Aerial View of Le Havre

It’s a huge year for the cruise calls in Le Havre. The new MSC Meraviglia was christened on June 3 and on September 15, the Queen Mary 2 departs on a trans-Atlantic run that coincides with the 500th anniversary of Le Havre.

Traffic is up accordingly, from 118 calls in 2016 to 142 visits in 2017; including 17 double calls, five triple call days and six maiden visits. There are also eight full or partial turnarounds scheduled, which is a growing niche for the French port. 2018 will see 22 turns by the MSC Magnifica on an interporting deployment strategy, and 13 additional partial turnarounds.

AIDA is the biggest customer, with 56 port calls this year dominated by weekly visits from the 2016-built AIDAprima on her European capitals run.

Regular visitors to the port are benefiting from an incentive plan that includes a 90 percent port fee rebate for seven or more calls.

Valerie Conan, director of cruise for the tourism office, said Le Havre has come a long way since 2010, when it was mainly considered just a port to visit on re-positioning voyages.

“We can accommodate up to four ships simultaneously. And as the cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, this offers good perspectives,” said Conan, noting the port can host any size ships. “Transit and turnarounds: Le Havre was initially considered as a transit port, but as the demand for cruises starting from Le Havre is growing, we have implemented turnaround facilities in our terminal and we also target this clientele.”

The port was allocated funding to modernize the Pierre Callet and Roger Meunier quays. Of note, part of the wharf at Pierre Callet is made up of concrete originally used and developed by the Allies for their Normandy landing in 1944.

In addition, there are safety developments to increase security in the terminals, according to Conan.

Terminal 12 has been upgraded for turn-around operations, including improving passenger flow, and the installation of more facilities including restrooms and check-in counters.