Thursday, 21 July 2011

Port of Hamburg a rising star

Port of Hamburg a rising star

By Donna Tunney
Hamburg, Germany, continues to emerge as a strong competitor among ports catering to cruise ships in Northern Europe.

It had long been a major container port, and the presence of cruise vessels increases each year. In 2007, 57 cruise ships called at Hamburg; last year, the number rose to 88.

Eager to attract more cruise visitors, the city recently opened the $42 million Hamburg Cruise Center Altona, following a three-year construction phase.

A new terminal was urgently needed, according to Gerd Drossel, managing director of Hamburg Cruise Center, “because the present dynamic growth trend will continue in coming years.”

“We expect 120 ship’s calls in the 2011 cruise season, an increase of 14% over the previous year,” Drossel said. “With two-figure growth also expected for 2012, we can realistically expect 400,000 passengers in that year; 2015 may even see us passing the half a million threshold.”

Several major cruise lines are calling in Hamburg this summer, including Cunard, Silversea, Celebrity and Hapag-Lloyd. Celebrity, in fact, will celebrate the christening of its Celebrity Silhouette in Hamburg later this week, on July 21.

Cunard pledged a major commitment to the port when it announced earlier this year that its Queen Elizabeth will sail from Hamburg on a world cruise in 2012. It will be the first Cunard ship to do so.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 will call at Hamburg six times this summer and six times in summer 2012, as part of its transatlantic sailing schedule.

It isn’t just the big cruise lines that are embracing Hamburg: Even the 112-passenger SeaDream I began its summer season deployment in Hamburg last month, when it set sail on an 11-night season inaugural following a 21-day drydock.

Hamburg’s new terminal is close to the Hanseatic City’s major sites: about 15 minutes by bus, taxi or harbor ferry.