As many as 21 cruise liner calls have already been booked for the summer which is more than twice the number of visits in the best years before the coronavirus pandemic.
”We are very happy about the level we have reached, as it indicates that our long-term marketing efforts have yielded results. Among the ten or so shipping companies that have booked vessel calls for the summer, there are many companies whose vessels are visiting Turku for the first time. So we have managed to reach and assure more cruise industry players about the cruise services and experiences that Turku has to offer”, says Antti Pekanheimo, Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Turku.
The changes in routes due to the war in Ukraine have also affected the increase in the number of cruise liner calls. When St. Petersburg was dropped off the cruise route, the cruise liner traffic in the Baltic Sea also changed so that reservations were cancelled for e.g. Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga. As the pace of vessel traffic follows the pattern of arrival in the morning, the day in the destination city and departure in the evening, the location of the port and connections to nearby ports are very important.
The goal is the best customer experience in the Baltic Sea
Tourist organisation Visit Turku and the Port of Turku are continuously co-operating to develop a marketing as well as the customer experience. In addition to services for cruise passengers, development items include vessel services, such as real-time communication between the Port and vessels and organising any maintenance needed.
”Services for passengers include, for example, a shuttle bus service from the cruise liners to the city-centre and back arranged by Visit Turku, as well as guided pre-booked excursions to places with interest to the passengers. A new service is the mobile cruise office that acts as an information point for passengers while the ships stay in the port. Furthermore, all vessels will have a welcome event with the programme; we have had, for example, the Navy Band performing”, says Annika Schulman, who has a significant role in the cruise arrangements in the Port.
Safety and environmentally sound operations boost competitiveness
The safety of both passengers and vessels is a key element in the services provided by the Port of Turku. Moving about in the port area is restricted and subject to permission, and 24/7 surveillance is implemented with a state-of-the-art camera system. Safety factors are also taken into account effectively in vessel services and port traffic arrangements. One safety factor is the advance information supplied to the arriving vessels, which makes activities clearer and more straightforward both on board the vessels and in the port.
”Today, environmentally sound operations affect the choice of both passengers and shipping companies. The Port of Turku is one of the most advanced ports when it comes to environmental issues. Special attention is paid to the waste management of ships, and cruise liners can drain their lavatory waste free of charge in the port, from the inner harbour quays directly to the city’s sewer system. In addition, shipping companies can get discount on vessel charges on environmental grounds”, Antti Pekanheimo reminds.
The positively started cruise summer is set to continue in the coming years as well. Advance bookings have already been made for 2024, so the Port of Turku is looking confidently into the future in that sense, too. The attraction factors of the City of Turku and the archipelago and a modern service port form a strong entity for cruise liner traffic.
Text: Kari Ahonen Photos: Jouni Saaristo & Markku Koivumäki
Cruise port’s services
Reception of lavatory waste free of charge, in the inner harbour directly to the sewer system
Environmentally sound operations matter
Safety is important, as is maintenance
Direct connection with the vessels, advance information for the visit
Welcoming events, the Navy Band
Travel bubble, seeing the River Aura and Ruissalo island using the ships’ own Zodiac boats