the busiest ports in Norway this year will be: Bergen, with 510,000 passengers; Stavanger, 361,100; Geiranger, 310,000; Flåm, 266,121; Ålesund, 226,240; Oslo, 198,000; Olden, 156, 168; Tromsø, 150,168; Nordkapp, 113,407; and Eidfjord, 111,000.