Cruise passengers are impressed by the shipyard and nature in Turku – pilotage fees hinder the growth of tourism

Turku has some unique attractions for international cruise liners compared to other cities in the northern Baltic Sea. More reasonable pilotage fees would enliven tourism considerably.

International cruise ships are currently moored in the West Harbour in Turku. The planned joint terminal of Viking Line and Tallink Silja may release space around the current passenger terminals for visiting cruise ships, which would make it easier to get to the city-centre.
Traffic and logistics

As many as 400 international cruise ships sail on the northern Baltic Sea every summer. This year, five of them called in Turku.

According to Anne-Marget Hellén, Director of Tourism at Visit Turku, the number is typical of the 2010s. On average, around ten international cruise liners call in Turku during the summer season.

”St. Petersburg is generally the main destination for the cruise liners in this region. Usually the other ports of call are capitals of the coastal countries”, Anne-Marget Hellén says.

”Cruise lines calculate very carefully how the total price of the route accumulates. It’s not possible to arrive in Turku without a pilot, and the expensive pilotage fees – due to the long duration of the route – are the most important factor that prevents our cruise traffic from growing.”

Port and tourism professionals have for a long time been appealing to the decision-makers to adjust the difference between pilotage fees in Finnish ports.

According to Anne-Marget Hellén, Turku’s verdancy, destinations that can be reached by foot, and the proudly presented local characteristics interest foreign cruise passengers.
Passengers are interested in luxury as well as genuine experiences

Turku is working to increase its attraction. The Port of Turku and Visit Turku are co-operating more closely to offer a distinctive and memorable overall experience for the international cruise tourists arriving in the city.

What can Turku offer to make an impression on passengers who have seen e.g. the splendour of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg? Anne-Marget Hellén tells an illuminating example on her own choice of activities while on board cruise liner Costa Luminosa.

“The first thing I did was book a place on the ‘Hermitage After Opening Hours’ tour, because I thought that it’s so popular that there wouldn’t be room for everyone. To my surprise, the tour was cancelled due to a small number of participants”, Ms Hellén chuckles.

Shipyard draws tourists and professionals

That experience taught a lesson. In addition to the traditional Turku Castle, cathedral and the Handicrafts Museum, the Visit Turku wants to show the tourists local everyday life. It’s important to identify the things that are characteristic of Turku in particular as seen from the outside.

”Unusual and unexpected activities attract most interest. In addition to the excursions to Ruissalo national park and the archipelago, the tours for beer lovers are very popular. One thing that we could show to visitors is Turku as a centre of circus performer training”, Anne-Marget Hellén says.

Despite the beautiful archipelago and strong culture supply there is one thing in Turku that is of particular interest to the visitors disembarking from luxury cruise liners: Meyer Turku shipyard. Almost no other city has industrial facilities in their programme.

”Of course cruise passengers are interested in a shipyard that manufactures luxury cruise ships. This summer’s tours were very popular. Thanks to the shipyard, we also got the chance to arrange the important Cruise Baltic summit that will take place in early November in Turku.”

Text: Jaakko Mikkola
Photos: Lennart Holmberg and Jouni Saaristo

Cruise summer 2018

  • Five international cruise ships visited Turku in summer 2018.
  • The season started on 1 June with the arrival of Prinsendam and ended on 3 September with the visit of Silver Wind.
  • The other three moored in the port were Seaboard Ovation on its virgin voyage, and Boudicca and Silver Spirit in July.
  • All ships except for Boudicca visited Turku for the first time.
  • Of the tours arranged by Visit Turku, the most popular include e.g. tours in the peaceful nature of Ruissalo island and the visits at the Meyer shipyard.
  • Some 400 international cruise ships sail on the Baltic Sea every summer. Usually the ships stop in capital cities.
  • Cruise Baltic partner network of Baltic Sea port cities will arrange its general meeting in Turku from 1–2 November. The organisation markets the Baltic Sea as a cruise destination.