International Cruise and Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2019

Ports & Destinations International Cruise & Ferry Review 202 EUROPE: EVENT REPORT Norway’s ports and destinations are busy enhancing their facilities and shore excursion offerings for visiting ships and passengers. Jon Ingleton reports from a hectic Norway Day in London News from Norway icking off proceedings in Kings Cross in London, Cruise Norway’s managing director Inge Tangerås announced that “to make the industry more sustainable in Norway we have to work together.” Calls and visitors are up again, he said, but the Norwegian delegation continues to drive growth through collaboration, sustainability projects and facilities improvements. Starting from the northernmost port and heading south, Cruise Norway members took turns to share their progress highlights. First up was Svalbard, which continues to augment its port and tourism offering as the island enjoys continued steady growth. There’s a new tourist information office on the pier, and plans are underway to add a new 135-metre pier to take the total space to over 300 metres. The Seawalk pier that was inaugurated two years ago in Lakselv has given the local Sami population a valuable new revenue stream and a trip to the Sami parliament is the primary tourist attraction. Bookings can be made through the Port of North Cape. While it’s been a long time since polar bears roamed around Hammerfest, only visitors to the city are eligible for membership of the Polar Bear Society. Ursus maritimus may be seen wandering the streets again during the new annual Polar Bear March from the pier to the town centre. ‘Where your arctic adventure begins’ is the popular tagline for Tromso’s recent marketing and it seems to be resonating among all demographics, yielding good recognition and helping to sell itineraries. Representatives of the port are also eager to emphasise that despite apparent reluctance in other parts of Norway, cruise ships will “always be welcome in Tromso!” The port of Harstad has recently launched a clever new tool that allows cruise lines to take a virtual tour of the port’s facilities online. The tool also provides views of tours and location details. Meanwhile, Lofoten has a very impressive new attraction; the Seafood Centre comprises an exhibition, stockfish house, a salmon farm, restaurant and shop. Then there’s Bodø, which has plans underway for a new airport (expected to open in 2025) and a number of new hotels. This will be of particular interest to cruise lines for turnarounds and crew changes as the airport will be just a 25-minute walk from the city centre. Next up is Mo i Rana. Unknown to the cruise industry until very recently, it has won bookings for 2020 and 2021. The Man from the Sea provides the foreground for perhaps the city’s most photographed vista, but the caves, glacier and Marmorslottet are all worth a visit. The UNESCO World Heritage listed Vega Islands have become a popular draw for Brønnøysund, with 15 calls scheduled this year and more expected in 2020. A hike to Torghatten with its characteristic hole will be a rewarding activity for passengers. And the port of Kristiansund is stepping up efforts to encourage calls to nearby Hitra and Smøla which are ideal island gems for smaller ships. The port of Molde has opened a new crew room on the cruise pier and a variety of renovations have been completed in the town centre to enhance its appeal for visiting tourists. And Vesterålen, just north of Lofoten, continues to woo visitors with whales and is one of the few places in the world happy to offer a 100% sighting guarantee. The port of Narvik will celebrate the opening of its new pier later this year. Situated just a short stroll from the town Photo: Loen Skylift