The Port of Kiel has reported that the year 2012 ended with a small plus in both cargo and passenger handling. Last year more than 6.3 million tons of cargo (an increase of 0.3%) were turned round for the first time.

In the passenger sector more than 1.9 million travellers either embarked or disembarked from ferries or cruise ships last year. That was an increase of 2.2% over the previous year.

The Managing Director of the Port of Kiel, Dr Dirk Claus said: “After two years of very strong growth, 2012 has reflected the general current market situation.”

A major contribution was made by locally-based ferry companies, which acounted for nearly 80% of total cargo handling. The biggest growth rate in cargo was posted by DFDS Seaways on the Kiel-Klaipeda route, while Stena Line and Color Line both increased their totals in passenger transport to and from Scandinavia. At the same time, Kiel concluded a long-term agreement with Color Line in 2012.

The 2012 cruise shipping season was a particularly long one and did not end until December 15 with a call by the Amadea of Phoenix Reisen.

There were 136 calls by 26 different cruise ships with almost 350,000 passengers embarking or disembarking in Kiel, and more than 50,000 transit passengers took part in excursions.

After a very short winter break, the 2013 cruise ship season begins on April 13 with the AIDAcara.

So far 127 ship calls have been confirmed for this year. The average size of the ships involved has risen again.

“Even though the number of calls in the coming season is down, the number of passengers will rise because of the bigger ships,” said Claus. “We expect an increase of about 5%.”

The highlight of the upcoming season is a visit by four cruise ships at the same time on the last day of the Kieler Woche Regatta on June 29. Along with the big ferries, the MSC Poesia, Eurodam, Astor and Black Watch will be calling.

Because of the numerous visits this season by particularly big ships, not only the Ostseekai and Norwegenkai Terminals will be used by cruise ships, but also for the very first time the Ostuferhafen. That will happen on June 9, when Eurodam ties up at Berth One while MSC Musica and Mein Schiff 1 call at the Ostseekai Terminal.